body~politic

Saturday, September 4, 2010

1934 Chicago Tribune political cartoon

1934 Chicago Tribune political cartoon

This is a 1934 Chicago Tribune political cartoon that many say rings true in today's political and economic climate. What do you think?
sns-pod-1934-cartoon-pic
This is a 1934 Chicago Tribune political cartoon that many say rings true in today's political and economic climate. What do you think?

This Is Why There Are No Jobs in America

http://dailytradealert.com/2010/08/23/this-is-why-there-are-no-jobs-in-america/

This Is Why There Are No Jobs in America

August 23, 2010
By Porter Stansberry, S&A Digest
Editor’s note: The U.S. government just released several key economic reports. To spare you the fine details, just know unemployment is getting worse. And one manufacturing report was so bad, some thought the key number was a misprint. These problems are so severe and so much in the public eye right now, that we’re doing something unusual for our Saturday guest essay…

Our sister site, The Daily Crux, called this essay the “best rant of 2009.” It’s no surprise it’s from our colleague Porter Stansberry. While it was written months ago, we believe this is far and away the best insight you can possibly read on the unemployment situation in America.
This Is Why There Are No Jobs in America
I’d like to make you a business offer.

Seriously. This is a real offer. In fact, you really can’t turn me down, as you’ll come to understand in a moment…

Here’s the deal. You’re going to start a business or expand the one you’ve got now. It doesn’t really matter what you do or what you’re going to do. I’ll partner with you no matter what business you’re in – as long as it’s legal.

But I can’t give you any capital – you have to come up with that on your own. I won’t give you any labor – that’s definitely up to you. What I will do, however, is demand you follow all sorts of rules about what products and services you can offer, how much (and how often) you pay your employees, and where and when you’re allowed to operate your business. That’s my role in the affair: to tell you what to do.

Now in return for my rules, I’m going to take roughly half of whatever you make in the business each year. Half seems fair, doesn’t it? I think so. Of course, that’s half of your profits.

You’re also going to have to pay me about 12% of whatever you decide to pay your employees because you’ve got to cover my expenses for promulgating all of the rules about who you can employ, when, where, and how. Come on, you’re my partner. It’s only “fair.”

Now… after you’ve put your hard-earned savings at risk to start this business, and after you’ve worked hard at it for a few decades (paying me my 50% or a bit more along the way each year), you might decide you’d like to cash out – to finally live the good life.

Whether or not this is “fair” – some people never can afford to retire – is a different argument. As your partner, I’m happy for you to sell whenever you’d like… because our agreement says, if you sell, you have to pay me an additional 20% of whatever the capitalized value of the business is at that time.

I know… I know… you put up all the original capital. You took all the risks. You put in all of the labor. That’s all true. But I’ve done my part, too. I’ve collected 50% of the profits each year. And I’ve always come up with more rules for you to follow each year. Therefore, I deserve another, final 20% slice of the business.

Oh… and one more thing…

Even after you’ve sold the business and paid all of my fees… I’d recommend buying lots of life insurance. You see, even after you’ve been retired for years, when you die, you’ll have to pay me 50% of whatever your estate is worth.

After all, I’ve got lots of partners and not all of them are as successful as you and your family. We don’t think it’s “fair” for your kids to have such a big advantage. But if you buy enough life insurance, you can finance this expense for your children.

All in all, if you’re a very successful entrepreneur… if you’re one of the rare, lucky, and hard-working people who can create a new company, employ lots of people, and satisfy the public… you’ll end up paying me more than 75% of your income over your life. Thanks so much.

I’m sure you’ll think my offer is reasonable and happily partner with me… but it doesn’t really matter how you feel about it because if you ever try to stiff me – or cheat me on any of my fees or rules – I’ll break down your door in the middle of the night, threaten you and your family with heavy, automatic weapons, and throw you in jail.

That’s how civil society is supposed to work, right? This is Amerika, isn’t it?

That’s the offer Amerika gives its entrepreneurs. And the idiots in Washington wonder why there are no new jobs…

Regards,

Porter Stansberry
Editor’s note: To read more from Porter, sign up for his outstanding Investment Advisory. His latest issue – which covers the coming crisis brought on by the U.S. government – details exactly what he sees ahead and how to profit (and protect yourself). For details on how to gain immediate access to his report, click here.
*This article originally appeared on DailyWealth.com.


This investment news is brought to you by Daily Wealth.  The investment philosophy at DailyWealth is this: Buy things of extraordinary value at a time when nobody else wants them. Then sell when people are willing to pay any price. DailyWealth believes most investors take way too much risk. So their mission is to show you how to avoid risky investments, and how to avoid what the average investor is doing. They believe that you can make a lot of money – and do it safely – by simply doing the opposite of what is most popular. To view archives or subscribe, visit http://www.DailyWealth.com.

