Saturday, November 22, 2008
The Friday Line: Ten Republicans To Watch
The great thing about elections is that as soon as the last one ends, the next one begins.
Everywhere the Fix goes these days -- and by everywhere we mean the office, Starbucks and the gym to play basketball -- people want to know: Who's next?
Who are the faces that will emerge to rebuild the Republican party following its decimation at the ballot box in 2006 and 2008? (The ugly totals: 54 seats lost in House, 13 seats -- at least -- in the Senate and a little thing called the White House.)
So, to slake the thirst of Fixistas across the country (heck, around the world) we are going to start ranking the 10 Republicans to keep an eye on over the coming months and years.
To be clear, this is not -- and should not be taken as -- a list of potential contenders to take on Barack Obama in 2012. Some of the people on this list will certainly be in the Republican field in four years time but others almost certainly won't.
The most notable omission is that of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. While we expect the former vice presidential nominee will be on this Line in the coming months, she doesn't make it this time around because it is not yet clear how she will find a way to remain in the national dialogue from her far-away outpost in the Last Frontier. Palin is also VERY lightly regarded by many of the opinion leaders and establishment types within the GOP, making it tougher for her to command a leading role.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is also not on the Line -- not because we don't think he is considering a 2012 bid (he is) but because as of today it's not clear what his niche is within the party. His fresh-faced appeal and shtick (and don't get us wrong, we love shtick) may not wear so well a second time around.
The common thread for membership on this list, which was compiled based on a series of conversations with Republican operatives and the Fix's own analysis, is that each of these individuals will have a role to play in the conversation about where the party heads between now and 2010.
Agree or disagree with our picks? Feel free to offer suggestions of your own in the comments section below.
To the Line!
10. Steve Poizner: Poizner, the Insurance Commissioner of California, has an early head-start on being the Republican nominee for governor in 2010. And, if Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) decides not to run, Poizner's ability to self-fund a campaign coupled with his relatively short time in elected office and his outsider message could make him viable in the general election. As California goes, so goes the country.
9. Haley Barbour: There are those who mention Barbour's name for the 2012 GOP nomination. We are decidedly skeptical about that -- will the country be ready for a man who had a hand in inventing modern-day lobbying in Washington? -- but Barbour is clearly someone to watch. Remember that before he became governor of Mississippi in 2003, Barbour was one of the leading political operatives in the country and has tentacles (and acolytes) all over the country. That makes him a force to be reckoned with.
8. Jon Huntsman Jr.: As The Fix was waiting to meet with Huntsman on Thursday, CNN's Wolf Blitzer was touting him as a rising star in Republican politics. Nice convergence. Huntsman won re-election earlier this month with 78 percent (granted it was in ruby red Utah) and has the looks and re&eaccute;sum&eaccute; -- fluent in Chinese, progressive on the environment -- that could make him appealing for a party looking desperately for a different profile. Huntsman is a Mormon, however, and, as Mitt Romney demonstrated earlier this year, that could be a major problem if he decides to run for president.
Cantor's rapid rise make him one to watch in the GOP. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
7. Eric Cantor: The Virginia Republican's unfettered rise through the ranks of House leadership continued earlier this week when he was elected Minority Whip -- the second ranking position within the GOP. Cantor was among those vetted in John McCain's vice presidential search and his personal background -- a Jewish Republican -- will be intriguing for many within the party looking for something new. Cantor's problem: Is the House too small a perch from which to become a national figure?
6. Mark Sanford: South Carolina's Sanford is the newly elected chair of the Republican Governors Association, a useful job through which to raise one's national profile. Since McCain's loss earlier this month, Sanford has been a leading voice for the party to return to the principles of former President Ronald Reagan; "Some on the left will say our electoral losses are a repudiation of our principles of lower taxes, smaller government and individual liberty," wrote Sanford in an op-ed piece for CNN.com. "But Tuesday was not in fact a rejection of those principles -- it was a rejection of Republicans' failure to live up to those principles." Sanford's reform credentials are impeccable but he has, throughout his career, rubbed the party establishment wrong, which could hurt him as he seeks a broader role.
5. Bob McDonnell: McDonnell, Virginia's attorney general, will be the Republican standard-bearer in the Commonwealth's gubernatorial race in 2009. Off-year statewide elections are always looked to by the two parties as litmus tests for how each side is doing, and the fact that this campaign will take place in the purple state of Virginia makes McDonnell all the more important. If he wins, it will be seen as a sign that the Republican party is alive and well and living in Virginia. If he loses, he'll join the Jerry Kilgore Hall of Fame.
4. Mitch Daniels: Even as Obama was pulling off a stunning win in the Hoosier State at the presidential level, Daniels was cruising to reelection by 18 points. At the end of the campaign, Daniels pledged in a television ad that he would never run for another office but even if he stays true to his word, his experience in 2008 makes him a valuable commodity for Republicans. While Daniels's ties to George W. Bush won't help him -- he served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2003 -- his electoral success in a critical Midwest battleground means Daniels has a seat at the table.
3. Mitt Romney: Discount the former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate at your own peril. Romney has three big things going for him: he is, by almost anyone's account, an expert on the American economy; he is incredibly ambitious and will work harder than almost anyone to make sure his voice is heard; and he has immense personal wealth and a willingness to spend it. Do his flip-flops on social issues (and his Mormonism) still make social conservatives queasy? You bet. But Romney is in the mix and will aim to stay there.
John Thune could be the face and voice of the GOP opposition. (AP Photo/Doug Dreyer)
2. John Thune: The South Dakota Senator is incredibly well positioned to emerge as the telegenic voice of the Obama opposition. Thune is part of a group of young and aggressive Republican senators who will look to take the fight to Obama and Senate Democrats over the next two years. It doesn't hurt Thune that he is already a revered figure among conservatives after ousting former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004. Thune's problem is that conventional wisdom within the party already seems to be settling on the idea that the GOP governors need to lead Republicans out of the wilderness in which they currently find themselves.
1. Bobby Jindal: There is NO hotter commodity in the Republican party these days than Jindal. Jindal is the rare candidate who both reformers and establishment types find appealing, and as a 37-year-old Indian American he is -- literally and figuratively -- the sort of new face the party is pining for. While Jindal is hot right now, it's important to remember that he is the governor of a state with a complex political scene -- meaning there will be myriad opportunities for Jindal to falter over the next few months and years
Friday, November 7, 2008
Election Analysis: America Can Take Pride In This Historic, Inspirational Disaster
Although I have not always been the most outspoken advocate of President-Elect Barack Obama, today I would like to congratulate him and add my voice to the millions of fellow citizens who are celebrating his historic and frightening election victory. I don't care whether you are a conservative or a liberal -- when you saw this inspiring young African-American rise to our nation's highest office I hope you felt the same sense of patriotic pride that I experienced, no matter how hard you were hyperventilating with deep existential dread.
Yes, I know there are probably other African-Americans much better qualified and prepared for the presidency. Much, much better qualified. Hundreds, easily, if not thousands, and without any troubling ties to radical lunatics and Chicago mobsters. Gary Coleman comes to mind. But let's not let that distract us from the fact that Mr. Obama's election represents a profound, positive milestone in our country's struggle to overcome its long legacy of racial divisions and bigotry. It reminds us of how far we've come, and it's something everyone in our nation should celebrate in whatever little time we now have left.
