I can't believe that there is a lawsuit against fast food restaurants...wait, I live in the U.S., so yeah I guess I can believe there is such a lawsuit. What I find amazing is that these people are suing because, when you get right down to it, they have no self-control and take no responsibility for their actions. These people opened their mouths and put this food in there, chewed then swallowed. McDonalds did not force them, they were pigs and now they want McDonalds, Burger King and KFC to pay for it. Its disgusting. Steve
Senate Fails to Pass Perscription Drug Welfare Plan The thing that is amazing is that despite the dismal future for Social Security and Medicare that the Senate is trying to pass a bill like this. The ratio of workers to elderly recipients of welfare is going to be around 3-to-1 once the Baby Boomers retire, if I remember correctly. Think about that. Suppose the typical elderly person recieves $30,000 a year in benefits. This means on average the typical worker will pay $5,000 per year (currently the total tax burden is split between employees and employers). And that does not factor in administrative costs (you know, all those bureaucrats). One might think I'd be happy with this outcome, but I am not. The problem is that both Democrats and Republicans want this program. They just can't settle on the details.
Nontheless, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer today chastized the Senate for failing to find a compromise on the issue, calling it a disappointment for senior citizens. He urged the Senate to seek another compromise.
"America's seniors, particularly those who are low-income, have waited too long for a modernized Medicare program that provides better benefits, including prescription drug coverage," he said.
That maybe Ari, but you know what, the thought of my taxes jumping dramatically to pay for these old folks is quite depressing. Social Security and Medicare need to be gutted and sunk. Steve
Monday, July 29, 2002
Krugman Scores with this Article on the Calif. Energy Crisis Actually he is recapitulating Frank Wolak's model. Anyhow, it shows that even with excess capacity the prices could skyrocket right up to the highest possible price. Goes right along with what I was noting about the California energy crisis here. Oh well, after being harsh on Krugman in the last post I thought I'd post something good. Steve
But even without the nonsense over the date, would this have made any sense? Rubin doesn't run Citigroup; his actual duties are vague, but probably involve a little bit of big-think and a lot of door-opening. Clearly he is not in the operational chain of command; the people structuring financial deals are very unlikely to run them through his office.
Gee, he thinks Rubin does a lot of "door-opening". You don't think that maybe they had Rubin make his ill-advised phone calls to various parties to help open the door to the notion of hiding Citibank's stupidity...naw, that would be too much of a stretch.
To get a sense of what would justify a real presumption of guilt, consider the case of Thomas White. The Secretary of the Army was actually in charge of Enron Energy Services, which created $500 million in fictitious profits during his tenure - and that was all it accomplished, since it was actually bleeding cash. But he's still in his post, because, say his defenders, you can't prove that just because he was in operational charge of the division he had any idea what it was actually doing.
Oh...so if Rubin did something wrong, then this justifies it. You know Mr. Krugman, your work in economics is outstanding. When you write stuff like this you look like a fool. The point is that both men should probably be called before Congress. Of course on Thomas White, I don't see any kind of conflict of interest/unethical doings relating to his position as Secretary of the Army. But what the hell, call him before Congress too. Steve
1. Surrounding oneself with civilians (particularly children) when knowing full well one is a target is morally reprehensible.
2. This is a war, one that has been going on for 2 years. Hence this isn't going to lead to more violence since there is no indication that the war was over. In other words, more violence is inevitable.
Anyhow, check out the article and other stuff by Pipes. Steve
Productivity...budget surplus...and technology-driven economic growth, which occurs during the term of a Democratic President is called a "bubble."
