about being liberal or conservative anymore y'all. That is a hype offered by the fascist whores who want to confuse the people with lies while they turn this country into an aristocratic police state. Some people will say anything to attain power and money. There is no such thing as the Liberal Media, but the Corporate media is very real.
Students going to college nowadays are paying a whole lot of money for the promised ticket to a high
paying job or satisfactory career. Going to Law School and Medical School after a 4 year college
adds to the already large cost. And the percentages of interest per year is more than 7 percent,
which means .07 times total debt divided by 12 is the minimum payment just to not increase the debt
owed. After 4 years at undergraduate college, a typical student owes $30,000. Law and Medical
school can add another $200,000.
In the lower end case, .07 times 30,000 is 2100, which is $175 a month minimum to make the interest
payments. Paying 7 percent interest over 20 years results in an effective multiple of 128.982.
Divide this into the money owed (30,000) and you get the necessary monthly payment for 20 years :
$232.59. However, most student loans are set at 10 years. This is an effective multiple of 86.126
for 7 percent. Divide this into the money owed (30,000) and you get $348.33.
A student with a law school or medical school debt might have 200,000 in debt or more. Divide this
by the 10 year effective multiple, and you get $2322 per month.
Yikes. Now consider this
About 48 percent of employed U.S. college graduates are in jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics
(BLS) suggests requires less than a four-year college education. Eleven percent of employed college
graduates are in occupations requiring more than a high-school diploma but less than a bachelorís,
and 37 percent are in occupations requiring no more than a high-school diploma
That means you get a first job that pays maybe 30,000 BEFORE TAXES -- and there are plenty of
waitresses, bartenders, and cafe baristas that don't get that first job. Make the right career
moves, go to nursing school, become an electrician or mechanic,
be in the right place at the right time -- or have the right connections -- and you might move up above
50,000 and higher.
The overall median personal income for all individuals over the age of 18 was $24,062 ($32,140 for
those age 25 or above) in the year 2005, and more than half of the population goes to college. 48%
of college graduates are these jobs. You try paying $2322 a month on a salary less than 2 thousand
dollars AFTER TAXES. Even $350 a month is tough on a $1200 a month budget.
Now I paid off all my student loans, but this is a national shame. And I would have owed FIVE times
the $21,000 dollars in debt I had when I became matriculated at Tulane University after a 5 year
education. The entire cost of my 5 years now doesn't even pay for a full year, but the median wage
hasn't changed in 40 years.
We should have a national student loan commission that centralizes all student loans
and sets the interest at 2 percent. Instead we have all sorts of private financing groups and big
banks getting the interest on the loans at 6, 7, 8, 9 percent with the government guaranteeing the
Why have private middlemen get an easy profit when they perform no valuable social service deserving
of the high interest fees. What are these banks and financial syndicates doing with the interest
they get on these loans other than making money to fuel further aspects of their business (or pay
their upper level executives bigger bonuses.) The government already provides the principle. Why
investments in our youth by providing a central location for low-interest loans. Not only would it
be less expensive, but also easier to manage and run efficiently.
That same effective multiple for a 10 year loan would at 2 percent be 108.679, much better than
86.126, a 21% reduction in what the student pays overall. The government could also lengthen the
payment options, and defer payments without applying the interest for a period of time due to
hardship. Right now students that defer loan payments are still accruing interest.
For College Affordability†|†January/February 2013]
Here Josh Barro takes aim at the conservative Thinker Ramesh Ponnuru. Josh politely slowly takes
apart each part
of the ideas Mr. Ponnuru has about Health insurance and Child Tax credits for Families. Mr. Ponnuru
touts these ideas as new and fresh applications of vibrant conservative ideas.
Nope. They are the same failed ideas in new clothing. Josh does an incredible job making this obvious
to all but the most willful. You have to read the piece.
