Meltdown in Progress

Political Cartoons by Eric Allie

A New Waiver Class: A State!

The federal government Tuesday granted Maine a waiver of a key provision in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, citing the likelihood that enforcement could destabilize the state’s market for individual health insurance.

The U.S. Health and Human Services department said in a letter it would waive the requirement that insurers spend 80 cents to 85 cents of every premium dollar on medical care and quality improvement. Instead, the letter said, the state could maintain its 65 percent standard for three years, with the caveat that HHS intends to review the figures after two years. (Just after Obama’s hope-for re-election! :))

And this wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with the fact that Maine has to RINO Senators, now could it?? 🙂

The decision makes Maine the first state to receive a waiver of the requirement. Similar requests are pending from Kentucky, Nevada and New Hampshire.

Thing is, this will happen in every state. But that was the plan. So this is obviously a political move.

35% of Wages go to Entitlements and Non-Producers

Government payouts—including Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance—make up more than a third of total wages and salaries of the U.S. population, a record figure that will only increase if action isn’t taken before the majority of Baby Boomers enter retirement.

Even as the economy has recovered, social welfare benefits make up 35 percent of wages and salaries this year, up from 21 percent in 2000 and 10 percent in 1960, according to TrimTabs Investment Research using Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

“The U.S. economy has become alarmingly dependent on government stimulus,” said Madeline Schnapp, director of Macroeconomic Research at TrimTabs, in a note to clients. “Consumption supported by wages and salaries is a much stronger foundation for economic growth than consumption based on social welfare benefits.”

The economist gives the country two stark choices. In order to get welfare back to its pre-recession ratio of 26 percent of pay, “either wages and salaries would have to increase $2.3 trillion, or 35 percent, to $8.8 trillion, or social welfare benefits would have to decline $500 billion, or 23 percent, to $1.7 trillion,” she said.

Social welfare benefits have increased by $514 billion over the last two years, according to TrimTabs figures, in part because of measures implemented to fight the financial crisis.

And the measures implemented to buy votes.

Government spending normally takes on a larger part of the spending pie during economic calamities but how can the country change this make-up with the root of the crisis (housing) still on shaky ground, benchmark interest rates already cut to zero, and a demographic shift that calls for an increase in subsidies?

At the very least, we can take solace in the fact that we’re not quite at the state welfare levels of Europe. In the U.K., social welfare benefits make up 44 percent of wages and salaries, according to TrimTabs’ Schnapp.

Except there is a big difference. Europe is doing something about its runaway spending. The US is not.

And “entitled” don’t want to give up some of their greed, especially not Unions.

So if you have 35% of wages earned going to Entitlements. You have 47% of people not paying any taxes anyhow and you have a record number of people on Food Stamps  and 78 more Million people to retire and expect to be “entitled” then you have a meltdown in progress!!

The IRS reports that 100,000 federal civilian employees are seriously delinquent on their federal taxes. These aren’t just people who fell behind. These are people who have actively defied IRS letters and phone calls seeking payment. In 2009, the US government failed to collect $1 billion a year from federal employees alone.

But get out of line with ObamaCare and they’ll crush you like the bug you are!

And you know what were up against:

“The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.”

It just happens to be in, surprise!!! Elko, Nevada! Harry’s home state. Gee, that’s a coincidence!! 🙂

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defended the National Endowment for the Arts during a floor speech Tuesday, calling Republican proposals “mean-spirited”(DC)

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

Faced with the threat of losing funding from the federal government, National Public Radio (NPR) CEO Vivian Schiller defended the news outlet’s use of taxpayer money in a speech Monday, and brushed off criticism of bias as “perception.”

Calling government funding the “cornerstone of public media,” Schiller said NPR was “too critical to give up.”

Taxpayer funding is about 10% of their budget.

Don’t cut my pork,fat,waste, and abuse. Not in Backyard!

The screaming and whining and kicking like a 2 year having an unholy tantrum meltdown in the toy aisle of Wal-Mart has only just begun.

But we will be “green” even if it kills us!!

