Thursday, June 30, 2011


Analysis: Bad old habits plague economic forecasting

Wed, Jun 29 2011
By Andy Bruce and Anooja Debnath
LONDON/BANGALORE (Reuters)- Three years after the Great Recession ought to have challenged even the most basic assumptions made by economists, they have instead settled back into the costly habits of old.
The same experts who largely missed the onslaught of the worst recession since World War II have consistently overestimated the strength of the recovery in major Western economies.
An analysis of Reuters polls shows economists were too optimistic about 20 out of 27 major monthly indicators for April and May in the United States, euro zone and Britain -- a list that includes industrial output, jobs, business and consumer sentiment data, and purchasing managers' indexes.
While oil price surges earlier this year and March's devastating earthquake in Japan have undoubtedly made forecasting trickier in recent months, the schism between what was "expected" and the gloomier reality that follows reappears with regularity.
All too often these indicators -- the May U.S. non-farm payrolls and The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's June business conditions index, to name just a couple -- came in well below even the lowest forecasts provided by dozens of economists from banks and research institutions.
"They've underestimated the scale of the shock and people think it's all over, and they want to be back to business as usual," said David Blanchflower, professor of economics at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and a former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee.
"The problem is that it isn't, and we are not 'back to business' any time soon."
Blanchflower, who in January 2008 warned that his MPC colleagues were "fiddling while Rome burns" by fretting over inflation, argues economists have assumed a return to trend after the recession and have thus returned to old, failed models.
"In many of the models, back in 2008 the efficient market hypothesis basically told you that you didn't need the financial markets in these models because they perfectly priced assets," Blanchflower said.
"Well, a) that's still true in these models, and b) if we ever believed it was true in 2008, we don't believe it's true today."
In June 2008, not one of a sample of 24 top economists who track the UK saw a recession coming at any point from the start of 2008 to the end of 2009.
We know now Britain's recession, one of the worst on record, had already started when the questionnaire went out, and latest evidence shows the UK economy is still barely growing.
The story was exactly the same with the euro zone survey, in which economists failed to identify that a contraction was already underway.
Similarly, polls of U.S. economists at around the same time showed no grave concern that the world's largest economy was about to plunge into its hardest times since the Great Depression, citing just a 50 percent chance of any recession.
Echoes of this persistent over-optimism linger today.
None of the 24 monthly Reuters long-term economic surveys conducted in advance of the release of UK fourth quarter GDP for 2010 showed any consensus for a negative figure, nor did the poll conducted just before the preliminary release.
In the event, there was a 0.5 percent quarter-on-quarter contraction -- a whole percentage point off the consensus of 0.5 percent growth. While economists protested the figures would be revised up, the final estimate showed no such revision.
"When the average error forecasting GDP shoots up from 0.1 (percentage point) pre-crisis to 0.5, you know something's wrong in the way the consensus is forecasting GDP," said Alan Clarke, economist at Scotia Capital, one of the most accurate forecasters on the UK economy over recent years.
Clarke said there was a tendency for some economists to assume an inevitable return to a definition of "normal."
"Say, that growth will go back to a more trend-like pace, that inflation will revert back to the two percent target, that BoE policy will go up from 0.5 (percent) because it's below its long-term average -- I disagree with probably all of those."
"The lazy assumption is that it'll mean-revert, and it probably won't."
Perhaps as a consequence, economists' models -- including those of central bankers -- have often failed to mark turning points.
Over the past year, the Bank of England has had to revise its inflation forecasts dramatically higher, while just last week the Federal Reserve took an axe to its growth outlook.
While missing the start of recession was one thing, they also underestimated the spurt in growth immediately after the recession, and now the extent of the subsequent slowdown.
Looking to future growth, not one amongst the dozens of economists polled by Reuters each month sees another recession between now and 2013 in any of these economies, despite near-term threats to growth from sovereign debt crises and austerity.
While this consensus view is perfectly valid, the uniformity of opinion among market economists while policymakers continue to emphasize uncertainty is striking.
Economists have overestimated the strength of U.S. economic growth in both the preliminary and advanced GDP readings for the last two quarters, while jobs and industrial data over the last few months have generally turned out worse than expected.
For instance, releases for U.S. industrial production and durable goods orders have been worse than expected in four out of the last five months, while the Philadelphia Fed Index -- a reliable leading indicator for manufacturing -- has come in below expectations in each of the last three releases.
Indeed, the June Philly Fed index was a shocking minus 7.7, far below even the lowest forecast of 0.0, to say nothing of the consensus for a rise to positive 6.8.
It was a similar story with May's U.S. nonfarm payrolls, which rose by 54,000 -- well below the lowest forecast in a snap Reuters poll. One economist revised down his forecast from 300,000, to 225,000, and then to 160,000 in the space of a couple of weeks and was still off by 106,000.
Economists have done a better job of gauging the strength of headline GDP and inflation numbers in the euro zone, no doubt helped by the overpowering strength of the region's biggest economy, Germany, which recently reported its best growth rate since reunification in 1990.
But their views on the health of the euro zone's largely moribund consumer sector have been too cheery. Euro zone consumer sentiment and retail sales have each underperformed the consensus in four out of the last six releases.
Conversely, perhaps the only major indicator in the Western world that economists have underestimated persistently is the Ifo index of German business confidence. It has exceeded expectations in five of the last six releases.
Asked how standards of economic forecasting can be improved, Blanchflower was forthright: "Chuck it all in the bin and start again! We have to get realistic; other people are."
As an example, he points to the Bank of England's latest fan charts, which visually represent the range of prospects for growth and inflation in the future.
Within the 90 percent probability range, the fan charts show growth could hit around 5 percent year-on-year by the end of 2011, with hardly any chance of zero or negative growth.
"Well, go and get real. Put a bit of common sense in here. When I give this chart to business audiences, everybody laughs," said Blanchflower.
He said timeliness should be of the essence when looking at economic indicators.
"I'm a real reader of business and consumer confidence surveys. They're timely, they don't get revised away, and they predicted very well what was going to happen in the U.S., the UK and Europe."
(Editing by Ross Finley and Catherine Evans)