[SOURCE:†Josh Barro†|†Bloomberg News†|†29
These ideas are merely smokescreens for the agenda of the large corporatists and elite financial
kingpins who run Washington and rule the entire Republican party. But wary, they always take with
one hand more than they offer with the other. They depend upon funds to work, but (like the
leave-no-child-behind act and the Welfare reform) they always delay and defund and the promised
money never happens. They expect people to have long-term priorities, when history painfully
reminds us that people actually short-term considerations often to their own demise, and yet justify
the mantra of self-regulation that never works out except by increasing monopolization. They preach
"competition" but the actual creation
of their "ideas" into the words of legislation furthers instead oligopoly and limited consumer
protections. They like tax cuts and tax credits but they don't want to raise
taxes to pay for them because they want to get rid of government in the long run, and in the short
term distribute the functions of government to toddy and stooges who get hired for million dollar
salaries when they leave government.
They want to take out the trash and have clean streets but they don't want to pay for the workers to
do the job. They then get mad when the place stinks after a year because some citizens will have
short-term priorities because of either low income or lethargy. Then they have to pay three times
the cost of getting rid of the garbage then it would have cost if they had just taxed themselves and
spread the burden over more people. The job would be guaranteed to be done and there wouldn't be
any problems with trash accumulation. Good jobs would also be created. It's a win, win, win, win.
This ideology is bunk. It has been proven bunk time and time again. The ideology was always the
banner underneath which ulterior motives resided, and that is why the ideology persists. Bad ideas will
have their followers, especially when there are such individuals and institutions that benefit.
It's easier to
cling to bad ideas when their is no alternative but the subterfuge of the bad ideas is still very
strong. They persist being stupid because the money is very very real. They get paid to distract
the people with psuedo-battles over false principles because they don't want to people to realize
the hollowness of their paradigm.
Not that Democrats are free of this corruption. The only difference is that most Democrats also
believe in a government that works and want to actually do the work of good government more than
they want to (or have to) participate in the handiwork of
their paymasters and overlords. Almost all Republicans are obstructionist hypocrites. The very few
who are different are suffering pains of conscience right now.
Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 15h 9m 41s
Mark Fiore : The 12 Days of Cliffmas
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 21h 6m 0s
Best. Takedown. Evah....
Charles Pierce rocks the magic thunder. He writes for Esquire magazine, and yes, once again in our
nations history you have to get the non-elite opinion and the exposes of the truth from the
magazines and publications set up by individuals (blogs). This is what happened in our country
after the 1880s and 1890s. The newspapers were controlled propaganda organs for the most part. The
exposes of the Standard Oil, trusts, corrupt State legislatures, the unhealthy production of food
appeared in in monthly magazines. A few competiting small newspapers also provided real news that
wasn't just puff pieces for the local elite politicos. Upton Sinclair's books (not just the jungle)
were published by himself from a small publisher, sometimes by his own hand.
Also, here we are again today. The corporate media is the public relations front page of the
corporatist mindset of the rich and powerful. The corporations are really just legal entities that
are controlled by the
very wealthy. We are still dealing with unhealthy production systems. What you see and hear in the
press (including the radio) is just the policy agenda of the elite and their acolytes.
Politico has a column called (according to Mr. Pierce):
Tiger Beat On The Potomac has been [an] enterprise ... dedicated totally to
gossip, triviality, and Drudge-baiting to the exclusion of what's actually going on in the country
to the people these politics are supposed to serve.
In a recent column, the writers basically put some window dressing on a lobbyists wet dream about
what the large manufacturers and multinational corporations want the nation to believe. Namely,
The current tax-and-spending debate only flirts with what these insiders say needs to be done.
Instead, top White House and congressional leaders talk privately of the need for tax reform that
goes way beyond individuals and rates; much deeper Social Security and Medicare changes than
currently envisioned; quick movement on trade agreements, including a proposed one with Europe; an
energy policy that exploits the oil and gas boom; and allowing foreign-born students with science
expertise to stay here and start businesses.
Here's a snippet of how Charles Pierce points out exactly how the mainstream funnels the beliefs
of the elite to the masses:
Pierce: And to whom do these two brainiacs turn to for these bold policy ideas?
This is the clear takeaway from conversations we have had over the past three months with top
lawmakers, officials, their senior aides and the CEOs who advise and lobby all of them. Many of the
conversations were private but many were not.
Pierce: Of course, it's your "clear takeaway," you twits. You might as well troll meth labs
to learn table manners. Ask dogs for recreational tips and they'll tell you to lick your balls. Ask
monkeys about hobbies, and they'll teach you to fling poo. Ask the plutocrats, and the politicians
who serve them, and the aides who serve them about what we should do about the economy, and the
answer is always going to be "make sure we stay rich."
