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3751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: December 19, 2013, 11:36:19 PM
Crafty, 12/18/13:
b) What the hell is wrong with deflation?
c) How did this piece wind up on the front page of the WSJ?
[low inflation is a problem??]

1.  See your post in Economics, (Wesbury then making Scott Grannis' point now): 7/1/13:

2. Deflation tends to be self sustaining: hard to snap out of, limited policy options available to address it.  From the WSJ article:  "Central bankers worry about inflation falling too low because it raises the risk of deflation, or generally falling prices, a phenomenon that is difficult to combat through monetary policy. Some economists believe weak or falling prices can lead consumers to delay major purchases, exacerbating an economic slowdown. Even without deflation, very low inflation can be a sign of weak demand that weighs on wages, corporate profits and growth."

3. Deflation is associated with lack of velocity (MV=PQ) see link in point 1) and is associated with economic depression.  It is feared by central bankers; easier to avoid in the first place than to get out of once in it.
From the San Francisco Fed, quoting MIT and economic textbooks:

What is deflation and how is it different from disinflation?

September 1999

The MIT Dictionary of Modern Economics defines deflation as “A sustained fall in the general price level.”1 Deflation represents the opposite of inflation, which is defined as an increase in the overall price level over a period of time. In contrast, disinflation, represents a period when the inflation rate is positive, but declining over time.

Deflation, inflation, and disinflation represent different behavior of the price level. The price level is commonly measured using either a Gross Domestic Product Deflator (GDP Deflator) or a Consumer Price Index (CPI) indicator. The GDP Deflator is a broad index of inflation in the economy; the CPI Index measures changes in the price level of a broad basket of consumer products. The Chart shows the monthly percentage change in the CPI (all urban consumers, all items) over the prior 12-month period, and includes periods of deflation, inflation, and disinflation in consumer prices.


Two brief periods, the first from approximately mid-1949 to mid-1950, and the second, approximately from the fall of 1954 to the summer of 1955, shown in Chart, indicate brief periods of deflation in the consumer price index. Other than these two brief periods, the CPI Index shows inflation in consumer prices over nearly the entire 1947 to 1999 period. The period from mid-1980 to mid-1983 indicates a period of disinflation, a period when the rate of inflation was declining from month to month.

Periods of deflation typically are associated with downturns in the economy. The two temporary periods of deflation corresponded to recessions in the U.S. economy. However, periods of deflation need not be as short as these two brief episodes in the 1950s. During the Great Depression of the 1930s the nation experienced a long period of deflation. As noted by Samuelson and Nordhaus (1998), “Sustained deflations, in which prices fall steadily over a period of several years, are associated with depressions, such as occurred in the 1930s or the 1890s.”2


1. Pearce, David W., editor. The MIT Dictionary of Modern Economics. 1992. MIT University Press.

2. Samuelson, Paul A., and William D. Nordhaus. Economics. 1998. The McGraw-Hill Companies.

3752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Incomes are stagnated? Depends on how we measure! on: December 18, 2013, 09:17:10 AM
Did incomes go up 3% or 37%?  Depends on how you measure - or fail to measure.

From Greg Mankiw's blog, Chariman of the Economics Dept at Harvard

Monday, December 16, 2013
On Measuring Changes in Income
To divert attention from the disastrous rollout of his health reform, President Obama has decided to change the national conversation to discuss increasing inequality.  This phenomenon is not new--the trend started about four decades ago--but it is real and important.  In case you are a new reader of this blog, you can find my personal views on the matter in this paper.

This national conversation has generated renewed attention to the highly influential Piketty-Saez data.  It is worth pointing out, therefore, some limitations of these data, which have been stressed by Cornell economist Richard Burkhauser: The data are on tax units rather than households, they do not include many government transfer payments, they are pre-tax rather than post-tax, they do not adjust for changes in household size, and they do not include nontaxable compensation such as employer-provided health insurance.

Does this matter?  Yes!  Here are some numbers from the Burkhauser paper:

1. From 1979 to 2007, median real income as measured by pre-tax, pre-transfer cash income of tax units rose by only 3.2 percent.  That is a paltry amount for such a long period.  You might conclude that middle class incomes have been stagnant. But wait.

