Reality is incompatible with most American dreams.
The First Cut: Michigan is cutting the maximum period it will pay unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks. Michigan's unemployment rate is 10.7%. Nearly half of the nations jobless have been unemployed for more than 20 weeks. The justification? “This insures that employers won’t be taxed through the roof for unemployment benefits.” It also insures that the unemployed will suffer more, sooner.
Constitutional History: There used to be three co-equal branches of government. But Bush and Obama (and Clinton, Bush, Reagan before them) have pretty well castrated the Legislative branch. Now the Executive branch is pruning back the powers of the Judiciary, interpreting Supreme Court decisions as they wish. Miranda, for example, no longer applies to those suspected of terrorism. Of course it is hard to ask for a lawyer when you are tied down with a rag in your mouth being waterboarded.
Datapoint: New houses are now selling at half the rate they did back in 1963 – even though there are 60% more people in the US today. At the current rate, there will only be 250,000 new houses sold this year. Another new record!
Foot Bone/Leg Bone: The unrest and violence in the Middle East is driving up the cost of petroleum, which drives up the cost of diesel fuel and nitrogen fertilizer. Tractors use diesel and crops need fertilizer. Farmers have to make a living, so you will be paying more for the food grown by the farmers who are using the more expensive diesel derived... and so on. But it won't be called inflation.
Protection Racket: The government has 'suggested' to the five largest banks that they bribe delinquent borrowers $21,000 to hand over the keys and leave without trashing their houses. Do the borrowers get to make a counter-offer?
Yawn: Seasonally adjusted unemployment claims: 382,000. The four week moving average is at 385,250. Both are a tad lower than last week, not great, not even really good, but hopeful.
Clues: Portugal's government has collapsed over disagreements about how much more austerity the country could stand. Irish bonds are yielding over 10% as their austerity measures collapse the economy. British austerity moves have completely undercut any GDP expansion. In Greece “austerity” is synonymous with “riot!” The castor oil crowd claimed that austerity – especially cutting social programs and workers salaries – was a magic elixir that would produce bounding growth instantly, which seems to be an overstatement. Someone should tell a few Republican Governors.
"Unexpected” Today it was durable goods orders turn to come in “much worse than expectations”. Instead of being up 1.1% they were down 0.9%. This makes it 4 out of the last 5 months with reported decreases.
Future Imperfect: Today the US has 310 million voracious consumers and expects to add 110 million more by 2050, while the world adds 2 billion more to the current 7 billion – most of the increase in the poorest countries. You know the problems: energy, water, food... Don't tell me technology is the answer. They told us 'technology' back in 1968 when there were only 3.5 billion of us, and see how that's working out.
Facts Not In Evidence: “...the natural tendency of a free market economy to seek an increase of the well being of its citizens.” Aw, the free market cares, isn't that sweet?
Manning The Barricades: An Associate Press story appearing in papers around the world cites as its source: “A senior US defense official revealed the contents of the intelligence report on condition of anonymity because it was classified secret.” I hope they put him in a cage right next to the naked Private Bradley Manning, just to show how serious the administration is about these leaks.
Trick Question: Are CEOs Overpaid?