Wednesday, December 31, 2008
President Bush who was awakened by the Secret Service to be informed of this announcement reportedly said, "Hunh?" Laura Bush was reported to have said, "Let the damn fool to try to do it." After he finished his brief announcement, Vice President Cheney introduced two army colonels who reportedly backed his coup d'état. My inside source at the White House, Omar Fishbein Muhammed, said that no general in any of the services was willing to support this bizarre attempt at usurping the power of the presidency. When President-elect Barack Obama was informed of Vice President Cheney's announcement he reportedly said that he had dispatched Joe Biden to help arrange for appropriate psychiatric care for the vice president.
In Hollywood, Paris Hilton volunteered to be the vice president's personal nurse, and see to it that he is restored to his full mental health, or what remains of it. Senator John McCain said he had suspended his campaign and was rushing to Washington to be of help in this new crisis. Mrs. Cheney was unavailable for comment, and was last seen boarding a plane for Abu Dhabi.
Monday, December 29, 2008
A recent study showed that people will inflict pain on someone just because a person in authority tells them to do so. There is much good in people but there is a mindless cruel side. Mindless following of instructions can happen in any society.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Ms. Kennedy has no background or experience in dissembling on important issues. She also has little if any experience in correcting a previously inaccurate statement she had made to the press or media. It's also highly likely she has no experience with one of the most important political issues of our time, working with corporate lobbyists. She's likely to be an independent-minded person voting on issues based on the merits rather than on the important input from highly paid former members of Congress who are trying to buy her vote. We can't afford to have too many people like this in Congress. If our elected representatives don't take money from lobbyists it would put these poor people out of work. Lastly, it's unlikely she has any experience at all with bribery, either as a recipient or a giver. The importance of this issue can be demonstrated by what is happening in the state of Illinois.
The people of the State of New York are entitled to senators who are not only qualified for the office, but have the same set of ethical and moral values. Former Governor Eliot Spitzer could speak at length to this issue. Favoritism and nepotism must be nipped in the bud so that if one of the Bush daughters is ever elected president we can be sure that she earned it
Monday, December 22, 2008
It's the economy stupid. Increasingly larger numbers of people are either getting laid off, or having their hours of work reduced. Most Americans have less money as a result of the decline in whatever investments they had, if they had any. The recession, which is worldwide in nature, has resulted in reduced demand in almost all countries. As a result, OPEC, which has always functioned better when prices were rising as opposed to falling, can't seem to cut oil production quick enough to match falling demand. As a result, many experts are predicting that the price of a gallon of oil may fall as low as $25 a barrel. Oil-producing countries which generated budgets based on $90-$100 a barrel oil are experiencing significant budget shortfalls and cutting production with falling prices only makes the problem worse. It's hard to imagine anyone in America are crying for Venezuela (or is it Argentina?), and certainly not for Iran or any Middle Eastern sandbox that got rich selling oil.
What we cannot afford to do is wait for the price of oil to rise again draining billions of dollars from our economy and going into the coffers of countries that bear us little goodwill. We must proceed with wind driven energy projects, all electrical cars, hybrid cars, and all other possibilities that will decrease our use of gasoline. The omission of ethanol was not an accident because this project has been a farce in terms of not saving energy costs and costing the American public billions of dollars in subsidies to businesses that didn't need such subsidies. Lower gasoline prices combined with the current economic situation will likely produce headwinds for alternative energy projects. However, the next president has his head on straight about this issue, and will not allow the country to be diverted from the all-important task of a comprehensive energy policy. While the president doesn't owe big oil anything, there are too many in Congress who are deep in the pockets of big oil. This is where alternative energy projects are likely to be slowed down. "Drill, drill, drill baby" is a hollow mantra that will do little to solve the long-term energy needs of this country.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
One new factor is that because he illegal immigrants are finding it more difficult to obtain jobs many are returning to Mexico, although no one has a way of approximating such numbers at this time.
A key aspect of the debate and disagreement on illegal immigration relates to its costs. Based on my review of six studies I came to the conclusion that no one really knows the cost of illegal immigration. There are two main problems. Almost all of the studies purporting to document the cost of illegal immigration are written by groups with a particular point of view. I will say more about this later. Secondly, the economic benefits of the illegal immigrants in this country have typically not been adequately addressed.
