Daily Digest

Daily Digest - March 23

Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 9:46 AM
  • Obama Pays More Than Buffett as U.S. Risks AAA Rating
  • Underemployment Hits 20% in Mid-March
  • GMO's Edward Chancellor: Watch Out For China's 10 Big Red Flags
  • The Biggest Greek CDS Speculator Has Been Uncovered
  • Pakistan Pushes U.S. For Nuclear Technology Deal
  • Tipping Point: Near-Term Systemic Implications of a Peak in Global Oil Production

Economy

Obama Pays More Than Buffett as U.S. Risks AAA Rating (Christian W.)

The $2.59 trillion of Treasury Department sales since the start of 2009 have created a glut as the budget deficit swelled to a post-World War II-record 10 percent of the economy and raised concerns whether the U.S. deserves its AAA credit rating. The increased borrowing may also undermine the first-quarter rally in Treasuries as the economy improves.

Underemployment Hits 20% in Mid-March (Christian W.)

Gallup's underemployment measure hit 20.0% on March 15 -- up from 19.7% two weeks earlier and 19.5% at the start of the year. Gallup Daily tracking makes it possible to monitor the underemployment rate throughout the month, rather than just once per month, making it the best and most timely way to measure the U.S. jobs situation.

GMO's Edward Chancellor: Watch Out For China's 10 Big Red Flags (Christian W.)

Edward Chancellor of GMO has put out an excellent piece on the Chinese market and the "red flags" for investors. The paper addresses how to identify the proper "speculative manias" and associated financial crises in the country.

The Biggest Greek CDS Speculator Has Been Uncovered - Culprit Is... Greek State-Controlled Hellenic Post Bank! (Erik T.)

Greek daily Kathimerini has just uncovered that the biggest speculator, holding 15%, or $1.2 billion of the total $8 billion in Greek notional CDS, has been a firm that operates about 2 blocks away from the parliament building in Athens - the state-owned Hellenic Post Bank (TT)!

Energy

Pakistan Pushes U.S. For Nuclear Technology Deal (Christian W.)

A spokesman for Pakistan's ministry of foreign affairs, Abdul Basit, said today: "Pakistan is an energy-deficit country and we're looking for all sources, including nuclear, to meeting our requirements."

Tipping Point: Near-Term Systemic Implications of a Peak in Global Oil Production (Christian W.)

This paper talks about the likely systemic impacts of peak oil, including the possibility of collapse. With a long publication such as this, it is difficult to know how to present a reasonable subset of the material. In this post, we are publishing the Summary as Part 1. Our tentative plan is to publish three additional excerpts from the paper later.

Please send article submissions to: [email protected]

78 Comments

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

"March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Europe’s stalemate over possible aid for debt-encumbered Greece deepened as European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet spoke out against offering low- interest loans for which the Greek government has pressed.

Trichet’s demand for stringent terms and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s push for sanctions against nations that breach deficit limits heightened the chance that Greece will leave a March 25-26 summit empty-handed. That could force Prime Minister George Papandreou to decide whether he’s ready to fulfill his threat and turn instead to the International Monetary Fund."

""If such a situation begins to develop, the Fed will face a difficult trade-off between continued support for the recovery and aggressive action to reanchor inflation expectations," he said at an event in Naples, Florida."

"The central banker noted that government finances were "severely strained" at all levels. "Clearly an ever rising debt-to-GDP ratio is unsustainable and a matter of great concern," he said. Not only do these fiscal pressures represent another downside risk for the economy, but he opined that they provide an inflation risk as well."

...................2A) Fed official says Greek crisis could affect US economy

""This could play out in the banking system or in the form of a general retreat from sovereign debt," he added."

"For California, with a $20 billion budget deficit, the extra load will cost at least an additional $2 billion to $3 billion annually, said Douglas, chief deputy director for California’s health care programs. He said the overhaul is currently projected to add 1.6 million people to the 7 million enrolled in his state’s program."

"Florida will have to spend an additional $1.6 billion for Medicaid and hire 1,000 new workers to accommodate the overhaul, the state’s Attorney General Bill McCollum said yesterday in Orlando, Florida."

"Medicaid spending accounts for about 22 percent of state spending, according to the National Governors Association, which said it doesn’t expect revenue to return to pre-recession levels until at least 2014. Budget directors estimate the fiscal 2011 budget gap could expand to $102 billion and may even reach $180 billion, the Kaiser study said. States by law, unlike Washington, must balance their budgets."

...........3A) Health care reform could cost AZ $7 billion

..........3B) Adding to Medicaid rolls won't be easy, Texas officials say

...........3C) Health care bill would bring higher state Medicaid costs (Nevada..."would make an additional 70,000 residents eligible for Medicaid")

"Deficits at the state level now total around $290-billion (U.S.), according to analysts at Hedgeye Risk Management LLP. What's more, there are about $1-trillion more in unfunded pension liabilities. To Hedgeye, states are looking a lot like the PIIGS - Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain and investors have every right to be concerned.

Few people seem to really believe that actual defaults are in the pipeline. That general feeling that countries just don't default any more flies in the face of recent research to suggest that defaults by sovereign nations and states move in cycles, and given that they are at a low, the only direction is up. Europe is on the firing line now, but the U.S. states may be next.

"It's no longer a tail risk, it's right in front of you," Keith McCullough, head of Hedgeye, told his paying clients Friday in a conference call. "It's coming to a market near you."

"Nearly 15,000 teachers across the state could be laid off next school year if Gov. David A. Paterson’s proposed $1.3 billion cut in school aid is enacted, according to survey results released Monday by statewide education groups.

The majority of school districts responding to the survey also anticipate increasing class sizes, trimming or eliminating summer school programs and reducing elective courses, extracurricular activities, sports programs and field trips, the New York State School Boards Association and the New York State Council of School Superintendents reported.

“If school districts are going to minimize property tax increases while dealing with rising expenses and decreased state aid, it will be impossible to avoid employee layoffs,” said Timothy G. Kremer, president of the School Boards Association."

"Ohio’s unemployment compensation fund is even more broke than the 422,000 Ohioans who rely on the unemployment checks to make ends meet until they land new jobs.

