Friday, April 30, 2010

Minimum Wage Goes Up, Hours Go Down

How the minimum wage works in the real world.

A.G. (who asks me to use, in this post, only his initials) is a regular reader of Cafe Hayek. He’s 28 years old and is an entrepreneur in Charlotte, North Carolina. His firm employs 25 people, 21 of whom are low-skilled workers. A.G. just sent this memo to his employees:

To All Team Members:

The schedule for next week has been posted. You may notice that hours have been cut back on your schedule. This is across the board, not just you. I don’t want anyone to think they’ve done something wrong to deserve a cut in hours, so I wanted to explain why it’s happening.

There are a couple of reasons for this:

1) May and September are very slow months for our business. Anyone who has worked Sundays recently has seen the drop off in traffic. Now that we’re entering May, that drop off will continue on to other days as well, and it will get worse.

2) The recent increase in the minimum wage to $7.25/hour. Since we’ve opened, I’ve had a lot of people ask why they can’t get more hours, and it’s a great question.

I would LOVE to give everyone all the hours they want, and then some. Our customers would be happier across the board, we could accomplish much more every day, our business would grow, I could hire even more people, and on and on. However, we operate on a tight budget just like any other business, and in order to survive, we have to make money. That means our labor cost (the total amount you are all paid) must stay below a certain percentage of our total sales. If it doesn’t, we go broke and everyone loses their jobs.

Our brilliant Congressmen in Washington, D.C. decided a couple years ago that it would be a good idea to raise the minimum wage by about 40% to $7.25/hour. It just took effect last year. That probably sounds like great news for everyone – more money in everyone’s pockets can only be good, right?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in the real world. If I’m forced to pay everyone 40% more, I can’t afford to schedule as many employees for as many hours, since our sales aren’t going up by 40%. Remember, I can only afford to pay you guys a certain percentage of all the money coming in the door. That means hours get cut, and everyone ends up poorer.

In a perfect world, it should work the opposite way: you should be free to choose how much you think your skills and time are worth (since you know best), and I should be free to pay you whatever that amount is if I want to hire you. Everyone wins in that case. I get as many good employees as I want that I can afford to pay, and you get valuable job training, references, and relationships to carry into the future.

To prove how bad of a deal minimum wage is for you guys as hard-working job-seekers, just look at this way:

I’m not being forced to pay $7.25/hour; YOU are being forced to accept $7.25/hour no matter what, even if you’d be willing to take less in order to get (or keep) a job.

You can thank our elected officials in Raleigh and Washington for sticking you with such a raw deal.

If you have any questions about any of this or want to talk more about it, please feel free to come see me, the door is always open.

Our leaders have the mistaken belief that by mandating a certain hourly wage, our low-skill workers will earn more money, when in reality they will just work fewer hours.

Of course we shouldn't expect our Congress critters to understand that--whenever they run out of money, they can just (legally) steal more from the American people.

[Cafe Hayek via Instapundit]

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Debt is the New Wealth

This is what happens when you have a debt based economy.

According to the chart, out of the bottom 90 percent of Americans, 73.4% of whatever wealth they were able to accumulate is through debt. In comparsion, the top 1 percent only uses 5.4% in terms of debt, and the next 9 percent's total is 21.3%.

As the banks and hedge funds steal our money and we see our paychecks stagnate or disappear, the banks and hedge funds are happy to loan our money back to us, with interest.

[via jblanch3]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Obama's Debt "Reduction" Panel

I already called BS on this debt commission, and the more I learn about it the more certain I am that I was right.

The commission is scheduled to make its report by Dec. 1, about a month after the midterm elections. It is charged with recommending ways to reduce the deficit in the fiscal year 2015 to the equivalent of 3 percent of the gross domestic product or less — nearly a percentage point smaller than it is now projected to be in that year. The panel is also to recommend long-term changes in taxes and spending for the major entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — whose expected growth is the biggest factor in the deficit forecasts.

This horseshit commission isn't worth the expensive chairs I'm sure they're sitting in. They aren't even trying to balance the budget or decrease our debt, they just want to grow the debt more slowly. Thanks for nothing assholes.