Some more insights from Hesiod. The funny thing is he is right on the description of what we saw under Clinton, IMO. There was a bubble that was fueling that economic expansion. If you look at the data (sorry no picture for this one) you'll see that during the Clinton years there was a pretty substantial inflow of capital into the U.S. right around the time capital was leaving Asia. Could this have fueled the bubble? Sure seems reasonable. In California there is a similar problem. During the 90's the State's revenue grew dramatically due to the dotcoms. There was money flowing like water. Unfortunately the stupid state politicians spent like it was going to last forever, and now there is a $24 billiion dollar hole in the State budget (granted Davis' idiocy with the energy crisis accounted for a good $10-12 billion of that number). Was this economic growth the result of anything magical done by Bill Clinton and his administration? I doubt it. The best thing Clinton did was to re-appoint Greenspan. Steve
the Social Security and Medicare programs are underfunded by roughly 40 percent. Closing that funding gap requires an immediate and permanent increase in the combined employer-employee FICA payroll tax from 15.3 percent to roughly 25 percent. Another option is immediately and permanently cutting the benefits of these programs by roughly one quarter.The Coming Generational Storm
Yet, we get Democrats, such as Gore, who want to keep Social Security. Social Security is a pyramid scheme, an intergenerational one. It works thusly, the current working generation pays payroll taxes which are taken by the government and paid to the current retired generations. If you think there is an account somewhere with your name on it, I'm sorry to break it to you, but that belief is false. If private citizens such as you or myself were to undertake such a scheme we'd be arrested and thrown in jail. Ironic that the government gets to do something that its citizens cannot.
I warn you that the paper above by Kotlikoff is not for the timid.
Fully privatizing Social Security and paying off all its unfunded liabilities may be the most responsible and progressive course of action, but it’s also the least likely to be chosen by our political leaders. Hence, baby boomers and other Americans can look forward to various and major tax hikes and benefit cuts, many of which are likely to arise within the Social Security program.
I hope you readers are not counting on Social Security benefits when you retire.
In short, you see an America in 2030 that looks a lot like Russia circa today. page 5
Not a pleasant thought, eh? We don't need a Republican or a Democrat for the next President, we need a President that realizes that Social Security has to be completely removed and replaced with a privatized system. Unfortunately, any politician that suggests this leaves himself open to scare tactics that he wants to throw old people into the streets. Throw widows and their children out on the sidewalk, take food from their mouths. We saw it in the last election with Gore's cartoonish displays of various people who needed free drugs. We simply cannot afford to offer free drugs. We cannot afford to continue with the existing system. Talk about expanding the existing system is not just impractical it is downright insane. Steve
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Al Gore visited Capitol Hill for the first time in 18 months on Thursday, blasting the Bush administration for mismanaging the economy, cozying up to corporate interests and misleading the public about the effects of its centerpiece tax cut.
The problem is that the current economic problems have part of their cause in the past several years. Looking at the data one can see that the signs of were indicating a coming resession. In fact, here is Robert Rubin taking some of the blame for the current economic woes. Note that Rubin is claiming that the current economic woes are the result of "...(economic) imbalances that developed over the last 8 years...." This must really hurt for guys like Hesiod who is trying to both pass off the current economic problems as a Bush creation and exonerate the Clinton Administration (and laughably while doing all this accuses others of having no integrity...I guess he is an expert on that given his own lack thereof).
"The Republican Party today is at the hands of an elite that embodies wealth and power," Gore told 500 young Democratic activists jammed into a Senate office building room.
Now that is funny. I'd agree with it if he changed "Republican Party" to politicians (including himself).
"The best thing they could do is completely scrap their entire economic plan and start over again from scratch, and get rid of their entire economic team and start over with a brand new one that has some common sense," Gore said.
Gore wouldn't know what common sense is, let alone economic common sense if it came up and bit him on the ass. Part of the economic woes stem from the bursting of the dotcom bubble. It was clearly a bubble and instead of seeing it for what it was most people blabbered on about the "New Economy", then the "Old Economy" decided to open up a can of whup-ass and everything fell apart. Also, it is rank demagoguery to ignore the impact of 9/11 on the economy. Then the effects of these various scandals. I am amused at the blame game with regards to these scandals. Enron, Worldcom and Global Crossing all came into prominence during...the Clinton years. Were the Clinton years a decade of greed? Ooops, that is already used for Reagan. I know, we can call the Clinton era the Decade of Corruption. Ken Lay has played golf with Clinton you know. Instead we get this pap from Gore about How Bush has fouled things up. Hey, Al, I got news for you this mess, you and the former Administration you worked for have to share a considerable part of the blame. It was on your watch that much of Enron's shady actions took place.
Mabye somebody should tell Robert Rubin to shut up:
Imbalances developed throughout the late '90s with rising corporate and consumer debt, a low personal saving rate, a stock market that was high by any conventional standard, a widening current account deficit and excess capacity.