Less than fifty years ago, African-Americans were barred from public universities, restaurants, and even drinking fountains in many parts of the country. On Tuesday we came together and transcended that shameful legacy, electing an African-American to the country's top job -- which, in fact, appears to be his first actual job. Certainly, it doesn't mean that racism has disappeared in America, but it is an undeniable mark of progress that a majority of voters no longer consider skin color nor a dangerously gullible naivete as a barrier to the presidency.
It's also heartening to realize that as president Mr. Obama will soon be working hand-in-hand with a former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard like Senator Robert Byrd to craft the incoherent and destructive programs that will plunge the American economy into a nightmare of full-blown sustained depression. As Vice President-Elect Joe Biden has repeatedly warned, there will be difficult times ahead and the programs will not always be popular, or even sane. But as we look out over the wreckage of bankrupt coal companies, nationalized banks, and hyperinflation, we can always look back with sustained pride on the great National Reconciliation of 2008. Call me an optimist, but I like to think when America's breadlines erupt into riots it will be because of our shared starvation, not the differences in our color.
It's obvious that this newfound pride is not confined to Americans alone. All across the world, Mr. Obama's election has helped mend America's tattered image as a racist, violent cowboy, willing to retaliate with bombs at the slightest provocation. The huge outpouring of international support following the election shows that America can still win new friendships while rebuilding its old ones, and provides Mr. Obama with unprecedented diplomatic leverage over our remaining enemies. When Russian tanks start pouring into eastern Europe and Iranian missiles begin raining down on Jerusalem, their leaders will know they will be facing a man who not only conquered America's racial divide but the hearts of the entire Cannes film community. And those Al Qaeda terrorists plotting a dirty nuke or chemical attack on San Francisco face a stark new reality: while they may no longer need to worry about US Marines, they are looking down the barrel of a strongly worded diplomatic condemnation by a Europe fully united in their deep sympathy for surviving Americans.
So for now, let's put politics aside and celebrate this historic milestone. In his famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial 45 years ago, Dr. King said "I have a dream that one day my children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Let us now take pride that Tuesday we Americans proved that neither thing matters anymore.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights? By Orson Scott Card
Editor's note: Orson Scott Card is a Democrat and a newspaper columnist, and in this opinion piece he takes on both while lamenting the current state of journalism.
An open letter to the local daily paper — almost every local daily paper in America:
I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it
takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.
This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush
It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending
so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were
authorized to approve risky loans.
What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.
The goal of this rule change was to help the poor — which especially would help members of
minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay?
They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house — along
with their credit rating.
They end up worse off than before.
This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in
Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party
blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.
Furthermore, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were making political contributions to the very
members of Congress who were allowing them to make irresponsible loans. (Though why quasi-
federal agencies were allowed to do so baffles me. It's as if the Pentagon were allowed to
contribute to the political campaigns of Congressmen who support increasing their budget.)
Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell
the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our
economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which
politicians were benefiting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?
I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the
guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-
Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who
denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a
regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for
these agencies to go even further in promoting sub-prime mortgage loans almost up to the
minute they failed.
As Thomas Sowell points out in a TownHall.com essay entitled "Do Facts
Matter?" ( http://snipurl.com/457townhall_com] ): "Alan Greenspan warned them four years
ago. So did the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President. So did Bush's
Secretary of the Treasury."
These are facts. This financial crisis was completely preventable. The party that blocked any
attempt to prevent it was ... the Democratic Party. The party that tried to prevent it was ... the
Yet when Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and Republican deregulation of causing
the crisis, you in the press did not hold her to account for her lie. Instead, you criticized
Republicans who took offense at this lie and refused to vote for the bailout!
What? It's not the liar, but the victims of the lie who are to blame?
Now let's follow the money ... right to the presidential candidate who is the number-two recipient
of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae.
And after Freddie Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae who made $90 million while running it into the
ground, was fired for his incompetence, one presidential candidate's campaign actually consulted
him for advice on housing.
If that presidential candidate had been John McCain, you would have called it a major scandal
and we would be getting stories in your paper every day about how incompetent and corrupt he
But instead, that candidate was Barack Obama, and so you have buried this story, and when the
McCain campaign dared to call Raines an "adviser" to the Obama campaign — because that
campaign had sought his advice — you actually let Obama's people get away with accusing
McCain of lying, merely because Raines wasn't listed as an official adviser to the Obama
You would never tolerate such weasely nit-picking from a Republican.
If you who produce our local daily paper actually had any principles, you would be pounding this
story, because the prosperity of all Americans was put at risk by the foolish, short-sighted,
politically selfish, and possibly corrupt actions of leading Democrats, including Obama.
If you who produce our local daily paper had any personal honor, you would find it unbearable to
let the American people believe that somehow Republicans were to blame for this crisis.
There are precedents. Even though President Bush and his administration never said that Iraq
sponsored or was linked to 9/11, you could not stand the fact that Americans had that
misapprehension — so you pounded us with the fact that there was no such link. (Along the way,
you created the false impression that Bush had lied to them and said that there was a
If you had any principles, then surely right now, when the American people are set to blame
President Bush and John McCain for a crisis they tried to prevent, and are actually shifting to
approve of Barack Obama because of a crisis he helped cause, you would be laboring at least as
hard to correct that false impression.
Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That's what you claim you do, when you accept
people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper.
But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie — that the housing crisis
should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the
American people to blame everything bad — even bad weather — on Bush, and they are
responding as you have taught them to.
If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth —
even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.
Because that's what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like
the probable consequences. That's what honesty means . That's how trust is earned.
Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one. He has revealed his ignorance
and naivete time after time — and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing.
Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her
for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter — while you ignored the story of John Edwards's
own adultery for many months.
So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all? Do you even know what honesty means?
Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything
that journalism is supposed to stand for?
You might want to remember the way the National Organization of Women threw away their
integrity by supporting Bill Clinton despite his well-known pattern of sexual exploitation of
powerless women. Who listens to NOW anymore? We know they stand for nothing; they have
That's where you are right now.
It's not too late. You know that if the situation were reversed, and the truth would damage
McCain and help Obama, you would be moving heaven and earth to get the true story out there.
If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you
would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose
campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against
tightening its lending practices.
Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of
blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation's prosperity at risk so they could
feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama's door.
You will also tell the truth about John McCain: that he tried, as a Senator, to do what it took to
prevent this crisis. You will tell the truth about President Bush: that his administration tried
more than once to get Congress to regulate lending in a responsible way.
This was a Congress-caused crisis, beginning during the Clinton administration, with Democrats
leading the way into the crisis and blocking every effort to get out of it in a timely fashion.
If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe — and vote as if —
President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.
If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats — including Barack Obama — and do so with the
same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans — then you are not journalists by
You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired
and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a news paper in our city.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Once Bush won, and it became clear that the Florida democrats were trying to steal the election, I became something of a Bush loyalist. Throughout his first term, I took note of all the really horrible things that were said about him, saw that a large portion of the left would rather see Bush fail than see America succeed, and was alarmed by the complicity (and often, participation) of the MSM and mainstream Hollywood. It wasn't far into his second term that I succumbed to Bush Fatigue, due to his inability to make the case for his foreign policy to the American people, and his inability to find the veto pen. He has truly been a terrible steward of the Republican brand, and because of this, the Conservative and libertarian causes are suffering.
