North Archives - February 17, 2009
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By Tom Licata
A September 2008 Harvard
Business Review article showed that "in 1980, the total value of global
financial assets was roughly equal to world gross domestic product (GDP)."
In 2007, these same financial assets increased to 356% of world GDP; most
of the increase from private and government debt. According to Financial
Times columnist Martin Wolf, "the ratio of U.S. public and private debt
to GDP reached 358% in the third quarter of 2008." The previous all-time
high of 300% was reached in 1933, during the Great Depression. Most
of this debt is private, reaching nearly 300% of GDP in 2007. U.S.
household debt service (as a percent of disposable income) is at its highest
level since the Great Depression.
What are the implications
of these numbers? Simply put, there is not enough money – by consumers,
businesses or governments - to back up all this debt. Many parts
of Europe and Asia are witnessing social unrest, as the implications of
this financial reality takes hold.
By Martin Harris
"forgotten man" of the Great Depression, the guy who struggled through
a decade of New Deal supposed stimulative cures which only made matters
worse, was smarter than all those Keynesians then, and he (or his descendants)
is/are smarter than they (or their descendants) now. For starters, today’s
"forgotten man" has just pushed his savings rate up, against expert
advice, from the recent zero level to 2% of earnings; not where it was
in the early ‘80’s at over 10%, but it’s a start. From Economics 101: "savings
equals investment" which means that the desired job-creation comes out
of free-market capital investment and not out of government debt. The experts
don’t want him to save. They’ve said so. But the extravagant consumer spending
of the last decade or so hasn’t come out of earnings alone, although it
has pushed the savings rate down to zero; it has also come from huge jumps
in credit card debt and from drawing down home-owner equity in housing.
By Tom Wilson
Committees don't invent;
people invent. Swimmers against the tide invent, original renegades, determined
originalists, entrepreneurs invent. Intellectual eagles are academic outcasts.
The old group think collective never thinks a thing except parsing rules
This was intended for last week's issue, but the link was inadvertently
omitted.) One of the targets of all this enforcement of illusion is
Israel. It's not our fault, say the maniacal (remember, Religion of Peace)
Islamists, It's all Israel's fault. They make us do it. You just need to
divide Jerusalem, amputate the Golan, Judea, and Samaria, just give us
another state (only the 57th) and we'll give you all peace and security.
Sure we will.
# # #
"Thus, our national
circulating medium is now at the mercy of loan transactions of banks, which
lend, not money, but promises to supply money they do not possess."
-- Irving Fisher (1867-1947)
American economist. Source: 100% Money, 1935
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
Shows Support for School Choice
From the Burlington Free
Press, February 13 2009
A plurality of Vermonters
believe their public schools are "good or excellent," but nearly nine out
of 10 would send their children to private, charter, or virtual schools,
or educate their children at home, according to a new poll sponsored by
school choice groups.
The results come from a survey
conducted by Strategic Vision and sponsored by Vermonters for Better Education
and the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, an Indianapolis-based
nonprofit organization. The survey found majority support for school choice
which is consistent with a poll conducted 10 years ago for Vermont Public
Radio showing support even for money following the child to religious schools.
Opinion on K-12 Education and School Choice (A public opinion survey
conducted by Strategic Vision)
From Vermont Tiger, February
There's no quantifiable stimulus
in the federal spending. It's simply more federal spending.
I recall a time when deficits were horrible monstrosities that must be
eliminated by all right-thinking people. If all government spending
is a good thing now, no matter what the money is spent on, then there's
nothing wrong with increased defense spending, is there? Especially
for US contractors? Why was defense spending so horrible a year ago,
but now all spending is such a fantastic idea?
Decision Making Time
Caledonia Record, February
The current Montpelier version
is a bit different. The sky really is falling and the King, Gov. Jim Douglas,
already knows it. He has been doing his best to get the Chicken Little
Democrats to believe it and make some really important decisions to solve
Vermont's critical financial problems. The Democratic leadership is panicked
at having to make hard decisions that often run 180 degrees opposite their
political sacred cows, the VSEA, VT-NEA, and all entitlement programs.
From Vermont Tiger, February
Shots fired in the latest
skirmish in the long war between Vermont and WalMart. A friend of
the Tiger thought it curious that Act 250 might be used to protect the
views of golfers in Bennington and decided to do a little computer
research. He recalled that Augusta National – scene of the Masters
and one of the world's iconic golf courses – is in a pretty trashy neighborhood.
Lawmakers Want Maximum Retail Milk Price
From WCAX-TV, February 11,
These Senators want to set
the price of milk you buy at the store, saying large supermarkets are gouging
Vermonters for a gallon of milk and in these difficult economic times they
want to step in. ...
"I don't think I can support
it," said Rep. Norman McAllister, R-Franklin.