Damn, those were Clinton years. Saying stuff like this Bob is likely to hurt Al Bore's chances in the next Presidential election. Steve
Given Hesiod's economic ignorance I thought I'd come back here and clear somethings up for any of his readers that happen to have followed his link here. There are various time series that economists look at to try and make a determination about the state of the economy. Some of these indicators are called leading economic indicators. Hesiod, in his economic ignorance claimed I was essentially full of it when I noted that Industrial Production peaked around September 2000. Well, Industrial Production is a leading economic indicator. That is, it generally decreases prior to a recession and increases prior to an expansion. Not only this, but given that it is quite likely the seeds of this recession were laid prior to the 2000 election for Hesiod to be correct in his claim that it was Bush's budget busting, the people of the U.S. would have to foresee not only Bush's budget busting, but also his victory in the 2000 election! Nice job displaying your ignorance Hesiod. Steve
More from Sit-n-Spin Apparently Hesiod can't see what the data is telling him when I linked to some data at NBER. I never claimed that the recession started in March of 2000. I did note that the problems that lead to the recent recession started late in 2000. I don't know about you, but I consider March of 2000 to be in early in 2000. The point of looking at the data is to show that the problems started prior to Bush becoming President. Should Bush have done something? Sure. But by the same token shouldn't have Clinton done something? Seems for Hesiod there are two sets of criteria, one for Democrats and one for Republicans. Yeah, Hesiod you are doing something, you are propagating silly Democratic Party propaganda. For that, I give you high marks. For having integrity, lets just say you need improvement. Oh and Hesiod, here is a bit of information you might find helpful, the economy...it doesn't turn on a dime.
Also, Hesiod is still got his panties in a knot over the fact that Citigroup is looking more like co-conspirators with Enron and that Robert Rubin may have played a role in trying to keep Citigroup's role from being discovered.
"Nowhere does he point out that one possibility for this is that the entire deal was made and completed BEFORE he ever joined the company."
Granted, Robert Rubin might have been completely clueless about the whole fiasco and was just acting in good faith to help out the poor folk at Enron and to help keep the markets from getting all a twitter. But Hesiod's complete blind spot in even admitting it looks suspicious is quite telling, in my opinion. Steve
It started covering only employees, and now it's being applied to students and patrons of public accommodation. It started with personal slurs and the hardest core pornography, and now it's being applied to offensive political and social commentary, religious proselytizing, sexually themed humor, and indeed to "legitimate art" as well as "pornography" (since of course the law is notoriously bad at distinguishing the two). Steve
"The choice is made according to four criteria: First, devout religious observance. Second, we verify that the young man complies with his parents' wishes and is loved by his family, and that his martyrdom will not [adversely] affect family life - that is, he is not the head of the family and he has siblings, as we will not take an only child. Third, his ability to carry out the task assigned [to] him, and to understand its gravity; and fourth, his martyrdom should encourage others to carry out martyrdom operations and encourage Jihad in the hearts of people. We always prefer unmarried [men]. It is the regional leadership of the military apparatus of the Hamas movement that proposes his candidacy, and then decides whether to accept him."
Debka has claimed that there was no Palestinian cease fire talks, contrary to the claims seen in many U.S. newspapers. Now, I am not sure of the veracity of the information on Debka's site. I suspect some of it might be disinformation so take it with a grain of salt. But I find it a considerable coincidence that the groups responsible for the suicide bombings were discussing a cease fire prior to the F-16 strike. Steve
French Censoring of U.S. Based Websites This Cato brief looks at a case before the U.S Federal Appellate Court. The issue is whether or not French censorship laws can be enforced on U.S. based websites that violate French law.
Other nations may treat their citizens as fragile children if they wish, or worse, as enemies of the state. But U.S. courts should not permit the seeds of foreign censorship to be planted on U.S. soil by finding that such restrictions are enforceable here.