I'm no fan of McCain , but as I dislike Obama, I'll be pulling the lever for McCain in November.
This is surely small of me, but if Obama wins, I plan on giving him as much of a chance as the Democrats gave George Bush. I will gleefully forward every paranoid anti-Obama rumor that I see, along with YouTube footage of his verbal missteps. I will laugh and email heinous anti-Obama photoshop jobs, and maybe even learn photoshop myself to create some. I'll buy anti-Obama books, and maybe even a "Not My President" t-shirt. I'm sure that the mainstream bookstores won't carry them, but I'll be on the lookout for anti-Obama calendars and stuff like that. I will not wish America harm, and if the country is hurt (economically, militarily, or diplomatically) I will truly mourn. But i will also take some solace that it occurred under Obama's watch, and will find every reason to blame him personally and fan the flames.
Obama's thuggish behavior thus far in this election cycle - squashing free speech, declaring any criticism of his policies to be "racist" (a word that happily carries little weight with sensible people these days), associating with the likes of Ayers, Wright, and ACORN - suggests that I won't have to scrape for reasons to really viscerally dislike Obama and his administration. And even if he wins, his campaign's "get out the vote fraud" activities are enough to provide people like me with a large degree of "plausible deniability" as to whether he is actually legitimately the president.
I've seen a President that I am generally-inclined to like get crapped on for eight years, and I've seen McCain and Palin (honorable people both, despite policy differences I may have with them) get crapped on through this election season. If the Democrats think that a President Obama is going to get some sort of honeymoon from the folks who didn't vote for him, as a wise man once said: heh.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I thought maybe I should cut and paste the whole article. Not like I am paying per word.
June 28, 2001
Who is Paid the Minimum Wage and Who Would be Affected by a $1.50 per Hour Increase
by D. Mark Wilson
Who Works the Minimum Wage?
The 1.6 million paid-hourly workers who earn minimum wages can be broken down into two broad groups.1
Over half (53 percent) are teenagers or young adults under the age of 23. More than half (54 percent) of these young workers live in families with incomes two or more times the official poverty level for their family size and 18 percent live in poor families. The average family income of these young workers is almost $50,500 per year. The average income for single young workers is $11,200. Over 63 percent are enrolled in either high school or college.
The other half (47 percent) are workers ages 23 and up. More of these workers live in poor families (29 percent). Yet, even within this half of the minimum wage population, the average family income is over $38,100 per year. The average income for single workers is $19,300. Over 30 percent of these older workers did not graduate from high school and another 36 percent had only a high school diploma.
Almost 43 percent of all minimum wage workers are children, 26 percent are married family heads or spouses, 11 percent are single family heads, and 17 percent are single people (another 3 percent are other relatives).
Less than 21 percent of minimum wage workers are the sole breadwinners of their families and less than 5 percent are sole breadwinners that work full-time year-round. Less than 5 percent of minimum wage workers are poor single mothers over 18 years old.
Over 57 percent of all minimum wage workers work part-time voluntarily. Only 25 percent work full-time year-round while over 28 percent work part-time part of the year.
The average family income for all minimum wage workers is $45,200 and their wages account for 35 percent of their total family income. The average income of single-nonfamily minimum wage workers is $16,800.
Very Few Workers Remain at Entry-Level Wages for Long
Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers move above the minimum wage within one year, and the median raise for those workers is over 10 percent.2 For full-time minimum wage workers, the median first-year raise is almost 14 percent. Entry-level jobs are not lifelong dead-end jobs. These jobs allow Americans to establish a track record of work that creates opportunities for better paying jobs.
Who would be affected by a $1.50 Increase in the Minimum Wage
There are 7.1 million paid-hourly workers who would be affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $6.65 per hour _ 1.6 million are currently paid minimum wages and 5.5 million are paid between $5.15 and $6.65 per hour.3 These workers can also be broken down into two broad groups.
One half (50 percent) are teenagers or young adults under the age of 23. Two-thirds (66 percent) of these young workers live in families with incomes two or more times the official poverty level for their family size. Just 14 percent live in poor families. Almost 74 percent are enrolled in either high school or college. Just 5 percent are married. Over 88 percent live in families with an average income of almost $63,600 per year. The average income for single young workers is $10,000, but their average household income is $47,100 because 81 percent live with two or more people.
The other half are workers ages 23 and up. Over half (51 percent) of these older workers live in families with incomes two or more times the official poverty level for their family size and 22 percent live in poor families. Over half (56 percent) do not have any children of their own to support. The average family income of these older workers is almost $38,300 per year. The average income for single workers is $18,000. Over 27 percent of these older workers did not graduate from high school and another 40 percent had only a high school diploma.
Over 42 percent of the workers who would be affected by an increase in the minimum wage are children, 26 percent are married family heads or spouses, 12 percent are single family heads, and 16 percent are single people (another 4 percent are other relatives).
Less than 17 percent are the sole breadwinners of their families and less than 7 percent are sole breadwinners that work full-time year-round. Less than 6 percent are poor single mothers over 18 years old.
Almost 54 percent of all workers who would be affected by an increase in the minimum wage work part-time voluntarily. Only 31 percent work full-time year-round while over 26 percent work just part-time part of the year. Almost 6 percent are union members.
The average household income of all paid-hourly workers affected by the minimum wage increase is $51,200 and their wages account for just 29 percent of their total household income.
Almost half (48 percent) live in the South and 27 percent live in the Midwest.
Increasing the Minimum Wage Would Not Help the Poor
Just 1.9 percent, or 404,000, of the 20.8 million poor Americans over the age of 15 would be affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $6.65 per hour.
Studies show that raising the minimum wage does not significantly reduce poverty. In fact, for some subgroups, minimum wage increases appeared to raise the level of poverty.4
Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) is proposing an unparalleled increase in the minimum wage. His bill (S. 964) would increase the hourly minimum wage by $1.50 over the next 18 months to $5.74 thirty days after enactment; $6.25 on January 1, 2002; and $6.65 on January 1, 2003. It would amount to a 29.1 percent increase in the minimum wage—over five times the rate of inflation that is forecast by the Congressional Budget Office over the next two years. Never before has Congress raised the minimum wage by more than $.90 per hour over a two-year period.
Large Unfunded Mandate on State and Local Governments
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that increasing the minimum wage to $6.65 would impose a $2.1 billion unfunded mandate on state and local governments from fiscal year (FY) 2002 to FY 2006. This exceeds the statutory threshold in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and may require a point-of-order vote in Congress to waive the Act. Much of the higher cost for local governments will be borne by taxpayers in small towns and rural communities.
The Congressional Budget Office also estimates that increasing the minimum wage to $6.65 would impose an additional $1.5 billion cost to federal taxpayers in the form of in higher federal spending for welfare-to-work programs from FY 2002 to FY 2006.
Large Private Sector Cost
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that increasing the minimum wage to $6.65 would cost private sector employers $30.2 billion from FY 2002 to FY 2006. Someone would have to pay for this cost. Economic research indicates that those who pay the most are unskilled youth through fewer job opportunities and consumers through higher prices.
The last time the minimum wage was increased, restaurant menu prices increased 2.6 percent in 1997 compared with a 1.7 percent increase in the consumer price index. Inflation in the service sector, in which most minimum wage workers are employed, rose 2.8 percent in 1997—1.1 percent higher than the overall inflation rate.