I'm sure their solution will be to raise taxes. After all, comrade Obama has just saddled the American people with the Health Care bill, which we will be paying for long after we're dead. Fantastic.

Are we cutting Medicare? No, we're expanding it. Are we cutting Social Security? Yeah right, old people vote. Are we cutting the Military? Fat chance, we have to build new bombs to replace our old bombs, oh and we put more people in Afghanistan, oh and that Iraq thing is still going on.

Also, notice the scheduling of the commission's report--AFTER the elections. They know the report will be ugly, because once the rest of America wakes up to the giant pit we've dug for ourselves, they will be just as mad as I am right now.

Fuck it. I'm beginning to believe that the only way out is to spend all our money, then max out all our credit cards, until no one else will lend us money and all our checks start bouncing. Because until then, nothing will change.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves.

- Thomas Jefferson

LA Budget Problem Still Bad

I wrote earlier about Los Angeles's money woes. LA mayor Tony Villaraigosa has submitted his latest budget that, while cutting costs, still leaves a nearly half a billion dollar deficit.

It shouldn't be surprising that LA is having such trouble balancing its budget, considering its top budget official, Miguel Santana, is an honest-to-god non-fuctioning alcoholic.

Mr. Santana exited rehab two weeks ago after a DUI arrest, and is now hard at work doing whatever it is he does as LA's top budget official.

Municipality Considering Bankruptcy

Another city, Harrisburg PA, has let its finances get out of hand, with massive debt loads ($288 million to be exact) forcing the issue of municipal bankruptcy.

For Harrisburg, it's not a question of 'if' they will file for bankruptcy, but rather 'when' and 'how.'

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Teacher Layoffs and Unions

New York City schools are planning to lay off 8,500 teachers. According to union rules, senior teachers keep their jobs and newbies get the boot.

Facing the likelihood of the largest number of layoffs in more than a generation, [schools chancellor] Mr. Klein and his counterparts around the country say that the rules, which require that the most recently hired teachers be the first to lose their jobs, are an anachronism in the era of accountability that will upend their efforts of the last few years to recruit new teachers, improve teacher performance and reward those who do best.

“Nobody I’ve talked to thinks seniority is a rational way to go,” Mr. Klein said. “Obviously there are some senior teachers who are extraordinary. You recruit young talent you think is good for the future, and to just get rid of that by the numbers seems to me to be a nonsensical approach.”

This month city officials persuaded lawmakers in Albany to introduce a bill that would allow the city to decide which teachers to let go, although its chances of passing are slim.

I find it strange that school administrators are not allowed to decide which teachers they want to let go. It seems that an administrator would need to have control of their personnel to properly administrate. Am I wrong here?

Seniority-based layoffs will prevent young, talented teachers from infusing the system with new life and new ideas. It also prevents administrators from laying off teachers who are senior but past their prime. Finally, it discourages new teachers from even entering the profession:

Mr. Borock, the Bronx teacher, said that the layoffs would discourage newer graduates from entering the profession. “If you have a number of job opportunities, as many of us did, and you have a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you could lose this job really quickly,” he asked, “why would anyone want to go into that?”

Why indeed.

While a Times study has shown that teachers with 6-10 years experience usually outperform 1st and 2nd year teachers, it is important that young teachers are given the opportunity to grow.

Without fresh blood, our public education system will continue to decline. Without the ability to say who stays and who gos, our school administrators cannot be expected to revive our ailing education system.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Air Force Tests New Space Plane

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle was launched today at Cape Canaveral, and was propelled into orbit by an Atlas V rocket motor, which is typically used to launch satellites.

Built by Boeing Co.'s Phantom Works, the X-37 is much smaller than the space shuttle, but it's ultimate purpose is unknown, as the Air Force has been very quiet about it.

However, the ultimate purpose of the X-37B and details about the craft have longed remained a mystery, though experts said the spacecraft was intended to speed up development of combat-support systems and weapons systems.

