frankilin roosevelt

It's not 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.

Check out my old  Voice of the People page.

Gino Napoli
San Francisco, California
High School Math Teacher

Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.

a middle-aged
George Washington

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Friday, 17 July 2009 at 19h 57m 47s

The scare tactics of tax increase on the upper 2% of income

The opposition to a surtax on incomes over $350,000 is said to be a bad idea during a time of recession. This is another favorite critique by those who don't understand economics but profuse to be business oriented and knowledgeable about the free market. Another favorite criticism is used when times are good. In that scenario, the opposition to small tax increases is that it will stunt economic growth.

Either way, its a fallacious argument. Investment decisions by those who control the spigot of large financial accumulations are what actually creates and stunts economic growth. Cutting or raising taxes does not influence this reality at all.

The surtax plan is as follows: beginning in 2011, the plan would target all income over $350,000 a year for families and $280,000 a year for individuals. The surtax would start at 1 percent, rise to around 1.5 percent for families earning more than $500,000, then step up again, to around 3 percent, for families earning more than $1 million.

At a minimum this is $2,800 for a single person who makes $280,000. If this person has the typical leftover income of 20%, or $56,000, this person would still have more than $50,000 leftover to save or do whatever. Not a big deal, right? Especially if you no longer have to worry about health insurance and insurance companies ruining your finances because they decide to interpret your health care coverage against your best interest.

More importantly however, the idea that these individuals actually use these leftover funds to create economic growth. This is somewhat true if these funds are left in a bank as deposits , FDIC insured, or put into certificates of deposit, but then the banks who use these aggregate funds will still use them to pursue their own short-term profit goals. There is still no large-scale guaranteed outcome that results by the investment of these funds. Participating in the owning of buildings or stock certificates is not creating economic growth. Economic growth occurs when funds are spent to develop new technologies, build factories, roads, electronic and internet infrastructure, to build buildings that are used for libraries or schools or as community resources like parks and recreation centers and civic centers. Commanding a greater share of the profit from the existing infrastructure of economic marketplace relationships is not the same thing as actually creating sustainable entities within society or the economy.

Tax cuts to wealthy people do not get invested in economic growth. They are either swallowed up by short-term consumption, or they are invested in interest-bearing securities. For instance: A lawyer that gets an $11,000 tax cut buys a brand new $3,000 suit, takes a more expensive vacation, and puts an extra $2000 grand in their retirement fund. Which means more than 80% is spent within the year as consumption (suit + vacation). Imagine if that $11,000 was instead collected by the government to build a first rate high-speed train system across the united states, or was invested in free college education, or was spent on universal health care, or used to repair the thousands of bridges and roads that are in bad shape across the nation. Or....

Saying this surtax is a bad idea in the face of a recession also ignores the fact that it will only affect 2% of the entire population. 98% of the entire United States will not be affected at all.

Dig in folks. It's gonna get ugly.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

UPDATE: Lo and behold, Kevin Drum has published a takedown of his own called "fighting the zombies" -- at Mother Jones.

Here's a snippet:

"At a time like this." I think I've read critiques similar to this about a thousand times now. I guess it sounds mighty clever, .... But it's nonsense. The "pay-or-play" payroll tax increase doesn't go into effect until 2011 — and if the recession isn't over by then we've got way bigger things to worry about than a minor increase in payroll tax receipts.

Friday, 17 July 2009 at 17h 8m 41s

Using styrofoam to pack a hard cover book

After waiting 2 weeks, the book I ordered from Princeton books arrives, packed in a box that is 4 times larger than necessary, stuffed with styrofoam.

OH. MY. GOD. IT'S A HARDCOVER BOOK. It could have been sent in a puffy envelope. What a useless waste of resources.

Friday, 17 July 2009 at 10h 25m 18s

Does CNBC front for insider financial agents ?

According to Bill King, from Barry Ritholtz's blog [ Click here ].

Stocks ignited in the early afternoon when CNBC and other financial media outlets reported that renowned doomster, Prof. Roubini, said the worst of the financial and economic crisis is behind us. After the close Roubini denied that he had changed his forecast. This led astute operators to wonder if someone planted the erroneous story as part of a well-orchestrated option expiration squeeze.

Options are a type of security that locks in a price over a period of time, usually 3 to 6 months and sometimes a year. You buy a contractual right to buy or sell a certain commodity at a certain time in the future at a set price dictated by the contract. Typically the price is a small percentage of the actual cost, say one or two percent.

