Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fuck You Comcast

The Net Neutrality debate is about to heat up again, as Comcast strong arms Netflix's delivery company, Level 3, into paying higher fees to deliver content that Comcast's internet subscribers have requested.

Comcast is using its monopoly status to exact rents from Level 3 and Netflix. Many people in this country have no option when choosing an ISP. In my town, only Time Warner is available. Since there is little to no competition in the ISP arena, Comcast is able to extract unreasonable fees from content providers.

Comcast subscribers are already paying for the bandwidth, that's what their monthly payment is for. But Comcast wants to squeeze more money out of their crooked system by charging companies like Level 3 extra to provide content that Comcast customers have requested.

Internet customers are paying to have the data they want delivered to them. Had Level 3 not given in to Comcast's demands, Comcast would have breached their agreement with their subscribers by blocking Netflix content. They can do this because they know their subscribers have no other options for broadband internet.

It's a racket, it's anti-competitive, it's anti-net-neutrality, and it is illegal. The FCC needs to do it's job and prevent monopolies like Comcast from controlling what their customers can and can't get online.

When Unemployment Runs Out, the Unemployed Get Cranky

Q: How can a government that has done such a horrible job of managing the economy keep its citizens from revolting en masse?

A: Spend like there's no tomorrow.

Unfortunately for the government, and the unemployed masses, tomorrow is almost here.

In December, the unemployment extension, which allowed people to continue receiving unemployment benefits for 99 weeks after losing their jobs, will run out, immediately dropping tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans from the unemployment rolls, and eventually dropping many more.

Up until now, the government has managed to keep a lid on the anger of Americans by keeping the unemployed fed with foodstamps and kept money in their pockets with extended unemployment benefits. But these are stopgap measures that count on a rebounding economy to get people back to work. However, our economy shows little signs of a rebound, and people continue to lose their jobs.

In an era when banks receive billions of federal dollars for a job poorly done, Americans are fully justified in their anger towards their government. Our economy is crumbling while our legislators twiddle their thumbs, while devising new ways to reward corporate failure.

Now that the unemployed are about to feel the full force of the crappy situation we're in, we can expect their anger to grow.

Notice that even though this is the worst economy since the Great Depression, we haven't seen any bread lines or droves of unemployed workers flooding the streets. This is a testament to the effectiveness of food stamps and unemployment checks at hiding the devastation. But once we run out of money for those programs, things will get ugly.

I'm not thrilled about the prospect of a breakdown of social order, but this is the bed we made, and come December, we will have to lay in it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Higher Taxes Won't Reduce the Deficit

Politicians claim we need to raise taxes to reduce the deficit, but history shows that higher taxes have always lead to even higher spending.

In the late 1980s, one of us, Richard Vedder, and Lowell Gallaway of Ohio University co-authored a often-cited research paper for the congressional Joint Economic Committee (known as the $1.58 study) that found that every new dollar of new taxes led to more than one dollar of new spending by Congress. Subsequent revisions of the study over the next decade found similar results.

We've updated the research. Using standard statistical analyses that introduce variables to control for business-cycle fluctuations, wars and inflation, we found that over the entire post World War II era through 2009 each dollar of new tax revenue was associated with $1.17 of new spending. Politicians spend the money as fast as it comes in—and a little bit more.

The only option left is to cut spending, but we already knew that, didn't we?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Walking the Walk

Politicians in Washington are great at talking the talk. It gets them elected, it gets them soundbites on TV news, and it convinces their constituents to continue supporting them.

But now it is time to walk the walk. The conservative swing in this year's election has been an indictment of overspending in Washington. The Tea party formed in direct response to corporate giveaways and budget busting entitlements. The mission for Congress this session is clear:


And now it is time for them to walk the walk. It is easy for a conservative to call for lower taxes and spending, but the process of actually cutting things from government is anything but simple. It will be an uphill battle with deep political consequences. Nobody wants to lose their access to the Federal Gravy Train. But it must be done.

So let's do it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A thousand words

I like it for three reasons.

1. I am personally enraged by redundant, time consuming paperwork.
2. Reducing paperwork means increasing freedom and economic efficiency.
3. I really want to reach out and squeeze those scissors

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Fed Conjurs Up $600 Billion

In an effort to support sagging interest in US Treasuries, the Federal Reserve has resorted to what they call "quantitative easing" which is a fancy way of saying creating new money out of thin air.

What they are effectively doing is monetizing the losses by both the banking sector and the federal government, by which I mean stealing wealth from every person who holds US dollars to pay for boneheaded mistakes at the highest levels of power.

The Fed has couched this new money magic in a false effort to, well, I don't know what bullshit they're spinning this time. Increase demand, increase lending, reduce interest rates, support the stock market, stimulate the economy. Whatever, don't believe them. This is yet more trickery to hide the fact that America is in a deep, deep hole.

It's as if the Chilean miners were given massive doses of hallucinogenic drugs to help them forget that they were buried thousands of feet below ground. Unfortunately, the drugs eventually wear off, and you're still 2,300 feet underground.

On the news of fresh, new money, stocks jumped, as did gold and silver. The new money shocked the stock market up sharply, and the loss of faith in the dollar pushed more investors into already inflated gold and silver.

Those in the know can see right through the Fed's trickery and are making out like bandits. Everybody else is getting royally screwed, but probably don't even know it.

The Fed is playing roulette with the wealth of an entire nation. The fact that so few people are outraged is proof that Americans are woefully uninformed about their own monetary system.

Or, as Henry Ford once said, "It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tea Partiers Come to Polls in Droves

Tea Party Fever sweeps the nation as conservative candidates across America win a multitude of races against liberal opponents.

When asked for an explanation of the poll results, Democratic Strategist Melanie Kessler had this to say, "I honestly didn't think those rubes would be able to find the polling places. It's probably the result of some Fox News propoganda ploy."

President Obama was equally baffled by the mid-term results, "These morons don't know how much we're doing for them. We're helping you, dip-shits! I can't understand why they'd vote against us."

As conservatives re-take the House of Representatives, Democratic strategists attempt to regroup with a new round of initiatives. "Americans were clearly dissatisfied with the level of spending in the bank bailouts, stimulus programs, and health care reform. So we've come up with a bill that will outspend all of those put together. Try and vote against THAT come 2012!"

Minorities and the disabled have already begun barricading themselves inside their homes, in preparation of the coming onslaught. "They're comin to kill me, I know it," said black man Ronnie Jackson. Wheelchair guy Chris Ingle was equally frightened, "I heard they used guys like me as hunting decoys."

Keith Olbermann could not be reached for comment, as his head exploded. One camera, two microphones, and a lighting fixture were damaged in the blast. Luckily, no one was watching.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vote Day

Hey Americans, go vote so that we can all live in freedom and democracy forever.