Reduces Job Opportunities for Unskilled Americans
Proponents often point to the increase in employment after the 1996_97 hikes in the minimum wage as proof that mandating an increase does not destroy jobs. This argument, however, is misleading and deceptive. Focusing only on total employment hides significant negative effects for groups like teenagers (see chart). Although the last increase in the minimum wage did not reduce total employment, it did reduce employment rates, particularly for unskilled teenagers. Only the red-hot economy in 1998 and 1999 was able to mitigate the impact of the last minimum wage increase on teenagers.
A 1999 survey of small businesses by the Jerome Levy Economics Institute shows that raising the minimum wage to $6.00 per hour would cause more than 20 percent of small-business owners to reconsider their employment decisions.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the potential job losses associated with an increase in the minimum wage to $6.65 at roughly 200,000 to 600,000 jobs.
In addition to reducing the size of their workforce or not hiring as many additional workers, employers could also reduce the number of hours worked by some of their employees. Because many minimum wage workers are on part-time schedules, reducing hours may be easier to do than if all workers were employed on fixed eight-hour schedules.
Employers may also respond to an increase in the minimum wage in ways that do not involve adjusting employment levels or hours. For example, some employers might reduce fringe benefits or may not add new benefits to attract and retain workers.
Would Make Welfare Reform More Difficult for States
The states face an enormous challenge of moving families from welfare to work—particularly as federal work requirements increase and the welfare caseload shrinks to Americans with the least job-related skills and greatest barriers to work. To move forward with welfare reform, state officials should have the flexibility to determine the appropriate entry-level wage rate for their states without a burdensome federal mandate that restricts their ability to help the poor.
· Higher mandated wages reduce employment opportunities for the least skilled and cause shifts in the profile of those who get hired as employers favor more highly skilled applicants. And as entry-level unskilled job opportunities disappear, welfare recipients have a more difficult time finding work.
Economic uncertainty Suggests Caution
Economic growth has slowed dramatically. Consumer spending is sluggish and investment spending has collapsed. Employment growth is weak and unemployment has increased. Inflation is up, energy prices remain relatively high, and profit margins are being squeezed. Now is not the time to rapidly increase the minimum wage.
D. Mark Wilson is a Research Fellow in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.
1 Heritage Foundation calculations based on the March 2000 Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau. This estimate includes paid-hourly workers earning the federal minimum wage and paid-hourly workers earning state minimum wages that are higher than the federal. Over 1.1 million earn the federal minimum wage and 500,000 earn higher state minimum wages.
2 William Even and David Macpherson, "Rising Above the Minimum Wage," Employment Policies Institute, January 2000.
3 Heritage Foundation calculations based on the March 2000 Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau. This estimate does not include workers in states whose state minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage. For example, no workers in California will be affected because the state minimum wage rises to $6.75 on January 1, 2002.
4 Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway, "Does the Minimum Wage Reduce Poverty?" Employment Policies Institute, June 2001; Jill Jenkins, "Minimum Wages: The Poor Are Not Winners," Employment Policy Foundation, January 12, 2000; and Ronald B. Mincy, "Raising the Minimum Wage: Effects on Family Poverty," Monthly Labor Review, July 1990.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
July 27, 2008Associated Press
BAGHDAD - The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost. Limited, sometimes sharp fighting and periodic terrorist bombings in Iraq are likely to continue, possibly for years. But the Iraqi government and the U.S. now are able to shift focus from mainly combat to mainly building the fragile beginnings of peace - a transition that many found almost unthinkable as recently as one year ago.
Despite the occasional bursts of violence, Iraq has reached the point where the insurgents, who once controlled whole cities, no longer have the clout to threaten the viability of the central government.
That does not mean the war has ended or that U.S. troops have no role in Iraq. It means the combat phase finally is ending, years past the time when President Bush optimistically declared it had. The new phase focuses on training the Iraqi army and police, restraining the flow of illicit weaponry from Iran, supporting closer links between Baghdad and local governments, pushing the integration of former insurgents into legitimate government jobs and assisting in rebuilding the economy.
Scattered battles go on, especially against al-Qaida holdouts north of Baghdad. But organized resistance, with the steady drumbeat of bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and ambushes that once rocked the capital daily, has all but ceased.
This amounts to more than a lull in the violence. It reflects a fundamental shift in the outlook for the Sunni minority, which held power under Saddam Hussein. They launched the insurgency five years ago. They now are either sidelined or have switched sides to cooperate with the Americans in return for money and political support.
Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told The Associated Press this past week there are early indications that senior leaders of al-Qaida may be considering shifting their main focus from Iraq to the war in Afghanistan.
Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told the AP on Thursday that the insurgency as a whole has withered to the point where it is no longer a threat to Iraq's future.
"Very clearly, the insurgency is in no position to overthrow the government or, really, even to challenge it," Crocker said. "It's actually almost in no position to try to confront it. By and large, what's left of the insurgency is just trying to hang on."
Shiite militias, notably the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, have lost their power bases in Baghdad, Basra and other major cities. An important step was the routing of Shiite extremists in the Sadr City slums of eastern Baghdad this spring - now a quiet though not fully secure district.
Al-Sadr and top lieutenants are now in Iran. Still talking of a comeback, they are facing major obstacles, including a loss of support among a Shiite population weary of war and no longer as terrified of Sunni extremists as they were two years ago.
Despite the favorable signs, U.S. commanders are leery of proclaiming victory or promising that the calm will last.
The premature declaration by the Bush administration of "Mission Accomplished" in May 2003 convinced commanders that the best public relations strategy is to promise little, and couple all good news with the warning that "security is fragile" and that the improvements, while encouraging, are "not irreversible."
Iraq still faces a mountain of problems: sectarian rivalries, power struggles within the Sunni and Shiite communities, Kurdish-Arab tensions, corruption. Any one of those could rekindle widespread fighting.
But the underlying dynamics in Iraqi society that blew up the U.S. military's hopes for an early exit, shortly after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, have changed in important ways in recent months.
Systematic sectarian killings have all but ended in the capital, in large part because of tight security and a strategy of walling off neighborhoods purged of minorities in 2006.
That has helped establish a sense of normalcy in the streets of the capital. People are expressing a new confidence in their own security forces, which in turn are exhibiting a newfound assertiveness with the insurgency largely in retreat.
Statistics show violence at a four-year low. The monthly American death toll appears to be at its lowest of the war - four killed in action so far this month as of Friday, compared with 66 in July a year ago. From a daily average of 160 insurgent attacks in July 2007, the average has plummeted to about two dozen a day this month. On Wednesday the nationwide total was 13.
Beyond that, there is something in the air in Iraq this summer.
In Baghdad, parks are filled every weekend with families playing and picnicking with their children. That was unthinkable only a year ago, when the first, barely visible signs of a turnaround emerged.
Now a moment has arrived for the Iraqis to try to take those positive threads and weave them into a lasting stability.
The questions facing both Americans and Iraqis are: What kinds of help will the country need from the U.S. military, and for how long? The questions will take on greater importance as the U.S. presidential election nears, with one candidate pledging a troop withdrawal and the other insisting on staying.