Here's how people make money using options. If you think the price will drop, purchase the right to sell at a fixed price at a certain time in the future, say 3 months. So if the price drops, than you buy up the commodity at the cheaper price and immediately sell it for the price in the future contract, keeping the difference for yourself. You get a profit so long as you make more than the small 2% cost of the option contract. A 10% drop minus 2% is an 8% profit. If these sales involve 10 million dollars, 8% of 10 million is $800,000 !!!! It's not chump change.

If works the same way on the upside. If you think the price will rise, then you purchase the right to buy at fixed price. When they day comes, you buy at the cheaper price from the option contract and immediately sell at the higher price in the market.

Options expire usually in large blocks at certain intervals throughout the year. When options expire, a lot of heavy trading occurs due to the buying and selling of the underlying commodities discussed above. If someone with influence bought a lot of options contracts on securities betting prices would rise, financial news could stimulate individual investors to take actions that would influence price rises.

Friday, 17 July 2009 at 10h 3m 28s

CNBC = Cheerleading Nothing But Crap.

CNBC (the network that brought us Jim Cramer) has been criticized by many knowledgeable people for having a dishonest and disreputable reputation on reporting business news. The advice offered is often very laden with ignorance and quite faulty or out-right erroneous. Jon Stewart on the Daily Show once drew the networks ire when he used segments of the show adjacent to actual market occurrences to reveal how consistently the network was wrong.

Today Karl Denninger from Niceville, Florida responds to last night's attempt by the CNBC network bobble-heads (none of whom have any investment experience whatsoever) confabulate the notion that Nouriel Roubini says "the worst is over" to mean the end of the recession and good times just around the corner (Nouriel Roubini is the contrarian who has predicted the Great Recession, noted for his book The Black Swan).

Roubini was very upset. And wrote a scathing rebuttal on his web portal The RGE Monitor, a site that is worth a constant read. Click here for a direct link to the rebuttal.

If you want to watch the CNBC 2 minute snippet followed by a very knowledgeable takedown by a YouTube from Karl Denninger, go to Barry Ritholtz's page of the two videos. Watch as the CNBC Cheerleaders stumble over themselves to find creative adjectives while disseminating the myth. Then watch as Mr. Denninger shrinks their credibility beyond non-existence.

But it's more than sport. Unlike the CNBC tripe, you actually learn quite a lot by listening to Mr. Denninger.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
hat tip to Barry Ritholtz.

Thursday, 16 July 2009 at 16h 58m 19s

Goldman Sachs, Paulson et al are Scum

Wow. Max Keiser really tells all. Even the French dude he's with doesn't deny the general theme of his assertions, saying "I wouldn't be as extreme". But how else can you explain the history of the last 12 months. Keiser is not that far off from the truth, in my opinion.

Thursday, 16 July 2009 at 15h 33m 1s

The American Medical Association has just endorsed the House Health-care reform bill

The AMA has just endorsed a bill that includes a public option. Click here for the story in the New Republic.

This is the same AMA that called Harry Truman's 1948 attempts at National Health care a "road to socialism". Times have changed.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009 at 18h 28m 38s

10 reasons why the economy is worse than you think

From MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN in the Wall Street Journal :

- June's total assumed 185,000 people at work who probably were not. The government could not identify them; it made an assumption about trends. But many of the mythical jobs are in industries that have absolutely no job creation, e.g., finance. When the official numbers are adjusted over the next several months, June will look worse.

- More companies are asking employees to take unpaid leave. These people don't count on the unemployment roll.

- No fewer than 1.4 million people wanted or were available for work in the last 12 months but were not counted. Why? Because they hadn't searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

- The number of workers taking part-time jobs due to the slack economy, a kind of stealth underemployment, has doubled in this recession to about nine million, or 5.8% of the work force. Add those whose hours have been cut to those who cannot find a full-time job and the total unemployed rises to 16.5%, putting the number of involuntarily idle in the range of 25 million.

- The average work week for rank-and-file employees in the private sector, roughly 80% of the work force, slipped to 33 hours. That's 48 minutes a week less than before the recession began, the lowest level since the government began tracking such data 45 years ago. Full-time workers are being downgraded to part time as businesses slash labor costs to remain above water, and factories are operating at only 65% of capacity. If Americans were still clocking those extra 48 minutes a week now, the same aggregate amount of work would get done with 3.3 million fewer employees, which means that if it were not for the shorter work week the jobless rate would be 11.7%, not 9.5% (which far exceeds the 8% rate projected by the Obama administration).