Avion custom car travels 1400 miles on 12 gallons; Goodyear Fuel Max tires credited

http://www.examiner.com/home-technology-in-cleveland/avion-custom-car-travels-1400-miles-on-12-gallons-goodyear-fuel-max-tires-credited

Avion custom car travels 1400 miles on 12 gallons; Goodyear Fuel Max tires credited

  • September 4th, 2010 4:50 pm ET
Craig Henderson at US-Mexico border after 1400 mile journey on 1 tank with Goodyear Fuel Max tires
Photo: PRNewsFoto/Goodyear-Henderson
Craig Henderson of Bellingham, Washington, drove his custom-built Avion automobile from the US-Canada border to the US-Mexico border on a single tank of diesel fuel.
Akron-based Goodyear and Henderson report that the journey extended over 1400 miles, that Henderson managed to get 119.1 miles per gallon, and that his Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tires played a significant role in his achievement. He used only 12.4 gallons of fuel on the trip from Blaine, Washington, on the Canadian border, to the Mexican border near Chula Vista, California. Henderson made stops for overnight lodging but did not refuel.
The lightweight, aerodynamic Avion has been around since 1984 and has set records in the past. The Avion uses an 800 cc diesel engine. Henderson built the original Avion with co-designer Bill Green; it has never been mass produced.
Henderson said, "The Avion has achieved 113 miles per gallon at 55-60 miles per hour in testing. For this journey, we averaged around 55 miles per hour and contended with regular traffic volumes. The Goodyear Fuel Max tires help provide the fuel savings we wanted, and with the confidence of knowing we will have excellent wet and dry traction."
Goodyear brand manager Razvan Bosomoiu points out that the Fuel Max tire is available in sizes that fit 80% of cars on the road today. Goodyear estimates that these tires deliver 4% fuel economy to buyers, saving 2,600 miles worth of fuel per set of tires.
For more information see PRNewswire.com.
Copyright © 2010 Susan J. Walker; click “subscribe” above if you’d like to receive an email when Susan Walker publishes.
Click here for more by Susan Walker:
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Slideshow: Henderson's Avion auto gets 119 MPG with Goodyear Fuel Max tires

OBAMA IS NOT A MUSLIM

http://www.anncoulter.com/cgi-local/article.cgi?article=384

OBAMA IS NOT A MUSLIM
September 1, 2010


The nonsense about President Obama being a Muslim has got to stop. I rise to defend him from this absurd accusation by pointing out that he is obviously an atheist.

Leave aside Obama's fanatical opposition to allowing Illinois hospitals to save the lives of babies with God-given souls inadvertently born alive during abortions. Also leave aside the fact that neither of his parents were Christians. And leave aside his current crop of "spiritual advisers," which is a collection of Mother Earth worshippers, polytheists and other nonbelievers.

Now rest from all that "leaving aside."

The only evidence for Obama's Christianity is that he faithfully attended the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ for 20 years.

Yes, the guy bellowing "God damn America!" is the one vouching for Obama's Christianity. That's like saying you got sober with the help of your A.A. sponsor Lindsay Lohan.

It is a fact that any non-retarded person (thank you, Rahm Emanuel!) sitting in the Rev. Wright's church for 20 minutes, much less 20 years, does not believe in God. Even stepping inside Wright's church for a moment to get out of the rain is borderline racist.

Going to Trinity United Church of Christ is even stronger evidence of nonbelief than Bill Clinton returning from Sunday services to receive oral sex from Monica Lewinsky. This isn't mere sin -- everybody sins (though some with more frequency and less remorse than others).

Attending Wright's church is the conscious, calculated decision to immerse yourself in hate-filled demagoguery and call it "Christianity."

But according to North Korean TV's Chris Matthews, it is a provable, scientific fact that Obama is a Christian because he says so. "Everybody watching right now," Matthews said to his several viewers last week, "gets credit for being of the religion you say you are. ... We accept that in America. It's called freedom of religion and respect for religion."

That would make professions of religious belief, unlike all other self-professions, unchallengeable. Liberals say conservatives don't believe in civil rights. I say liberals are godless traitors. Why is one statement debatable and the other not?

Doesn't anyone question the Christianity of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker? How about the Satanists claiming to be Christians who stand outside soldiers' funerals with signs that say "God Hates Fags"?

And, for the record, the allegedly inviolate assertion of one's own religious belief wasn't so inviolate when it came to Ronald Reagan.

Tip O'Neill used to question President Reagan's Christianity all the time, taunting the president for not attending church regularly. Matthews might remember that: He was working for O'Neill at the time.

In fact, parading to church in front of the TV cameras carrying a 10-pound Bible -- like a certain serial adulterer, impeached president I could name -- is strongly discouraged by the creator of the universe. ("Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 6.1)

Some conservatives have cited Obama's near complete refusal to go to church to suggest he's not the "devout Christian" who "prays every day" as the White House claims.

But that's not your proof, Christians. To the contrary, it's Obama's church attendance -- back in Chicago -- that proves he's an atheist.

This was inadvertently admitted by Obama's leading butt-boy, Richard Wolffe, on North Korean TV Monday night. Wolffe acknowledged that Wright's liberation theology was not Christianity, but then forcefully distinguished Obama from the Rev. Wright –- i.e., Obama's sole character witness for his alleged Christianity.

Of Glenn Beck's denunciation of liberation theology as a false religion, Wolffe said: "Is he debating Jeremiah Wright or Barack Obama? They're two different people. If he wants to debate liberation theology with Wright, he's got something to talk about. But liberation theology hasn't been anything espoused by this president."

But it was espoused in the only church Obama ever attended regularly -- for 20 years, no less -- was married in and had his daughters baptized in. The title of Obama's autobiography came from the title of one of Wright's sermons and snippets from Wright's sermons have appeared in Obama's work.