You need to read the entire screed.
This is how the media pushes and legitimizes the corporation agenda. Watch television and you will
be convinced, your choices will become limited, the boundaries of the views will get smaller, and
the size of the official participants diminishes. Every other point of view becomes either
marginalized or labelled radical or extreme since it outside of the tiny room where all the
legitimate discussion is supposed to take place. Political discourse is squeezed into a tube where
one side is left and the other side is right. Repetition and reiteration is continuous and never
ending, so you become so used to irrationality that you begin to forget how to think for yourself.
But you won't realize it, and instead start to get uncomfortable every time you are reminded. After
a while you begin to resent the reminders and then you begin to imbibe the entire package of what
has been fed to your brain every time the television is pumping it with sights and sounds. You
become infected with the virus and begin to spread it out to the world with your voice and the
opinions that were created in your mind -- which no longer belongs to you by the way, since you
willingly gave it up in the hopes of being endlessly entertained.
Pierce ends the takedown in utter demolition, or as the French say, J'accuse:
The longer this goes on, the more depressed I get. Clearly, a deal on the economy is being cut with
the minimal amount of input from the people on whom the weight of the deal will fall most heavily.
Sacrifice is being parceled out by people who will feel none of it. And elite journalism is
presenting this iniquitous arrangement from the point of view of the grifters and thieves who will
profit most from it. This piece is not about the current economic stalemate. It's about two
Beltway foofs showing the red on their asses by demonstrating that they can get important people on
the phone. This isn't economics. This isn't even really journalism. This is a brief in support of
oligarchy. It is public financial star-fking.
Friday, 7 December 2012 at 21h 55m 10s
The Long Term Unemployed
Another snippet from Krugman about the unemployed.
So why arenít we helping the unemployed? Itís not because we canít afford it. Given those ultralow
borrowing costs, plus the damage unemployment is doing to our economy and hence to the tax base, you
can make a pretty good case that spending more to create jobs now would actually improve our
long-run fiscal position.
Nor, I think, is it really ideology. Even Republicans, when opposing cuts in defense spending,
immediately start talking about how such cuts would destroy jobs ó and Iím sorry, but weaponized
Keynesianism, the assertion that government spending creates jobs, but only if it goes to the
military, doesnít make sense.
No, in the end itís hard to avoid concluding that itís about class. Influential people in Washington
arenít worried about losing their jobs; by and large they donít even know anyone whoís unemployed.
The plight of the unemployed simply doesnít loom large in their minds ó and, of course, the
unemployed donít hire lobbyists or make big campaign contributions.
So the unemployment crisis goes on and on, even though we have both the knowledge and the means to
solve it. Itís a vast tragedy ó and itís also an outrage.
[SOURCE:Paul Krugman | New York Times | 7
Lest we forget ... here's the employment to population ratio (percentage of persons employed)
And here is the Link to the "Unemployment Dashboard", which updates the Unemployment data regularly:
Another good measure is the population percentage on food stamps. Right now we are at 19.34%. One
in every 5 persons are on food stamps. That's up from 2006 and 2007 where it was between 11 and 12
percent, or 1 in every 8 or 9 persons.
Think about that. 1 person in five uses food stamps to buy food. Spending less than 80 dollars a
week to feed yourself is pretty spartan, and when you have children, forget about it. 80 times 52
is about $4000 a year. Double that and you have $8000 a year.
(Notice that the household income is heavily skewed from the "average". This is because household
income obscures individual income, because single persons are a household as well as married
couples. Which is why household income is not very interpretive. Notice that Median personal
income is not as heavily skewed.)
Now on to my last point. $8000 dollars a year for food divided by the median personal income
($32,140) is 25% of personal income being spent on food. So half the population is spending MORE
THAN 25% of their income on food.
In fact, 93% of the population earns less than $100,000 per year. 70% earn less than $45,000 per
year. 40% earn less than $22,500 per year. This is BEFORE TAXES.
So wait, in the prior paragraph, that median income is before taxes, which means the actual
percentage on food stamps is probably pushing 38 to 40 percent -- that is, half of the population
spends roughly 40% of their after-tax income on food.