Anyone who understands basic economics already knows that President Obama’s $2.3 billion green-jobs initiative was snake oil. Now, thanks to Kenneth P. Green, we have statistics as well as theory to prove it.

In a new article, “The Myth of Green Energy Jobs: The European Experience,” the environmental scientist and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute writes, “Green programs in Spain destroyed 2.2 jobs for every green job created, while the capital needed for one green job in Italy could create almost five jobs in the general economy.”

Ironically, Obama boasts his initiative “will help close the clean-energy gap between America and other nations.” But Green says, “(C)ountries are cutting these programs because they realize they aren’t sustainable and they are obscenely expensive.”

Obama claims that if we “invest” more, “the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs — but only if we accelerate that transition.”

What could make more sense? A little push from the smart politicians and — voila! — we can have an abundance of new good-paying jobs and a cleaner, sustainable environment. It’s the ultimate twofer.

Except it’s an illusion, as economic logic demonstrates.

“It is well understood, among economists, that governments do not ‘create’ jobs,” Green writes. “The willingness of entrepreneurs to invest their capital, paired with consumer demand for goods and services, does that. All the government can do is subsidize some industries while jacking up costs for others. In the green case, it is destroying jobs in the conventional energy sector — and most likely in other industrial sectors — through taxes and subsidies to new green companies that will use taxpayer dollars to undercut the competition. The subsidized jobs ‘created’ are, by definition, less efficient uses of capital than market-created jobs.”

Green is using good, solid economic thinking. Many years ago, Henry Hazlitt wrote in his bestseller, “Economics in One Lesson,” “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”

In judging any government initiative, such as Obama’s green-jobs plan, you can’t look just at the credit side of ledger because the government is unable to give without first taking away.

Worse than that: Inevitably, more is taken away — destroyed — than is given because the government substitutes force and taxation for consent and free exchange. Instead of a process driven by consumer preferences, we get one imposed by politicians’ grand social designs. It’s what F.A. Hayek called “the fatal conceit.”

So we shouldn’t be surprised that green-jobs programs make energy more expensive. “(F)orcing green energy on the market (is) much, much more expensive,” Green said. “Using Spain as a model, when you do the math, you realize that creating 3 million new green jobs could cost $2.25 trillion.”

Of course, many people who push “green jobs” want the price of energy to rise so we’ll use less. If the environmental lobby wants Americans to be poorer, it ought to come clean about that.

The advocates of such programs don’t just misunderstand economics. They have lapsed into a pre-economic mentality. Rulers once believed they could do whatever they wanted, subject only to the physical laws of nature. If things didn’t work out as planned, it was because the people had failed to cooperate. But as economist Ludwig von Mises wrote, once economics emerged as an intellectual discipline, “it was learned that in the social realm too there is something operative which power and force are unable to alter and to which they must adjust themselves if they hope to achieve success … .”

That “something” is inescapable economic forces like the law of supply and demand.

Green is right when he says, “Central planners in the United States trying to promote green industry will fare no better (than Europe) at creating jobs or stimulating the economy.” (John Stossel)

But the environmentalist apparatchiks and Obama will “feel good” and that’s vastly more important than reality after all! 🙂

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

Some more Collective Bargaining Gems:

1. A Wausau public employee union filed a grievance to prohibit a local volunteer from serving as a school crossing guard.  The 86-year-old lives just two blocks away and serves everyday free of charge.

Principal Steve Miller says, “He said, you know, this gives me a reason to get up in the morning to come and help these kids in the neighborhood.”

But for a local union that represents crossing guards, it isn’t that simple.  Representatives didn’t want to go on camera but say if a crossing guard is needed, then one should be officially hired by the city.

2. Some state employees, due to the nature of their positions, are required to carry pagers during off-duty hours in order to respond to emergency situations.  Due to the collective bargaining agreements, these employees are compensated an extra five hours of pay each week, whether they are paged or not.

Cost: $6,000 a year per person.

3. ‘Outstanding First Year Teacher’ Laid Off

Milwaukee Public Schools teacher Megan Sampson was laid off less than one week after being named Outstanding First Year Teacher by the Wisconsin Council of English Teachers.  She lost her job because the collective bargaining agreement requires layoffs to be made based on seniority rather than merit.