Do we really need a Corporate Governance Bill? Perhaps if current laws were enforced more vigorously we wouldn't need Congresspeople to get their panties in a wad. It is looking like many of the recent bankruptcies involve considerable amounts of fraud. These crimes are already illegal. Do we really need the posturing of Congress and more rules, regulations, and laws? Or do we need vigorous enforcement of existing laws to demonstrate that if you engage in these crimes and are caught you will be prosecuted and that various enforcemant agencies are indeed looking for such violations? Seems sensible to me. When a strip of road has a problem with speeders do we typically reduce the speed limit even more? Why? People are already speeding, will lowering the speed limit have any appreciable effect? Typically the local police department has a traffic cop out there tagging speeders left and right. Soon people start reducing their speed. What a stupid waste....but then that's government for you. Steve
The White House's Confusion It is amazing to me. The White House decries this type of attack, yet U.S. actions in Afghanistan have resulted in how many deaths of innocents?
The attack appeared initially to have stunned U.S. officials involved in peace efforts. They said they had no warning of Israel's plans despite talks here Monday between high-level representatives of the two governments. By yesterday, shock had turned to depression and uncertainty over where the process would go. By yesterday, shock had turned to depression and uncertainty over where the process would go.
Here is a hint to the Administrations negotiators, the [peace] process is going to go nowhere so long as the Palestinians keep resorting to suicide bombing of civilians. The various groups (at least the leaders of these groups--after all they don't have to blow themselves up) responsible for the suicide bombings do not appear to want to stop. Trying to achieve peace in this type of environment is an even bigger waste than running over the horse with the cart. Get a clue guys. Steve
"We will shatter Zionist bodies into pieces in every restaurant, every bus station, every bus," said a statement from the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the underground military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas....
"Our response to the Israeli crimes will be tough and violent and our attacks against these criminal occupiers will be resumed soon," said a statement by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which describes itself as the military wing of Fatah, the group headed by the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. "We will hit everywhere, even their children, to make them understand how our children suffer."
And this is different from what they were doing prior to the F-16's strike how? Weren't they killing civilians, women and children? Weren't they killing people in restaurants, bus stations and buses?
I also find the claims that they were on the verge of ceasing all suicide attacks a very nice piece of propaganda. Yeah right, you guys were juuust about to stop the suicide attacks when the F-16 flew over...sure. Anybody want to buy a bridge? It is in San Francisco and the price is really good. It can be yours for next to nothing...honest. Steve
"'Given the central role played by Citigroup in concealing Enron's debt from investors, the general public, and government regulators, why, then, hasn't former Clinton treasury secretary, Robert Rubin, now the chairman of Citigroup's executive committee, been called to testify before Congress? In particular, why hasn't the chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Joseph Lieberman, sought Rubin's testimony? After all, Lieberman is heading up the Senate's investigation into Enron's bankruptcy and fraudulent dealings.' (Link to NRO articly Bill Quick has quoted)
Well, it's probably because everybody knows that only Republicans have any nefarious connections to those nasty corporate bad guys. Democrats, especially Clinton administration Democrats, are pure as the driven snow when it comes to enabling corporate wrong-doing. (Pay no attention to that guy behind the curtain....)"
Well it sure seems like Quick has not claimed Rubin is to blame for Enron. At best, it seems he is highlighting the hypocrisy of the Democrats in not calling Rubin before the committee to inquire if he did have any knowledge of these "loans" when Rubin placed his calls to Moody's Ratings Department and the U.S. Treasury Department. I sure hope Hsiod gets off his sit-n-spin before he gets sick. Steve
Sit-n-Spin's Economic Theory Apparently Hsiod over at Sit-n-Spin thinks that Bush's budget and tax cut signed into law in late summer is the cause of the latest recession. However, a quick peek at the data indicates that the problems resulting in the latest recession started well before March 2001. Notice that industrial production peaked in late 2000 and similarly for real manufacturing and trade sales (save for a jump in the summer of 2000). Who was the President then...hmmm...oh I know Bill Clinton. Also note this comment from the FAQ section of the NBER site linked above:
"Q: The NBER has dated the beginning of the recession in March 2001. Does this mean that the attacks of September 11 did not have a role in causing the recession?
A. No. Before the attacks, it is possible that the decline in the economy would have been too mild to qualify as a recession. The attacks clearly deepened the contraction and may have been an important factor in turning the episode into a recession."