2. Households are more important than tax units.  Two married people are one tax unit, whereas a couple shacked up are two tax units.  We would not want to treat the movement from marriage to shacking up as a drop in income.  If we look at households rather than tax units, that meager 3.2 percent rises to a bit more respectable 12.5 percent.

3. Now consider government transfer payments. If we add those in, that 12.5 percent number becomes an even better 15.2 percent.

4. What about taxes? The middle class received some tax cuts during that period.  Factoring taxes in, the 15.2 percent figure rises to 20.2 percent.

5. But not all households are the same size, and the size of households has fallen over time. Adjusting for household size increases that 20.2 percent to 29.3 percent.

6. There is still one thing left: employer-provided health insurance, an important fringe benefit that has grown in importance. Adding an estimate of that into income raises the 29.3 percent figure to 36.7 percent.

So, during this period, has the middle class experienced stagnant real income (a mere 3.2 percent increase) or significant gains (a 36.7 percent increase)?  It depends on which measure of income you look at.  It seems clear to me that the latter measure is more relevant, but the former measure of income often gets more attention than it deserves.

Take this as a cautionary tale.  When people talk about changes in income over time, make sure you know what measure of income they are citing.
3753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Income inquality, Kevin Williamson on: December 18, 2013, 09:12:53 AM
"Incomes among the bottom half of earners are not stagnating because of increasing inequality; inequality is increasing because incomes among the bottom half of earners is stagnating. "
(read it all)
3754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Ten Biggest Lies of 2013 on: December 18, 2013, 09:00:27 AM

Pretty amazing that even the WashPost confirms Pres Obama is the Liar of the Year.  Mis-speaks by a few lowly Republicans hardly compare.  Michele Bachmann, leaving office, with her facts wrong is hardly news and there was no accompanying bill to slash food stamps by 70%.  We are closing the Vatican embassy, but the out of office Jeb Bush implied false blame.  Lamar Alexander connected two 'unrelated' spending items.  That one could go under 'opinion' check.  NRA said armed guards at Obama's children's school.  If wrong, they are protected by armed guards every other minute of the day.  Hardly a big deal or the basis of a public policy decision.  Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) charged that then- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in April of 2012 “signed” a cable directing a drawdown for security assets for the U.S. Embassy in Libya.  In fact the cable had her signature but the Post says they all do...

Kerry's statement that “I opposed the invasion of Iraq” would be as meaningless as a Michele Bachmann statement - even we had not chosen people like Biden and Kerry for the highest positions in the administration!

The 'keep your policy' doozy was an obvious one, but good for the Post to publish this one by the President:

“The day after Benghazi happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.”

Hard to believe a journalist wasn't fired over that one.

The day after Benghazi the President gave a speech in Las Vegas ripping Republicans.  He was on-time and looked well-rested!
3755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Congressional Races: former Sen. Scott Brown moving to New Hampshire on: December 17, 2013, 08:55:51 PM
Scott Brown reportedly has a buyer for his house in Mass.  He already owns one in NH.  Brown will likely continue to work in Boston (unless running for Senate becomes a full time job).  He does not have a license to practice law in NH.
3756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / life of Julia - entering ObamaCare on: December 17, 2013, 08:39:29 PM
3757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: December 17, 2013, 06:52:09 PM
(GM is so much more succinct! )

If the term marriage has no specific meaning, what is polygamy? 

It wasn't the people of North Dakota who changed the meaning of marriage or changed any laws, and it looks to me like their AG applied the laws properly.  DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act signed by Democrat President Clinton) makes it so that individual states do not legally have to acknowledge the relationships of gay and lesbian couples who were married in another state. Only the section of DOMA that dealt with federal recognition was ruled unconstitutional.  What a tangled web the leftists and enabling jurists weave.

I agree with ccp, "To me the left has simply made a mockery out of marriage". 

The Left adopted LGBT instead of just gay as the oppressed group with the intention of going after acceptance and public endorsement for thems too, with their various, multiple partner arrangements. 

BD, others, are you not sympathetic to the discrimination suffered by mulitple-partner-Americans and their right, just like single partner heteros, to marry whomever they choose?  Have they not suffered in the dark shadows of this country long enough.