Public sector strike hits services and schools

About half of all state schools in England and Wales are being affected by a strike by UK public sector workers.

Picket lines have been set up as three teaching unions join Public and Commercial Services union members such as jobcentre and border control staff to protest at planned pension changes.

A march and rally is also taking place in central London.

The government says the plans are "fair to taxpayers" and other trade unions are continuing with negotiations.

Along with the opposition, it has condemned the strike action, although Labour leader Ed Miliband has accused ministers of mishandling negotiations with the unions.

The action by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the University and College Union (UCU) affects England and Wales.

The unions say the proposals would mean more work and contributions for a reduced pension.

About 12,000 schools are being affected, although the actual total may turn out to be higher.

Information from about 75% of England's 21,500 state schools showed a third would close, a third would remain open, and a third would be partially closed. In Wales, according to local authority figures, more than 1,000 out of 1,800 schools are either closed or partially closed.

In London, where police leave has been cancelled, union leaders and activists gathered at Lincoln's Inn Fields for the march to Westminster.Airport delays

The impact of the co-ordinated industrial action began to be felt at ports and airports on Wednesday evening, when some UK Border Agency staff walked out from 1800 BST.

Travellers were warned to expect delays on arrival at UK ports and airports - although most are not currently reporting disruption.

As flights began to arrive, Heathrow airport said passengers were "generally" not experiencing excessive delays at border control. Gatwick said there were "very slight delays" while Luton reported disruption had been kept to an "absolute minimum" and Stansted said passengers are not seeing delays.

People leaving the UK are not affected because departing passengers come into contact with security staff employed by the airports, who will not be taking industrial action.

The walkouts by the PCS, which has around 260,000 members including coastguards, police support workers, court staff and driving test examiners, will be staged across the UK.

The government said that, in the Civil Service, "early signs are that less than half of the PCS Union's own members have decided to take part in today's strikes".


Greek unions call 48-hour strike to protest planned cuts

Athens, Greece (CNN) -- Greek unions have declared a 48-hour general strike next week to protest new austerity measures set to be voted on by the Greek Parliament, one of Greece's biggest umbrella unions told CNN on Thursday.

The strike will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece said. A rally is planned for Tuesday that will end outside the Parliament building.

Greece's Parliament is due to vote Wednesday on a tough five-year package of tax increases and spending cuts, a day later than originally planned.

The austerity measures must be passed if Greece is to win the last $17 billion portion of a $156 billion bailout package from other European nations that was granted in 2010, and also to clear the way for another potential bailout package to keep Greece afloat going forward.


California tells online retailers to start collecting sales taxes from customers

Beginning Friday, and other large out-of-state retailers will be required to collect sales taxes on purchases that their California customers make online.  

The new tax collection requirement — part of budget-related legislation — is expected to raise an estimated $317 million a year in new state and local government revenue.

But those taxes may come with a price. Amazon and online retailer Inc. told thousands of California Internet marketing affiliates that they will stop paying commissions for referrals of so-called click-through customers.

Both Amazon in Seattle and Overstock in Salt Lake City have told affiliates that they would have to move to another state if they wanted to continue earning commissions for referring customers.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011



'Rule of 72' Proves It Doesn't Pay to Save in America by Jim Traficant
on 5/2/2010 News
By By Jim Traficant

American citizens are the most creative and industrious people in the world. When confronted with a problem, the American people seem to find a resolve that shapes a direct and intended response of successful action.

That takes me to America's current crises: Bankruptcy. Busted. Broke. You get the message. Forget all the hype of the mainstream media. There is no more free press in America. It's not necessarily a "controlled press," it's more of an "aligned press," joined at the hip with our central, federal government.