So the sole evidence of Obama's supposed Christianity is his longtime pastor, who everyone admits is a racist nut.

No sentient human is required to take Obama's profession of Christianity any more seriously than if it were coming from a 1980s blow-dried, money-grubbing televangelist with a mistress on the side.

All liberals are atheists. Only the ones who have to stand for election even bother pretending to believe in God.

Not being acquainted with any actual Christians, they aren't particularly good bluffers. That's why Democrats babble incoherently whenever the subject of religion comes up. Liberals acting devout always looks like the love scenes between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in "Top Gun": awkward and unconvincing.

Former divinity student Al Gore famously botched a biblical verse, switching God's instruction that we put heaven before earthly things ("For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also," Matthew 6:21) by saying we should make the Earth our treasure. (In the druidical religion of liberalism, not separating your recyclables is a sin, but abortion is just a medical procedure.)

Howard Dean told a reporter his favorite book of the New Testament was Job.

It took the Democrats' born-again Christian Jimmy Carter three decades to announce, in 2005, that he didn't think Jesus would approve of abortion ("unless the mother's life or health was in danger or perhaps the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest," etc. etc.).

There's only one true Christian liberal in the country and that's Mike Huckabee.

COPYRIGHT 2010 ANN COULTER

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The NAFTA Superhighway Is Alive and Well

http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/world-mainmenu-26/north-america-mainmenu-36/3313-the-nafta-superhighway-is-alive-and-well

The NAFTA Superhighway Is Alive and Well | Print |  E-mail
Written by Kelly Holt   
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 11:18
0
On March 19, 2010, Jerome Corsi’s weekly financial strategies newsletter, "RedAlert," reported that Canada‘s Manitoba province is devoting a portion of its website to promoting Canada’s portion of the NAFTA Superhighway system, the Mid-Continent Trade Corridor.
While interested parties, especially the State of Texas and many national publications, have downplayed or denied that plans even exist to build Superhighways from Mexico through Canada, our northern neighbors have gone full steam ahead with their plans to augment this system. The website displays a map showing the connection of the Mid-Continent Trade and Transportation Corridor with the much-vilified American NAFTA Superhighway (IH-35) just north of Fargo, North Dakota, at Winnipeg, Manitoba. As early as 2008, the website of CISCOR (Canadian Intelligent SuperCorridor) showed the same map, and both websites extol the virtues of a giant trade corridor, using the tired old language found threading its way through nearly all the websites and documents pertaining to this mess: "Intermodal in nature, the corridor allows cost-effective and safe movement of goods and people, minimizing both travel costs and time."

“Intermodal” is also known as “multimodal,” meaning that a container of goods offloaded at a deepwater port, say in Mexico or Canada, could be moved between boats, trains, or trucks without being unloaded. Or examined by Customs. Critics of the Superhighways have long contended that the Superhighways are not meant to benefit the U.S. populace, but that they are designed to implement an aim of the Security and Prosperity Partnership pushed by President George W. Bush: to erase the borders between Mexico, the United States, and Canada, in much the same manner as happened in the European Union, but of course, such a merger too was denied by officials — just as an impending continental government was denied by EU planners until it was already nearing completion. Containers destined for ports in either Canada or Mexico also avoid the union wages of longshoremen at California’s coastal ports. Corsi’s article claims that international trade is expected to double in the next 10 years, in spite of the global recession. Corridor promoters use this claim to justify the need for the system.

The Canadian website also references NASCO, saying that Manitoba’s Transportation Policy and Service Department is a member — big surprise. NASCO (North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition) claims as members many communities and trade organizations from Canada to Mexico and has been responsible for much of the spin generated to sell Americans on the highway. NASCO’s website, which has undergone yet another incarnation, includes a video claiming that a government’s two best investments are education and transportation infrastructure. (Never mind that the first is unconstitutional, and there's some question about the second.) The video unequivocally states that NASCO exists to “promote a sustainable, secure and efficient trade and transportation system.” And Manitoba is embracing it. Not so ironically, a couple of years ago, NASCO was denying the existence of the Trade Corridor that it now boasts about. NASCO claims to have generated partnerships between the public and private sectors for funding and to have members from all three countries — all that effort for something they claimed didn't exist.
It has never been a proper function of government to sell out its citizens through eminent domain (such as taking land for the highways that will hurt Americans), security compromises, and a deceit of the biggest nature. All of which have plagued anyone in the path of the American segment. The repeated lies show the sham: What it’s about is integrating three countries into a regional government.

The Manitoba Mid-Continent Trade Corridor website is simply a promotion of yet another segment of the SuperCorridor system, and puts forth no effort to deny that it is such. For those who listen to the finger-wetters who say the Corridor is dead, look again. No contracts have been cancelled, no construction on deepwater ports halted, and no containers from China rejected. That’s the whole point.
Photo: AP Images

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Love to Hate Mail: The Migrant

This is really weird. I never looked at it this way before now.

Did you know that the words "race car" spelled backwards still spells "race car", or that "eat" is the only word that, if you take the first letter and move it to the last, spells its past tense "ate",

or if you rearrange the letters in "illegal immigrants," and add just a few more letters, it spells:

"Go home you free-loading, benefit-grabbing, resource-sucking, baby-making, violent, non-English-speaking assholes, and take those other hairy-faced, sandal-wearing, bomb-making, camel-riding, goat-loving, dirty-greasy, raggedy-ass bastards with you?