"This launch helps ensure that our warfighters will be provided the capabilities they need in the future," Col. Andre Lovett, a launch official and vice commander of the Air Force's 45th Space Wing, said in Thursday's statement.

The new space plane cost hundreds of millions to develop, let us hope that money was not wasted on yet another military boondoggle.

SEC Officials Busy Wanking While Economy Collapsed

Wonder how Bernie Madoff, AIG, and Goldman Sachs were able to pull billion dollar scams right under the noses of regulators? The SEC was obviously pre-occupied.

The investigation, which was conducted by the SEC's internal watchdog at the request of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, found 31 serious offenders over the past two and a half years. Seventeen of the offenders were senior SEC officers with salaries ranging from $100,000 to $222,000 per year.

Eight Hours a Day Spent on Porn Sites

One senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington spent up to eight hours a day accessing Internet porn. When he filled all the space on his government computer with pornographic images, he downloaded more to CDs and DVDs that accumulated in boxes in his offices.

An SEC accountant attempted to access porn websites 1,800 times in a two-week period and had 600 pornographic images on her computer hard drive.

Another SEC accountant attempted to access porn sites 16,000 times in a single month.

In one case, the report said, an employee tried hundreds of times to access pornographic sites and was denied access. When he used a flash drive, he successfully bypassed the filter to visit a "significant number" of porn sites.

The employee also said he deliberately disabled a filter in Google to access inappropriate sites. After management informed him that he would lose his job, the employee resigned.

A similar SEC report for October 2008 to March 2009 said that a regional supervisor in Los Angeles accessed and attempted to access pornographic and sexually explicit Web sites up to twice a day from his SEC computer during work hours.

The SEC is supposed to be there to protect us from financial trickery, but failed. Now congress is telling us that all we needed was more regulation. Brilliant.

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit said it best:


[via Instapundit]

Vacationing Now a Human Right

From the Freakonomics Blog:

The European Union has declared that tourism is a human right and all Europeans are entitled to subsidized travel. The subsidized tours will be open to pensioners, citizens over 65 or between the ages of 18 and 25, and families facing “difficult social, financial or personal” circumstances. “Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,” said Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry. The tours are also intended to promote European pride, bridge the “north-south divide,” and support the tourism industry in the off-season.

So now Europe has publicly subsidized vacations. What's next, the human right to have a TV?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Financial Reform is a Cruel Joke

Obama is gearing up for another congressional battle, this time over financial reform.

Instituting a system to ensure that “American taxpayers are protected in the event that a large firm begins to fail.”

Imposing the so-called Volcker Rule, named after Paul A. Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman who proposed limits on the freewheeling trading and risks taken by banks.

Setting new transparency rules for derivatives “and other complicated financial instruments.”

Assuring “strong consumer financial protections.”

Instituting “pay reforms” to give investors and pension holders “a stronger role in determining who manages the companies in which they’ve placed their savings.”

In many ways, he is trying to protect people from their own bad decisions, which in my opinion makes it more likely that they will make those bad decisions.

Obama is also trying to reign in the derivatives markets that allowed the mortgage backed securites to grow and spread so quickly and so far.

All of this seems logical and fair, however it is not real reform. Financial giants still hold all the cards, because they still have access to the Federal Reserve.

It may interest you to know that banks are currently borrowing from the Federal Reserve at 0.5% interest, then using that money to buy Treasury bills, which pay 3%. You read that correctly. Our government has set up a system whereby banks can make money without lifting a finger using the Fed's money machine.

Why would our government allow this practice? The answer is simple. The Fed prints the money, lends the money to banks, then the banks lend the money to the government via T-bills. The government is borrowing against the dollar, against the wealth of the American people, and they are laundering their dirty deed through banks, while paying a 2.5% premium for the laundering service.

Congress is not interested in real reform, and neither is Obama. The government needs the financial system to work the way it does, because without it, we wouldn't be able to run trillion dollar annual budget deficits. We have given tremendous amounts of power to the financial system, and we are surprised when they misuse that power.

This is not reform, this is shuffling paperwork. Real reform would require reforming or ending the Federal Reserve, but our leaders have no interest in killing the golden goose.