Now given that 40% of the population earns less than $22,500 per year BEFORE TAXES, you can bet
close to half of what is left after taxes (probably 75%, or $17,000) is spent on food. Food stamps
is an option.
[[SOURCE:2010 Census | census.gov ]
[SOURCE:wiki/Personal_income_in_the_United_States | Wikipedia]
Friday, 7 December 2012 at 18h 49m 7s
Next day after my earlier post about the stupidity of raising the eligibility of medicare, here's
Paul Krugman on the subject:
First, raising the Medicare age is terrible policy. It would be terrible policy even if the
Affordable Care Act were going to be there in full force for 65 and 66 year olds, because it would
cost the public $2 for every dollar in federal funds saved. And in case you havenít noticed,
Republican governors are still fighting the ACA tooth and nail; if they block the Medicaid
expansion, as some will, lower-income seniors will just be pitched into the abyss.
Second, why on earth would Obama be selling Medicare away to raise top tax rates when he gets a big
rate rise on January 1 just by doing nothing? And no, vague promises about closing loopholes wonít
do it: a rate rise is the real deal, no questions, and should not be traded away for who knows what.
So this looks crazy to me; it looks like a deal that makes no sense either substantively or in terms
of the actual bargaining strength of the parties. And if it does happen, the disillusionment on the
Democratic side would be huge. All that effort to reelect Obama, and the first thing he does is give
away two years of Medicare? Howís that going to play in future attempts to get out the vote?
[SOURCE:†Paul Krugman†|†New York Times†|†7
Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 21h 25m 2s
Subsidies and tax breaks don't work
You gotta love a newspaper whose editorial staff can call a spade a spade.
Competition among states and cities to lure businesses in hopes of creating jobs is not new, but it
has become more fierce in recent years. An investigation by The Times found that state and local
governments are giving out $80 billion a year in tax breaks and other subsidies in a foolhardy,
shortsighted race to attract companies. That money could go a long way to improving education,
transportation and other public services that would have a far better shot at promoting real
Instead, with these giveaways, politicians and officials are trying to pick winners and losers,
almost exclusively to the benefit of big corporations (aided by highly paid lobbyists) at the
expense of small businesses. Though they promise that the subsidies are smart investments, far too
often the jobs either donít materialize or are short-lived, leaving the communities no better off.
The three-part series by Louise Story described how in places like Texas and Ohio, state and local
governments have lavished millions of dollars in tax breaks on corporate giants like Samsung and the
Big Three automakers ó even as they faced budget deficits and were forced to cut spending on
critical services. The tax revenues forgone in this giveaway frenzy should concern Congress deeply.
After all, federal funds account for one-fifth of state and local budgets.
In one particularly egregious example in Pontiac, Mich., the State of Michigan gave $14 million in
tax credits and a state pension fund guaranteed $18 million in bonds to a movie studio that created
just 12 permanent jobs. In Texas, Amazon.com, the online retailer, received tax abatements, sales
tax exemptions and other benefits totaling $277 million to open a warehouse that promises to employ
2,500 people. Those benefits were granted after the retailer closed another warehouse because of a
dispute with the government involving sales taxes.
Many governments donít know the full value of the subsidies they hand out in the form of tax
refunds, rebates, loans, grants and more. And they donít know if the jobs created would have been
created anyway. The fact is, numerous studies show that such incentives result in only a small
increase in jobs and that any gains usually come at the expense of other cities and states.
Local governments would be much better off investing tax dollars in education and public works that
would deliver long-term benefits to both businesses and workers. California, for instance, is among
the least generous of the larger states in doling out tax breaks. It gave out just $112 per capita
compared with $759 in Texas, $672 in Michigan, and $210 in New York. Its experience leaves no doubt
that investments made in public institutions like the University of California system can remain
critically important to economic growth decades later.
The senseless race to give away billions in subsidies is, of course, hard to stop when elected
leaders think a pledge of potential jobs might help in their next election. But even when attracting
businesses is a legitimate goal, it has to be done in ways that are fair and transparent.
The trouble with targeted incentives is that they are little more than transfers of wealth to a
handful of powerful corporations from all other taxpayers, including other businesses. If the
problem is excessive tax burdens on businesses in general, then the solution is broad tax reform
that also benefits small business owners, who are more likely to stick around if the regional
economy weakens and who are unlikely to hopscotch around the country in search of a bigger tax break.