Iraqi authorities have grown dependent on the U.S. military after more than five years of war. While they are aiming for full sovereignty with no foreign troops on their soil, they do not want to rush. In a similar sense, the Americans fear that after losing more than 4,100 troops, the sacrifice could be squandered.
U.S. commanders say a substantial American military presence will be needed beyond 2009. But judging from the security gains that have been sustained over the first half of this year - as the Pentagon withdrew five Army brigades sent as reinforcements in 2007 - the remaining troops could be used as peacekeepers more than combatants.
As a measure of the transitioning U.S. role, Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond says that when he took command of American forces in the Baghdad area about seven months ago he was spending 80 percent of his time working on combat-related matters and about 20 percent on what the military calls "nonkinetic" issues, such as supporting the development of Iraqi government institutions and humanitarian aid.
Now Hammond estimates those percentage have been almost reversed. For several hours one recent day, for example, Hammond consulted on water projects with a Sunni sheik in the Radwaniyah area of southwest Baghdad, then spent time with an Iraqi physician/entrepreneur in the Dora district of southern Baghdad - an area, now calm, that in early 2007 was one of the capital's most violent zones.
"We're getting close to something that looks like an end to mass violence in Iraq," says Stephen Biddle, an analyst at the Council of Foreign Relations who has advised Petraeus on war strategy. Biddle is not ready to say it's over, but he sees the U.S. mission shifting from fighting the insurgents to keeping the peace.
Although Sunni and Shiite extremists are still around, they have surrendered the initiative and have lost the support of many ordinary Iraqis. That can be traced to an altered U.S. approach to countering the insurgency - a Petraeus-driven move to take more U.S. troops off their big bases and put them in Baghdad neighborhoods where they mixed with ordinary Iraqis and built a new level of trust.
Army Col. Tom James, a brigade commander who is on his third combat tour in Iraq, explains the new calm this way:
"We've put out the forest fire. Now we're dealing with pop-up fires."
It's not the end of fighting. It looks like the beginning of a perilous peace.
Maj. Gen. Ali Hadi Hussein al-Yaseri, the chief of patrol police in the capital, sees the changes.
"Even eight months ago, Baghdad was not today's Baghdad," he says.
© Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Insolvency in the financial sector is threatening America's economic future. Blogger / economist / consumption expert Dave Burge explains why the Fed must act now to stabilize our most critical financial institutions, such as Dave Burge
America's economic engine: Dave and friends
When it comes to bad economic news, "when it rains it pours." For instance, after the latest dismal national inflation and employment numbers were released last week, I received another repossession notice from Coralville Yamaha. In order to protect my family and my beloved dirt bikes from the approaching financial storm, I invited my colleagues Chuck and Randy over to help me torch the VIN numbers off the frames.
Long story short, acetylene torches, weed, and Jager shots are not a good mix. Later that night when we were waiting in the emergency room, the CNN guy on the TV started talking about the various financial problems at Fannie Mae. I was shocked and worried when I heard this, but I though, hey, there's always Russell Stover or Whitman samplers. But it turns out that Fannie Mae not only makes delicious chocolate gift boxes, they are the largest consumer home lender in America!
The TV guy also said that the government would have to step in with money to save Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Like many of you, my first thought was, "why the hell does that guy need money? Doesn't he have a sitcom on UPN?" But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that our economy is a complex web of interdependent players, and if one is allowed to stumble it will eventually result in a "domino effect," causing our entire economy to crash. For example if Freddie Mac fails, he will be followed by Tyler Perry, then Steve Harvey, then Cedric the Entertainer, and before you know it the whole Def Comedy Jam tour has been canceled.
It's useful to think of our current economic situation as a spirited game of nude Twister, with Fannie Mae as an extremely fat drunk chick. One unanticipated "Left Foot Blue" spin could mean a trip to the emergency room for all of us, not to mention uncomfortable explanations for our various wives. It is critical that Congress makes sure that Fannie Mae gets the additional "do over" spins necessary to keep her from crushing us on the vinyl.
I know what you're saying -- "who invited the fat chick to the Twister party?" Certainly, all of us (with the possible exception of Randy) wish she wasn't here. But it's important to remember that fat chicks are often an important source of party supplies, and we must take the good with the bad. In the same way, Fannie Mae supplies the critical financial weed and beer to keep our national economic party going.
The numbers are complex, but let me boil it down for the economic layperson. Fannie Mae is a government company type thing that has a large pile of money, which I will call "A". The first thing it does is create $20 million bonuses for high performance executives like Franklin Raines, James Johnson and Jamie Gorelick, which I will call "B." Next, it allocates an amount "C" to lobbyists to make sure important Congressmen always get a thoughtful holiday card from Fannie Mae. After subtracting B and C from A, they are left with D, which is lent to homebuyers. These homebuyers then pay back the amount E, which, when subtracted from D, leaves F, the amount Congress has to come up with. In order to keep this important financial system humming along at peak efficiency, it is necessary that you, the taxpayer, are F'ed.
Clearly, in order to avoid a national economic catastrophe, Congress must act now to keep Fannie Mae afloat. But this only addresses part of a greater threat arising from looming financial instability in what I like to call the "Dave Sector." As some of you know, in the last few months I have fallen victim to the subprime mortgage crisis and FEMA's crappy Iowa flood prize packages. Without an immediate infusion of federal cash, Dave will be bunking with Fannie and Freddie at the bankruptcy rehab clinic, and the consequences are almost too terrible to contemplate.
The warning signs are already dire. Every week I am faced with a fresh load of overdue warnings and repossession notices to drag to curbside recycle. In order to avoid harassment by other creditors -- especially Tiny Munson --I have been forced to avoid Happy Hour at dozens of area taverns, depriving the Iowa retail alcohol beverage sector of an important source of revenue and accounts receivable. These hurting tavern owners also face the loss of other customers, who will drift off without me around to entertain them with my famous Happy Hour antics.
But it's not just innocent bar waitresses that face potential disaster. If left unchecked, the recent increase in repo man activity around my house will flood the market with cheap secondhand dirt bikes and big screen TVs, further weakening the electronic and transportation industries. In the Dave Doomsday scenario, foreclosure will saddle the wobbly mortgage industry with yet another completely unsellable house. And, I might mention, I'll have to move somewhere -- maybe even next door to you.
Take a minute to reflect about the alternatives: (A) a slightly higher April tax bill, or (B) total economic meltdown, American streets filled with angry unemployed bartenders and stereo salesmen, and Dave Burge's van pulling up your driveway. I realize the choice is unpleasant, but if we all act now we can make sure the pain is shared equitably. Call your local Congressional Office and tell them you support my draft proposal for H.R. 7802, the Dave Burge Recovery Act of 2008. Together, we can stop the economic displacement of me and my dirt bikes.
Oh, and Jamie Gorelick? Call me, babe.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
June 9th, 2008 Posted By Lftbhndagn.
Sheik Ahmed Fateh Khan al-Rishawi at his home near Camp Ramadi on April 14, 2007
Iraqi Sheik Offers To Take Fight to Bin LadenHero of Anbar Would Stir a Revolt in Afghanistan
The New York SunJune 9, 2008
In an interview, Sheik Ahmad al-Rishawi told The New York Sun that in April he prepared a 47-page study on Afghanistan and its tribes for the deputy chief of mission at the American embassy in Kabul, Christopher Dell. When asked if he would send military advisers to Afghanistan to assist American troops fighting there, he said: “I have no problem with this; if they ask me, I will do it.”