Opponents are concerned this
bill intrudes on private business. McAllister is a farmer and on the Agriculture
committee that will look at this bill.
Should Get To Work
Caledonia Record Editorial,
February 5, 2009
Bush and company made plenty
of mistakes and often played alarmingly fast-and-loose with our Constitution
in claiming seven years of terrorist-free homeland security. Those shortcomings,
notwithstanding, we have to wonder how Leahy would have fared in front
of a Senate committee, a "Truth Commission," investigating repeated leaks
of sensitive, classified foreign intelligence when he was Vice Chairman
of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the 80's. Though he resigned from
that committee in disgrace, he was lucky to have escaped prosecution. He
got off easy with the lifetime nickname of "Leaky Leahy."
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
The Coming Fury
By Walden Bello, Foreign
Policy in Focus, February 9, 2009
The sudden end of the export
era is going to have some ugly consequences. In the last three decades,
rapid growth reduced the number living below the poverty line in many countries.
In practically all countries, however, income and wealth inequality increased.
But the expansion of consumer purchasing power took much of the edge off
social conflicts. Now, with the era of growth coming to an end, increasing
poverty amid great inequalities will be a combustible combination.
In China, about 20 million
workers have lost their jobs in the last few months, many of them heading
back to the countryside, where they will find little work. The authorities
are rightly worried that what they label "mass group incidents," which
have been increasing in the last decade, might spin out of control. With
the safety valve of foreign demand for Indonesian and Filipino workers
shut off, hundreds of thousands of workers are returning home to few jobs
and dying farms. Suffering is likely to be accompanied by rising protest,
as it already has in Vietnam, where strikes are spreading like wildfire.
Korea, with its tradition of militant labor and peasant protest, is a ticking
time bomb. Indeed, East Asia may be entering a period of radical protest
and social revolution that went out of style when export-oriented industrialization
became the fashion three decades ago.
Misguided Iran Policies
By Christopher Holton, Family
Security Matters, February 14, 2009
Among the topics that President
Obama covered in his first news conference on the evening of Monday, February
9th, was Iran. The president made several troubling statements – which
is hardly surprising, given that the new administration's entire approach
to Iran is troubling. President Obama used terms and phrases like "constructive
dialogue," "engage" and "mutual respect and progress."
None of these expressions
has any place in a conversation about Iran.
opening floodgates by inviting Hamas to "migrate" to the U.S.A.?
By Judi McLeod & Michael
Travis, Canada Free Press, February 5, 2009
On his first official day
in the White House, President Barack Obama was on the horn to President
Mahmoud Abbas. ...
Given that a clip from Al-Jazeera
televised Hamas-controlled Palestinians "burning up the phone bank from
Gaza" to rally support for his presidential campaign, perhaps the telephone
call was made out of gratitude.
Seven days later on January
27, President Obama signed Presidential Determination No. 2009-15, which
allocates $20.3 million for Palestinian migration and refugee assistance.
Good News Is No News
By Charles Krauthammer,
The Washington Post, February 13, 2009
Preoccupied as it was poring
over Tom Daschle's tax returns, Washington hardly noticed a near-miracle
abroad. Iraq held provincial elections. There was no Election Day violence.
Security was handled by Iraqi forces with little U.S. involvement. A fabulous
bazaar of 14,400 candidates representing 400 parties participated, yielding
results highly favorable to both Iraq and the United States.
against Love: Valentine's Day Enflames the Middle East
By Dr. Walid Phares, Family
Security Matters, February 14, 2009
"Al Gharam mamn’uh, al Gharam
kufr," screamed the self-declared cleric in al-Ansar’s chat
room this Friday. "Love is forbidden, love is infidel" -- said
the online fatwa about the "legitimacy of loving and being in love."
A weekend before Valentine's
Day, jihadist souls were not questioning the "commercialization" of romance,
but inquiring about the ban on "being in love." The "scholars" said human
love is evil. The simple feeling of being attracted to or in love with
someone is a terrifying sin if it is committed outside of their religious
dogma -- and it warrants serious punishment.
Airstrike Kills 30 in Pakistan
By Pir Zubair Shah, The
New York Times, February 14, 2009
Two missiles fired from American
drone aircraft killed more than 30 people, including Qaeda and Taliban
fighters, near the Pakistani border with Afghanistan on Saturday, according
to a Pakistani intelligence official and residents of the area.
# # #
Florida Clinic Botched Abortion, Threw Out Live Baby
From the Associated Press,
February 05, 2009
Eighteen and pregnant, Sycloria
Williams went to an abortion clinic outside Miami and paid $1,200 for Dr.
Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique to terminate her 23-week pregnancy. Three
days later, she sat in a reclining chair, medicated to dilate her cervix
and otherwise get her ready for the procedure. Only Renelique didn't arrive
in time. According to Williams and the Florida Department of Health, she
went into labor and delivered a live baby girl.