Or does what the smartest and most widely traveled Secretary of State in history once shouted regarding Benghazi apply now to marriage:
3758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: polygamy on: December 16, 2013, 09:40:27 AM
BTW, what IS the argument against polygamy?

I would argue that children have an unfair circumstance by design under polygamy.  The adults may have consented, but the kids did not.  Society is better off and stronger when we choose a spouse to form a family instead of just keep adding spouses and forming 'families'.  (The NBA is not aware of this rule.)

In this day where anything goes, who are we to judge.   Gay marriage ended of the meaning of marriage (and family) - one man and one woman become one married couple, husband and wife, sometimes becoming a family with one mom, one dad and children.  If we cannot restrict on gender, why limit the numbers.  If it has no meaning, why even keep track or acknowledge marriages.

State references or preferences to marriage are all discriminatory by design - against all unmarrieds, not just against gays and polygamists.  The point of laws allowing the states to sanction marriage of the old type was that this particular discrimination and preference was good for society.  Each person in a free society also had the freedom to not enter a single spouse, opposite gender union with all its recognized advantages.
3759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Only 14% of enrollees not subsidized on: December 16, 2013, 08:57:03 AM

Yes, why would anyone want a government-written health plan except to see if someone else will pay for it.

Everyone I've encountered seemed negative on Obamacare until last week when a friend said his cost went down from 1800/mo to 900.  He is mid-50s with an early history of serious heart trouble.  I would argue that in his business, selling homes, he is still better off with a healthy economy and paying fair market for his coverage than with the subsidy and the ill economic effects that come with it.  If O'Care is not repealed, I will report back when his subsidized premium goes above what is was unsubsidized.

But that was the trick of implementation.  Even if only a few million middle earners sign up, if you cleanly repeal it you will be taking away their meds, doubling their costs, killing them.
3760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Unemployment benefits for 'working men and women' on: December 14, 2013, 03:33:07 PM
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee calls for unemployment benefits for 'working men and women'

The Houston Democrat called upon her fellow Congress members to extend jobless benefits for people with jobs.

"Let us vote to provide for unemployment insurance for working men and women so that faces across America will not have the tear of desperation on their faces,"
3761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / If 1 man 1 woman marriage limit is discriminatory, Polygamy is unconstitutional on: December 14, 2013, 03:28:09 PM

Who made that argument previously?

3762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 14, 2013, 01:44:24 PM
"Doug, The plan is to get to single payer..."

Very true.  Liberals are not startled by the failure of this complex public-private fiasco, even though it is their own.  Tthey will argue for simplicity and point to the way it 'works' for everyone else.

Republicans should have united by now on a solution and alternative to take away the false claim of Dems that R's want to take us back to the way it was, which was the old Dem plan of only 60% government control and runaway costs.

It is frustrating to lack both leadership and a message.
3763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's 1983 answer to the Soviet challenge? Unilateral disarmament on: December 14, 2013, 11:36:08 AM
See the NY Times pdf of the original article. He could see the "goodness in humanity" by the turnout and enthusiasm at SAM, Students Against Militarism Thursday night.  SAM had 15 members, none of which controlled the arsenal of the Soviet Union then or Iran today.   I am curious if Bill Ayers wrote this too.

(Now he refuses to stop nuclear proliferation to dictators and terrorists.)