The fund went broke Jan. 12, 2009, forcing the state to borrow money from the federal government to continue issuing unemployment checks. So far Ohio has borrowed $2.1 billion, and by the end of the year, the loan amount is expected to balloon more than $3 billion. Ohio will be forced to start paying interest on that money in January 2011 at an annual rate of 4.66 percent."

"SACRAMENTO, CA - Sacramento Regional Transit's board of directors declared a fiscal emergency despite receiving some good news Monday night after a meeting focusing on proposed budget cuts, lasted over four hours.

RT spokeswoman Alane Masui said the board received news at the end of their meeting, that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had just signed legislation expected to restore approximately $11.8 million in state funds to the transportation district. Masui said this is good news considering RT's $25 million budget deficit for the next fiscal year.

However, even with the new funds, the deficit will total $13.2 million, prompting a fiscal emergency."

"Illinois lawmakers are considering a four day week for some struggling schools.

Supporters say it would help districts save money on utilities and busing.

But State Representative Monique Davis, a Chicago Democrat, says it would just pass fiscal problems onto students and their families.

DAVIS: I don't believe that children should be told, "You can stay home alone for a full day and take care of yourselves, take care of your little brothers, take care of your little sisters, because the state can no longer afford to educate you."

Districts would have to hold public hearings before cutting any school days. The plan would have to be reviewed by the Illinois State Board of Education.

The measure has already passed the State House, and now heads to the Senate."

"Tampa, Florida -- Firefighters, police and taxpayers in Tampa are going to have to pay millions more than they expected because of increased costs to the pension plan. Firefighters and police will see almost a double digit cut in their take home pay.

The Public Safety employees were upset they didn't get step increases this year because of budget problems, and now Tampa police and firefighters are learning they have to make a bigger contribution to the pension. It will take an 8 percent cut in net take-home pay.

Police Benevolent Association President Greg Stout calls it is "a slap in the face." Stout is upset that losses in the stock market mean firefighters and police will have to contribute more of their pay to the pension fund and not get any more in return."

"We have never had negative equity like this at the national level in as many different regions as we have now," Humphries says. To get a better sense of the cities with the greatest concentrations of negative equity, Zillow provided U.S. News with data that detail the percentage of mortgage borrowers who are underwater in 142 distinct markets throughout the country. Based on this research, we compiled the following list of America's most underwater housing markets. (Please note: We chose no more than one city per state.)

"March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Sales of existing U.S. homes fell in February for a third month, indicating a lack of jobs is hindering government efforts to revive demand.

Purchases dropped 0.6 percent to a 5.02 million annual rate, the lowest level in eight months and in line with the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. The median price decreased 1.8 percent from February 2009.

The extension and expansion of a federal tax credit that helped stabilize housing in 2009 has yet to spark sales this year as hiring hasn’t materialized. "

"In a letter to House leaders last week, Caterpillar Inc said the reforms would cost the manufacturer more than $100 million in the first year "and put at risk the coverage our current employees and retirees receive."

"We can ill-afford cost increases that place us at a disadvantage versus global competitors," it said.

Others such as United Parcel Service and Alcatel-Lucent, said on Monday they needed time to study the likely effect of the legislation."

"(Reuters) - Health insurers may turn to steeper premium increases, job cuts and dealmaking to maintain profits in the wake of a landmark U.S. health overhaul that imposes new regulations and costs on the industry."

""All of this is going to cause the cost of healthcare insurance premiums to skyrocket massively," Collins Stewart analyst Brian Wright said.

"These companies can't run at a loss, so while you can eat some margin at the end of the day you have to massively raise prices. Massively," Wright said. "California will be begging for only 39 percent rate increases.""

"Hefty fines are due from anyone found to have committed the heinous crime of not being a customer of a health insurance company. We will need to hire some 16,500 new IRS agents to police compliance with all these new mandates and administer various fines. So in government terms, this is also a jobs bill. Never mind that this program is also likely to cost the private sector some 5 million jobs.

Of course, the most troubling aspect of this bill is that it is so blatantly unconstitutional and contrary to the ideals of liberty. Nowhere in the constitution is there anything approaching authority for the Federal government to do any of this. "

  • Other headlines and stories:

Japan govt to face big fund shortage in 2011/12

Fannie, Freddie messy government tie tough to cut

Junk Defaults May Swell in 2011 as Debt Matures, Moody's Says (In Asia)

State to Santa Rita School District: Make drastic cuts or face bankruptcy (California)

US faces possible US$52B tax hike (healthcare)

Ill. universities struggle without state payments

Spain union leader warns of unrest over austerity

SJSU students join thousands in Sacramento rally against budget cuts (up to 15,000 showed up)

Spring Branch med center lays off 720 (Houston)

Christie Bans Part-Time State Workers From New Jersey Pension

U.K. Chancellor To Double Penalties For Unpaid Taxes

Public pension cost soars to £1200billion (UK)

Real Estate Professionals Cautious on Direction of Home Prices

ashvinp's picture
ashvinp
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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

The health care bill that passed is clearly constitutional, so that's a bad argument to make against it.  The bill is not perfect and actually didn't go far enough, because it leaves insurance companies in charge, and we're talking about human lives here. Anyone who thinks the we are not headed for a depression, regardless of what the government does, has extremely idealistic expectations. Local and state governments are also going to face severe debt problems, regardless of some added medicaid expenditures that will most likely be offset by saving ER expenditures on the uninsured. These debt problems have been decades in the making and the free market gurus are the ones who led us here. Now they have the nerve to say that "no this has nothing to do with us, its Obama's health care policies that will be the downfall of our country and only the free markets can save us."

If we allow ourselves to believe these manipulative arguments, then we are truly lost. The working class people in our country are destined to suffer through a depression and there is no avoiding it. The question is how we as a society will deal with it. Will we take care of those suffering the most and sacrifice for the greater good, or will we fight tooth and nail until there is a violent revolution or civil unrest? When the Soviet Union collapsed, the people suffered but also remained relatively stable because they had access to health care, could keep their public housing and could easily commute using public transportation among other things. We may not be so lucky with housing, transportation and our general ability to deal with hardships, but at least now 40,000 people won't die every year while the economy continues to plummet.