In June 2010 , long before Scott Walker was elected, Milwaukee Public Schools fired 482 teachers–including Megan Sampson, a young educator named an “outstanding first year teacher” by the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English.

Sampson and 481 other teachers were laid off for two reasons having to do with collective bargaining:

Informed that her union had rejected a lower-cost health care plan, that still would have required zero contribution from teachers, Sampson said, “Given the opportunity, of course I would switch to a different plan to save my job, or the jobs of 10 other teachers.

4. Under the Green Bay School District’s collectively bargained Emeritus Program, teachers can retire and receive a year’s worth of salary for working only 30 days over a three year period.  This is paid in addition to their already guaranteed pension and health care payouts.

5. In 2009, the City of Madison’s highest paid employee was a bus driver who earned $159,258, including $109,892 in overtime, guaranteed by a collective bargaining agreement.  In total, seven City of Madison bus drivers made more than $100,000 per year in 2009.

“That’s the (drivers’) contract,” said Transit and Parking Commission Chairman Gary Poulson.

But don’t worry, you’re just a mean, old, nasty, Robber-Baron, middle-class destroying  arsehole if you object to it!

And Al Sharpton will call you a “racist” and Michael Moore will just tell you it the “rich” people’s fault! (meanwhile both are filthy rich themselves)

Reality and Economics are toxic these days. And that is a meltdown in progress!

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Chuck Asay

Political Cartoons by Ken Catalino

You Can’t Turnaround Without Hitting a Bureaucrat

But first, an “I told you so”…

Sept 2009: President Barack Obama says requiring people to get health insurance and fining them if they don’t would not amount to a backhanded tax increase. “I absolutely reject that notion,” the president said.”for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax” (CBS)

OBAMA (On ABC):  My critics say everything is a tax increase.  My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy.  You know that. Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…

STEPHANOPOULOS:  But you reject that it’s a tax increase?

OBAMA:  I absolutely reject that notion.

The U.S. Justice Department officially responded to a legal challenge against the federal health-care overhaul Wednesday and called on a federal judge to dismiss the case.

Twenty attorneys general, led by Republican Bill McCollum of Florida, filed suit against the federal government immediately after President Obama’s health-care overhaul became law in March. The attorneys generals are questioning the constitutionality of the law, claiming that Congress does not have the power to require that all Americans purchase health insurance.

The federal health-care law requires that all legal U.S. residents be insured or else pay a penalty — beginning in 2014 — that fines individuals $695 annually or up to 2.5% of their income.

In its defense of the law, the Justice Department invoked the Commerce Clause and claimed penalties for Americans without health-care coverage were consistent with the federal government’s powers to regulate interstate commerce and impose taxes.

The Justice Department filing describes the penalty as a tax, stating that the law “imposes a tax on the choice of a method to finance the future costs of one’s health care.”

McCollum responded to the Justice Department filings Thursday, claiming that the government’s response contradicted the comments that President Obama made during the health-care debate earlier this year.

“The Justice Department’s defenses clash directly with comments made by President Obama during the debate on the health care reform bill, including the President’s insistence on national television that the purchase mandate was absolutely not a tax. Yet in its motion to dismiss, the Obama administration defends the individual mandate under Congress’ ‘taxing and spending’ power,” said McCollum in a press statement.

“Nothing in the Justice Department’s motion filed last night changes the States’ view that we will prevail. Instead, the Justice Department’s defenses clash directly with comments made by President Obama during the debate on the health care reform bill, including the President’s insistence on national television that the purchase mandate was absolutely not a tax. Yet in its motion to dismiss, the Obama Administration defends the individual mandate under Congress’ ‘taxing and spending’ power.

“Not only does the U.S. Department of Justice contradict public statements made by the President and Congressional leadership, it demonstrates in its motion to dismiss that it seems to view this lawsuit by the 20 states and NFIB as a significant challenge, signaling this lawsuit may pose more of a threat in its chances for success.

