Wednesday, August 26, 2009

SAR #9238

Math had its chance.

Gift Horse: Here's the real clunker: The $4,500 wasn't really $4,500. The $4,500 is part of the car's price and you had to count it when you paid the sales tax. And the state views it as income, and will be collecting its cut next April.

Healthy Reform: Since 2002 our health insurance premiums have gone up 87%, while their profits increased 428%. Medical bills are the most common cause of personal bankruptcies – yet 70% of those forced into bankruptcy by medical bills have health insurance.

Quoted: “A singular absurdity of the 21st century is that the nation that spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined needs to hire mercenaries to fight wars against enemies who have no defense budget at all.”

Eratta: The CBO now projects that unemployment will be above 10% for most of 2010 and will not return to normal levels until 2013 or 2014.

Technical Terms: To “the economy is in a recession” and “a recovery is in process”, a new descriptor is needed to accurately describe the moment. Stagflation doesn't quite fit, and Krugman's “we're in purgatory” seems a tad too hopeful. For most who do not work on Wall Street a simple “we're screwed” might do the trick.

Medium Rare: China plans to reduce or end exports of several rare earth metals that are essential to the manufacture of to advanced technological devices found in everything from hybrid cars to supercomputers and precision-guided weapons.

In the Center Ring: The US Chamber of Clowns Commerce – hoping to keep Congress from making their members pay to clean up the mess they make – wants the EPA to hold a 'Scopes'-like trial of the scientific evidence that climate change is man-made.

It's their money: US District Judge Preska has ruled that the money the Fed hands out is the citizens' money and they have a right to know what Ben's been doing with it.

Tunes: The Philadelphia Fed reports that the recession was still widespread in July. The Case-Shiller House Price Index reflected price increases in much of the nation's housing in June. The Baltic Dry Index reversed it's brief uptick and fell 45%in July.

Symptom: 34 % of workers have only one week – or less – of savings.

Smallest State Shrinks: Most of Rhode Island's state workers are getting an extra 12 vacation days. Without pay. 19 other states have similar plans as they try to bridge that gap between tax income and state expenditures. Pretty soon we'll see how we like that smaller government the GOP recommends.

Colonel Jessep. Tiny Tim says that telling the citizens what the Fed has been up to would be “problematic” and that it would be better if they didn't know. Better for whom?

The Play's the Thing: The first act of the great North American Oil Crisis is scheduled for late 2011, when Mexico runs out of oil to export. The second act opens with the US trying to replace its old reliable partner while Mexico tries to remain a country without having any income. The third act is a real mess.

One Step Forward: Many types of plastic break down faster in seawater than was previously suspected. But the byproducts of their decomposition are poisonous contaminants. One lump, or two?

Porn O'Graph: The Bell Jar – to zero by December 2010?


Anonymous said...

"against enemies who have no defense budgets at all" is the usual Republican BS: sounds good, but on closer thinking is full of crap. When Bin Laden can pay cash to have 10 brand new pickup trucks delivered to his troops, yes, Virginia, there is a defense budget.

When Taliban is using proceeds from opium sales to finance terrorism, yes indeed there is a budget, and a successful one. There may not be a centralized building like the Pentagon, but there is most definitely a defense budget.

Demetrius said...

I can't wait for someone to say that Mexico ending oil exports is a "green shoot". Did you get my mail on G&S OK?

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

I fear Anony 10:23 read only the quote and not Huber's great rant... else how could he mistake him for a Republican of any stripe?

And, yes, Demetrius - I got the G&S email and while I was reminiscing over my brief career on the musical stage managed to lose the reply address. If you would...

ckm - who is not madly in love with his new laptop.

Jeff Huber said...

I'm not sure how much of a threat 10 pickup trucks is to a US Army combat brigade.

Anonymous said...

".. yet 70% of those forced into bankruptcy by medical bills have health insurance."

Bankrupt, but alive. Why don't they pay upfront(cash only) for the services? Let's see how many stay alive.

Anonymous said...

"..Pretty soon we'll see how we like that smaller government the GOP recommends."

Keep the workers, but cut their salaries and benefits to match their private sector counterparts.
But noo, we can't talk about that,.. for some reason.

Bill said...

Some truly disturbing articles. Peak oil will be a worldwide crisis in the not-to-distant future. Mexico, however, seems like it will bubble to the top a bit sooner. I hope that some part of our government is developing a plan to deal with it.

As a pension actuary by training, I can confidently say that the public pension system is broken, irresponsible and largely corrupt. A leaner, more cost effective local, state and federal governments is what this country desperately needs.

Jim said...

Damn, I knew Cantarell was in decline, but it's falling off a cliff!! PO here we come....

K Ackermann said...

There is a strong theme running through a few of these links: true batshit insanity.

The most potent military ever assembled, who's budget doubles the entire rest of the world, deploying overlapping echelons of superior systems on land, sea, air, and in space, is literally in the wrong country for its stated objective of wiping out a terrorist group. It is ready to slide into counter-narco operations, which would completely remove any source of capital for the luck host. These people are armed to the teeth and more than happy to die. Nothing will agitate them more than taking their money away.

Those health care stats are truly shocking, and here is where sociologists must be stunned. A big chunk of the US population is actively and fervently fighting against their own interests.

We've all heard about mob-rule, and rapid displays of anti-social behavior that can overtake crowds. This is different: this is a sustained suspension of disbelief in which huge numbers of people are begging for themselves and their children to be kicked in the teeth by placing matters of their health in the hands of for-profit corporations with a track record of... well, the stats say it all.

Reality makes things very difficult for these people. They simply cannot cope with it. When it is mentioned that Medicare is a government program, and is run better than anything else out there, they do not understand the implication, and instead they demand the government keep its hands off Medicare.

There was a town hall in Idaho last week where they were demanding incarceration for people who use the emergency room without paying, and then proceeded to complain about the high cost of incarceration. Some wanted the goverment to start killing illegal aliens.

This is the first time in years the government is attempting to enact legislation that is aimed to benefit the people, and the people are furious.

I think we have reached a tipping point where the sustained high doses of Orwellian behavior of the government, and the 24/7 stream of focused nonsense coming from the media has left many people unwilling to think for themselves. When they do, it conflicts with everything they are hearing, so they choose the easy route and go with the words that appeal to them the most. Unfortunately, fear is the easiest emotion to appeal to, and the most effective way to control someone. A very direct and uncreative example of this was Chuck Grassley reaffirming the notion that the health care reform proposals, of which he is key, was going to make the government kill grandma when she gets too old. His attempt to tell the truth about it was very painful to watch.

It's easy to understand the anger and distrust directed toward the government. The Clear Skies Act increases pollution. The Patriot Act encroaches on our liberties. The former head of Justice even told us that sometimes breaking the law is not a crime. The prior administration undermined nearly every agency by appointing the least qualified, or the most industry-friendly department heads, and the jury is still out on quite a few of the new ones. Cheney tried to hide between branches of the government, and exposed undercover agents.

Does the government deserve any trust? Absolutely not. The ironic thing is, their own motives can be used against them. Once government programs are put in place that affect most of the population in a perceived positive way, it will fall all over itself to ensure uninterrupted performance of the service.

It's probably the best case for a public option. Tie it around the government's neck. They are going to make damn sure it runs smooth.

ballyfager said...

All of this crap about "peak oil"? NOBODY knows where we are vis a vis "peak oil".

And anthropogenic global warming isn't a fact either.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

KA - Your 'brier patch' suggestion has merit - the GOP should force those of us that want public option health insurance to have it. Then, if it performs like Medicare, the VA, and military health systems, we'll soon see the error of our ways.