Now I ask you, how weird is that?

Now that was my thought for today, and I hope you enjoyed it. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

National Center for Policy Analysis Finds Nuclear Energy as Best Option for U.S. Energy Future

http://us.arevablog.com/tag/spent-fuel-recycling/

National Center for Policy Analysis Finds Nuclear Energy as Best Option for U.S. Energy Future

Construction at MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina
Construction at MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina
A recent report from the National Center for Policy Analysis examines the growing demand for U.S. energy needs and the requirements that this energy comes from a renewable or carbon-free source.  The National Center for Policy Analysis finds in its report that “to meet this growing demand nuclear energy remains one of the safest and more reliable forms of energy available—it also emits no greenhouse gases…Nuclear power is reliable, sustainable, and clean.”
Reliable?
“Solar and wind require backup from coal, natural gas or nuclear power plants for day-to-day baseload power or for on-demand peaking power.  By contrast, the output from nuclear power plants can be adjusted based on user demand and to keep the electricity grid at maximum efficiency.”
Sustainable?
“An additional supply of nuclear fuel is readily available, after reprocessing, in the more-than-15,000 plutonium pits removed from dismantled U.S. nuclear weapons.”*

“An even larger fuel supply can be found in spent fuel rods from existing reactors.  Thus, recycling could provide an almost unlimited supply of nuclear fuel in the United State.  Recycling spent fuel would significantly decrease the problem of nuclear waste disposal.  Reprocessing can also be a boon to local communities and create jobs.”
Clean?
Nuclear power has among the lowest CO2 emissions of all energy sources.  Paul J. Meier of the University of Wisconsin analyzed CO2 emissions from various electric power sources over their entire lifecycle…Meier found that for every gigawatt hour (one billion watt hours) of electricity generated”:
-Coal emits 1,041 tons of CO2 equivalent
-Natural gas emits 622 tons
-Solar emits 39 tons
-Hydropower emits 18 tons
And nuclear power emits only 17 tons of CO2.
Check out the entire report, Nuclear Power and the U.S. Energy Future.
*(AREVA is a partner in the construction of this plant, the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility, currently being built in South Carolina to turn these warheads into fuel for a reliable power supply.)

Obama Schedules Media Time as Economy Crawls

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/08/30/white-house-turns-economy-amid-conflicting-signals/

Obama Schedules Media Time as Economy Crawls

Published August 30, 2010
| FoxNews.com
Fresh off his family vacation in Martha's Vineyard, President Obama is back in Washington and facing the most pressing domestic issue of his administration -- economy, economy, economy. 

Obama plans to address the economic situation in the Rose Garden Monday afternoon after new government figures showed a flash of good news. The Commerce Department reported Monday that consumer spending rose 0.4 percent, the fastest pace in four months. 

But the so-called recovery remains in danger of limping along or even reversing in the second half of the year, economists warn. 

Other economic vital signs suggest the latest pickup is a hiccup unless employers start adding jobs. Personal incomes went up just 0.2 percent in July -- that's an improvement over June, but they'll have to keep rising to sustain long-term growth in spending and the overall economy. A sequence of economic reports set for release later in the week should give a better picture of whether job growth is stuck in neutral. 

Following a revised Commerce Department estimate last week showing the economy grew at just 1.6 percent in the second quarter, Moody's Analytics economist Gus Faucher said job growth could idle well into 2011 before employers start spending their cash reserves on new hires. 
"It's going to be much softer than we prefer," he said, predicting the jobless rate will just about hold steady at 9.5 percent for August when the new employment numbers are released Friday.

Cato Institute fellow Dan Mitchell said this is not what a post-recession economic recovery is supposed to look like. 

"Normally you're supposed to have a strong bounce," he said. "At best, we're simply slowly crawling our way back up to an average growth rate. We're not having a big bounce back to recover the lost output." 

Mitchell said he doesn't expect a double-dip recession, but that hiring needs to improve. 

"If you don't hire new people, it's really hard to get GDP up and national income up," he said. 

The anemic pace of the recovery spells trouble for the incumbent party in Washington. An Associated Press/GfK poll conducted in mid-August showed 41 percent approving of President Obama's handling of the economy, his lowest marks yet. With few signs that a sudden economic surge will inspire new faith in Democrats' domestic policies before November, lawmakers are trying to keep the focus on jobs. 

Obama, in an interview with NBC's "Nightly News," said Sunday that his administration "anticipated" a slowing recovery and called for new measures. 

"The economy is still growing, but it's not growing as fast as it needs to," Obama said. "I've got things right now before Congress that we should move immediately. ... We should be passing legislation that helps small businesses get credit. That eliminates capital gains taxes so they have more incentive to invest right now. There are a whole host of measures we could take, no single element of which is a magic bullet, but cumulatively, can start continuing to build momentum for the recovery." 

The second-quarter estimate for GDP growth was downgraded last week from its original 2.4 percent. Some economists forecast an equally idle 1.7 percent growth in the third quarter. 

While the economy has grown for four straight quarters, the overall pace has averaged just 2.9 percent. Business investment in the first half of this year on new equipment and inventory helped boost recent growth, but that buildup may be leveling off. 