It's getting so apparent that I predict government subsidies to the mainstream print media to "insure a free press." Right. Who's kidding whom? The federal government needs this so-called "free press" to continue feeding America with self-serving propaganda.

Propaganda? Absolutely. I'll be direct: There is more government propaganda in America than any other so-called "free country" in this world. It's that bad, and it will get worse.

Having said that, let's return to our subject of last week. The national retail sales tax and the recommendations of two great Americans: Mr. John W. Osier and Mr. Ed Waggoner Sr.

Both of their views were painted in detail and worthy of your scrutiny and interpretation. I'm sure that most of you agree with most of their views, suggestions and ideas. I, too, agree with most of their positions.

I now present Mr. Waggoner's brilliant "Rule of 72." I present it to you exactly as Mr. Waggoner presented it to me in support of my proposed national retail sales tax.

Mr. Waggoner writes; "I've been an advocate of a national retail sales tax for nearly 40 years. I've enclosed my ideas that may be of use to you in your efforts to convince others of the efficacy of replacing the income tax with a national sales tax."

Just what is Mr.Waggoner's Rule of 72?

The Rule of 72 is a simple mathematical theorem used to calculate the effect of interest or inflation on money. For example: you might wonder how long it would take for a $50 deposit in a savings account to double at a 3 percent annual percentage rate of return.

Divide 72 by 3. The answer is 24. It would take 24 years for a $50 deposit to double at a 3 percent rate of return. Again: How long would it take for the purchasing power of a $50 deposit in a savings account to be reduced by half? Let's say the annual percentage rate of return on the savings account is 3 percent and that the inflation rate is 10 percent. That means -10 percent plus 3 percent equals -7 percent.

The purchasing power of your savings account is being reduced by 7 percent every year. Now, divide 72 by 7. The answer is 10 years and three months. If you leave your money in the bank, in 10 years and three months, your savings will have one-half (50 percent) of its original purchasing power. This theft will be actually accelerated, of course, by whatever income taxes you are required-it's not voluntary-to pay on the meager, negative interest your savings may have earned.

Mr. Waggoner makes you think. Under our current system, it doesn't pay to save. As a result, savings have never been so scarce; thus the shortage of consumer loan activity necessary to drive a "capitalist" system. Now you may be able to figure out why America has become an absolute socialist economy.

Labor, folks, is the No. 1 ingredient of any successful and productive enterprise. Human labor can be mental or physical. Without a laborer, no production is possible.

The capitalist investor is also essential. The capitalist invests in the plants, factories and machinery necessary for the laborer to produce.

The capitalist and the laborers are partners in the economic economic struggle to form a system of free enterprise.

Under the Marxist system, the laborers and capitalists are adversaries, pitted one against the other.

Thus, to ensure the marriage of our laborers and investor capitalists, we should not tax neither. We should reward both.

There is only one way to accomplish that goal-the profit-oriented, economic system that has built America pursuant to the brilliance of our founders: tax consumption only.
Taxing consumption will encourage thrift and savings, as well as promoting recycling and conservation. The sales tax will discourage unwise spending, thus reducing waste of our natural resources.

In simple terms of economic logic, to tax production through personal and corporate income taxes discourages the very things we should encourage.

You see folks, the Marxist, "progressive" income tax on labor and investors has turned America into a Marxist, socialist economic colony. We've become a colony by adopting a system that has failed in every society where it has been applied. "

Like a drug dealer who just cut off one of his best addicts because he's broke, Wall Street recently announced that Greece's debt rating has been lowered to junk status. This means that if the Greek government wants to borrow more money from international bankers, taxpayers there will now have to pay a lot more, assuming they will be able to even get a loan.

Of course, it was Wall Street that enabled the Greek government to borrow so much in the first place. Then it helped Greece's leaders to hide their liabilities from everyone.

Why is this issue important to the United States?
As AMERICAN FREE PRESS has reported in recent issues, this country is not that far behind Greece based on projected federal deficits and the U.S. national debt. According to some estimates, each American taxpayer is on the hook for $113,000 to cover the principal on all of Washington's commitments, including Medicare, Social Security and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq-and that doesn't even include the interest that will have to be paid to international bankers for years to come.

The talk right now in Europe is for Greece to leave the European Union so it can lick its wounds as it tries to pay down its debt, which has miracu-lously grown from $40 billion when the crisis first hit last month to $158 billion right now-and growing. That debt will still have to be borne by Greek taxpayers- the very people who have been victimized and deceived by their own government and Wall Street.

As we see it, the only real solution to the problem is to rip up that paper debt and run Wall Street out of the country, a move Americans should also make before the bankers lay even more claim to the land our forefathers fought and died to free.
But how will Greece and the United States be able to pay their bills if they can no longer borrow money?

