Can Americas economic problems be solved? Is there an end to the deficit, and is the U.S. economy really that bad? In the first part of this week’s Goldstein on Gelt podcast, Doug meets David Leonhardt, Washington bureau chief of The New York Times and author of Heres the Deal: How Washington Can Solve the Deficit and Spur Growth. Find out about Washingtons deficit problem and some possible solutions to Americas economic difficulties by listening to the part of this weeks podcast.
Posts Tagged ‘u.s. economy’
In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.
We’ve heard this clever aphorism countless times, and nodded our heads in bleak recognition. And yet, have we ever really pondered the ghoulishness that equates taxes with mortality?
Anyone who has ever been audited by the IRS—Seraphic Secret has been twice audited, each time emerging battered but owing the government zero dollars—knows the helpless feeling of being forced to submit to an absolute power, where the normal rules of law and civil society are suspended by an all-powerful government with unlimited resources.
The IRS is a temporal tyranny. Death is the ultimate tyranny. One was created by man, the other by God.
Barack Hussein Obama and the Democrat party are now playing God, by joining death and taxes into one sinister package.
Obamacare is administered by the IRS.
The same lawless agency that has been targeting and oppressing citizens who disagree with the current administration’s policies, is the very agency now tasked with the health—which is to say every breath—of every American.
Indeed, the Obama administration is now setting in motion a system whereby a central government data base will connect Health and Human Services with the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, Homeland Security, and who knows how many other government agencies.
This makes Big Brother look like a benevolent midget.
The dream of the left, articulated by Marx and Lenin, is to create a rigidly ordered society where messy individualism—AKA liberty—is suppressed in favor of a utopian common good. Of course, the common good, as defined by the ruling leftists, is forever being downgraded to new normals.
For Obama, this is the new normal of massive unemployment and unsustainable national debt. In a few years, the new normal will be further redefined and downgraded. Before you know it, you live in a society where the common good has been so degraded that the very act of remembering what life used to be like under the banner of liberty and free enterprise is but a distant memory, if not a subversive thought as defined by those supermen who regulate our intake of salt, the size of our soda cups, what light bulbs we can use, and how we flush our toilets.
Welcome to Obamaland, where death and taxes is no longer an ironic statement, but a grim reality.
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Straight from the Jerusalem Boardroom #179.
While struggling to turn around an expanding (5%) budget deficit, Israel sustains its unique role as a pipeline of commercial, defense and homeland security technologies to the U.S. and the Free World. Israeli technologies, shared with the U.S. industry, have enhanced the U.S. employment, research & development and exports.
1. Facebook about to acquire Israel’s Waze for $1BN. In January, Waze turned down Facebook’s offer of $500MN (Israel Hayom, May 10, 2013). Warren Buffett completed acquisition of Israel’s Iscar – $2BN for the remaining 20% of Iscar. $4BN were paid for 80% (Globes, May 1). NYC’s KKR Private Equity acquired (from NYC’s Warburg-Pincus Ventures) 75% of Israel’s Alliance Tires Group for $500MN (Globes, April 15). Israel’s Prolor was merged into Miami, FL’s Opko for $480MN (Globes, April 25). San Jose, CA’s Avago Technologies acquired Israel’s Cyoptics for $400MN (Globes, April 12). China’s Fosun Pharma acquired Israel’s Alma Lasers for $240 Million (TechTime, April 29). J.P. Morgan sold 21% of Israel’s CaesarStone (held by Israel’s Tene’ Investment Fund) for $170MN, on NASDAQ (Globes, April 15).
2. Japan’s Sony extends its medical tech investments, investing $10MN in Israel’s Rainbow Medical investment fund, joining prior giant investors: Minnesota’s Medtronic, Illinois’ Abbottand Italy’s Sorin. Sonny is seeking Israeli acquisitions. Israel is a research & development hub for GE Healthcare, Phillips, Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific and Switzerland’s Roche, which have acquired Israeli companies and have invested in scores of Israeli start-ups (Globes, May 9). GE inaugurated a software research & development center in Israel (May 1).
3. London’s Amadeus Capital led a $17MN round of private placement by Israel’s ClickTale (Globes, May 1). Israel’s Micronet Enertec raised $8MN on NASDAQ (May 6). Waltham, MA’s Battery Ventures participated in a $6MN first round of private placement by Israel’s FTBpro (Globes, May 9).
4. The scope of Leviathan’s offshore proven natural gas reserves is larger (19 Trillion Cubic Feet) than expected (17 TCF), according to Yedioth Achronot, May 2).
5. Israel’s unemployment decrease to 6.5%, during the first quarter in 2013, derives from increased integration – by Arabs and ultra-orthodox Jews – into the job market. The average unemployment rate is 10.9% in the EU, 12.1% in the Euro Bloc and 25% among the youth of the Euro Bloc.