Housing data also has been consistently dismal. Numbers for new home sales fell 12.4 percent in July, the slowest pace on record. 

The trend lines have generally tilted in a steep downward direction since the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit at the end of April. 

A memo on last week's GDP numbers from BBVA Research said estimates "confirm that substantial economic slack remains and the pace of growth is going to ease in the second half of the year." 

The latest consumer spending statistics were nevertheless seen as a positive sign and taken by some as evidence that the economy is headed in the right direction. The July increase in consumer spending was the highest since a 0.5 rise in March. 

Peter Newland, an economist with Barclays Capital Research, said in a research note that consumer spending will "continue to recover, albeit modestly, supported by a gradual improvement in labor income." 
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

What Do You Think the Future of the Workplace Will Look Like?

http://www.readwriteweb.com/enterprise/2010/08/workplace-of-the-future.php


What Do You Think the Future of the Workplace Will Look Like?


This post is part of our ReadWriteEnterprise channel, which is a resource and guide for IT managers and technologists in the Enterprise. The channel is sponsored by Intel. As you're exploring solutions for your enterprise, check out this helpful resource from our sponsors: All New 2010 Intel Core vPro Processors and Microsoft Office 2010: Your Best Choice for Business PCs
Future office, circa 1964 We kicked off the week last Monday with an article on improving IT worker morale. This week we'd like to get your thoughts on what changes we'll see in the workplace of the future, both good and bad. For example, earlier this month Gartner released a list of ten changes the workplace will see in the next 10 years. What do you think about Gartner's list, and what changes do you expect to see?
Above: A vision of the office of the future from 1964, via Tales of the Futures Past section on work. Below, an vision of the office of the future from 2009, via Microsoft Office Labs. Will the latter look as retro in the future as the former?
Future of Microsoft Office
Here are Gartner's ten trends:
  1. De-routinization of Work
  2. Work Swarms
  3. Weak Links
  4. Working With the Collective
  5. Work Sketch-Ups
  6. Spontaneous Work
  7. Simulation and Experimentation
  8. Pattern Sensitivity
  9. Hyperconnected
  10. My Place
Phil Wainewright has a pretty good take on Gartner's list, distilling it down to three meta-trends:
  • Hyperconnectedness
  • Swarming
  • Spontaneity
Do you see any other trends in the work place? What technologies do you see driving these trends? What long-term impacts do you think the ongoing global recession will have?
Either comment here, or e-mail your thoughts to klint@readwriteweb.com. We'll highlight the best responses in a post later in the week.

 

Mayor of Violent Mexican Border State Assassinated

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/08/29/mayor-violent-mexican-border-state-assassinated/

Mayor of Violent Mexican Border State Assassinated

Published August 30, 2010
| Associated Press
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico -- Gunmen killed the mayor of a town in the drug-plagued Mexican border state of Tamaulipas on Sunday in a region where suspected cartel hitmen recently massacred 72 migrants, the government said.
Hidalgo Mayor Marco Antonio Leal Garcia was the second mayor to be assassinated in the past two weeks in the area, which has become a battleground between the Gulf and Zetas cartels.
President Felipe Calderon condemned the attack on Leal Garcia, which left the mayor's daughter wounded.
"This cowardly crime, and the reprehensible violent acts that occurred recently in this state, strengthen the commitment of the Mexican government to continue fighting the criminal gangs that seek to intimidate the families of Tamaulipas," Calderon's office said in a statement.
Leal Garcia's rural town, Hidalgo, has about 25,000 inhabitants. It lies southwest of a part of Tamaulipas where a massacre survivor said Zetas gunmen killed 72 Central and South American migrants last week.
Hidalgo is also near the border with Nuevo Leon state, where the mayor of another town, Santiago, was found murdered on Aug. 18. Local police allied with a drug gang are suspected in that killing.
There were no immediate details on a possible motive in Leal Garcia's slaying, but Calderon's reference to "criminal gangs" and the nature of the slaying suggest drug cartel involvement. Local media reported Leal Garcia was killed as he left his ranch.
Tamaulipas state security officials did not answer phone calls seeking comment.
Some cartels have been known to carry out targeted shootings that kill the intended victim, but not children riding in the same vehicle. Leal Garcia's daughter was reportedly shot in the leg.
Tamaulipas has seen at least two other killings of political figures this year. Rodolfo Torre, the front-running candidate for the state's governorship, was gunned down on a highway June 28, and in May, gunmen killed a candidate for mayor of the town of Valle Hermoso.
Calderon's administration promised to increase security in the area after a series of explosive devices were detonated in the Tamaulipas capital: Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas.
The Interior Department said it "energetically condemned" the explosions in Reynosa, but did not confirm local media reports that the explosions were caused by three hand grenades and that they had wounded roughly a dozen people. The department confirmed there were some victims, and offered to help them.
The Reynosa city government said on its Twitter site that "an explosive device" detonated downtown near the La Quebradita bar on Saturday, and advised residents to stay out of the area. Cross-border traffic was not affected.
The slaughter of the migrants was discovered last Tuesday in San Fernando, a town near Reynosa.
The Central and South Americans were apparently killed after they refused to work for the gang. Drug gangs have branched out into human trafficking for extortion and to recruit members.
Thirty-five had been identified by Sunday: 16 Hondurans, 13 Salvadorans, five Guatemalans and a Brazilian. Documents belonging to another Brazilian man were found at the scene of the killings, but his body has not been identified. The lone survivor, an Ecuadorean, escaped and reported the slaughter to the Mexican military.
Diplomats from the victims' home countries have traveled to Tamaulipas to get firsthand reports on the identification efforts. Most of those identified so far carried documents. But bodies found without documents present a much bigger challenge.
Guatemala offered to send a plane to pick up five victims identified so far from that country. Families of three said they received telephone calls earlier in the month demanding $2,000 for their relatives' release. Guatemala's foreign ministry said it was still trying to contact families of the other two dead.
Migrants hopping freight trains through Mexico to get to the United States are often subjected to kidnappings, beatings and extortion along the way.
A group of them protested Saturday in the railroad town of Arriaga in southern Chiapas state, where many migrants cross the border from Guatemala.
The Rev. Hayman Vazquez, a Roman Catholic priest who runs the Casa del Migrante shelter in Arriaga, said about 120 people marched along the railroad tracks to the city hall with banners reading "Please respect us," and "The kidnapping of migrants in Mexico is a humanitarian tragedy."
Vazquez said undocumented migrants continued to arrive at the shelter this week. Even when told of the massacre, most said they would still try to reach the U.S. because there are no opportunities in their home countries, he said.
Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes said Saturday he wants to meet with Mexico's Calderon to coordinate efforts to combat drug violence. More than 28,000 Mexicans have been killed in drug-related violence since Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels in late 2006.
"This war is not going to be won using the tools and methods traditionally used to fight crime," Funes said. "The challenge posed by the criminals requires other responses, other weapons, and intelligence."