Quote: James Madison

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

- James Madison

[via FEE]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Food, Inc.

I just watched Food, Inc. Go watch it now, but prepared to have your mind blown. I learned so much from this film. You'll never look at food the same way again.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Keep It Simple Stupid with a Flat Tax

A Brief Guide to the Flat Tax, by Daniel Mitchell, Ph.D.

These major features of a flat tax are:

A Single Flat Rate. All flat tax proposals have a single rate, usually less than 20 percent. The low, flat rate solves the problem of high marginal tax rates by reducing penalties against productive behavior, such as work, risk taking, and entrepreneurship.

Elimination of Special Preferences. Flat tax proposals would eliminate provisions of the tax code that bestow preferential tax treatment on certain behaviors and activities. Getting rid of deductions, credits, exemptions, and other loopholes also helps solve the problem of complexity, allowing taxpayers to file their tax returns on a postcard-sized form.

No Double Taxation of Saving and Invest­ment. Flat tax proposals would eliminate the tax code's bias against capital formation by ending the double taxation of income that is saved and invested. This means no death tax, no capital gains tax, no double taxation of saving, and no double tax on dividends. By taxing income only one time, a flat tax is easier to enforce and more conducive to job creation and capital formation.

Territorial Taxation. Flat tax proposals are based on the commonsense notion of "territorial taxation," meaning that governments should tax only income that is earned inside national borders. By getting rid of "worldwide taxation," a flat tax enables U.S. taxpayers and companies to compete on a level playing field around the world.

Family-Friendly. All flat tax proposals have one "loophole." Households receive a generous exemp­tion based on family size. For instance, a family of four would not begin to pay tax until its annual income reached more than $30,000.[6]

Consumption-Based. A tax code that does not discriminate against saving and investment is con­sidered a consumption-based tax system, regard­less of whether taxes are deducted from the paycheck or collected at the cash register. In this respect, a flat tax is a type of consumption tax. The difference between a flat tax and a national sales tax is where the tax is collected. A flat tax is levied on income-but only once and at one low rate-as it is earned. A sales tax is levied on income-but only once and at one low rate-as it is spent.

Last year, 47% of Americans paid no federal income tax. However, they did not get off scott free-- no, their labor became profit for their employer, and that profit became tax revenue for the federal government, through business and high-income taxes. That means they do not even see a price tag on how much of their labor ended up going to taxes.

With the flat tax proposal above, many of this 47% would have to pay taxes. However, since their employer would be conceivably taxed much less, he could afford to pay his employees more.

But the real reason I like the flat tax is that I think people should see the price tag of the government they have, because the more people know how much it costs, the more they will demand accountability.

Thomas Jefferson believed that an informed electorate was necessary for democracy to succeed, as he wrote to a friend:

" ... whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights"

What information could be more important, more basic, than the actual price each of us must pay for our the government?

Have a Nice Day

Cheech and Chong sit down with Adam Carolla on the Adam Carolla Podcast.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Real Solutions for Financial Reform

Doug Holtz-Eakin, economist and former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, shares his thoughts on banking reform.

Real solutions for real problems

The biggest threat to regulatory reform is always the lobbying of the financial services sectors to preserve their status. This time, Congress must rise above the lobbying scrum and deal with three big problems.

First, it must create a firm commitment to a bankruptcy procedure. Using a panel of bankruptcy judges to trigger resolution would be best.

If the Treasury Department, the FDIC or a systemic-risk council decides that traditional bankruptcy could be too disruptive, it should trigger a “speed bankruptcy” — in which equity holders are wiped out and debt is swapped for equity so bondholders become the new owners.

Second, provide consumer protection by building on the experience of the Federal Trade Commission. It has a specialized staff of lawyers and economists who understand the complex nature of credit products. Congress should augment FTC resources and emphasize investigation of true cases of fraudulent and deceptive practices.

Third, deal with the housing government-sponsored enterprises. The goal should be steadily to reduce the dependence of the mortgage market on the federal government.

Congress should slim down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s role by removing their affordable housing mission, unwinding the retained portfolios and toughening the regulatory oversight of their guarantee and securitization lines.