Whatever you may think of President Abraham Lincoln's conduct during the War of Northern Aggression, he had the right idea when it came to paying his war bills. Greece and the United States-really, any government in any country around the world-have the power to issue their own interest-free currency. How will the people avoid trading corrupt bankers for corrupt bureaucrats? The treasury can simply issue an amount of currency commensurate with that country's gross domestic product. No more, no less.

Would you rather have crooked bankers issuing interest-bearing money or politicians you can replace at the ballot box issuing interest-free money? "

Even Bankers Fear Rising World Debt
By Christopher J. Petherick

Last month, the bankers to the world's central banks issued a dire warning that official debt is threatening to topple economies around the globe. It's a shocking study that concludes U.S. and European governments are ready to collapse as did the nation of Greece recently…

Sovereign debt-the fancy term for direct loans, bonds and other financing accrued by governments around the world-is out of control in industrialized countries, says the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) in a new report. The situation is so bad, claims the global financial institution that is the "bank for the central banks," in the years to come the United States and Europe could be facing the same disaster that befell Greece two months ago.

In a study, "The Future of Public Debt," BIS's chief economist Stephen Cecchetti writes: "The aftermath of the financial crisis is poised to bring a simmering fiscal problem in industrial economies to the boiling point."

For the past several months, the focus has been on the sovereign debt of the so-called "PIGS" countries- Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. But, according to BIS, trouble is brewing for the largest economies in the world, namely the United States, Japan, England and all of Western Europe. According to BIS calculations, by the end of 2011, sovereign debt for these countries is expected to rise above 100 percent of their GDPs.

In the years following World War II, total U.S. debt actually exceeded GDP, thanks to the frenzied borrowing spree carried out by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to "stimulate" the economy and wage war in Europe. It was only the unprecedented productivity on the part of middle-class Americans in the 1950s that outpaced U.S. debt and brought it back under control.

As AFP has reported on numerous occasions, this is impossible today, given that the global plutocracy has gutted America's working class, replacing the highly skilled productive jobs once commonplace in America with low-skilled service sector work or no job at all.

In its study, BIS specifically looked at bond markets. In February, investors around the world had a "come to Jesus" moment when it was revealed that Goldman Sachs had concealed a huge amount of Greek debt through complicated financial derivatives called interest- rate swaps. They responded by shunning Greek debt, forcing a crisis that required European nations to step in with a multibillion-dollar bailout. As a result, investors have become highly suspicious of governmental accounting.

Cecchetti writes that these suspicions are expected to start showing up in bond markets. "The question is when markets will start putting pressure on governments, not if," writes Cecchetti. "When will investors start demanding a much higher compensation for holding increasingly large amounts of public debt?"

Making matters worse, when Wall Street collapsed, pension funds took a huge hit. Governments now have to chip in even more to cover the promises that have been made to retired bureaucrats and other civil servants. With dwindling tax revenues and high unemployment, debt is the only way governments can fund liabilities.

"Rapidly aging populations present a number of countries with the prospect of enormous future costs that are not wholly recognized in current budget projections," writes Cecchetti. "The size of these future obligations is anybody's guess."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


This message has links at the bottom to verify it's content.
IBM offered to help reduce Medicare fraud for free. 
Chairman and CEO of IBM, Samuel J. Palmisano, approached President Obama and members of his staff, before the healthcare bill debates, with a plan that would reduce healthcare expenditures by $900 billion. 
The cost to the federal government for this program was nothing. And after two meetings, President Obama and his team, said, "Thanks but no thanks" and then embarked on passing one of the most despised pieces of legislation in US history.

Samuel J. Palmisano, the Chairman of the Board and CEO for IBM, said in a recent Wall Street Journal interview that he offered to provide the Obama Administration with a program that would curb healthcare claims fraud and abuse by almost one trillion dollars but the Obama White House turned the offer down.

Mr. Palmisano is quoted as saying during a taping of The Wall Street Journal's Viewpoints program on September 14, 2010: 

"We could have improved the quality and reduced the cost of the healthcare system by $900 billion ... I said we would do it for free to prove that it works. They turned us down." 
A second meeting between Mr. Palmisano and the Obama Administration took place two weeks later, with no change in the Obama Administration's stance. A call placed to IBM on October 8, 2010, by FOX News confirmed, via a spokesperson, that Mr. Palmisano stands by his statement.

Speaking with FOX News' Stuart Varney, Mort Zuckerman, Editor-in-Chief of US News & World Report, said, "It's a little bit puzzling because I think there is a huge amount of both fraud and inefficiency that American business is a lot more comfortable with and more effective in trying to reduce. And this is certainly true because the IBM people have studied this very carefully. When Palmisano went to the White House and made that proposal, it was based upon a lot of work and it was not accepted." 