Obama Fail Blog

9 Ways to Fix Social Security

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/08/9-ways-to-fix-social-security/62124/

9 Ways to Fix Social Security

Aug 30 2010, 10:31 AM ET | Comment
Following news coverage can be easy. Understanding some of the terms it uses, less so. In our Flashcard series, The Atlantic explains ideas you may read about but never see spelled out. In this installment, we explain how to reform Social Security.

400 social security.png

Now in its 75th year of existence, Social Security is the largest single program in the federal government, consuming about 20 percent of the budget. Basically, it works like a mandatory savings account, skimming money off your paycheck and paying it back after you retire. But the program cannot fully fund its promises to seniors past the 2030s. That's why the deficit commission established by the White House will probably propose moderate changes to the program to extend its lifetime.

To understand how Social Security might change, let's review how it works. You pay a percent of every dollar you earn up to a ceiling, above which Social Security collects no taxes. Upon retirement, you receive a check that reflects your lifetime earnings. That check gets a raise every year to keep up with the prices of food and other goods.

Almost every proposal to reform Social Security targets on of those five bold words. You can raise the tax rate, now at 6.2 percent for both employers and employees. You can raise the tax ceiling, now at $106,800. You can push back the retirement age, now on track to rise to 67. You can shrink the first check. Or you can slow the pace at which that check grows every year.

When a doctor tells a patient to lose weight, he does not say, wait a few years and then fast for three months. He says walk more, eat more veggies, eat fewer sweets, try this pill. Improving the health of Social Security requires a similar approach: nothing dramatic, but many small things as once phased in over time. Let's take a closer look at our options.

Raise the Tax Rate

Slowly increase the payroll tax so workers and bosses pay more of their wages into the system.

Pro: Wages are rising, and the portion of wages we tax should rise as well. Raising the tax rate by a few percentage points would basically preserve Social Security for another century.

Con: A tax on work discourages work. A higher payroll rate makes employees more expensive, which could reduce employment. Indeed, one way the White House is thinking about stimulating the job market is to cancel the Social Security tax for short period.

Raise the Tax Ceiling

Make the tax ceiling cover 90 percent of all earnings. This would raise the taxable max about $40,000 in 2012, to $156,000.

Pro: The wages of the wealthiest Americans have grown so fast that the share of earnings taxed by Social Security has fallen from 90 percent to 83 percent in the last 30 years. Pinning the tax max to 90 percent of wages going forward would restore the status quo without increasing the burden on lower-income Americans.

Con: It's still a tax on work that will make middle-income jobs even more expensive for employers to fill. If we move even more of the tax burden on the wealthy, we're pushing Social Security away from a pension program toward a welfare program in disguise.

Raise the Retirement Age

Two plans, here. We could raise the normal retirement age, currently at 66, which is the first year seniors can collect full benefits. Or to save more money, we could raise the early retirement age, currently at 62, which is the first year Social Security can send retirees a check.

Pro: Raising the retirement age has broad support. We are living longer, healthier lives in less labor-intensive jobs. Our retirement age should reflect that. Otherwise, we're paying 60-somethings to stop working, which is a waste of brains and tax dollars.

Con: The logic sounds airtight, but look closer. It's the richer folks who are living longer. In the last 30 years, as the retirement age has increased by eight months, men in the bottom half of earners have only added only a year to their lifespans. Pushing it back further would punish the people who depend on Social Security the most.

Reduce Benefits

Write smaller checks to richer people. [Want a more detailed explanation? Go here.]

Pro: Half of the people who receive Social Security rely on it for more than 80 percent of their income. Meanwhile, the richest 25 percent of Americans make 80 percent of their money outside of Social Security. The easiest way to cut costs is to trim benefits, and the safest place to trim benefits is for the wealthy, who earn more and save more for retirement.