What Williams and the Health
Department say happened next has shocked people on both sides of the abortion
debate: One of the clinic's owners, who has no medical license, cut the
infant's umbilical cord. Williams says the woman placed the baby in a plastic
biohazard bag and threw it out.
the Dole Again
By Michael D. Tanner Cato
Much of the "stimulus" bill
is devoted to a backdoor undoing of one of Washington's greatest achievements
of recent years - welfare reform.
One of the most important
changes of the Clinton-era reform law was replacing the individual entitlement
to welfare with a block grant to the states. In the old system, the more
people a state signed up for welfare, the more money it got from Washington.
The block grant broke this link, creating an incentive for states to help
people become self-supporting.
But, as The Post's Charles
Hurt has reported, slipped into the stimulus bill is a provision establishing
a new $3 billion emergency fund to help states pay for added welfare recipients,
with the federal government footing 80 percent of the cost for the new
"clients." Plus, the bill would reward states for increasing caseloads,
even if the growth came because the state had loosened its requirements
for recipients to work.
Study Committee's Hopeful Message to Conservatives
By Patrick J. Casey, American
Thinker, February, 2009
On February 4th 2009, the
Chairman of the RSC, Rep. Tom Price M.D., sent out an open
letter to members of the RSC's mailing list. Whenever letters
like that go out, one assumes that a request for funds can be found somewhere
inside. But this letter was different, and wasn't a plea for money. Rep.
Price was asking conservatives for support - but in the form of optimism
and determination to get the GOP back to its conservative foundation, asking
them to once again firmly embrace "conservative solutions-based traditions".
Alarmists Hijack Black History Month
By Anthony B. Bradley Ph.D.,
Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, February 11, 2009
High concentrations of blacks
and Latinos is a problem for critics because of the mythological belief
that blacks and Latinos need to be in the presence of whites to achieve
academic success. It is the New Racism: the idea that minorities cannot
survive without whites. The report additionally confuses race with class.
What matters most is not that blacks and Latinos are in minority schools
but that lower-income black and Latino parents suffer from not having the
freedom to attend whatever school will best educate their children, as
do many in higher income brackets, including middle-class minorities.
A predominantly black and
Latino demographic is an irrelevant factor in a school’s low student achievement
scores. All-black schools have produced high achieving students in the
past. Thomas Sowell tells of a segregated high school that, from 1870 to
1955, repeatedly equaled or exceeded national norms on standardized tests.
During the entire 85-year history of Washington’s M Street/Dunbar High
School, most of its 12,000 graduates went on to higher education, an unusual
achievement for any school—white or black—during this era. Some M Street/Dunbar
School graduates attended Harvard and other elite colleges in the early
Paint Gloomy Picture
By Lynn Cook, Houston Chronicle,
February 12, 2009
In a freewheeling discussion
about "The Great Recession" and energy, top economists painted dark scenarios
that could be ranked as bad, worse and horrendous.
"2009 is basically a write-off,"
Harvard University economics professor Kenneth Rogoff told a packed audience
at CERAWeek, the annual Houston conference that has come to be known as
the Davos of the energy world. The other economists agreed.
of Change: UK Met Office Issues ‘Blistering Attack on Scientific Colleagues’
For ‘Apocalyptic Climate Predictions'
U.S. Senate Committee on
Environment and Public Works, February 11, 2009
Scientists at the UK Met
office "launched a blistering attack on scientific colleagues and journalists
who exaggerate the effects of global warming." The Met office, "one of
the most prestigious research facilities in the world" according to the
February 11, 2009, article
in the UK Guardian, is no hotbed of climate skeptics, as the organization
accepts the UN IPCC view of man-made global warming. A U.S. climate expert
has also declared that "the political consensus surrounding climate policy
is collapsing," and a U.S. Naval Academy chemist has accused the media
of "journalistic malpractice" for hyping warming fears. Furthermore, NASA's
James Hansen and RealClimate.org have also come under renewed criticism.
Emerging Liberal Oligarchy
By Christopher Chantrill,
American Thinker, February 12, 2009
Anyone can make a mistake.
But when a parade of Obama administration cabinet picks -- Richardson,
and Lynn -- turn out to have ethics or tax problems, and are actual lobbyists
or lobbyists by any other name, you start to wonder. But why be surprised?
You expect stuff like that from today's Democrats.
Rhetoric Is the Real 'Catastrophe'
By Bradley R. Schiller,
Thw Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2009
President Barack Obama has
turned fearmongering into an art form. He has repeatedly raised the specter
of another Great Depression. First, he did so to win votes in the November
election. He has done so again recently to sway congressional votes for
his stimulus package.
# # #