[SOURCE:†Times Editorial†|†New York
Times†|†5 December 2012]
Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 20h 12m 56s
Proposals that cannot work
Just cut the deductions and loopholes they say. Raise the eligibility age of Medicare to save money.
These two ideas are proposed by the Republicans to raise revenues and avoid raising taxes on wealthy
people. They sound good at first, but in reality won't actually achieve their purpose. Instead,
other cost externalities, most of which will involve increased government spending.
Let me explain.
If the goal is to eliminate deductions for wealthy persons, then you have to devise a system of what
counts as wealthy, and what numbers to use and tax. A lot of people who make more than 100,000 are
getting their income from multiple sources. For small businesses, the revenue of the business is
different than the profit of a corporation. Limited partnerships and S corporations are different
then a company with 10,000 employees. Salaried employees can also supplement their income. Assets
and different asset classes (buildings, securities, bonds, cash, contracts) all have different
issues and variability that is not simple to capture in a tax system that wants to "simplify" the
tax code by just charging a percentage to a single number. Upper income people have almost all of
their savings in assets; lower income persons little to few and mostly none. For wage earners and
small salaried employees this is much easier, but that is beside the point. Remember this was
suppose to avoid
raising taxes on upper income people.
And who counts as "upper income"? The $40,000 a year pensioner
in a home worth $200,000 on the market. A hedge fund manager getting a salary of $80,000 but has a
firm with a net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The language in the law is gonna be
important. So right off, this will not capture the maximum amount of income, because the very
lawyers to scrutinize and understand the updates of the written laws, and accountants to manipulate
these laws in their favor.
Increasing tax rates however does not increase the legal bureaucracy or involve interpretations and
chicanery. Nothing has to be changed except the number of the percentage. So you see how this
works and what this nonsense is really all about. Changing the laws by eliminating a lot (but not
all) "loopholes and deductions" really just means a chance to put wording into a new law and create
But leaving that aside, it is the externalities that are more detrimental to the theory of this even
saving money. People who can't deduct the interest from their mortgage bills will likely be less
inclined to buy a home, which means having a depressing effect on the housing market. If the
deductions for charities get hit, then a good chunk of charity will disappear -- but not all,
because fact is some people are just
generous -- and who or what will be picking up the slack. The government.
At one extreme: it's the police that have to spend their time dealing with a dead homeless person (lack
of medical care) who also have to involve other government officials in the process. The lunatic
who can't get his
meds will break the windows of dozens of cars and cost citizens money directly. The poor kid who
can't go to school because they have to work creates lost time and diminished potential from our
human resources -- unless you think educational ignorance and poverty is a blessing. Regardless of
the 5 to 25 percent who may or may not move out of poverty, the other 75% or more are gonna be poor
their whole lives.
By the way, in case you haven't noticed, the government already gives you a subsidy every time you
file a tax form. It's called a Personal deduction. That's a subsidy by another name. Turns out
that every single American has been on the government teet since birth.
Or what about the hidden subsidizes for families that are deductions for having children. Or the
tax credit. Eliminate or phase out these, and you pass the burden onto the individuals and negate
the reason why these subsidies occurred.
Small businesses employ up to 70% of the labor force because they are labor intensive, and have
more workers per revenue dollar than larger companies. Diminish the small businesses and replace
them with large corporations and you diminish the availability of employment because the number of
workers per revenue dollar will DECREASE. Large companies are in business because they are more
efficient otherwise they wouldn't be economically viable.
So what happens when small businesses go bankrupt? The courts get clogged with legal matters. A
small percentage of frustrated people looking for limited job opportunities choose crime. Violence
and other illegal activity increase the costs of government.
Raising the age of medicare, another "necessary" budget saving device, only means a lot of older
people will have to wait that much longer to have affordable health care. This will increase the
costs of Medicaid, which is an absolute necessity if we are going to have a functional health care
system. Without Medicaid, Hospitals would not be profitable at all unless they deny people who are
poor, which is what used to happen in the past. Rich people had their own hospitals, and poor
people got the Charity hospitals. The history of Catholic and non-profit hospitals evolved in the
United States as a means of avoiding this harsh reality, but as the population got large the entire
system became over-worked and unmanageable. So the government offered to foot the bill whenever
hospitals had to deal with people who can't or won't or will not be able to pay the bills.
saved the health care system. So it's amazing to me that anyone even contemplates ending or
decreasing the funds for Medicaid.