And I understand why people hesitate to accept projections of defecit reductions and lowering health care costs, and I don't think these projections are perfect. But the fact that the official statistics have been manipulated in other areas does not necessarily mean it happens in every area. Either way, we have been paralyzed with fear of action for way too long and this reform is a well-neeeded break from that viscous cycle.

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Davos
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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
ashvinp wrote:

The health care bill that passed is clearly constitutional, so that's a bad argument to make against it.  The bill is not perfect and actually didn't go far enough, because it leaves insurance companies in charge, and we're talking about human lives here. Anyone who thinks the we are not headed for a depression, regardless of what the government does, has extremely idealistic expectations. Local and state governments are also going to face severe debt problems, regardless of some added medicaid expenditures that will most likely be offset by saving ER expenditures on the uninsured. These debt problems have been decades in the making and the free market gurus are the ones who led us here. Now they have the nerve to say that "no this has nothing to do with us, its Obama's health care policies that will be the downfall of our country and only the free markets can save us."

If we allow ourselves to believe these manipulative arguments, then we are truly lost. The working class people in our country are destined to suffer through a depression and there is no avoiding it. The question is how we as a society will deal with it. Will we take care of those suffering the most and sacrifice for the greater good, or will we fight tooth and nail until there is a violent revolution or civil unrest? When the Soviet Union collapsed, the people suffered but also remained relatively stable because they had access to health care, could keep their public housing and could easily commute using public transportation among other things. We may not be so lucky with housing, transportation and our general ability to deal with hardships, but at least now 40,000 people won't die every year while the economy continues to plummet.

And I understand why people hesitate to accept projections of defecit reductions and lowering health care costs, and I don't think these projections are perfect. But the fact that the official statistics have been manipulated in other areas does not necessarily mean it happens in every area. Either way, we have been paralyzed with fear of action for way too long and this reform is a well-neeeded break from that viscous cycle.

Not a clue as to what you have read to give you this impression. Not going to get into a debate over this. But I will say this differs from what I've read on Denningers site.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

A bit off topic but it might interest some you that are interested in amazing technology

http://widgets.nbc.com/o/47f1317f105123ad/498ebd00a62edaa0/47fe70d4555df05a/9e46bd46/-cpid/ba4377d3bfd6c81

If the link does not work you should find it here,

Jay Leno's Garage Next Engine 3D scanner

Vanityfox451's picture
Vanityfox451
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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

If you're trying to find ways to get family and friends to wake up to watching Dr Martenson's Crash Course, you may get some mileage out of this: -

{Snippet}


Quote:

... You live next to a beautiful lake where on summer evenings the sun dances gold on the ripples of the water. You've lived there for almost ten years, and most every evening ...

Continued here ... :-

http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/i-wish-id-brought-my-diary-you-should-always-have-something-sensational-read-train/37248

~ VF ~

ashvinp's picture
ashvinp
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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
Davos wrote:

Not a clue as to what you have read to give you this impression. Not going to get into a debate over this. But I will say this differs from what I've read on Denningers site.

I was responding to the influx of articles and general conservative talking points about how HC reform is horrible for the economy and will bankrupt local/state governments (which doesn't even consider the human side of the issue). I believe the status quo in health care was simply a means of transferring money from the bottom to top while thousands of people died or went bankrupt without insurance. This bill is not perfect by any means, but the notion that it will make things worse is simply not true. There are just my observations and I was not directing them at anyone in particular.

 

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
ashvinp wrote:

Either way, we have been paralyzed with fear of action for way too long and this reform is a well-neeeded break from that viscous cycle

There are at least 2 ways to have reform:

  1. Remove government intervention in the system.Let individuals choose and be responsible for themselves.
  2. Increase government intervetion (The current healtcare reform).  Let the government choose for people.

Clearly you prefer more government intervention, which I view as the antithesis of the Crash Course.  The main points I get out of the Crash Course  teach that you need to be more self reliant, have local community, trust in yourself because Economic, Energy, and Envrionmental changes are upon us.  The current system has moved from individual to state control for a longtime.  Let looks at what the state has brought us:

  1. A centrally planned Economy (via the Fed) that is now in shambles.
  2.  Endless wars (sorry not really war since we haven't declared it) to profit those most closely connect to the government.
  3. Corruptism/cronyism as witnesses with Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, Fed, SEC, FDIC fiascos.
  4.  A housing crisis due to bad risk management via Fannie/Freddie/Sally/FHA.
  5. Higher healthcare costs due to government mandated coverage and protection of large insurance companies from competition across state lines.
  6. A failed drug policy that has caused mass incarceration, cost billions, and not stopped drug usage, but made it much more expensive and dangerous.

So, why can you possibly think having government handling healthcare is going to turn out any different than the above.  Please tell me one area that the government has done well?

ashvinp wrote:

These debt problems have been decades in the making and the free market gurus are the ones who led us

Please show me a free market?  I can show you lots of government intervention.  I can show you that insurance companies are protected from competition.  I can show you mandates that state what I can and can't purchase.  I can show you the Fed manipulating interest rates, the root cause of most of our maladies.

ashvinp wrote:

but at least now 40,000 people won't die every year while the economy

No, instead we will collapse the dollar and destroy what's left of our economy via more debt and taxes.  Then we will have some bigger problems like: no sewer, no water, no food, no healthcare (tough when you can't buy  anything).

In the short run we will start to see exactly what you see in other countries with socialized medicine.  Those who can't afford to go elsewhere for treatment/procedures will be stuck with the system the state provides while those with means will go to other countries or buy care directly.  Healthcare for the general public will become less accessible (long wait times) and less effective (fewer modern treatments).

So I guess you have to decide, do you trust yourself and your decisions and think you should be responsible for them, or do you want your life run by government? 

 

 

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Mish's take on Bernanke's quest to end of reserve requirements

 

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/03/bernanke-wants-to-end...

There are no reserve requirements on savings accounts right now. So in regards to a savings account question: What has changed? The answer is "Nothing".

 

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Davos
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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
ashvinp wrote:
Davos wrote:

Not a clue as to what you have read to give you this impression. Not going to get into a debate over this. But I will say this differs from what I've read on Denningers site.