Con: It's a myth that we can save money by writing smaller checks for millionaires, only. To see meaningful savings, we have to make cuts for some middle-income Americans, too. Of course, that means folks who rely on Social Security for more than half of their income. So there's your rock and hard place.

Slow the Growth of Benefits

Link Social Security cost-of-living adjustments to a slower-growing measure of inflation.

Pro: Social Security checks increase every year with prices. (When consumer prices fall, as they did last year, Social Security recipients don't get a raise.) Many experts think the consumer price index overstates the rising cost of living because it doesn't take into account the fact that we naturally adjust our spending when some goods get too expensive.

Con: Other analysts come to the opposite conclusion: the cost-of-living adjustment is too low already! Seniors demand lots of medical care, and medical costs tend to grow even faster than consumer prices. Squeezing seniors checks as they get older, and possibly sicker, is plain cruel, especially for the folks relying on Social Security for the overwhelming majority of their income.

Bonus Ideas!

Think outside the lock box. Here are haiku-length arguments for four more ideas.

Immigration: If more immigrants come to the United States and work for money, their payroll taxes can pay for seniors' retirement.

Tax Reform: Overall tax reform or deficit reduction would let the government draw on regular funds to support Social Security.

Individual Accounts: Social Security adds to government's bloat, makes workers too expensive, and has a poor rate of return. Let workers save and invest in private accounts, and we'll reduce government spending overtime, boost economic growth with more private investment, and give seniors more money to tap when they retire.

Aggressively Invest the Trust Fund: We can diversify the trust fund by investing one percent a year, up to 20 percent in 20 years, in a separate fund managed by trustees who are independent. Overtime the trust fund would probably see higher rates of return.

Source: Congressional Budget Office

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For more Flashcard posts:

The Bush Tax Cuts

Cap-and-Trade

Carbon Pricing

The Contagion Effect

Deficit Spending (Stimulus)

The Oil Spill Liability Cap

The Renewable Electricity Standard

Unemployment Insurance

Economists: I dunno, man. What do you think?

http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/30/news/economy/NABE_survey/

Economists: I dunno, man. What do you think?

wall_street_trader_083010.gi.top.jpg By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The air is quickly coming out of the recovery balloon, and economists have mixed views on how to pump it back up.
The National Association of Business Economists said Monday that three-quarters of its members believe that promoting economic growth should be a higher priority than reducing the national deficit, according to an August survey of the nation's economic policy.
However, nearly the same number of NABE economists said they do not think another stimulus package is necessary to halt the economic slowdown and get the economy back on track. At the same time, a majority believe that policymakers should do more to boost job growth.
The survey, based on responses from 84 NABE economists who work for private-sector firms and industry trade associations, comes as economic growth in the United States has slowed significantly after rebounding from a deep recession. Economists have been reducing their growth forecasts, and some are worried the economy could slip back into a downturn.
On Friday, the government said U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, grew at an annual rate of 1.6% in the second quarter. That's down sharply from the previously estimated 2.4% rate -- and way off from the 5% growth rate in the fourth quarter of last year.
Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, said last week that the current pace of economic growth is "somewhat less vigorous" than expected, but he remained optimistic for a pickup in 2011. He added that the central bank is prepared to provide additional "unconventional measures" if the outlook were to "deteriorate significantly."
The NABE survey showed that just under half of those polled see deflation as the main threat facing the economy in the short term. Deflation occurs when both prices and demand fall, creating a downward spiral that can stifle economic growth for years. But respondents were less certain about whether inflation or deflation is the biggest threat over the next three years.
In a sign of the challenges currently facing Fed policy makers, there was little consensus among the NABE economists on when the central bank will raise interest rates and begin selling off assets it bought during the financial crisis.
"The majority of the economists surveyed consider monetary policy to be currently appropriate, with greater disagreement over how the Federal Reserve should proceed over the next 12 months," said Lynn Reaser, president of NABE and chief economist for Point Loma Nazarene University.
After cutting rates to historic lows near 0% in December 2008, the Fed has been without its main tool for supporting economic activity for nearly two years. It has since bought billions worth of Treasury bonds in an effort to bring down rates for home and other consumer loans. But some central bankers are worried about adding to the $2 trillion worth of assets the Fed has acquired over the last few years.
Meanwhile, only 38% of economists surveyed believe the nation's current fiscal policy is "about right." But 64% supported recently enacted legislation that extends unemployment benefits up to two years.
One area where there was broad agreement in the survey was the question of tax cuts. A majority of economists said that none of the existing tax cuts on individual income, dividends and capital gains should be allowed to expire.
Congress has yet to decide the fate of more than 100 tax breaks that either already expired at the end of 2009 or will expire by the end of this year. Lawmakers return from recess next month.  To top of page

Painfully slow comeback for consumers

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/painfully-slow-comeback-for-consumers-2010-08-30