The success of the Anbari tribal rebellion known as the awakening spurred Multinational Forces Iraq to try to emulate the model throughout Iraq, including with the predominately Shiite tribes in the south of the country. Today, the tribe-based militias formed to protect Anbaris from Al Qaeda are forming a political alliance poised to unseat the confessional Sunni parties currently in parliament in the provincial elections scheduled for the fall and the federal ones scheduled for 2009.
During his nomination hearing for taking over the regional military post known as Central Command, General David Petraeus said one of the first things he would do would be to travel to Pakistan to discuss the current strategy of the government in dealing with Al Qaeda’s safe haven in the Pashtun border provinces. A possible strategy for defeating Al Qaeda would be an effort there along the lines of the Anbar awakening to win over the tribes that offer Osama bin Laden’s group protection and safe haven.
“Al Qaeda is an ideology,” Sheik Ahmad said. “We can defeat them inside Iraq and we can defeat them in any country.” The tribal leader arrived in Washington last week. All of his meetings, including an audience with President Bush, have been closed to the public, in part because the Anbari sheiks, while likely to win future electoral contests, are not themselves part of Iraq’s elected government.
Of his meeting with Mr. Bush, Sheik Ahmad said he was impressed. “He is a brave man. He is also a wise man. He is taking care of the country’s future, the United States’ future. He is also taking care of the Iraqi people, the ordinary people in Iraq. He wants to accomplish success in Iraq.”
When Sheik Ahmad’s brother, Sheik Sattar, met with Mr. Bush in Anbar last fall, he told the president that he dedicated his victory over Al Qaeda to the victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001. On September 13, 2007, Sheik Sattar was assassinated by an improvised explosive device. Since then, his brother Sheik Ahmad has led the awakening movement.
Sheik Ahmad said he wanted Hollywood to make a movie about the life story of his brother, who was so revered after his murder that Iraq’s interior minister dedicated a statue to him on the road from Baghdad to Anbar.
In his home province in Iraq, Sheik Ahmad’s public addresses are preceded by two bugle players and an announcer proclaiming him as the “conqueror of Al Qaeda,” and “friend of General Petraeus,” among other formal titles. In Washington, however, he and his entourage stayed at the Hilton Hotel and were driven to meetings in a small bus. When this reporter first met him he was carrying a dog-eared paperback copy of Bob Woodward’s “Plan of Attack.”
In Washington, Sheik Ahmad also met with some members of Congress. He said he told them that American soldiers should stay in Iraq for at least as long as it takes to rebuild Iraq’s national army. The Democratic majority in Congress has tried and failed to mandate deadlines for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq regardless of conditions on the ground.
“We have to rebuild a national Iraqi army, not built on sects, but the same way they built up the Anbar police,” he said. “They must be well-armed, so they will be able to protect the country and all the American interests in the area. We also have to make a friendship treaty based on mutual respect between the two parties, and then the United States will be able to withdraw from Iraq, if they wish, and we will succeed in Iraq the same way America succeeded in Japan and Germany.”
The Anbari sheik offered no comment on the details of the current negotiations on the American troop presence in Iraq between Prime Minister al-Maliki and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, saying he was not involved in the negotiations. But he also said he favored such a status-of-forces agreement. “With a diplomatic understanding we will be able to solve all the problems. We fully trust the Americans. We know the United States never in its history occupied a country. On the contrary, they were occupied and they were able to fight the occupier,” he said, referring to the American rebellion against the British in 1776.
The sheik said he was leaving for Chicago in part to meet with agriculture experts in the hopes of learning new farming techniques for Western Iraq. He said he would like to meet Senator Obama though he has not asked for a meeting. He also said he would like to meet Mr. Obama’s rival for the 2008 presidential election, Senator McCain.
“I would love to see both of them, McCain and Obama,” the sheik said. “I have not asked though. If there is a possibility or opportunity I would love to see them. I know that both parties are really busy with the election now. That is why I have not asked for this.”
Congratulations. You are the first to receive the memo:
This is an automated reply from the Bullshit Detector at Little Green Footballs.Your recent post contained troll-like characteristics which resembles the type of message sent by spoiled ISM members on summer holiday, college students who have recently inhaled Noam Chomsky’s foul rantings, Adam Shapiro wannabes, Nazi sympathizers, or genuine Koranimals.
In order to prevent another thread being hijacked, and to send your message to the appropriate department for response (FOAD, GAZE, Go Away Gordon, or The Bus To Rachel Corrie’s Tomb Is Leaving - Be Sure You’re Under It), kindly reply to the following questions:
1. Are you aware that the Disputed Territories never belonged to the “Palestinians” and only came into Israeli possession as a result of the 1967 six day war in which Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon all massed forces at Israel’s border in order to “push the Jews into the sea”. The Arabs lost and Israel took control of the land. Do you agree that if the Koranimals don’t want to lose territory to Israel, then they shouldn’t start wars? Do you agree that there is justice that Israel, who as far back as 1948 has always sought peace with her far larger neighbors, should live in prosperity - making the desert bloom - while the residents of 19 adjacent Arab countries who are blessed with far more land as well as oil wealth live in their own feces?
2. Did you know that the “Palestinians” could have had their own country as far back as 1948 had they accepted the UN sponsored partition plan which gave Israel AND the Palestinians a countries of their own on land which Jews had lived on for thousands of years before Mohammed ever had a wet dream about virgins? The Arabs rejected the UN offer and went to war with the infant Israeli nation. The Arabs lost and have been whining about it ever since. Do you agree this is like a murderer who kills his parents and asks for special treatment since he is now an orphan?
3. Can you tell us ANY Arab country which offers Jews the right to be citizens, vote, own property, businesses, be a part of the government or have ANY of the rights which Israeli Arabs enjoy? Any Arab country which gives those rights to Christians? How about to other Arabs? Wouldn’t you just LOVE to be a citizen of Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, or Syria?
4. Since as many Jews (approximately 850,000) were kicked out of Arab countries as were Arabs who left present day Israel (despite being literally begged to stay), why should Arabs be permitted to return to Israel if Jews aren’t allowed to set foot in Arab countries? Can you explain why Arabs can worship freely in Israel but Jews would certainly be hung from street lamps after having their intestines devoured by an Arab mob if they so much as entered an Arab country?
5. Israel resettled and absorbed all of the Jews from Arab countries who wished to become Israelis. Why haven’t any Arab countries offered to resettle Arabs who were displaced from Israel, leaving them to rot for 60 years in squalid refugee camps? And why are those refugee camps still there? Could it be that the billions of dollars that the UNWRA has sent there goes to terrorist groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, El Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, or Hezbollah? How did Yassir Arafat achieve his $300 million in wealth? Why aren’t these funds distributed for humanitarian use?
6. Did you know that the Arabs in the disputed territories (conquered by Israel in the 1967 war which was started by Arabs) and who are not Israelis already have two countries right now? And that they are called Egypt and Jordan?
7. If your complaint is about the security fence which Israel is finally building in the Disputed Territories, are you aware that it is built solely to keep the “brave” Arab terrorists out so that they can no longer self detonate on busses, in dining halls or pizzerias and kill Jewish grandmothers and schoolchildren? Why are the Arabs so brave when they target unarmed civilians but even when they outnumber their opponents they get their sandy asses kicked all the way to Mecca when they are faced with Jewish soldiers? Why do Arab soldiers make the French look like super heroes?