I like the way this guy thinks. Now it's up to Congress to pass it, without getting caught up in partisan bickering. I'm not holding my breath.

How your Brain Perceives Time

The passage of time is anything but settled science. Einstein said time was relative, depending on how fast you were traveling. New science suggests that our perception of time is also relative, depending on how fast your brain is working.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dishonesty: Thy Name is Good Intentions

Maternal death during childbirth has been almost eradicated in the United States, where for every 100,000 births only about 9 women die.

According to a recent Lancet study funded by the Gates Foundation, the global rate is around 250 deaths per 100,000 births. This number, while high, is a stark improvement from 422 deaths per 100,000 births just 30 years ago.

So great news, right? The maternal death rate is falling quickly, thanks to "higher income, which improves nutrition and access to health care; more education for women; and the increasing availability of “skilled attendants” — people with some medical training." Wonderful.

However, not everyone wants to spread the good news:

[S]ome advocates for women’s health tried to pressure The Lancet into delaying publication of the new findings, fearing that good news would detract from the urgency of their cause, Dr. Horton said in a telephone interview.

“I think this is one of those instances when science and advocacy can conflict,” he said.

Dr. Horton said the advocates, whom he declined to name, wanted the new information held and released only after certain meetings about maternal and child health had already taken place.

He said the meetings included one at the United Nations this week, and another to be held in Washington in June, where advocates hope to win support for more foreign aid for maternal health from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As usual, when science conflicts with advocacy, the advocates try to hide or distort the science with the best of intentions--they are, after all, trying to help people (ostensibly). But do the ends justify the means?

This story parallels nicely with the climate change debate. Skeptical scientists with contradicting data are marginalized and ignored by advocates and the media because they don't fit the message. After all, advocates think they are saving the world.

However, they have become slaves to their own message, no longer thinking or basing their arguments in fact, but pushing the message forward without regard to honesty or ethics. To them, the ends justify the means.

[via Freakonomics]

Iceland Volcano Halts Air Traffic in Northern Europe

This volcano eruption in Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland is spewing a ridiculous amount of ash into the atmosphere. The ash cloud has blanketed northern Europe, halting air traffic due to visibility and engine danger from the floating debris.

A map of the ash cloud:

Airports in Norway, Sweden, Finland, the UK and Denmark have been shut down due to the cloud. As the could spreads it should dissipate, allowing air travel to continue.

The significant ash cloud is caused by a special formation in the volcano. The volcanic crater is (was) actually buried beneath 200 meters of ice, and when the lava seeped out and contacted the ice, the results were explosive, throwing huge amounts of ash into the air.

[via Fannarh]

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Financial Reform

The latest plan out of the Senate Banking Commitee includes a $50 billion bailout fund to handle failed banks. Chris Dodd claims the fund will be used to liquidate bank assets in the event of a failure.

Critics of the plan believe the bankruptcy and the market are more than enough to handle a bank liquidation.

“There is no reason why a bank holding company cannot be dealt with in bankruptcy except that it inconveniences politicians,” Mr. Whalen said.

Bondholders would actually fare better under normal bankruptcy than under the Dodd bill, he said, adding: “Until the U.S. government stops behaving like a bunch of European technocrats and ends the idea of a public bailout for any bank, the cancer of ‘too big to fail’ and, behind it, political corruption and the corporate state, will grow.”

Until we let banks face the consequences of their bad decisions, they will continue to use the federal government, and by extension the American taxpayer, as their de facto insurance company.

Butchers Banned From Using Knives [WTF]

From the utterly ridiculous file:

A butcher at Sainsbury's was banned from using knives - because of health and safety, it was claimed today.

Shopper John Wilkinson was shocked when a meat counter worker at the supermarket said he could not de-bone a joint of lamb.

The businessman claims he was told: 'My bosses won't let me - in case I cut myself and I'm not insured.'

Luckily this happened in Britain, not America, but we're slowly moving in that direction.

I understand the store's concerns over liability, but this has gone too far.