The only possible method for the budget and the tax cut to have an impact would be via a mechanism such as rational expectations. That is, people realizing that a tax cut might be in the future for some reason...reduce economic activity. My what a bizzare notion. Steve
Sit-n-Spin Central Looks like an apologist for the Democrats can't bring himself to admit that Robert Rubin might very well have done something questionable. How typical of this Democratic apologist, Democrats can do no wrong. Pathetic really. Notice that over at Sit-n-Spin they completely fail to mention that Rubin called his old Department, Treasury, asking for a bail out. Could it have anything to do with the money Citigroup loaned (fraudulently?) to Enron? Naaaw, perish the thought. Steve
"30. World Population Growth Rate -- In recent times is about 2% per year. Practicable application of growth rate throughout human history would be about half that number. Wars, disease, famine, etc. have wiped out approximately one third of the population on average every 82 years. Starting with eight people, and applying these growth rates since the Flood of Noah's day (about 4500 years ago) would give a total human population at just under six billion people. However, application on an evolutionary time scale runs into major difficulties. Starting with one "couple" just 41,000 years ago would give us a total population of 2 x 10 to the89th. The universe does not have space to hold so many bodies."
A fine example of mathematical idiocy. Note first, that the authors are using current population growth rates (well actually half that). Second that they are assuming this modern parameter is constant throughout all of time with no justification. One has to always be careful of exponential growth. In this case the assumption of a 1% growth constant holding anywhere and everywhere leads to a result that is patently ridiculous. Instead of rejecting the hypothesis of an old earth perhaps the authors should look at their idiotic assumption. In other words, this is like calculating the mean of throwing a six sided die by using only the last three throws and ignoring the first 47 results and then using your estimate in determining if the die is fair.
I can't help but remember when Palestinians were dancing in the streets when the World Trade Center collapsed killing thousands and the Pentagon was attacked and hundreds died. Steve
For those of you running around claiming the U.S. is, or is becoming a police state take a look at this. That is what a police state is like. We are far from it. Of course, it is still wise to be wary of creeping authoritarianism, but relying on hyperbole and outlandish claims just makes you look like kooks, something to keep in mind. Steve
"Streets throughout Gaza City and other towns in the Gaza Strip erupted in anger, with protesters vowing revenge against Israel and firing guns into the air, witnesses said."
Well what did the Palestinians expect? And the claims of revenger are ridiculous, it implies that the Palestinians were actually contemplating peace. The reaction from the White House further highlights the hypocrisy coming from the Bush Administration. Make up your minds guys, are we fighting a war on terrorism or not? Steve
Abstract: Argues that the downstream licensing agreements implicit in current intellectual property law are anti-competitive and that there should be a presumption for intellectual goods as with other goods that competition is likely to outperform monopoly. Steve
"In a series of deals known as Yosemite, the documents show, Citigroup's complex scheme helped Enron borrow money over the past three years that was booked as coming from trades instead of loans. The deals, involving bond offerings and trades with an offshore entity, helped boost the company's weak cash flow to match its growth in paper profits, at a time when the gap between the two had grown to as much as $1 billion a year, according to one Enron memo."
"Since World War II, America has not been a democratic republic; it has become a military empire after the Roman model. It is even more abhorrent because its administration is ruled by the pressure groups that are the most dangerous to the human race – the companies that create destruction and sell arms. Therefore, the American way can be discerned and defined in one word: war."--Sheikh Dr. Safar Al-Hawali
That is just a sample. These Sheikhs clearly see the U.S. as an enemy and even view Jihad as an appropriate tool. It would seem our State Department is either full of idiots or fools (or both). Steve
Europeans are From Venus Another interesting article by Daniel Pipes that looks at the different world views of Europeans and Americans and how these differing world views are driving their respective policies.
"These provisions are quite broad and can be used as an effective tool to prevent the entry of those who have engaged in terrorist activity or are likely to engage in terrorist activity after entry, including those who provide material support for terrorist activities. However, consular officers must know the specific actions or associations that may render an applicant ineligible in order to legally deny a visa."
So, let me get this straight. Even if it is suspected the applicant is a terrorist, a visa will not be denied until specific actions or associations are known? What? They are going to admit they are terrorists? Maybe they can include a question on the application:
Are you a terrorist or do you have any links to terrorists organizations? [Note: A 'Yes' answer will not automatically result in a denial of a visa.]