I was responding to the influx of articles and general conservative talking points about how HC reform is horrible for the economy and will bankrupt local/state governments (which doesn't even consider the human side of the issue). I believe the status quo in health care was simply a means of transferring money from the bottom to top while thousands of people died or went bankrupt without insurance. This bill is not perfect by any means, but the notion that it will make things worse is simply not true. There are just my observations and I was not directing them at anyone in particular.

 

Oh, I see. Well hope it works out better than 75 years of governmental over-site of Social Security - now 14 trillion in the whole. And, oh, Medicare, after the government running it for 35 years we are on the hook for 84 trillion. And did I mention prescription? Also run by clowns and in debt for 18 trillion. Since the GSE's aren't medically related I won't mention that 6 trillion mess in the Fed that should be on our debt.

Glad you have faith in people who have demonstrated to me one thing: That they are inept  morons when it comes to managing ANYTHING! But hey, this time will be different.

Right?

GrouchoMarxist's picture
GrouchoMarxist
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UK - The fish rots from the head down.

The rot starts at the head.

Politicians set up in sting touting for work - lobbying consultancy at £3-5000 per day.  And a general election within next 6 weeks ... oh dear, oh dear.

Chanel 4 - Politicians for Hire (48 mins) shown prime-time UK TV March 22 2010

(Hope you can get this from the US ).

Priceless quotes: Stephen Byers (ex transport minister) at 28.30 mins

"...you have to keep this very confidential..." and

"...I'm like a cab for hire ....£3000 - £5000 per day..."

John Butterfill (con) at 39:50 "Can I tell you something very much in confidence? Well it is quite likely that I will go to the [House of] Lords...... that would be nice..... it also gives me another sting to my bow as far as you're concerned.... the right mover and shaker happens to be in the House of Lords"

and Geoff Hoon (Minister for Defence during Iraq War) at 42:20

"...One of the chalanges which I'm really looking forward to [on leaving government] is translating my knowledge and contacts .... into something that, bluntly, ....er... makes money." Priceless.

Absolutely disgraceful that government ministers should say things like this. He should of course have said:

" One of the chalanges to which I'm really looking forward...".

The show went out last night - they've already been sacked from the party. Ho, ho, ho

I hope your American politicians don't get involved in this sort of thing.

GrouchoForHireMarxist

 

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

delete

ashvinp's picture
ashvinp
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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
Davos wrote:

Oh, I see. Well hope it works out better than 75 years of governmental over-site of Social Security - now 14 trillion in the whole. And, oh, Medicare, after the government running it for 35 years we are on the hook for 84 trillion. And did I mention prescription? Also run by clowns and in debt for 18 trillion. Since the GSE's aren't medically related I won't mention that 6 trillion mess in the Fed that should be on our debt.

Glad you have faith in people who have demonstrated to me one thing: That they are inept  morons when it comes to managing ANYTHING! But hey, this time will be different.

Right?

First of all, this bill does not let government manage any more health care then it already did before and the private insurance companies are still in charge. If they want to deny someone coverage for a pre-existing condition they still can if they pay a fine of $100/day... what do you think they will do? 20 agaisnt a 10 says they keep denying coverage for the sake of profit. So let's not act like this was some major government takeover of health care.

Second, I totally agree that government run programs have been badly managed by corrupt politicians that are catering to big money interests. It's not that free markets in health care work much more efficiently than the government, it's that those who have accumulated the most wealth in our free market system have managed to effectively take over our government. Let's not forget, the Fed is wholly-owned by private banks and has little accountability to Congress.

This is the dinstinction that most people don't recognize, and so they believe that any government intervention in any area of the economy is necessarily bad. It's quite possible that any benefits from this HC bill will be quickly dismantled by special interests, and the Republicans are already trying to challenge its constitutionality on a bogus legal argument. If you're worried that the CBO estimates of a defecit reduction over 10 years is patently false or misleading (which I dont believe it is), then we should be asking ourselves why Medicare, SS and Medicaid are insolvent now? Maybe its because they have consistently been looted by politicians catering to special interests such as pharma, banking, defense industries and wealthy individuals in general. So your solution is to turn health care programs over to these private corporations directly? The irony is amazing but sad. Both the people and the politicians are convinced that following the demands of big business will make our lives better, and now we are paying the price, yet we still continue to do it and attack any real attempts by the government to save human lives.

Rhare - For the record, I completely believe in personal responsibility and I don't think government intervention and personal responsibility are mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, I believe that we are personally responsible for a large part of what our government does because we have the means to discipline them. At the same time, I believe our economy is a complex adaptive system and we must recognize that there are many ways in which it is out of our control, contrary to what people on CNBC say.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
gregroberts wrote:

A bit off topic but it might interest some you that are interested in amazing technology

http://widgets.nbc.com/o/47f1317f105123ad/498ebd00a62edaa0/47fe70d4555df05a/9e46bd46/-cpid/ba4377d3bfd6c81

If the link does not work you should find it here,

Jay Leno's Garage Next Engine 3D scanner

Thanks!

GrouchoMarxist's picture
GrouchoMarxist
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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

Politicians for hire now on YouTube.

"please keep this confidential..."

Update - Sir John Butterfill will not now be offered a peerage and a seat in the House of Lords - oh dear.

The daily rates for all the others will have dropped slightly from the expected £5000 per day to about ...er ... zero - oh dear, oh dear.

Enjoy.

G. HubrisMarxist

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rjs
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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
What Happens If You Don't Buy Health Insurance under Health Care Reform Bill?  - "The penalty applies to any period the individual does not maintain minimum essential coverage and is determined monthly. The penalty is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed. However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty. Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner."
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THE HEALTH BILL IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/2010/03/freedom-so-willingly-relinquished.html

Excerpt:

So much else that is wrong in the current bill set for vote today stems from the mandate, including the use of the IRS as enforcement agent and the sharing with the IRS of the details of our health care coverage.

More important than the details of this bill, the mandate destroys one of the last bastions of individual autonomy in this society.