Barry Ritholtz asks the commentariati "Why are US Healthcare Costs twice as expensive as the rest of
And the commentariati responds:
So afraid are they of having to give a poorer person medical attention ... that they have allowed an
entire insurance industry
to grow up and require financial support in order to have a third party BETWEEN patient and doctor
so they can tell themselves that their tax dollars are not being spent on a poorer American.
The least expensive way to deliver medicine is to socialize delivery, giving direct necessary
care to everyone and covering the bill through taxes.
It flat out costs less than essentially doing this while paying for insurance agents to interfere
with every aspect of doing this.
BUT IT INVOLVES GIVING DIRECT SUPPORT TO POOR AMERICANS.
What are you a Nation of again?
The American model of fee-for-service medicine cannot create a viable market: It must lead
inevitably to market failure after market failure because the price of the good ó health ó has no
reliable price signal, the ability to clearly associate the good with its cost. The invisible hand
cannot operate without price signals. Full stop.
The full picture:
1) U.S. Pharma manufacturers routinely reformulate and re-patent existing drugs, as much as they
can, to extend full price chargeability.
2) Pharma chains routinely over price for prescriptions, e.g.: Duane Reade
3) Doctors are ďbribedĒ to write prescriptions for dubiously required drugs, and for brand vs.
4) More than 20%+ of physicians bill for unecessary or non-performed procedures, especially for
gastro and cardio diagnostics.
5) Insurance companies deny payments for as much as 25%+ of legitimately billed tests and
procedures, while retaining premiums and ancillary fees.
6) Hospitals, health systems and freestanding facilities routinely both over bill and over
collect for tests, procedures, and other patient treatments and care.
7) The government regulatory agencies charged with oversight are grossly incompetent.
Fraud, incompetence, and kickbacks are the rule of the day. God bless America!
Tim McInerney, Healthcare Capital LLC
Doctors, hospitals, clinics and labs are paid nearly 2x in the US compared to the rest of the world.
Whatís the difference?
In the US, the medical industry is a private, for profit business, that has been allowed to run amok
for the last 75 years. In the rest of the world health care is either a government service, or
treated as a tightly regulated public utility. The kind of disgusting, disgraceful medical
profiteering that goes on all the time in the US simply IS NOT LEGAL anywhere else.
From the doctors to the hospitals and insurers, all are operating a massive scam and ripoff, and
itís all legal, thanks to the government being in the pockets of the industry. As a result,
Americans pay an 80% penalty relative to the rest of the world to support the scam. The US medical
scam industry exacts a private tax of 18-19% of GDP, while in the rest of the civilized world,
medical care costs only 10-11% of GDP.
It just doesnít get any simpler than that. But the American people have been brainwashed by the
massive industry propaganda machine, and corrupted by the massive bribery of a slight majority of
people who get coverage without having to pay out of pocket. If they never see the cost, the canít
understand the cost. Meanwhile, 15% of us go without, too rich or too young to qualify for
government insurance, and either not healthy enough or not rich enough to pay for private insurance.
Obamacare does not address the true nature of the problem of excessive cost.
the big picture blog†|†4 December 2012]
Monday, 3 December 2012 at 19h 47m 16s
I'm so glad global warming is a hoax
Over all, global emissions jumped 3 percent in 2011 and are expected to jump 2.6 percent in 2012,
researchers reported in two papers released by scientific journals on Sunday. It has become routine
to set new emissions records each year, although the global economic crisis led to a brief decline
The level of carbon dioxide, the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, has increased
about 41 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and scientists fear it could
double or triple before emissions are brought under control. The temperature of the planet has
already increased about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1850.
Further increases in carbon dioxide are likely to have a profound effect on climate, scientists say,
leading to higher seas and greater coastal flooding, more intense weather disasters like droughts
and heat waves, and an extreme acidification of the ocean. Many experts believe the effects are
already being seen, but they are projected to worsen.
[SOURCE:†Justin Gillis & John M Broder†|†New York
Times†|†2 December 2012]