- The average length of official unemployment increased to 24.5 weeks, the longest since government began tracking this data in 1948. The number of long-term unemployed (i.e., for 27 weeks or more) has now jumped to 4.4 million, an all-time high.

- The average worker saw no wage gains in June, with average compensation running flat at $18.53 an hour.

- The goods producing sector is losing the most jobs -- 223,000 in the last report alone.

- The prospects for job creation are equally distressing. The likelihood is that when economic activity picks up, employers will first choose to increase hours for existing workers and bring part-time workers back to full time. Many unemployed workers looking for jobs once the recovery begins will discover that jobs as good as the ones they lost are almost impossible to find because many layoffs have been permanent. Instead of shrinking operations, companies have shut down whole business units or made sweeping structural changes in the way they conduct business. General Motors and Chrysler, closed hundreds of dealerships and reduced brands. Citigroup and Bank of America cut tens of thousands of positions and exited many parts of the world of finance.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009 at 16h 41m 15s

Dennis Kucinich is the man

Click here for the archived webcase of the House Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Hearing : "Examining the Single Payer Health Care option."

Dennis tears David Gratzer, M.D. a big hole in his you-know-what.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Dr. Gratzer, you’ve tried to make the case for rationing in Canada - worse than it is in the U.S. Do you know what Statistics Canada - the analogue to the U.S. Census - says the median wait time is across Canada for elective surgery?

Dr. David Gratzer: Why don’t you inform us,sir?

Kucinich: It’s four weeks. And what does Statistics Canada say the median wait time for diagnostic imaging like MRIs is?

Gratzer: I could tell you the Ontario government recently looked at that for…

Kucinich: It’s three weeks.

Gratzer: … for cancers, was six months.

Kucinich: It’s three weeks. How many uninsured are there in Canada?

Gratzer: Probably relatively few.

Kucinich: That’s right, none or very few. How many medical bankruptcies are there in Canada?

Gratzer: Depends on how you define medical bank..

Kucinich: None or very few. How many insured Americans go without needed care due to high cost of health care which is due to health insurance companies?

Gratzer: (Pause) Am I allowed to answer, or are we just going to continue to…

Kucinich: If you have an answer, you can answer. But if you don’t, I’ll answer. What’s your answer?

Gratzer: Go for it, sir.

Kucinich: What’s your answer?

Gratzer: Why don’t you answer your question, sir?

Kucinich: What’s your answer?

Gratzer: My answer…

Kucinich: How many insured Americans go without needed care due to the high cost of health care which is due to health insurance companies?

Gratzer: (Silence)

Kucinich: The witness isn’t responding.

Gratzer: The witness is delighted to speak further on those statistics and other statistics, but you keep cutting me off, sir.

Kucinich: You respond, if you have an answer. You didn’t give an answer to the other one.

Gratzer: I don’t want to be led down a garden path. If you’d like to ask me a question, I’d be…

Kucinich: You’ve shown a garden here to members of this committee and to the audience. There’s another side to this picture you don’t seem to be aware of even though you want to be an expert on Canada. Can you provide us with an answer on this one about America?

Gratzer: My position is respectable, and I dislike your comment, sir.

Kucinich: Do you have an answer? How many insured Americans, insured, go without needed care due to high costs of health care due to health insurance companies?

Gratzer: (Silence)

Kucinich: He has no answer. Well what the answer is is that it’s one out of every four. So we’re trying to make a case here that somehow Canada is in a mess, but we’re not focusing on the fact that in the United States there are people who aren’t getting needed care, and this gentleman has expected us to believe that rationing is worse in Canada. I don’t know how we can buy that. Now if single payer is so bad, maybe the gentleman - the doctor - can explain to us why sixty percent of U.S. doctors want it according to the peer-reviewed Annals of Internal Medicine, April, 2008.

Don't you just love how this rat-sucker doesn't answer the question and tries to blame Dennis when he can't provide an answer that proves his ignorance.

More than 50% of all personal bankruptcies is due to high Medical bills. AND, of all those who declare bankrupcy due to high Medical bills, 75% HAD HEALTH INSURANCE.