Randy Barnett, a law professor at Georgetown, summarizes the problem today in The Washington Post:

But the individual mandate extends the commerce clause's power beyond economic activity, to economic inactivity. That is unprecedented. While Congress has used its taxing power to fund Social Security and Medicare, never before has it used its commerce power to mandate that an individual person engage in an economic transaction with a private company. Regulating the auto industry or paying "cash for clunkers" is one thing; making everyone buy a Chevy is quite another. Even during World War II, the federal government did not mandate that individual citizens purchase war bonds.

If you choose to drive a car, then maybe you can be made to buy insurance against the possibility of inflicting harm on others. But making you buy insurance merely because you are alive is a claim of power from which many Americans instinctively shrink.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

"Government" does quite a bit well and in a way that accomplishes more good that the private sector.  The role of a critic is perhaps the most enjoyable role of all, but anarchist arguments have been exploded for centuries and even libertarian arguments have to be put on life support more often Dick Cheney. 

Government also has the capacity to do some things pretty poorly, due generally to the ability at almost all times, historically speaking, to kick the can du jour a little futher down the road, together with the law of unintended consequences that invariably comes into play when you are working in large scale.

Whether "government" would be better or worse at delivering health care is a debate that has merit, as does the question of whether this particular form of healthcare overhaul accomplishes what needs to be accomplished.  But starting the debate with the argument that government can't do anything makes it impossible to have a rational discussion, because that starting point is really without merit. And continuing to kick cans down the road awaiting the Triple E Rapture is not something a lot of us are interested in doing.

I say all this as a cradle conservative--born and raised in Southern Indiana (often jokingly referred to as North Texas)--who owns several firearms, takes freedom seriously, and doubts very much that meaningful health care reform without tort reform and while embracing the for-profit model is possible.  And this is all MHO of course.

 

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Re: THE HEALTH BILL IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL
hucklejohn wrote:

Randy Barnett, a law professor at Georgetown, summarizes the problem today in The Washington Post:

But the individual mandate extends the commerce clause's power beyond economic activity, to economic inactivity. That is unprecedented. While Congress has used its taxing power to fund Social Security and Medicare, never before has it used its commerce power to mandate that an individual person engage in an economic transaction with a private company. Regulating the auto industry or paying "cash for clunkers" is one thing; making everyone buy a Chevy is quite another. Even during World War II, the federal government did not mandate that individual citizens purchase war bonds.

If you choose to drive a car, then maybe you can be made to buy insurance against the possibility of inflicting harm on others. But making you buy insurance merely because you are alive is a claim of power from which many Americans instinctively shrink.

The commerce clause was used to mandate restaurants and other private businesses to serve people of all races, which is a form of economic inactivity, so this mandate is not unprecedented. I don't see a big difference between requiring a person to buy insurance from a private health insurance company and requiring a person to pay taxes to the government for the provision of public goods. Maybe the technical constitutional argument is closer than it seems, but I doubt the Court will buy it even with 5 conservative justices.

The analogy to car insurance is not as simple as you make it out to be. The premise for a mandate to purchase insurance is that if you engage in an activity that routinely imposes costs on society (car accidents are inevitable), then the government can regulate that activity. No matter how healthy or responsible people think they are (and how much control they think they have), accidents and illnesses are inevitable and there is no way we are going to just let uninsured people die. So if states require ERs to provide treatment to people regardless of insurance, which they obviously should, then taxpayers shouldn't be required to foot that bill. And there aren't many good reasons for not being able to get insurance after this reform.

Also, as mentioned in another post, there are several limits on the ways fines can be assessed for violating the mandate.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
GrouchoMarxist wrote:

Politicians for hire now on YouTube.

"please keep this confidential..."

Update - Sir John Butterfill will not now be offered a peerage and a seat in the House of Lords - oh dear.

The daily rates for all the others will have dropped slightly from the expected £5000 per day to about ...er ... zero - oh dear, oh dear.

Enjoy.

G. HubrisMarxist

The only reason they been dropped from their parties is because they made mistake of getting caught.   It appears that a UK MP with principles is well and truely a thing of the past........... 

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

I suppose this isn't govt. run. And of course, the IRS won't need 16,000 agents to enforce it either.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
rhare wrote:

So I guess you have to decide, do you trust yourself and your decisions and think you should be responsible for them, or do you want your life run by government? 

Well at this time in our country, our government is being run by corporations. So don't try to tell me that the "free" market would do things any better. And if you think that reducing government would be an improvement you have to be kidding yourself. Corporate self interest inside a central banking system has created as much damage in the world as it has advanced humanity. Our economic choices are largely dependent on what business makes available to us. I no longer have the freedom to shop at my local mom and pop store even if I wanted to because Wal-Mart has been able to persuade enough other people to shop there. And that happens inside of the economic ideal that paying less and less for cheaply made goods is a good thing.

I will continue to bang the drum that our economic problems are a result of systemic problems in the design of our monetary system. Blaming the government for our economic problems is pointless. And corporations are only acting inside of a structure that limits what they can do. Even if they want to be truly good corporate citizens the structure of our money thwarts that end. Only a systemic redesign of our money/currency systems will allow for improvements. And I don't believe it can be done by eliminating money as ZeitGeist would like to do. 

Steven

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

Barack?!?!  Is that you?  You really do smoke marijuana, eh?  Your party argues that federal funds should be used to pay for abortion because it is less expensive to abort fetuses than it is to care for children on Medicaid.  (Have you signed that "Executive Order" against federal funding of abortions?  Didn't think so.)  I'm not here to debate the merits of abortion, if any, but considering your argument that we will save 40,000 lives a year with universal insurance is contrary to the Democratic Party line that it's cheaper to abort life than to care for it.  On a purely economic basis, I cannot argue this point.  But, if cost is your concern, then please be consistent and let those 40,000 people die each year for then we, the taxpayers, will not be forced to pay for their care.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

Welcome to the 20th century America.

Next you may learn that taxing gasoline will help bring in much needed revenue, promote cleaner burning( and cheaper) fuels, public transportation and encourage local economies.

This site is starting to lose its edge. Its starting to sound like a Wolf Blitzer show....

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

If it is so good then why are they hiring 16,500 _ _ _ gs to make you buy it?