John Cleese Explains Political Extremism

This was filmed over 20 years ago, but some things never change.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Obama Authorizes Murder of US Citizen

The story of Obama's new stance on citizen-terrorists is from last week, but it bears repeating:

Obama Authorizes Murder Of A US Citizen.

No arrest. No charges. No trial. Just execution.

You have been warned.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How I Fought a Credit Card Company and Won

Last summer, I decided I needed a pair of shorts. I went to the mall and to my favorite clothing store, Banana Republic.

The store was having a 15% off sale for store credit card holders. Having acquired a card the year before during a similar sale, I put the discounted shorts on the plastic. This was the first time I had used the card since I first got it, as I have no real need for a clothing store credit card, other than to take advantage of the odd sale.

A few weeks later, the credit card bill arrived, and I put it aside with the other bills. However, it must have gotten lost in the shuffle, because I forgot to pay it.

One month later, another bill arrives. This one, predictably, had the previous months balance, plus a finance charge. I expected this, and the finance charge was not much, as the shorts were only about 30 dollars.

However, to my shock and dismay, I also discovered a 25 dollar late fee! This fee was almost as much as the balance of my account!

Furious, I wrote a check for the full amount, including charges and fees. On the payment slip, I checked the box signaling a "change of address," to be written on the back of the slip. I flipped the paper over and proceeded to write in the address field, "GO FUCK YOURSELF. I WILL NEVER USE YOUR FUCKING CARD AGAIN."

I placed the paper and the check into the accompanying envelope, affixed a stamp, and mailed it off.

A month later, I received this in the mail:

GE Money Bank, as well as Banana Republic, were so afraid they would lose me as a customer that they credited the 25 dollar fee back to my card, meaning I now had 25 dollars to spend at Banana Republic.

"Ha," I said to myself. "They think they can win me over that easily? Fuck 'em." I had made a strong statement, and I aimed to stay true to it. I scanned the letter you see and threw away my card.

Two months later, I was going through the mail, and found a letter from GE Money Bank. "What now?" I asked myself.

I opened the envelope to find this:

A check, from GE Money Bank and Banana Republic for my 25 dollars. Victory.

The moral of this story is that if too many customers disagree with a company's practices, and those customers stop giving the company money, that company has no choice but to change those practices or go out of business.

Companies always chase the money, so don't give your money to a company who's practices you disagree with, and if you are already giving them money, stop.

UPDATE: I have been informed by a former credit card collections employee that there is a much faster way to do this. Often the collection is contracted out to a different company, who will usually waive the late fee since they only care about collecting some payment. If you call and say you'll do a check by phone if the fee is waived, they will waive it almost every time. If they don't, hang up, call back and try a different person.

I have also been informed that the best credit card to have is the Amazon Rewards card. It's through Chase, which according to my source is a good bank.

I swear I am not shilling for Amazon or Chase, though if they wanted to pay me, I would accept.

Aussies Use Segway Robots for Sniper Practice [Robot Apocalypse]

These robots are being used as target practice by the snipers in the Australian Defense Force. Sure it looks fun, but this real life shooting gallery comes with great danger for the robots. Robots who will some day rise, and take their revenge.

[via Gizmodo]

Friday, April 9, 2010

Abe Lincoln, White Supremacist

I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

-Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Illusion of Taxes

Oddly, taxes have almost nothing to do with the way the FedGov's finances work.

This was also the case during the WWI time period. In fact, the entire point of taxation is to divert attention from what is actually happening financially. Because if people understood that, there would be a revolution by morning.

No practicable amount of taxation could possibly come close to allowing the United States government to honor its financial obligations. Anyone who can add knows this. And most of those "obligations" are simply empty lies and promises to the public. Empty promises traded for obedience.

A tiny minority of Americans pay the overwhelming majority of taxes....And yet this tiny minority of taxpayers receives far more in special privileges from the government than it pays in taxes. Essentially they own the government at rather affordable prices with really massive return on investment. A single dollar sent to D.C. can result in hundreds if not thousands of dollars extracted from the public in return. Perhaps not necessarily extracted in cash (although this is often the case) perhaps extracted in terms of obedience.