6. “In January, Intel executive Greg Slater noted that many of his company’s major innovations over the past three decades started in Israel—including the latest ‘Ivy Bridge’ and ‘Sandy Bridge’ microprocessors, which accounted for 40% of Intel revenues in 2011….Microsoft’s founder, Bill Gates, said in 2006 that ‘the innovation going on in Israel is critical to the future of the technology business….’ Scores of major U.S. manufacturers—from General Electric GE to General Motors, GM, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Apple and others—have R&D centers and technology incubators in Israel…. Israel [contributes] to the U.S. economy thousands of skilled professionals, hundreds of joint patent applications, and hundreds of coauthored scientific and technical papers…. (Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2013).”
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Time and time again, the liberal defenders of government power have attacked any call for reform as a plot by the wealthy. Even now New York Times editorialists pound their keys about the “Concentration of Wealth,” invoking presidents from Andrew Jackson to Theodore Roosevelt. But in our America, the “Concentration of Wealth” is not found in the hands of a few billionaires. It is found in the hands of the government.
The editorialists talk about the income gap and how much wealth is held by the top one percent of the country, but they are leaving something out. Their statistics deal with individuals, not institutions. And it is institutions which threaten our liberties, not individuals.
The top 10 wealthiest men and women in America barely have 250 billion dollars between them. That sounds like a lot of money, until you look at annual Federal budgets which run into the trillions of dollars, and the country’s national debt which approaches 15 trillion dollars. And that’s not taking into account state budgets. Even Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union, with a population of barely a million, has a multi-billion dollar budget.
As the 10th richest man in America, Michael Bloomberg wields a personal fortune of a mere 18 billion dollars, but as the Mayor of the City of New York, he disposes of an annual budget of 63 billion dollars. In a single year, he disposes of three times his own net worth. A sum that would wipe out the net worth of any billionaire in America. That is the difference between the wealth wielded by the 10th wealthiest man in America, and the mayor of a single city. And that is the real concentration of wealth. Not in the hands of individuals, but at every level of government, from the municipal to the state houses to the White House.
While liberal pundits pop on their stovepipe hats, fix their diamond stickpins and cravats, and trade in 19th century rhetoric about the dangers of trusts and monopolies– the power in 20th century America lies not in the hands of a few industrialists, but with massive monopolistic trust of government, and its network of unions, non-profits, lobbyists and PAC’s. The railroads are broken up, offshore drilling is banned, coal mining is in trouble and Ma Bell has a thousand quarreling stepchildren– now government is the real big business. How big?
The 2008 presidential campaign cost 5.3 billion dollars. Another 1.5 billion for the House and the Senate. And that’s not counting another half a billion from the 527′s and even shadier fundraising by shadowy political organizations. But that’s a small investment when you realize that they were spending billions of dollars to get their hands on trillions of dollars.
Do you know of any company in America where for a mere few billion, you could become the CEO of a company whose shareholders would be forced to sit back and watch for four years while you run up trillion dollar deficits and parcel out billions to your friends? Without going to jail or being marched out in handcuffs. A company that will allow you to indulge yourself, travel anywhere at company expense, live the good life, and only work when you feel like it. That will legally indemnify you against all shareholder lawsuits, while allowing you to dispose not only of their investments, but of their personal property in any way you see fit.
There is only one such company. It’s called the United States Government.
It wasn’t always this way. There used to be limitations on executive and legislative power. But those limitations are gone along with the top hat and the diamond stickpin. Under an ideological cloak of darkness, politicians act as if they can do anything they want. Public outrage is met with alarmist news stories about the dangers of violence, as if this were the reign of the Bourbon kings, not a democratic republic whose right of protest is as sacrosanct as its flag and its seal. Instead the republic is dominated by political trusts, party machines, media cartels, public sector unions and a million vermin who have sucked the cow dry and are starting in on its tender meat.
Hugo Chavez’s death was met with tributes from Iran, Bolivia, China and El Salvador. The Western left did not waste much time adding their withered roses to El Comandante’s coffin. George Galloway called him another Spartacus. Jimmy Carter described him as a leader who fought for the “neglected and trampled.” Michael Moore praised him for declaring that the oil belongs to the people.
Whether or not the oil belongs to the people is a matter of some debate considering how much of it seemed to end up in Chavez’s pocket.
Chavez died with an estimated net worth of two billion dollars making him the fourth richest man in Venezuela and the 49th richest man in Latin America. For a while, Chavez weathered attacks from the media empire of Gustavo A. Cisneros, the richest man in Venezuela. Then before the 2004 election, their mutual friend Jimmy Carter brokered an agreement between them. Cisneros’ media stopped criticizing Chavez and both men bent to the task of getting even richer.
While the Bolivarian Spartacus lined his pockets with oil money, Venezuela’s middle-class was struggling to get by in a country where the private sector had imploded. Income increased on paper, but decreased in reality as inflation increases ate the difference. Around the same time that Comrade Hugo was launching the third phase of his Bolivarian Revolution, inflation had decreased household income 8.8 percent while consumer goods prices increased 27 percent.