Not to mention 37 states joining VA to sue to block it.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
Davos wrote:

If it is so good then why are they hiring 16,500 _ _ _ gs to make you buy it?

:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhDxxdYwksU&feature=player_embedded

Not to mention 37 states joining VA to sue to block it.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
sjmvideo wrote:

I will continue to bang the drum that our economic problems are a result of systemic problems in the design of our monetary system. Blaming the government for our economic problems is pointless. And corporations are only acting inside of a structure that limits what they can do. Even if they want to be truly good corporate citizens the structure of our money thwarts that end. Only a systemic redesign of our money/currency systems will allow for improvements. And I don't believe it can be done by eliminating money as ZeitGeist would like to do.

I'm with you 100% on this.  I think the root of everything is the money/currency we have.  We need a currency that can't be manipulated and is distributed.  We need competitive banking mechanisms.  However, I disagree that government is run by corporations.  We have a synergy of corporations and government that is far worse than a free market  would produce.  We have government favoring some corporations over others and with the  force of a fiat money system.  On top of that we have government not enforcing/protecting private property rights.

I also do not believe you can eliminate money, but you can have a distributed money system with competing currencies.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
Davos wrote:

I suppose this isn't govt. run. And of course, the IRS won't need 16,000 agents to enforce it either.

Wow, talk about a jumbled up chart that doesn't really prove anything. The fact is that the health insurance industry is not being run by the government, except for medicare and medicaid. There is no new public option and your blurry chart doesn't change that.

Ron Paul has a decent understanding of our monetary system and the shortcomings of our foreign policy, but I'm disappointed in him resorting to the same fear tactics as the rest of the republicans. 16K IRS thugs?? Give me a break. Obviously, republicans simply don't want to have an intelligent discussion over any legitimate issue.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

2074 pages say otherwise

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
ashvinp wrote:

Ron Paul has a decent understanding of our monetary system and the shortcomings of our foreign policy, but I'm disappointed in him resorting to the same fear tactics as the rest of the republicans. 16K IRS thugs?? Give me a break. Obviously, republicans simply don't want to have an intelligent discussion over any legitimate issue.

Forget the left/right paradigm.  Two heads of the same snake, IMO.  Neither side wants to have an intelligent discussion on any legitimate issue.  Thugs?  Yes.  State agents with a gun enforcing a state mandate that is not supported by the will of the people. If you think it is supported by the will of the people, I suggest we vote again after November.

 

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

After reading the bill, I must say it is like most other legislation. It is painted with such a broad brush that the opportunity for it to allow inalienable rights to be trampled is ripe for the picking. Not as vague as cap and trade, but not far behind.

[sarcasm]

But certainly we must assume that the fruition of its benevolent intent will be promulgated by all who interpret it and that no misuse of the powers it bestows will occur.

[/sarcasm]

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

Chris, Davos, Sax, and many others---thank you for sharing valuable information.

On health care...

I just can't shake the idea that it's intended to keep the "union" together. Another ruse that allows the Fed to make it difficult for states to go their own way. In the same way the slavery issue was brought forward to seize a "moral" victory for the North and put the Fed in power.

Is this totally offbase? Improbable?

My girlfriend and I were chatting this eve about healthcare being the "right" thing to do. In my mind, if the Gov't were truly interested in caring for us, they'd exhibit the same caring action in their foreign policy actions. I.e., we've had plenty of opportunity to help the poor/disabled throughout the world, but instead we go to war. How can one talk of peace, or healthcare, and drop bombs on unbelievers?

I forget the Teacher who said, "We are only shocked at human behavior because we see ourselves as closer to the saints, instead of the apes."

Thanks again, everyone.

John--in Chicago.

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Upcoming CTFC investigation.

 

 Interesting..

 http://www.kitco.com/reports/KitcoNews20100323B.html

 Speaking earlier to metal market investors in Washington, Chilton said, “Many say that there is clear ‘manipulation’ in metals and that we at the CFTC should merely ‘stop it.’  Well, in order for the agency to prove manipulation in court we have to demonstrate, among other things, that there was a specific intent to manipulate the market.”

 The solution for Chilton is value regulation.  “We need to have a law that provides us with the professional grade regulatory tools to do our job and put folks in jail who try to rig and contort these markets.”

 

 The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is holding a public meeting Thursday to discuss futures and options trading in metal markets.   Noticeably absent from the list are the larger banks.

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Interest Rate Swap Spreads on Treasuries Turn Negative

Interest Rate Swap Spreads on Treasuries Turn Negative for the First Time

"Does this imply that the comparable LIBOR is lower than US Treasuries? If so, yikes (I think)...."

Jesse's Café Américain

http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2010/03/interest-rates-spreads-on-treasuries.html

 

 

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
darqmatr wrote:

 "We are only shocked at human behavior because we see ourselves as closer to the saints, instead of the apes."

 

+1 !!!!!!!!!!

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Re: Interest Rate Swap Spreads on Treasuries Turn Negative
Lordson wrote:

Interest Rate Swap Spreads on Treasuries Turn Negative for the First Time

"Does this imply that the comparable LIBOR is lower than US Treasuries? If so, yikes (I think)...."

Jesse's Café Américain

http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2010/03/interest-rates-spreads-on-treasuries.html

 

 

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/10-year-swap-spreads-turns-negative

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
MarkM wrote:
ashvinp wrote:

Ron Paul has a decent understanding of our monetary system and the shortcomings of our foreign policy, but I'm disappointed in him resorting to the same fear tactics as the rest of the republicans. 16K IRS thugs?? Give me a break. Obviously, republicans simply don't want to have an intelligent discussion over any legitimate issue.

Forget the left/right paradigm.  Two heads of the same snake, IMO.  Neither side wants to have an intelligent discussion on any legitimate issue.  Thugs?  Yes.  State agents with a gun enforcing a state mandate that is not supported by the will of the people. If you think it is supported by the will of the people, I suggest we vote again after November.

 

At least one party is somewhat reasonable about tackling important issues (HC, financial reform, alternative energy), while the republicans are just spinning out of this universe. But yeah the democrats are also influenced by big money interests and hesitant to do anything against them.