And so the overwhelming majority of Americans who "pay no significant amount of taxes" pay with something else. They pay with their lives. The entire economic structure of their lives is being centrally managed for the benefit of others.

Our economy is being run in a manner which centralizes money and power while preventing capital formation and destroying real wealth and prosperity.

The greatest threat to "the rich" is not taxation but rather competition from the emerging middle class. This is, after all, what destroyed feudalism in Europe.

The entire point of "socialism" or "fascistic corporatism" is to consolidate the power of the State and protect the rich and powerful from emerging middle class competition.

The point is to turn a human being into this:

[written by Glasperlenspieler]

Jesse Ventura Pwns Fox News Host

It's rare that you see someone speak the truth on national television, but when it happens, man is it sweet.

[via Alex]

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bernanke Prods Reform in Medicare, Social Security

Fed chief Ben Bernanke finally says what I've been saying for years: Medicare and Social Security are going to bankrupt this country if we don't do something soon.

Mr. Bernanke noted that the economy was still fragile, and he made it clear that he did not expect the federal government to raise taxes or cut spending anytime soon. But he spoke about the budget pressures posed by Social Security and Medicare with greater urgency than he has in the past.

“The arithmetic is, unfortunately, quite clear,” Mr. Bernanke said. “To avoid large and unsustainable budget deficits, the nation will ultimately have to choose among higher taxes, modifications to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, less spending on everything else from education to defense, or some combination of the above. These choices are difficult, and it always seems easier to put them off — until the day they cannot be put off any more.”

Democrats don't want to cut benefits, and Republicans don't want to raise taxes, but something must be done before it is too late.

Bernanke also commented on the Fed's response to the financial crisis, and added his two cents on financial reform.

“To end ‘too big to fail,’ the new regime should permit regulators to close a failing firm and impose losses on shareholders and creditors,” he said. “Indeed, I would argue that no financial instrument counted as regulatory capital should be allowed to receive any protection from losses.”

He's talking a good talk, but thus far it's only talk. We'll see if he practices what he preaches.

Journalistic Bias from the Associated Press

I love finding examples where our "objective" journalists inject their bias into their reporting.

This is a story of absolutely no consequence, but nonetheless an instructive comparison. Here's how the Associated Press reported President Obama's throwing out the first pitch at yesterday's Montreal Expos game:

In front of thousands of fans, President Barack Obama strolled to the pitcher's mound and tossed a baseball to Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, officially launching the team's baseball season.
The setting - freshly cut grass, a brilliant sun and clear skies - was a picture-postcard quality introduction to a new Major League Baseball season. And the lanky Obama, appearing in khakis and a Washington Nationals warmup jacket, was the star attraction for a moment.
Here's how the AP reported the same story two years ago:

President Bush had enough to worry about--like not flubbing the first pitch in front of a crowd that might not exactly be his biggest fans anyway.
So before the game, when a couple of Atlanta Braves gave him a team jersey and suggested he wear it to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park, Bush laughed. Uh, no thanks, guys. Might as well put on a sign that says "Boo me."

No matter what we do, we are going to have bias in journalism. I accept this fact. What pisses me off is when obviously biased journalists claim that they have no bias.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

LA to Run Out Of Cash on May 5

Happy Cinco de Mayo, Los Angelenos, your city is out of money

“The question I have been asked most often during the budget crisis is, ‘When will the city run out of money?” Greuel said in the e-mailed release. “Unfortunately, we finally have the answer.”

Greuel, 48, said in the release that the city might not be able to make payroll. She asked Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council to release $90 million from reserve funds to meet what she described as “an urgent cash need.” The controller’s financial reporting division estimated that the city would need $90 million to ensure solvency through the fiscal year that ends June 30, according to Golombek.
As LA descends into (more) chaos, their government will be forced to make hard decisions as money becomes increasingly expensive to for them to borrow. If they continue on this path, things could get ugly.

LA is a microcosm of America, both are trying to do too much with too little tax revenue, and as such both are running up massive debt.