Obama would have saved our country almost $1 trillion in healthcare expenditures.
For more info. check these links: 


It is time to cut up Washington’s credit card and get federal spending under control.
In 1917, Congress created the debt limit to control spending. Instead every time they "hit" the limit they’ve raised it. Irresponsible, your at it again for the 11th time in as many years.
Since 2000, the National debt has increased three fold to $14.3 trillion or $130,000 per household.
Federal government spending has skyrocketed to nearly one quarter of the economy. The U.S. Department of Labor alone will spend approximately $1,250 per household this year!
Tenth Amendment: 
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
In other words, much of what our federal government is doing today is unconstitutional because it violates the Tenth Amendment.
  • The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to set up a huge entitlement state.
  • The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to set up a national health care system. 
  • The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to redistribute wealth to achieve equality of condition.
"Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them." --Thomas Jefferson
Since we are not going to get gasoline back to $1.50 per gallon and coffee to $2.00 per pound maybe this would be a solution we could live with.

DIVORCE AGREEMENT -- This is so incredibly well-put, and I can hardly believe it's by a young person, a student!! Whatever he runs for, I'll vote for him!

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists, and Obama supporters, et. al.:

We have stuck together since the late 1950s for the sake of the kids, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has clearly run its course.

Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all, so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement:

1. Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by land mass, each taking a similar portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy. Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides had such distinct and disparate tastes.

2. We don't like redistributive taxes, so you can keep them.

3. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU.

4. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA, and the military.

5. We'll take the nasty, smelly oil industry and you can go with wind, solar, and bio-diesel.

6. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore, and Rosie O'Donnell. You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them.

7. We'll keep capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, WalMart, and Wall Street.

8. You can have your beloved lifelong welfare dwellers, food stamps, homeless homeboys, hippies, druggies, and illegal aliens.

9. We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks.

10. We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood .

11. You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us.

12. You can have the peace-niks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.

13. We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values.

14. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism, political correctness, and Shirley McLain. You can also have the U.N., but we will no longer be paying the bill.

15. We'll keep the SUV's, pickup trucks, and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

16. You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors.

17. We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right.

18. We'll keep "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "The National Anthem."

19. I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute "Imagine", "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", "Kum Ba Ya," or "We Are the World".

20. We'll practice trickle down economics and you can continue to give trickle up poverty your best shot.

21. Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.

22. Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like-minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you answer which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.

John J. Wall
Law Student and an American

P.S.: Also, please take Ted Turner, Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Barbra Steisand, and Jane Fonda with you.

P.S.S.: And you won't have to "Press 1 for English" when you call our country.
If you can't stand behind our Military, Please feel free to stand in front of them!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Is the US in denial over its $14tn debt?

By Justin Webb,
BBC News

Is America in denial about the extent of its financial problems, and therefore incapable of dealing with the gravest crisis the country has ever faced?

This is a story of debt, delusion and - potentially - disaster. For America and, if you happen to think that American influence is broadly a good thing, for the world.

The debt and the delusion are both all-American: $14 trillion (£8.75tn) of debt has been amassed and there is no cogent plan to reduce it.

The figure is impossible to comprehend: easier to focus on the fact that it grows at $40,000 (£25,000) a second. Getting out of Afghanistan will help but actually only at the margins. The problem is much bigger than any one area of expenditure.

The economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, is no rabid fiscal conservative but on the debt he is a hawk:

"The debt is not a financial problem, it is a political problem”  ... David FrumFormer speechwriter to George W Bush
"I'm worried. The debt is large. It should be brought under control. The longer we wait, the longer we suffer this kind of paralysis; the more America boxes itself into a corner and the more America's constructive leadership in the world diminishes."

The author and economist Diane Coyle agrees. And she makes the rather alarming point that the acknowledged deficit is not the whole story.

The current $14tn debt is bad enough, she argues, but the future commitments to the baby boomers, commitments for health care and for pensions, suggest that the debt burden is part of the fabric of society:
"You have promises implicit in the structure of welfare states and aging populations that mean there is an unacknowledged debt that will have to be paid for by future taxpayers, and that could double the published figures."
Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations acknowledges that this structural commitment to future debt is not unique to the United States. All advanced democracies have more or less the same problem, he says, "but in the case of the States the figures are absolutely enormous".

Mr Haass, a former senior US diplomat, is leading an academic push for America's debt to be taken seriously by Americans and noticed as well by the rest of the world.

He uses the analogy of Suez and the pressure that was put on the UK by the US to withdraw from that adventure. The pressure was not, of course, military. It was economic.

Many so-called "Tea Party" supporters fiercely oppose tax raises.
Britain needed US economic help. In the future, if China chooses to flex its muscles abroad, it may not be Chinese admirals who pose the real threat, Mr Haass tells us. "Chinese bankers could do the job."

Because of course Chinese bankers, if they withdrew their support for the US economy and their willingness to finance America's spending, could have an almost overnight impact on every American life, forcing interest rates to sky high levels and torpedoing the world's largest economy.

Not everyone accepts the debt-as-disaster thesis.

David Frum is a Republican intellectual and a former speech writer to President George W Bush.