“Our lawsuit challenges the individual mandate that violates the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, the federal government is threatening our state sovereignty with this unprecedented expansion of federal powers and commandeering of state resources. This is not acceptable, and we will pursue this litigation as far as necessary to obtain relief for our citizens and our states.”

The lawsuit was filed on March 23, 2010 with 13 original state plaintiffs and was amended on May 14, 2010 to add seven additional states and the National Federation of Independent Business, as well as two individual plaintiffs.

So the Tax that wasn’t a tax is now officially a Tax.

I wonder how the Mainstream Media/Ministry of Truth will ignore that. 🙂  (I already know BTW).

************

Sixteen crude-sucking barges are back in the Gulf of Mexico working to clean up oil, but the Coast Guard is defending its decision to ground the vessels because it couldn’t verify whether there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board.

“The Coast Guard is not going to compromise safety … that’s our No. 1 priority,” Coast Guard spokesman Robert Brassel told The Daily Caller.

The decision to ground the ships is under intense scrutiny after Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal expressed his deep frustration with the decision Thursday.

“You got men on the barges in the oil, and they have been told by the Coast Guard, ‘Cease and desist. Stop sucking up that oil,’” Jindal said to ABC News.

But don’t worry Obama is going to do everything he can to stop the Oil. 🙂

But the bureaucrats aren’t though.

Further, the government’s response is clumsy. “The Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, the EPA all these different agencies aren’t talking to each other,” Florida’s Okaloosa County commissioner Wayne Harris said.

Anyone seeing  National Health Care Administration (aka ObamaCare) in your future? 😦

So why is Obama so slow, it’s 60 days later.

Imagine Bush dithering 60 days after Katrina?

The meltdown would have been apocalyptic. (It already was according to the media back then, but they were “fair” and had no agenda…) 🙂

So why doesn’t he do it?

In a word: Unions.

The answer comes in the form of an obscure law called the Jones Act. A throwback to the days of American protectionism, the Jones Act is a piece of 1920s-era legislation that requires ships working in U.S. waters to be built here and crewed by Americans. This is why skimmers from the Persian Gulf, the heavy-duty ships that have proved themselves capable of cleaning up disasters like the one currently facing the Gulf, aren’t employed here doing the vital work for which they’re built. What’s more, it’s why they’re not on their way (which, considering the distance they’d have to cover, is in itself is no small feat).

The president, however, has the power to waive the Jones Act. His predecessor, the one so criticized for his failure to pull out all the stops in responding to Hurricane Katrina, did just that within days of that storm’s devastation. So why hasn’t President Obama taken the same measure?

Therein lies the rub. There is much talk about the political interests that have essentially prevented this administration from acting with common sense time and time again. It’s why many believe competitive market forces won’t be considered as options, even though competition, with little government involvement, would certainly contribute to cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. Are suspicions that foregoing market fixes is directly tied to protection of union jobs and, by extension, political allies? Using foreign technologies manned by foreign crews will, after all, necessarily keep union bosses from cash they so desperately need going into a tough election season.

This is the political cronyism of the worst sort. It is bad enough the president’s economic recovery plan was convoluted and weighted towards payback of labor unions; worse still are the bailouts being directed toward private and public sector union pensions. Now we have an entire region’s ecological and economic existence being held hostage to the president’s pro-Union myopia.

This is inexcusable.

The president needs to facilitate clean-up. He needs to immediately start cutting red tape and getting the federal government out of the way. First and foremost, he needs to immediately waive the Jones Act and get those foreign crews to the Gulf.

Millions of Americans, not just those suffering in the Gulf, are depending on this. Their voices are far more important than the ever-weakening unions constantly nipping at the president’s heels. (Daily Caller)

He’s a prisoner yet again of a very rigid ideology.

And these are the people from the Government who are here to save you, protect you, keep you healthy and make you “green”.

Doesn’t it just fill you will confidence!

I believe it was Jean Giraudoux who first said, “Only the mediocre are always at their best.”

And if we all strive to be mediocre we can all be at our best!

Rejoice Comrade, The Government has your back (it’s reaching for your wallet!). 🙂