Pay attention to LA (and California as a whole) as it goes broke, as this will give us clues to what will happen to America when it finally runs out of money.

Maybe LA will get a bailout from the American taxpayer.

[Via Glas]

Friday, April 2, 2010

Peace Be With You: Who Really Spends the Most on their Military?

The United States is routinely criticized on the grounds that we waste obscene ammounts of money on our military. However, relative to our population and GDP, the United States military is actually in the middle of the pack in terms of global armed forces.

All that said, I'm still in favor of cutting the size of our military, as it is much more than we need. As budget deficits continue to grow, we must cut anywhere we can.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

On Catholic Priests Raping Children

Stop it. Just stop it. Pope, where you at?

I bring this up because I just came across a story about the head of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, claiming that since most of the boys had already hit puberty, it didn't count as pedophilia, but was rather just run-of-the-mill homosexuality.

The vast majority of the victims are post-pubescent. That's not pedophilia, buddy. That's homosexuality.

I don't believe in hell, but in this case I hope it does exist so that Bill Donohue and all the sick perverts he's defending can burn for eternity.

The Pope himself remains tight-lipped on the matter, and no, that is not sexual innuendo.

[via TheAmericanNomad]

How to Fix America: Elect a 3rd Party President

It's really quite simple, I'm surprised I never thought it before. In order to fix the American political system, that is, in order to save America, we can do one thing, one singular action, and do more to right the ship than we have done in decades. All we have to do is elect a third party president.

It hardly matters who it is. Ralph Nader. Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich running as an independent. As long as there's neither an R nor a D by their name, they will suffice. Because until a third party can make it into the presidency, this country will bend to the wills of the Democratic and Republican parties. One of them is bad enough, but we suffer from both, and we will never force real reform of the political theater until we admit that it is broken, that the parties no longer represent America, as they are now but hyper-polarized caricatures of American political thought.

They and the mainstream, old media are to blame for controlling political thought for many years. By cleverly stoking and channeling political energy, they have taken power and torn a nation apart.

Extreme views and hard positions must relax if we hope to reconcile our differences and make the government work for us. We must set aside old grudges and not just reach across the aisle, but forget the aisle completely. We must let go of the hard ideologies that have pitted Americans against each other, because the more we fight each other, the less we run the country.

So think about it. You still have two years to decide. Obama claimed he would bring change, but he's really just more of the same.

It's time to send a message to the parties, to BOTH parties: We won't stand for it anymore.

Federal District Court Finds Warrantless Wiretapping Illegal

Warrantless wiretapping: is it legal? Another judge says no.

Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker yesterday became the third federal judge -- out of three who have considered the question -- to find that Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program was illegal (the other two are District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor and 6th Circuit Appellate Judge Ronald Gilman who, on appeal from Judge Taylor's decision, in dissent reached the merits of that question [unlike the two judges in the majority who reversed the decision on technical "standing" grounds] and adopted Taylor's conclusion that the NSA program was illegal).

That means that all 3 federal judges to consider the question have concluded that Bush's NSA program violated the criminal law (FISA). That law provides that anyone who violates it has committed a felony and shall be subject to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each offense.

So someone in the government made illegal wiretaps, and three federal judges have found this activity to be illegal, yet no arrests have been made. I guess because ultimately the responsibility goes back to the President, no one will take action on this clear violation of the law.

...the bulk of Judge Walker's opinion was actually a scathing repudiation of the Obama DOJ. In fact, the opinion spent almost no time addressing the merits of the claim that the NSA program was legal. That's because the Obama DOJ -- exactly like the Bush DOJ in the case before Judge Taylor -- refused to offer legal justifications to the court for this eavesdropping. Instead, the Obama DOJ took the imperial and hubristic position that the court had no right whatsoever to rule on the legality of the program because (a) plaintiffs could not prove they were subjected to the secret eavesdropping (and thus lacked "standing" to sue) and (b) the NSA program was such a vital "state secret" that courts were barred from adjudicating its legality.

Those were the arguments that Judge Walker scathingly rejected.

This used to be a country of laws. Now the government only enforces law when it is convenient.

[via docfaraday]