He told me the problem, and the solution, were actually rather simple: "If I tell you you have a disease that will absolutely prostrate you and it could be prevented by taking a couple of aspirin and going for a walk, well I guess the situation isn't apocalyptic is it?

"The things that America has to do to put its fiscal house in order are not anywhere near as extreme as what Europe has to do. The debt is not a financial problem, it is a political problem."

Mr Frum believes that a future agreement to cut spending - he thinks America spends much too big a proportion of its GDP on health - and raise taxes, could very quickly bring the debt problem down to the level of quotidian normality.

'Organised hypocrisy'

I am not so sure. What is the root cause of America's failure to get to grips with its debt? It can be argued that the problem is not really economic or even political; it is a cultural inability to face up to hard choices, even to acknowledge that the choices are there.

I should make it clear that my reporting of the United States, in the years I was based there for the BBC, was governed by a sense that too much foreign media coverage of America is negative and jaundiced.
Are Alaskans fooling themselves about the viability of their state?
The nation is staggeringly successful and gloriously attractive. But it is also deeply dysfunctional in some respects.

Take Alaska. The author and serious student of America, Anne Applebaum makes the point that, as she puts it, "Alaska is a myth!"

People who live in Alaska - and people who aspire to live in Alaska - imagine it is the last frontier, she says, "the place where rugged individuals go out and dig for oil and shoot caribou, and make money the way people did 100 years ago".

But in reality, Alaska is the most heavily subsidised state in the union. There is more social spending in Alaska than anywhere else. [WELL NOT ENTIRELY TRUE!]

To make it a place where decent lives can be lived, there is a huge transfer of money to Alaska from the US federal government which means of course from taxpayers in New York and Los Angeles and other places where less rugged folk live. Alaska is an organised hypocrisy.

Too many Americans behave like the Alaskans: they think of themselves as rugged individualists in no need of state help, but they take the money anyway in health care and pensions and all the other areas of American life where the federal government spends its cash.

The Tea Party movement talks of cuts in spending but when it comes to it, Americans always seem to be talking about cuts in spending that affect someone else, not them - and taxes that are levied on others too.

Analysis is on BBC Radio 4 on Monday, 27 June 2011 at 2030 BST and Sunday 3 July at 2130 BST
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And nobody talks about raising taxes. Jeffrey Sachs has a theory about why this is.

America's two main political parties are so desperate to raise money for the nation's constant elections - remember the House of Representatives is elected every two years - that they can do nothing that upsets wealthy people and wealthy companies.

So they cannot touch taxes.

In all honesty, I am torn about the conclusions to be drawn. I find it difficult to believe that a nation historically so nimble and clever and open could succumb to disaster in this way.

But America, as well as being a place of hard work and ingenuity, is also no stranger to eating competitions in which gluttony is celebrated, and wilful ignorance, for instance regarding (as many Americans do) evolution as controversial.

The debt crisis is a fascinating crisis because it is about so much more than money. It is a test of a culture.

It is about waking up, as the Americans say, and smelling the coffee. And - I am thinking Texas here - saddling up too, and riding out with purpose.

Analysis is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 27 June at 2030 BST and repeated on Sunday 3 July at 2130 BST. Listen again via the BBC iPlayer or download the podcast.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


     No NBC! We don't want your insulting, lame-brained and back-handed"apologies." We demand ACTION!

     There can be no excuse for your heinous and un-American actions. During the opening broadcast of the U.S. Open, you broadcast a montage of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and intentionally edited out the words "under God" ... not once, but twice. It was done intentionally. It was done with malice.

     And when patriotic Americans, expressed outraged, under the guise of multiple apologies, you repeatedly insulted patriotic Americans for having the audacity to be upset. You essentially told your critics: Go away... get over it... and oh... don't forget to tune into Leno on Monday night.

     Well, we're certainly not going to take NBC's abuse. We're standing up. We will be counted and you can stand up and be counted too
Our message to NBC is clear. We want heads to roll! We want people fired!

Take a stand! Use the button below to send your urgent and personalized Blast Faxes to the Executive Officers of NBCUniversal and the United States Golf Association (USGA). Let them know that you do not believe that the flippant omission of the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance was a mistake, and that back-handed "apologies" will not erase the issue from your mind.

Let these Barons of Bilge know that patriotic Americans expect them to identify and publicly DISMISS those responsible for this intentional and grave insult to patriotic Americans.

If button above does not work, please use this hyperlink.

NBC Didn't Apologize. They Added Insult To Injury.
     Within hours of airing the clip that omitted "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, NBC started to feel the heat and sportscaster Dan Hicks issued the following statement: “Regrettably, a portion of the Pledge of Allegiance that was in that feature was edited out. It was not done to upset anyone, and we’d like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it.”