ARA sponsored events---(Arms Race Alternatives)
BREAKINGTHE WAR MENTALITY    Sundial. March 10, 1983
           By Harack Obama                       our hearts. and taking continual, tangi-    on the nuclear threat-reveals a deep
     Most students at Columbia do not       ble ~teps to prevent war, becomes a di-     resevoir ofconcern. "I think students on
have first hand knowledge of war_ Mili-     fficult task.                                          this campus like to think of themselves
tary violence has been a vicarious ex-           Two groups on campus, Anns Race        as sophisticated, and don't appreciate
perience, channeled into our minds          Alternatives (ARA) and Students             small vision, So they tend to come out
through television, film, and print.           Ag-ainst Militarism (SAM), work within      more for the events; they do not want to
     The more sensitive ~lmong us           these mental limits to foster awareness     just fold leaflets."
struggle to extrapolate experiences of      and practical action neces::-ary to coun-         Mark Bigelow, a graduate intern
war from our everyday experience, dis-      ter the growing threat of war. Though       from Union Theological Seminary who
cussing the latest mortality statistics         the emphasis of the two p:roups differ.      works with Don to keep ARA running
from Guatemala, sensitizing ourselves       they share an aversion to current gov-      smoothly, agrees. "It seems that stu-
to our parents' wartime memories, or        ernment policy. These groups, visualiz-     dents here are fairly aware of the nucle-
incorporating into our framework ofreˇ      ing the possibilities of destruction and    ar problem, and it makes for an underly-
ality as depicted by a Mailer or a Cop-     g-rasping the-tendencies of distorted na-   ing frustration. We try to talk to that
pola. But the taste of war-the sounds       tional priorities, are throwing their       frustration." Consequently. the thrust of
and chill, the dead bodies-are remote       weight into shifting America off the         ARA is towards generating dialogue
and far removed. We know that wars          dead-end track.                              which will give people a rational handle
have OlX.'WTed, will occur, are occWTing,        "Most people my age remember           on this controversial subject. this inc-
but bringing such experience down into      well the air-raid drills in school, under   ludes bringing speakers like Daniel

3764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Welfare State Con Game on: December 14, 2013, 11:12:04 AM
“The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First you take people’s money away quietly, and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly.”  - Thomas Sowell
3765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: You can keep your _____. on: December 14, 2013, 11:04:46 AM
3766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics - Minimum Wage, George Will on: December 14, 2013, 10:43:12 AM
i was pleased to see George Will pick up on yeserday's minimum wage discussion.  He tries so eloquently to not say you have to be a complete idiot to think you can raise the cost of something and get more of it.  If we really want to help the downtrodden, why wouldn't we wouldn't we raise the minimum wage to $50?  Why wouldn't we "require anyone who gives money to panhandlers to give a minimum of $10"?  Won't that bring in more money than smaller donations?  Panhandlers don't think so.

"raising the price of low-productivity workers will somewhat reduce demand for them.  If you reject that last sentence, name other goods or services for which you think demand is inelastic when their prices increase."

Raise minimum wage? It’s iffy

By George F. Will, Published: December 13

“It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another — it’s one damn thing over and over.”
— Edna St. Vincent Millay

Liberals’ love of recycling extends to their ideas, one of which illustrates the miniaturization of Barack Obama’s presidency. He fervently favors a minor measure that would have mostly small, mostly injurious effects on a small number of people. Nevertheless, raising the minimum hourly wage for the 23rd time since 1938, from today’s $7.25 to $10.10, is a nifty idea, if:

If government is good at setting prices. Government — subsidizer of Solyndra, operator of the ethanol program, creator of — uses minimum-wage laws to set the price for the labor of workers who are apt to add only small value to the economy.

If you think government should prevent two consenting parties — an employer and a worker — from agreeing to an hourly wage that government disapproves.

If you think today’s 7 percent unemployment rate is too low. (It would be 10.9 percent if the workforce participation rate were as high as it was when Obama was first inaugurated; since then, millions of discouraged workers have stopped searching for jobs.) Because less than 3 percent of the workforce earns the minimum wage, increasing that wage will not greatly increase unemployment. Still, raising the price of low-productivity workers will somewhat reduce demand for them.

If you reject that last sentence. If you do, name other goods or services for which you think demand is inelastic when their prices increase.

If you think teenage (16-19) unemployment (20.8 percent), and especially African American teenage unemployment (35.8 percent), is too low. Approximately 24 percent of minimum-wage workers are teenagers.

If you think government policy should encourage automation of the ordering and preparation of food to replace workers in the restaurant industry, which employs 43.8 percent of minimum-wage workers.

If you think it is irrelevant that most minimum-wage earners are not poor. Most minimum-wage workers are not heads of households. More than half are students or other young people, usually part-time workers in families whose average income is $53,000 a year, which is $2,000 more than the average household income.