The IRS agents enforcing insurance mandates won't have guns and 58% of people either supported the bill or didn't support it because they thought it didn't go far enough. I'm pretty confident the republicans will win a decent amount of seats in November, because the American people love to panic about things they don't understand (economy this time), get confused and manipulated and then vote republican.

Oh, wow. Sarah Palin just encouraged people to "reload" and target democrats who voted for reform on a map with crosshairs. And the sad thing is this dimwitted nutbag actually has a following. Yeah, let's vote for these malicious people in November...

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

Tipping Point: Near-Term Systemic Implications of a Peak in Global Oil Production (Christian W.)

This paper talks about the likely systemic impacts of peak oil, including the possibility of collapse....

I read the entire paper tonight by Feasta, The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, which TheOilDrum.com article links to.  The paper  does a great job I think summarizing some of the key points which are also in the Crash Course, such as Peak Oil, debt based economy, and dependence on energy inputs for economic growth.  The paper also emphasizes that because our current infrastructure/society has become so highly complex, specialized, and interdependent, a rapid systemic collapse could occur much faster than the 3%-5% decline rates in existing oil production typically estimated.  Recognizing the Peak Oil problem, then unwinding the complexity and building resiliency seem to be important parts of preparation.

The paper ends with these upbeat remarks:

Finally, this is a personal story. It will no doubt be a difficult time, and horrific for some. We are likely to see a major population collapse. But it will also be a time when many people will find a liberation in new social and personal roles; in the new friends and connections they make; in the skills and passtimes aquired; in their ability to contribute to others welfare; in their freedom from the subtle corrosion of positional consumption; and in the pleasures gained from contributing to the most crucial of shared endevours.

Each moment, each day begins anew, there is work to be done, enjoy it!

Tom

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
darqmatr wrote:

Chris, Davos, Sax, and many others---thank you for sharing valuable information.

On health care...

I just can't shake the idea that it's intended to keep the "union" together. Another ruse that allows the Fed to make it difficult for states to go their own way. In the same way the slavery issue was brought forward to seize a "moral" victory for the North and put the Fed in power.

Is this totally offbase? Improbable?

If by improbable you mean there is no evidence to support that theory, then yes. With regards to the civil war, I think it's pretty ridiculous to connect the issue of slavery with a desire to put the Fed in power. Lincoln was actually completely against a central bank and wanted to keep issuing debt-free "greenbacks" printed by the government after the war, and some people think this is why he was assassinated (which doesn't seem too implausible to me).

darqmatr wrote:

My girlfriend and I were chatting this eve about healthcare being the "right" thing to do. In my mind, if the Gov't were truly interested in caring for us, they'd exhibit the same caring action in their foreign policy actions. I.e., we've had plenty of opportunity to help the poor/disabled throughout the world, but instead we go to war. How can one talk of peace, or healthcare, and drop bombs on unbelievers?

I forget the Teacher who said, "We are only shocked at human behavior because we see ourselves as closer to the saints, instead of the apes."

It's not about whether our government cares for us right now, its about whether we care for ourselves and our fellow humans. I completely disagree with Obama's foreign policy in Afghanistan, but that doesn't mean he isn't capable of supporting something that would be good for the people. I don't think we can "let perfect be the enemy of good". Humans obviously have many horrible tendencies, but I think that is only one half of the equation and we can return to a more proper role in nature, either by choice or by force.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
derfman64 wrote:

Next you may learn that taxing gasoline will help bring in much needed revenue, promote cleaner burning( and cheaper) fuels, public transportation and encourage local economies.

This site is starting to lose its edge. Its starting to sound like a Wolf Blitzer show....

It worked really well in Europe....

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

German pensioners jailed for kidnapping banker

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/24/2854805.htm?section=justin

Four elderly Germans have been handed jail sentences for kidnapping their financial adviser and holding him prisoner in a basement in an attempt to recover around 2.5 million euros ($3.7 million) in lost savings.

The two men and two women, aged between 61 and 80, seized the banker outside his apartment in the western town of Speyer, bound and gagged him and bundled him into the boot of a car before driving him 500 kilometres across Germany.

They held the 57-year-old man for days in a basement, trying to force him to transfer large sums of money to them.

In one remittance order the banker included the message: "Sell 100 Call Pol.ICE today please!" A bank employee notified police and the banker was freed by an elite commando group.

The 74-year-old ringleader of the kidnapping, known only as Roland K, says he greatly regrets the kidnapping, especially that he involved his wife and others in the situation.

"Our relationship with [the banker] had developed into a friendship over the years, so I felt I had to apologise to him," Roland K said.

The court in the Bavarian town of Traunstein sentenced the two men to four and six years in jail, while the two women were given suspended sentences of 18 and 21 months. All four had confessed to the kidnapping during the trial.

- Reuters

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

Hum zero hour?

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
ashvinp wrote:

Oh, wow. Sarah Palin just encouraged people to "reload" and target democrats who voted for reform on a map with crosshairs. And the sad thing is this dimwitted nutbag actually has a following. Yeah, let's vote for these malicious people in November...

ashvinp-

"dimwitted nutbag"?  Now do you really think that kind of commentary is going to win people to your way of thinking?  Emotive junk like that is something that I frankly find insulting to be subjected to, whether receiving it from TV/cable news or on this forum.  One important difference between the two, though, is that this forum usually has much higher standards (hint hint).

- Nickbert

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
rhare wrote:

In the short run we will start to see exactly what you see in other countries with socialized medicine.  Those who can't afford to go elsewhere for treatment/procedures will be stuck with the system the state provides while those with means will go to other countries or buy care directly.  Healthcare for the general public will become less accessible (long wait times) and less effective (fewer modern treatments).

Well, I'm Canadian and from my experience, the system works well enough... It sucks at times, yes, but it works.

However, I do believe that it will collapse in the next few years. The government has recently started to dig deep deep debt holes. It will blow.. And for that reason, I don't think it's a good idea to implement such a system in America in this day and age, precisely because the economy is in a bad shape. People will die? Yes, but IMO they will also die when the currency collapses... I suppose some people will have to learn the hard way. I'm rooting for gold :)

Samuel

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

You had me with the standards but, then, you quoted Homer Simpson.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
GrouchoMarxist wrote:

Politicians for hire now on YouTube.