     "We'd like to apologize to those of you who were offended"? "It was not done to upset anyone?" Excuse us? That's not an apology. That's an insult. It's not YOUR fault for taking insult. The fault is NBC's for behaving offensively. NBC's apology was nothing less than an attempt to further insult under the guise of an apology.

     Let's look at NBC's "apology" from another perspective. Consider for a moment that your best friend or next door neighbor had an affair with your spouse and issued a similar"apology"“Regrettably, I had an affair with your spouse. It was not done to upset anyone, and I’d like to apologize if you were offended by it.” 

     Does that sound like an apology to you?  Would you accept such an "apology" or would you run to your closet and grab a baseball bat?

     Try the following experiment. Do something tonight to mildly irritate your spouse and then tell your spouse: “Regrettably, something was offensive to you. It was not done to upset anyone, and I’d like to apologize if you were offended by it.” See what happens. We warn you, it won't be pretty.

     No NBC, your back-handed apologies are not good enough. Your actions were not"regrettable," they were WRONG; and your employees knew that the omissions would"upset" patriotic Americans. Your employees brazenly omitted the phrase "under God"specifically to "upset" patriotic Americans.

     As Dan Gainor with the Media Research Center (MRC) said: “NBC has unquestionably committed an act of religious bigotry designed to offend Christians. Removing ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance... not once, but twice was absolutely not accidental. It was brazenly deliberate.” 

     Yes, it would appear that NBC is sorry that you were "offended" by their actions; as ifTHEIR heinous behavior is YOUR fault. If they were truly repentant, they'd be sorry because they, in fact, did something wrong. Real apologies start with real admissions of wrongdoing and end with acts of contrition and repentance. NBC has yet to do either.

     And that why we're not going to let NBC off the hook. Heads must roll. People must be fired, and that's the message we're going to send to NBC. Please join us. Add your voice to ours and send that message right now.

Take a stand! Use the button below to send your urgent and personalized Blast Faxes to the Executive Officers of NBCUniversal and the United States Golf Association (USGA). Let them know that you do not believe that the flippant omission of the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance was a mistake, and that back-handed "apologies" will not erase the issue from your mind.

Let these Barons of Bilge know that patriotic Americans expect them to identify and publicly DISMISS those responsible for this intentional and grave insult to patriotic Americans.

If button above does not work, please use this hyperlink.

And NBC Is Still Insulting You.
     The Barons of Bilge at CNN reported on Monday: "NBC went even farther with their apology on Monday." It was a lie. NBC didn't apologize on Sunday.  NBC didn't apologize on Monday. NBC has yet to apologize.

     NBC simply continued to rub your nose in the insult. Chris McCloskey, vice president for NBC Universal Sports and Olympics under the guise of another "apology" simply repeated the insult. Calling this horrendous slap-in-the-face a "bad decision," he issued a statement which read: "It was not the intent of NBC to upset anyone and we sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended."

     There's the back-handed insult again.  Apparently, it's all YOUR fault for taking offense. That's a nuanced way of saying: If you people who cling to your God and guns were more intelligent and open-minded, you would not have taken offense. Just get over it, get a life, and get off our backs.

     And to prove NBC was not truly repentant, McCloskey added: "Unfortunately, when producing the piece... a decision was made by a small group of people to edit portions of the Pledge of Allegiance. ... If any disciplinary measures will be taken on the matter it will handled internally and not be made public."

     That's a nuanced way of saying: We're not going to do anything and it's none of your business. 

     Dan Gainor again: "NBC’s pathetic apology did nothing but compound the offense by refusing to admit what they had done. Either NBC identifies and fires the employee or employees responsible for this act or the network is guilty of deliberately giving aid and comfort to religious bigots.”

     It doesn't stop with your back-handed apologies NBC. We will not allow you to sweep this matter under the rug. You must fire those involved. You must do it publicly. Patriotic Americans will accept nothing less.

     A clear and understandable message must be sent to every one who works in the media, the CEOs, the newscasters, the writers, the researchers, the camera crews, and even the lowliest interns: trifle with the American people, even if you do so at the behest of your superiors, and you will be out of a job.

     You can't simply say that you were following orders. You can't hide behind your bosses. Trifle with the American people and the American people will force your bosses to throw you off of the bus. It's a harsh message, but it's a message that only needs to be sent once.

Take a stand! Use the button below to send your urgent and personalized Blast Faxes to the Executive Officers of NBCUniversal and the United States Golf Association (USGA). Let them know that you do not believe that the flippant omission of the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance was a mistake, and that back-handed "apologies" will not erase the issue from your mind.

Let these Barons of Bilge know that patriotic Americans expect them to identify and publicly DISMISS those responsible for this intentional and grave insult to patriotic Americans.

If button above does not work, please use this hyperlink.

And NBC Added Even More Insult To The Injury.
     On Monday, NBC's Brian Williams and Mike Taibbi attempted to downplay the entire controversy and, as MRC put it, "submerge its own network’s 'under God' censorship into a greater narrative."