Painfully slow comeback for consumers

Commentary: Americans are relearning habits of thrift

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By MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - American consumers may say they are depressed about the economy, but they haven't stopped spending entirely.
For all the gnashing of teeth about a double-dip recession, July's data on individual incomes and spending don't show a collapse in the consumer sector, as many have feared.
Consumer spending rose 0.2% in inflation-adjusted terms in July to the highest level in two years, the Commerce Department estimated Monday. In the past year, real spending has risen 1.9%. See full story on the July consumer spending and income figures.
Encouragingly, Americans have increased their spending without dipping into their savings or taking on more debt. The savings rate has been relatively steady at around 6% of disposable incomes, much better than the 2% we were saving when the credit bubble was in full bloom five years ago.
That's not to say everything is hunky-dory.
American consumers aren't shopping without a care, as they usually do coming out of recessions. Wage growth has been tepid at best, and aggregate incomes are still too dependent on transfer payments from the government.
But progress can be seen in the data.
After years of acting irresponsibly, American consumers are slowly getting their lives together, reducing their debts and increasing their savings. The percentage of their disposable incomes that goes toward debt service is the smallest in 10 years.
Americans are relearning thrift, just when the broader economy could use a little irresponsible spending to supercharge the recovery. In the longer run, those habits of thrift will be a great benefit to the economy, but for now, it's keeping the economy growing only slowly.
-- Rex Nutting

Consumer Spending in U.S. Tops Forecast, Incomes Lag

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-30/consumer-spending-in-u-s-rose-more-than-forecast-in-july-incomes-lagged.html

Consumer spending in the U.S. rose more than forecast in July, exceeding gains in incomes and indicating the economy may avoid slipping back into a recession.
Purchases rose 0.4 percent, the most since March, after little change the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Incomes climbed 0.2 percent, less than projected, and the savings rate dropped.
Disposable incomes, or the money left over after taxes, dropped for the first time since January after adjusting for inflation, showing how the lack of jobs may prevent spending from strengthening. Companies from Intel Corp. to J. Crew Group Inc. are cutting forecasts as unemployment and flagging confidence prompt households to scale back.
“It’ll be a real slog,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. “We’ll see very slow growth, but it’s a far cry from a double dip,” he said, referring to the economy lapsing into another economic slump.
Stocks fluctuated between gains and losses after the report and Treasury securities climbed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.3 percent to 1,061.41 at 10:15 a.m. in New York. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.59 percent from 2.65 percent late on Aug. 27.
The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a 0.3 percent advance in spending. The 71 projections ranged from unchanged to an increase of 0.5 percent.
Economists forecast incomes would also rise 0.3 percent, following no change in June, according to the survey.
Income Breakdown
Wages and salaries increased 0.3 percent, propelled by a longer workweek. Inflation-adjusted incomes after taxes fell 0.1 percent last month after a 0.1 percent June increase, and the savings rate dropped to 5.9 percent from 6.2 percent.
Today’s report also showed inflation accelerated. The price gauge tied to spending patterns increased 1.5 percent from July 2009, compared with a 1.4 percent gain in the 12 months ended in June.
The Federal Reserve’s preferred price measure, which excludes food and fuel, rose 0.1 percent in July from the prior month and was up 1.4 percent from a year earlier, matching the median forecast of economists surveyed.
Adjusted for inflation, which are the figures used to calculate gross domestic product, consumer spending rose 0.2 percent after a 0.1 percent increase in July. The advance reflected an increase in purchases of automobiles.
Auto Demand
Autos sold at an 11.6 million pace last month, up from an 11.2 million rate in June, according to industry figures. The gain extended a see-saw pattern over the past four months that shows demand is stagnating.
Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co. has no plans to increase production of any of its current models because demand is fragile in the weak economic recovery, George Pipas, the automaker’s sales analyst, said in an interview this month
J. Crew, the New York-based retailer of sportswear, casual and career clothing, last week lowered its full-year earnings forecast.
“The continued economic uncertainty we’re seeing is leading us to take a more conservative outlook for the second half of the year,” Mickey Drexler, the retailer’s chief executive officer, said on a conference call.
Bernanke’s Outlook
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke last week said the central bank “will do all that it can” to ensure a continuation of the economic recovery, and outlined steps it might take if growth slows.
“Consumer spending may continue to grow relatively slowly in the near term,” he said Aug. 27 at the Kansas City Fed’s annual monetary policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
The U.S. economy expanded at a 1.6 percent annual rate in the second quarter, according to revised figures from the Commerce Department released Aug. 27. Corporate profits grew at the slowest rate in a year, employee wages were revised lower and consumer spending rose at a 2 percent annual rate.
Companies created 51,000 jobs on average from May through July, down from 200,000 in the prior two months, according to Labor Department data. The jobless rate may climb to 9.6 percent this month from 9.5 percent in July, and private payrolls increased by 46,000 workers, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg before a Labor Department report on Sept. 3.
November Elections
The economy is a top issue for voters in the November congressional elections and polls show the public is increasingly skeptical of President Barack Obama’s performance. Public approval for the president’s handling of the economy was at 41 percent in an Aug. 11-16 Associated Press-GfK survey, an all-time low and down from 50 percent last July.
Economists have reduced their forecasts for third quarter growth over recent weeks as reports showed business spending weakening and home sales continuing to slide. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc., last week said the likelihood of the economy slipping back into a recession is now 33 percent, up from a 20 percent chance 12 weeks ago.
The gain in spending “is allaying near-term double-dip concerns,” said Derek Holt, an economist at Scotia Capital Inc. in Toronto. “It nonetheless showcases very lackluster growth in the U.S. economy.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Courtney Schlisserman in Washington at cschlisserma@bloomberg.net

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