Monday, 13 July 2009 at 21h 39m 59s

Small business lovers they are not

Here are two quotes I got from representing the most recent Republican red herring : taxing people over $350,000 will hurt small businesses and stunt the engine of growth we need to get out of this bad economy. But let them speak for themselves:

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ): At least 55 percent of the income that would be generated by this surtax directly hits the entrepreneurs that run these small businesses. It would be a job killer.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA): Half of those people [who would have to pay the tax] derive their income from small businesses, half of those people are making the decision about whether to hire Americans or not.

What a bunch of stupid morons? So slavish are they to the multinationalist corporate agenda that they disguise pathetic attempts to pursue that agenda as taking up the cause of the poor little guy. It's shameful really.

The following facts come from a number of sources. You can find the links to these sources by reading the thinkprogress article from which I am summarizing:

  • beginning in 2011, the plan would target all income over $350,000 a year for families and $280,000 a year for individuals. The surtax would start at 1 percent, rise to around 1.5 percent for families earning more than $500,000, then step up again, to around 3 percent, for families earning more than $1 million.

  • From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “only 1.9 percent of filers with any small-business income are projected to face either of the top two income tax rates in 2009.”

  • From people who file most of their income from their own business, “more than half have income below $30,000 and 80 percent make less than $100,000.”

  • Fifty eight percent of all small-business owners say they’re having a hard time keeping up with the cost of health care and the percentage of businesses with fewer than 200 employees that offer insurance fell to 59 percent last year, “down from 66 percent as recently as 2002, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.”

In other words, 98% of all small businesses will not be affected by the surtax used to pay for the health care plan that includes a public option. All small businesses will however be assisted by relieving them and their employees the exorbitant cost of the current byzantine system of health-care insurance premiums.

These mouth pieces are bought. They expect to enjoy a lavish retirement after they leave their time spent as corporate public servants. Go look up Senator Kyl's past transactions with shady land deals in Arizona.

We are talking about a maximum of only 3% on the income you earn after your first $1,000,000. This means that if you earn 1.2 million, you only pay 3% on the 0.2 million (200,000) -- 1.5% on the 500,000 and 1% on the 150,000 , which is a total of 6000 + 7500 + 1500 = $15,000.

That's only an extra 1.25% for families that earn 1.2 million a year.

One point twenty-five percent.

And yet the Republican's are screaming. Do these people have any sense of how to govern, invest in national infrastructure, manage a socio-economic system, or even (cough) how to pay the bills? If we don't reduce the Health care expenses by 50% in the next decade, we will have a very unhealthy population wasting money on poor health care outcomes that would have been better spent investing in infrastructure and paying down the national debt.

All businesses have to periodically restructure their business model if they hope to survive. In some cases the government has to create laws and institutions to achieve what is in everyone's best interest. The insurance companies have become predatory on the social system, a cancer that is soaking up resources while the patient is only getting worse. They are like the doctors of the middle ages who must bleed their patients to rid them of the evil spirits that are no doubt causing the sickness. They get to cherry-pick the healthiest clients and find reasons to deny coverage to the less than healthy citizens. They get to decide what they will pay for and how much they will pay. They get to devise extraordinary methods of bureaucratic paper shuffling in order to decrease their financial obligations as much as possible. They even get laws enacted or rewritten, and have judges in their pocket who liberally interpret appeals in their favor.

All of this involves costs. Costs to the lives of the sick who are not taken care of until the time they show up on a stretcher in the ambulance to the emergency room. Costs to the court system which clog up the machinery of justice with cases that would not be necessary if citizens did not have to take huge insurance companies to court in order to make them obey the law. Costs to businesses, and individuals above and beyond the health insurance premiums and co-payments and drug expenses, because nothing regulates the entire network at all. Each of the pieces (the hospital, the doctors, the insurance companies) has to separately obtain a positive difference between revenue and expenses, while at the same time treating patients who have any variation of insurance and/or ability to pay.

The goal of the current state of the health care system is not to achieve a minimum cost to have the healthiest population. That goal can only be attempted by cutting the insurance companies out of the system, or at least providing a public option and forcing them to accept any client so that they will have some of that real free market competition. Otherwise -- in my not so humble opinion -- nothing will change.

Monday, 13 July 2009 at 20h 43m 21s

Insurance company ex-executive says government insurance is okay

Wendell Potter, the former head of Corporate Communications at CIGNA, is interviewed by Bill Moyers. He says this ...

We shouldn’t fear government involvement in our health care system. That there is an appropriate role for government, and it’s been proven in the countries that were in that movie.

Click here to see part one of the interview.