     Calling their slap in the face to patriotic Americans "a tough slog" (downgraded apparently from "bad decision"), Taibbi proceeded to compare it to a bad joke told by a comedian in reference to Barack Obama, and a comment by Texas Governor Rick Perry:"Let's speak with pride about our morals and our values. Let's stop this American downward spiral."

     Yes, you read that right. Apparently, Perry's public reference to morals and values was a "bad decision" ... "a tough slog" ... on par with intentionally leaving the phrase "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Here are pertinent sections of the actual transcript:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: A few incidents that took place this past weekend made it a tough slog when it comes to the campaign to get along in our public discourse. Our own network took a justified beating for something that was omitted during sports coverage. There was an attempt at comedy that may not have been judged that funny and some comedians who were downright angry. NBC’s Mike Taibbi has our report.
[Transcript Continues]
MIKE TAIBBI: Back at the Republican Leadership Conference, Texas Governor Rick Perry won the loudest applause with this line.

TEXAS GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Let's speak with pride about our morals and our values. [Edit jump] Let's stop this American downward spiral!

TAIBBI: Right-left, red-blue, it seems our cultural divide is as divided as ever.
      Is NBC trying to imply that leaving the words "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance is as insulting as Rick Perry saying that people should "speak with pride about our morals and our values?" 

     Is that what the folks at NBC believe? Are you really surprised or shocked? We're certainly not shocked. It's time to teach these Barons of Bilge a lesson.

Take a stand! Use the button below to send your urgent and personalized Blast Faxes to the Executive Officers of NBCUniversal and the United States Golf Association (USGA). Let them know that you do not believe that the flippant omission of the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance was a mistake, and that back-handed "apologies" will not erase the issue from your mind.

Let these Barons of Bilge know that patriotic Americans expect them to identify and publicly DISMISS those responsible for this intentional and grave insult to patriotic Americans.

If button above does not work, please use this hyperlink.

Floyd Brown

Floyd Brown
Western Center for Journalism 

P.S. Even if you can not join us in this effort right now, you can still help us expose Barack Hussein Obama by sending this e-mail to at least 10 of your friends.

The  Western Center for Journalism is a 501©3 educational organization. Contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by IRS regulations. Personal and corporate contributions are allowed. 

The Center for Western Journalism3434 Anthem Way, Suite 118-444, Anthem, AZ 85086  (202) 370-6366

Saturday, June 25, 2011


An old West Virginia saying: "You cannot get the water to clear up until you get the pigs out of the creek."

*If any other of our presidents had doubled the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?*

*If any other of our presidents had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved?*

*If any other of our presidents had criticized a state law that he admitted he never even read, would you think that he is just an ignorant hot head?*

*If any other of our presidents joined the country of Mexico and sued a state in the United States to force that state to continue to allow illegal immigration, would you question his patriotism and wonder who's side he was on?*

*If any other of our presidents had pronounced Marine Corps as Marine Corpse, would you think him an idiot?*

*If any other of our presidents had put 87,000 workers out of work by arbitrarily placing a moratorium on offshore oil drilling on companies that have one of the best safety records of any industry because one foreign company had an accident, would you have agreed?*

*If any other of our presidents had used a forged document as the basis of the moratorium that would render 87,000 American workers unemployed would you support him?*

*If any other of our presidents had been the first President to need a Teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?*

*If any other of our presidents had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take his First Lady to a play in NYC, would you have approved?*

*If any other of our presidents had reduced your retirement plan holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, would you have approved?*

*If any other of our presidents had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?*

*If any other of our presidents had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVDs, when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?*

*If any other of our presidents had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought it a proud moment for America?*

*If any other of our presidents had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia would you have approved? *

*If any other of our presidents had visited Austria and made reference to the nonexistent "Austrian language," would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?*

*If any other of our presidents had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep their income taxes current, would you have approved?*

*If any other of our presidents had stated that there were 57 states in the United States, wouldn't you have had second thoughts about his capabilities?*

*If any other of our presidents would have flown all the way to Denmark to make a five minute speech about how the Olympics would benefit him walking out his front door in his home town, would you not have thought he was a self-important, conceited, egotistical jerk.*

*If any other of our presidents had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to "Cinco de Cuatro" in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, wouldn't you have winced in embarrassment?*

*If any other of our presidents had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he's a hypocrite?*

*If any other of our presidents' administrations had okayed Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11?*

*If any other of our presidents had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans, would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?*

*If any other of our presidents had created the position of 32 Czars who report directly to him, bypassing the House and Senate on much of what is happening in America, would you have ever approved.*

*If any other of our presidents had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?*

*So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive?*

*Can't think of anything? Don't worry. He's done all this in 24 months -- so you have that much time to come up with an answer.*

*Every statement and action in this email is factual and directly attributable to Barrack Hussein Obama. Every bumble is a matter of record and completely verifiable.*