On his deathbed, Hugo Chavez devalued his country’s currency for the fifth time by 32 percent, after tripling the deficit during his previous term when the national debt had increased by 90 percent. From 2008 to 2011, Chavez’s oil-rich government increased the debt by nearly 50 billion in a country of less than 30 million. That same year, The Economist speculated that Venezuela might go bankrupt.
Chavez had swollen the ranks of Venezuela’s public employees to 2.5 million in a country where the 15-64 population numbered only 18 million. With 1 public employee to every 7 working adults, the entire mess was subsidized by oil exports and debt. When the price of oil fell, only debt was left.
Those public employees became Chavez’s campaign staff with no choice but to vote for him or see their positions wiped out to keep the economy from crashing. And they won him one last election.
The dead tyrant leaves behind the lowest GDP growth rate and highest inflation rate in Latin America. He leaves behind an economy where more than half the population depends on government benefits or government jobs. He leaves behind a giant pile of debt for the people and 2 billion dollars in misappropriated oil money for his heirs.
But we don’t need to look to a leftist banana republic south of the border to see how profitable fighting for the poor can be.
Seven of the 10 richest counties in America are now in the Washington D.C. area. Arlington County alone added $6,000 to its average income in one year alone. D.C. and its bedroom communities got rich at twice the rate of the rest of the country and in the last election; Obama won eight of the 10 richest counties in the country.
Washington D.C. is richer than Silicon Valley. Median income in the D.C. area has hit $84,523 despite the city itself having horrendous unemployment and poverty statistics. The top five percent in D.C. earns 60 percent more than the top 5 percent in other cities and 54 times what the bottom fifth earns in that same city.
This wealth of government money isn’t a rising tide that lifts all boats. Income inequality in Washington D.C. is one of the worst in the nation. For families with children, the income inequality level in D.C. is double the average for the rest of the country.
But when you concentrate the wealth of the land in a single imperial city, then you end up with a sharp gap between the poor and the fighters for the poor. Mid-level jobs are disappearing, but high-level jobs continue to grow. Small businesses are going out of business, but lawyers and consultants are being hired at a breathtaking rate.
Washington D.C. has the highest concentration of lawyers in the country. One out of every 12 city residents is a lawyer. One in 25 of the country’s lawyers lives in Washington D.C. In 2009, the Office of Personnel Management reported that there were 31,797 practicing lawyers in the Federal government earning an average salary of $127,500 a year. Or to put it another way, the taxpayers were spending double Hugo Chavez’s two billion dollar net worth each year just to pay the lawyers.
There have been rumors and shmumors about America’s intention of minting a “trillion dollar coin” and sticking it in the Federal Reserve in order to bypass the so-called debt ceiling, which is more of a debt elevator. I couldn’t help but think of the Simpsons episode where the government prints a trillion dollar bill and Mr. Burns and Homer escape with it and somehow it ends up in the hands of Fidel Castro and the country survives on the wealth of the trillion dollar bill.
It is rare that I am dumbfounded, but this time I really am. I don’t know what to say. The mere possibility of the minting of a trillion dollar coin is so despicably absurd that I’m overloaded with a litany of potential sarcastic remarks that none of them can fit through the door of my mouth as they’re all crowding together simultaneously and are now jammed in the back of my throat and I can hardly breathe. Jon Stewart did a pristine job I must say.
Let me just start by saying that the source of this problem is that some primordial government, when it came in and seized the local mints and splayed the king’s face over all the coins, decided to give the monetary unit a proper name instead of a weight. For example, “dinars” instead of “ounces”. Then the Alice-in-Wonderland concept of “face value” was born, which doesn’t really exist. If instead of “dollars” the term for money was “grams” then money would be tied to weight instead of fancy shmancy names like “dollar” and the possibility of printing a gram of money or a “trillion gram coin” would be a lot more difficult for the government to do. So they had to rename the monetary unit to some imaginary term.
Two obvious questions are these, reductio ad absurdums, but it’s hard to engage in those when the premise you are attacking is itself so intensely absurd on its own:
- If you’re going to mint a trillion dollar coin, why not mint 16 of them and pay off the national debt?
- Why make it out of platinum? Why not elephant dung?
Better yet, you want mideast peace, right? And you love foreign aid and meddling. Then by God go all out! Why use it for such a petty thing as raising the “debt ceiling”? I say give the trillion dollar elephant dung to Israel, and then we can buy all of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt and every single Arab in the country, pay them outrageous salaries to tap dance for us, and give them each their own personal trained pet chimpanzee to give them manicures and shiatsu massages and build them all gold-plated ivory mansions so they’ll be happy and won’t have to do anything after the daily tap dance for the Jews? Everyone over here will be rich, obviously, and therefore at peace. And the chimpanzee population will have a big boon.
There’s only one problem. How are we doing to break a trillion to get all this done? The local Five and Dime? Or the Five and Trillion?
And you want to use it to get around your stupid debt ceiling?
My Lord the world has lost its mind.
And don’t forget, there is nothing qualitatively different between a trillion dollar coin, and a one dollar bill.
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