The Eagle Forum produced a well-documented report addressing many of the cost factors in illegal immigration. However, it is important to know that the Eagle Forum has been a leading advocate for the pro-family movement since 1972 and is therefore not without its biases. The report is worth reading if you are interested in more details about this issue. The Center for Immigration Studies sponsored a report written by Stephen Camorata written in 2004. This report focused on the "High Cost of Cheap Labor." It is important to know that The Center for Immigration Studies is a Pro-immigrant, think-tank which seeks fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted. The report is important because it addresses the cost-benefit aspect of illegal immigration, which has all too frequently been neglected.
Some of the costs of illegal immigrants are obvious and indisputable. Examples of these include costs incurred by hospitals, costs incurred by the states and federal government to incarcerate illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, and costs to local school systems.
Mr. Camorata documents important "benefit" issues such as the fact that, "On average, illegal households pay more than $4,200 a year in all forms of federal taxes. Unfortunately, they impose costs of $6,950 per household.” It is important to note that in addressing taxes paid by illegal immigrants Camorata neglects to factor in sales taxes paid for food, clothing and other purchases made by illegal immigrants and property taxes paid by the illegal immigrants. The reduced cost of services and products as a result of the cheap labor provided by the illegal immigrants has a significant but unknowable effect on the overall cost of living in this country. This had been particularly true in the construction of housing where many illegal immigrants are employed. With the tremendous decline in the number of new houses being built it would be interesting to know if the proportion of workers building these houses who are illegal immigrants has changed.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
In the meantime, we'll all stay tuned to the further adventures of Miley Cyrus.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Now that the great recession has officially arrived its easy to look back and blame the all the people that were involved in loans that people couldn't pay, the institutions that bundled these loans into toxic packages of so-called assets, and all the people whot thought that housing prices would rise forever. But it isn't that simple, because the vast majority of the people in this country contributed in one way or another to the economic crisis in which we find ourselves. If you think you weren't involved, think again, because you probably were. Consider the following questions:
Did you buy a house you couldn't really afford, but assumed that future salary increases would eventually make the house of affordable?
Were you spending more money then you earned?
Do you have new, or almost new, clothing in your closet that you never wore?
Do you live in a house that had more than 1000 square-feet per person?
Are you paying more than $100 a month on credit card debt?
Did you do impulse shopping and buy things that you didn't really need?
Do you drive a gas guzzling car?
Did you think that the value of your house was always going to increase?
Did you take out a new mortgage on your house so that you could have extra money to spend on something that wasn't a necessity?
Did you buy a condominium or second house so that you could "flip it" and make money.
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions you were either directly or indirectly involved in the current economic crisis. If you answered yes to three or more of these questions you should be sentenced to three counseling sessions with Susie Orman. All of the above constituted the Collective National Stupidity that led to the current economic recession.
How could buying a few things that we didn't really need to contribute to the recession? Easy. We became a nation of shoppers on an endless buying spree that eventually had to end in a catastrophic bust. Counties, cities, and states became dependent upon sales taxes which would one day drop off a cliff. That day is here now. Companies built more stores so that we didn't have to travel far to buy things we didn't really need. When we stopped buying things in abundance, stores began to close. People lost jobs, and companies went bankrupt, which resulted in defaulted loans at banks. And finally, banks stopped loaning money.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Now that the recession is official, the next order of business is comparing it to all the other recessions and estimating how long the current recession will be. A number of official and unofficial sources have already stated that this recession will be worse than probably all the other recessions since the Great Depression. Again, what was their first clue? The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the disappearance of Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, and the near disappearance of the rest of the great brokerage houses might have given them an inkling that the economy was in very bad shape. The great brokerage houses didn't go broke during the great depression, probably because they hadn't had the opportunity to create trillions of dollars of “bad assets."
How can an asset to be bad? Easy. That's when an asset is really a liability. It's very similar to giving a mortgage to someone who can't pay it back. Of course the brokerage houses and the giant national banks told us that the assets weren't bad at first. Then they admitted they were slightly bad, but we shouldn't worry. At the same time, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bernanke and Secretary of the treasury Paulson were also telling us that things weren't that bad. When enough people tell you that things aren't that bad it's time to really worry. We all have denial in our personal lives, but when denial takes place on a national level, it's generally a catastrophe.
The official acknowledgment of the recession comes at a time when the people of this country are supposed to be spending themselves into oblivion for the holidays. The spending orgy this year is likely to be much smaller than previous years. The greatest gift that people can give themselves for the holidays is remembering what's truly important in life. Relationships and family are precious and can't be purchased in any store.