8. Please explain why you are so concerned about Arabs, who possess 99% of the land in this region and are in control of the world’s greatest natural resource, which literally flows out of the ground? Can’t their brother muslims offer some of the surplus land and nature’s riches to the “Palestinians”? Or is it true that Arabs are willing to die right down to the last “Palestinian”?
9. Why do you not exhibit the same level of concern for say, people in Saudi Arabia who are beheaded, subject to amputation, stoning, honor killing etc.? What about women who are denied any semblance of basic civil rights, including the right not to be treated as property for the entertainment and abuse of her father, brothers, or husbands? What about the Muslims in Sudan and Egypt who are still enslaved, or the women there whose genitalia are barbarically cut off? How about the oppression of Shiites by Sunnis, the gassing of the Kurds by Iraq, or the massacre of “Palestinians” by Jordan (Black September)? Why doesn’t this concern you?
10. Did you ever stop to wonder how much better off everyone in the region would be if Arabs stopped trying to kill Jews and destroy Israel? What would happen if the Israelis gave up their weapons and disarmed? Would they live to see the next day? But what would happen if the Arabs completely disarmed? You know the answer: They would all be AT PEACE! And if there is no war to rile them up, the Arabs would be forced to look at their own repressive, pre-medieval societies. Why would they want to do that when there are Jews to kill?
11. Have you heard “People who define themselves primarily by what they hate, rather than who they love, are doomed to failure and misery”? Can you see the parallels to the Arabs, who are blessed with land and oil, but still gladly train their children to kill themselves in order to kill Jews? Have you heard Golda Meir’s words to the effect of “There will be peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate ours”? Why do the Arabs hate so much?
Please state your answers to the questions listed above. If you need assistance or require additional study, then please refer to the following links:
History of the Middle East Conflict:[Link: www.infoclick.org...]
Thousands of women killed for honor: [Link: news.nationalgeographic.com...]
Muslims lament Israel’s existence:[Link: www.iht.com...]
Disputed Territories – Forgotten Facts[Link: www.mfa.gov.il...]
The size of Israel compared to neighboring countries in the region[Link: www.iris.org.il...]
Jews expelled from Arab Countries[Link: www.jpost.com...]
One Million Jews flee Arab countries – why no right of return for them?[Link: www.forgottenexodus.com...]
Middle East Facts[Link: yashiko.middleeastfacts.com...]
Middle East Truth[Link: www.mideasttruth.com...]
Larry Miller on Hypocrisy[Link: weeklystandard.com...]
Please respond to the items listed above. Based on your answers a thoughtful reply or instruction to FOAD will be provided.
Thank you for writing to Little Green Footballs.
Troll Early Warning Detection Team
#1 Not buying gas from an Exxon or Mobil station doesn't impact Exxon Corporation or Mobil Corporation, since they sell their gasoline to whichever distributor need it, no matter if it ends up at a BP or a Crystal Flash or Bob's Cheap Gas. The only person that boycotting a station hurts is the owner or franchisee of that particular station, their family, and probably their employees. They feed their family because of the Coke's and snacks we buy in their stores. They are lucky to make a dime on each gallon they sell.
#2 Long term gasoline prices are NOT set by oil companies. They are set at auction by bidding on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gasoline is purchased months in advance using "futures contracts", which can be bought for next month, two months from now, or even years from now. The "futures contracts" for the current month, as it gets close to completion, are traded, just like stocks on the stock market. The contracts go up and down in price based on the demand for them. The final price for that "futures contract" determines the "spot price", which is the price that very moment, which in turn determines the price the distributor sets. The service station gets the word once a day from the distributor, usually around 4 p.m. afternoon, as to the price at which they should retail.
#3 At auction, the price has been bid up over the past five years because of increasing demand. There are more uses for oil products all around the world, and more users everyday. More cars in the US, China, Russia, India, etc. More products being made and shipped to us. The more demand, the higher the price.
#4 The reason gasoline prices weren't rising through the 80's and 90's was because oil supply or oil production increased at about the same annual rate as demand (about 1.5% per year).
#5 Oil production stopped increasing in 2004. Global daily production is has been basically fixed at 84.5 million barrels per day since then. While demand is rising, and yet supply is not, price will go up, because this is a bidding auction or a free market.
#6 If oil production continues at this 84.5 mbpd level, expect gas prices to double every four years. That means that gasoline would be 10 USD per gallon within 7 years. Oil prices would be to 1,000 USD per barrel within 10 years.
#7 If we have a worldwide recession, which decreases worldwide demand for oil AND oil producting nations/countries are able to, and also decide to, maintain the 84.5 million barrel per day production level, THEN we MIGHT see gasoline and oil prices decline.
#8 Worldwide oil production is probably fixed at 84.5 mbpd because we are at the MAXIMUM global oil extraction rate. This is known as global peak oil production or simply "peak oil".
#9 Once it becomes impossible to continue extraction at the incredibly high rate of 84.5 mbpd, oil production will fall, every year, forever. This means rapidly rising prices (much more so than now) and/or severe global economic recession, or more likely, a string of ever worsening recessions, that continue for a few generations.
#10 It is unclear how much longer the oil producers can maintain 84.5 mbpd. I hope it is for a long time, but production may begin to fall as early as this year. The rate that production falls will determine how fast prices rise, and how severe the shock is to the global economy.In summary, gasoline prices are determined by the free market of supply and demand. They are rising because of a fixed oil supply in a market of increasing demand for oil. Supply may be at the all time maximum, and may begin to decrease, which will in turn, accelerate the increase in the price. This is bad news for the global economy because, like fresh water, oil is a "master resource", upon which all economic activity depends......
Note: The 84.5 million barrels per day figure is based on averaging out 12-months of oil production data from the USA's Department of Energy's "Energy Information Agency" (EIA). I've seen other daily production numbers tossed around online and in the press, but I think the EIA data is fairly reliable, and the trends shown there are probably the same for any other dataset. In any event, the exact numbers are not of great practical importance, instead, of interest are the rate of change of these numbers.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
2007-03-02 12:11 pm UTC
The latest problems we had were because of two days of snow. Traffic on one of the main roads out of Cardiff had slowed to a stop which was a bad thing for people stuck in this area. Gangs of youths were opening car doors, pelting people inside with snowballs and stealing sat navs and anything else they could grab. They even pelted a six month old child. Some people got out to yell at them and were attacked. There were fights in the store I work at. Luckily I was off sick with the flu. Well on the second day of this the police turned up. They were pelted with snowballs too and eventually they baton charged the crowd to try and disperse them. They arrested several people but didn't watch their backs and one of the guys snuck around and opened the riot van and they all escaped. Not a good day for the police. The police are losing in a very real way and everyone can see it. Even when they do make an arrest the Crown Prosecution Service lets them off again. Illustrated very nicely by that latest fiasco where a government memo was leaked ordering the CPS to only jail the worst persistent offenders as there is no more room in the prison system. That's just one of the things that seems to be at breaking point. The NHS and the ambulance service specifically can't cope. In the last fortnight there have been headlines because a man died after phoning for an ambulance nine times. Fire and police chiefs have hit out because they have been called out to respond because no ambulances were available. The worst so far was that South Wales was left without ambulance cover for a whole hour one night.Things aren't looking all that good. It's not civil war but I bought an extra case of water yesterday now that you've got me thinking about it.