"This video contains content from Channel 4, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds." wtf?

Time to distribute content over BitTorrent :)

Samuel

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
ashvinp wrote:

At least one party is somewhat reasonable about tackling important issues (HC, financial reform, alternative energy), while the republicans are just spinning out of this universe. But yeah the democrats are also influenced by big money interests and hesitant to do anything against them.

The IRS agents enforcing insurance mandates won't have guns and 58% of people either supported the bill or didn't support it because they thought it didn't go far enough. I'm pretty confident the republicans will win a decent amount of seats in November, because the American people love to panic about things they don't understand (economy this time), get confused and manipulated and then vote republican.

Oh, wow. Sarah Palin just encouraged people to "reload" and target democrats who voted for reform on a map with crosshairs. And the sad thing is this dimwitted nutbag actually has a following. Yeah, let's vote for these malicious people in November...

I really am not going to enter into dems v. reps as BOTH are guilty of selling themselves to the highest bidder and then holding forth to have done something that will be to the benefit of "us".

The "gun" I mentioned is a metaphor.  The state always has a "gun", whether it be penalties, fines, taxes, imprisonment or ...a gun.  Thieves always have means  of coercion.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
ashvinp wrote:
MarkM wrote:
ashvinp wrote:

Ron Paul has a decent understanding of our monetary system and the shortcomings of our foreign policy, but I'm disappointed in him resorting to the same fear tactics as the rest of the republicans. 16K IRS thugs?? Give me a break. Obviously, republicans simply don't want to have an intelligent discussion over any legitimate issue.

Forget the left/right paradigm.  Two heads of the same snake, IMO.  Neither side wants to have an intelligent discussion on any legitimate issue.  Thugs?  Yes.  State agents with a gun enforcing a state mandate that is not supported by the will of the people. If you think it is supported by the will of the people, I suggest we vote again after November.

 

At least one party is somewhat reasonable about tackling important issues (HC, financial reform, alternative energy), while the republicans are just spinning out of this universe. But yeah the democrats are also influenced by big money interests and hesitant to do anything against them.

The IRS agents enforcing insurance mandates won't have guns and 58% of people either supported the bill or didn't support it because they thought it didn't go far enough. I'm pretty confident the republicans will win a decent amount of seats in November, because the American people love to panic about things they don't understand (economy this time), get confused and manipulated and then vote republican.

Oh, wow. Sarah Palin just encouraged people to "reload" and target democrats who voted for reform on a map with crosshairs. And the sad thing is this dimwitted nutbag actually has a following. Yeah, let's vote for these malicious people in November...

I really resent the assumptions you draw. First, I can't stand Bush, McCain, or Moose-head Barbie who I'm convinced is dumber than bricks. Second I voted for the seatbelt nut (Nader) - because if I'm very honest with myself I see little difference between our "2" parties. When Obama got in I did support him - for one month. Then I found out he is full of it.

Anyway, I resent the political focus of your post. Their all idiots by definition of passing laws for commoners that them, the ruling elite don't have to follow, by passing laws that we can't afford, by looting trillions from retirement trust funds (something you or I would go to jail for, no different than Madoff) and I could go on an on. Even Alan Grayson got an email from me calling him a spineless hypocrite - day one he attacks the Fed. Good. Day two he advocates a law that will require trillions of the Fed's funny money (QE) to sustain. Bad, idiotic like a baby yelling at the left one and nursing off the right - same cow.

But your post does nothing to get into the physical irresponsibility of this bill. Guns or no guns, if it was such a great bill people wouldn't be forced to sign up for it. Reality lags perception - just like this guy said he'd be bringing troops home.   

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23

I'm honestly surprised that any one feels truly able to defend the Party given our nation's circumstances. My opinion is that people are more focused on what politicians say rather than what they do or the results they generate. The sad part is that we didn't actually see the devastation our wars have caused until years after they are started. We won't fully see the horrors of this health bill until years after it has passed and then the politicians will find another scapegoat to blame.

This whole thing is a joke. We stimulate our economy by going to war: defense contractors get their "bailout." Then the banks get jealous so they crash the markets/economy: GS and company get their bailout. Now America faces a healthcare crisis (pushed by lobbyists) and the insurance / pharma companies want their bit of plunder: healthcare gets passed and Joe Sixpacks perception of just how much he is getting shafted will lag reality by enough that he might never actually connect the dots and instead later blame poor/expensive healthcare on an exogenous cause. What industry is next in line to demand their plunder?

Many will be tempted to label this conspiracy theory-esque paranoia. It is not. This is phase 3 of empire, according to Frederic Bastiat, where everyone plunders everyone else. This is a form of anarchy in which laws and frameworks are manipulated and twisted by those with the most power. We must follow the rules, but they get to make them. The learned helplessness of much of the public is what allows this abuse and fraud to persist.

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Re: Daily Digest - March 23
Mike Pilat wrote:

I'm honestly surprised that any one feels truly able to defend the Party given our nation's circumstances. My opinion is that people are more focused on what politicians say rather than what they do or the results they generate. The sad part is that we didn't actually see the devastation our wars have caused until years after they are started. We won't fully see the horrors of this health bill until years after it has passed and then the politicians will find another scapegoat to blame.

This whole thing is a joke. We stimulate our economy by going to war: defense contractors get their "bailout." Then the banks get jealous so they crash the markets/economy: GS and company get their bailout. Now America faces a healthcare crisis (pushed by lobbyists) and the insurance / pharma companies want their bit of plunder: healthcare gets passed and Joe Sixpacks perception of just how much he is getting shafted will lag reality by enough that he might never actually connect the dots and instead later blame poor/expensive healthcare on an exogenous cause. What industry is next in line to demand their plunder?

Many will be tempted to label this conspiracy theory-esque paranoia. It is not. This is phase 3 of empire, according to Frederic Bastiat, where everyone plunders everyone else. This is a form of anarchy in which laws and frameworks are manipulated and twisted by those with the most power. We must follow the rules, but they get to make them. The learned helplessness of much of the public is what allows this abuse and fraud to persist.

Great write and super read Mike!!!

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