2007-03-02 12:44 pm UTC
Interesting info. That's the sort of crap that can lead to outbreaks of violence, which leads to more violence, which leads to the police unable to contain it.In fact I am a little surprised that vigilante groups haven't sprung up yet in some areas. I guess, because most folks aren't allowed to carry anything more than a wallet any more, there is little one can do other than 'jump up and down and distract the criminal until the police arrive'.As for the British police - I know there are some good ones; an old friend of mine from school is a traffic officer in the Avon & Somerset force, but as a group I think they and the CPS are piss poor excuses for 'service to the tax payer'.Maybe if they weren't so focused on prosecuting people for stupid crap like defending themselves, or having chemicals that they might be able to make bombs with, under their sink, there would be more space in prison.
2007-04-04 05:46 pm UTC
Do you think that the lack of guns in the UK (on the side of the citizens and the police) has made criminals braver, and more apt to do stupid things?
2007-04-04 06:18 pm UTC
I think they lack any fear of consequences. There have been many cases, especially lately, of someone standing up to a mob and being beaten down and even killed, so no one really wants to stand up to them. The average person doesn't just fear violence but legal repercussions. If you act against a criminal the common belief is that you will be prosecuted and sued. This is in fact true, even if you act to legally defend yourself and are acquitted you can still be sued. The police are also understaffed, severely limited in what they can do and completely unsupported by the crown prosecution service. There was a bit of a scandal of late when it turned out the government had instructed them to only imprison the worst violent repeat offenders to lower prison populations. Criminals know this so there is a general feeling that even if you are caught you will be freed with a token punishment or fine.All this combined makes people who are prone to violent or criminal behaviour very bold. It's not just the lack of guns but the culture that puts money and the rights of criminals ahead of the safety, freedom and welfare of the law abiding.
Monday, April 21, 2008
- NEW YORK (CNN) -- "The people who survived the Great Depression were the ones who had money to buy when everybody else was selling." -- My grandfather
I learned a lot from my grandfather, but that might have been the greatest lesson he ever taught me. He wasn't just talking about managing money, he was talking about managing life -- and his words have stuck with me since I was a child.
A few years back, I was taking a theology course and the professor recommended only the books whose authors he agreed with. I read those books, but I also asked that professor which books he thought had it completely wrong -- and I read those too. Then I made up my own mind. After all, following the herd is fine until they all run off the side of a cliff together.
Less than a year ago, a recession was the last thing on anyone's mind. In fact, over the summer, as I was questioning the conventional wisdom, I read an article on my television show that quoted a financial expert as saying, "It is the strongest global market that we've seen in the history of measuring these things."
That's when I realized how fast the herd was approaching the cliff.
Glenn Beck on Headline News
Glenn's new book: "An Inconvenient Book"
But with predictions of a recession now more common than Fed rate cuts -- and that's saying something -- maybe now it's time to look at a worst-case scenario. After all, considering all sides of an issue, no matter how extreme they may be, doesn't make you a crazy person; it makes you an educated one.
So to understand what a real meltdown could look like, I turned to Nouriel Roubini, chairman of RGE Monitor and professor of economics at New York University's Stern School of Business. He's also a former adviser to the U.S. Treasury Department.
Professor Roubini recently laid out what he called the "12 steps to financial disaster." Unfortunately, they were really complicated, and I have severe ADD, so I've boiled them down into five phases that even a rodeo clown like me can understand.
I think of these like our military's "DEFCON" -- or defense readiness condition -- scale, except that this countdown could end in the meltdown of your bank account:
• DEFCONOMY FIVE
How you'll know we're here: The housing downturn turns into a free fall, making it the worst collapse in our country's history. That not only triggers massive numbers of foreclosures and lost household wealth, but it also sets off another large wave of bank write-downs.
Odds we get here: Roubini told me that it's "extremely likely, even unavoidable" that we hit this stage because "the excess supply of new homes in the market is like we've never seen before." Prices, he believes, "need to fall another 10 to 20 percent before that clears."
• DEFCONOMY FOUR
How you'll know we're here: Americans upside-down on their mortgages and unable to pay their home equity loans begin defaulting on other debt, like credit cards, car loans and student loans. In addition, bond insurance companies lose their perfect credit ratings, forcing already troubled banks to write down another $150 billion.
Odds we get here: High. Roubini says that 8 million households are already upside-down on their mortgages and he thinks we could see that number go to between 16 million and 24 million by the end of 2009. A lot of those people, he believes, will simply walk away from their homes and send their keys back to the bank.
• DEFCONOMY THREE
How you'll know we're here: Some banks begin to crack under the pressure of continuing write-downs and mounting defaults by consumers. A national or large regional bank finally collapses, triggering hedge fund failures and general chaos on Wall Street, potentially leading to a 1987-style market crash.
Odds we get here: Very good. Roubini says that we'll likely socialize the losses, "effectively nationalizing the mortgages or the banks." It would be, he told me, "like Northern Rock (the large bank in England that was recently taken over by the British government) times three." He thinks the stock market will head south throughout the year as fears about a severe recession are confirmed.
• DEFCONOMY TWO
How you'll know we're here: Most forms of credit (both to consumers and businesses) become virtually nonexistent. That results in a "vicious circle" of additional write-downs, stock market losses, and bank collapses, which leads to even less credit being available.
Odds we get here: Good. Roubini says that credit conditions are becoming worse everyday across a variety of markets and won't be getting better anytime soon. Without extra credit available, people might have to actually (gasp!) live within their means.
• DEFCONOMY ONE
How you'll know we're here: Welcome back to 1929. A full economic meltdown results in a complete failure of the underlying financial system. What will be known to future generations as "The Greater Depression" has arrived.
Odds we get here: Not likely. Roubini believes that this will be a "very painful and severe recession" that could last for 18 months or more, but it will be more like 1981 than 1929. Families may be eating soup again, but at least it'll be in their own kitchens.
Now, do I think any of what you just read will happen?
I have no idea, and that's exactly the problem. I'm not an economist or a stockbroker; I'm just a guy trying to make the best decisions I can, and picking the brains of real experts helps me do that.
But I do know one thing for sure: Depressions aren't advertised in advance. Last time around we went from the Roaring '20s to bread lines in a matter of just a few years.
Anyone who says that can't happen again either doesn't know history, doesn't understand how interconnected the world's economies have become, or is lying to you. While that doesn't mean you should panic, it does mean you should prepare -- something my grandfather would've done a long time ago. E-mail to a friend
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Where the hell is the main stream media in my own damn country? Why won't I here about this story on the six o'clock news? It drives me fucking nuts to see day after day stories about the thousand Iraqi troops who turned tail and ran from the fighting in Basra and not one friggin story about the good news. The good news is astronomical news that should lead the news daily.
THE IRAQI ARMY FLUSHED OUT THE MAHDI ARMY AND TOOK THE SECOND LARGEST CITY IN THEIR COUNTRY BACK!!!!
THEY WON A MAJOR BATTLE WITHOUT DIRECT U.S. HELP!!
THEY STOOD UP AND FOUGHT!!
I swear to God if only a democrat had starrted this war, the MSM would report the truth.