If you do not care that there are more poor people whose poverty derives from being unemployed than from low wages. True, some of the working poor earn so little they are eligible for welfare. But an increase in the minimum wage will cause some of these people to become unemployed and rely on welfare.

If you do not mind a minimum-wage increase having a regressive cost-benefit distribution. It would jeopardize marginal workers to benefit organized labor, which supports a higher minimum in the hope that this will raise the general wage floor, thereby strengthening unions’ negotiating positions.

If you think it is irrelevant that nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers get a raise in their first year.

If you think a higher minimum wage, rather than a strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit, is the most efficient way to give money to the working poor.

If you think tweaking the minimum wage is a serious promotion of equality by an administration during which 95 percent of real income growth has accrued to the top 1 percent.

If you think forcing employers to spend X dollars more than necessary to employ labor for entry-level jobs will stimulate the economy. If you believe this, you must think the workers receiving the extra dollars will put the money to more stimulative uses than their employers would have. If so, why not a minimum wage of $50.50 rather than the $10.10? Because this might discourage hiring? What makes you sure you know the threshold where job destruction begins?

If you think the high school dropout rate is too low. In 1994, Congress decreed that by 2000 the graduation rate would be “at least” 90 percent. In 2010 it was 78.2 percent. Increasing the minimum wage would increase the incentive to leave school early. One scholarly study concluded that, in states where students may leave school before 18, increases in the minimum wage caused teenage school enrollment to decline.

If the milk of human kindness flows by the quart in your veins, so you should also want to raise the minimum street charity: Take moral grandstanding oblivious of consequences to a new level by requiring anyone who gives money to panhandlers to give a minimum of $10. Beggars may not benefit, but you will admire yourself.
3767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PolitFact is co-conspirator of Lie of the Year on: December 13, 2013, 11:16:35 PM
PolitiFact, the Candy Crowley of online fact checking, called its own Lie of the Year "true".

PolitiFact's Forked Tongue
The site once vouched for its "lie of the year."
By James Taranto
December 13, 2013, the Tampa Bay Times's "fact checking" operation, is out with its "Lie of the Year," and it's a doozy of dishonesty: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.' "

Just to show how fast the news can move, back in September this columnist tweeted: "If 'I didn't set a red line' isn't named 'Lie of the Year,' @PolitiFact is a state propaganda agency." "I didn't set a red line"--the reference was to Syria's use of chemical weapons, in case you've forgotten--didn't even make the top 10. Yet our September tweet proved to be mistaken: We cannot fault PolitiFact for the lie it chose instead.

Which isn't to say PolitiFact doesn't function as a state propaganda agency. For in the past--when it actually mattered, which is to say before ObamaCare became first a law and then a practical reality--PolitiFact vouched for Barack Obama's Big Lie.

In her lie-of-the-year write-up, PolitiFact's Angie Holan includes the following acknowledgment:

    In 2009 and again in 2012, PolitiFact rated Obama's statement Half True, which means the statement is partially correct and partially wrong. We noted that while the law took pains to leave some parts of the insurance market alone, people were not guaranteed to keep insurance through thick and thin. It was likely that some private insurers would continue to force people to switch plans, and that trend might even accelerate.

Her "half true" acknowledgment is itself a half-truth. As the Washington Examiner's Sean Higgins noted last month, in October 2008 PolitiFact rated the same statement, from then-candidate Obama, as flatly "true," on the ground that "Obama is accurately describing his health care plan here."

We're not making this up. PolitiFact actually rated Obama's promise as "true" on the ground that in making the promise, he was making the promise.

To be sure, there are some epistemological complexities here. The cancellation letters from insurance companies provide concrete proof that Obama's claim was false, evidence that was necessarily lacking in 2008, 2009 and 2012. Likewise, the reporting of our colleagues on the news side of The Wall Street Journal established with a previously lacking specificity that Obama told the lie with full knowledge and intent to deceive.

One might have reasonably suspected, in 2008 and certainly in 2009 and 2012, that Obama was lying. But one could not prove it, because it was not yet a factual assertion. In 2008 it was but a promise, which Obama might or might not have intended and might or might not have been able to keep. By 2012, we now know, it was a full-fledged fraud, but exposing it conclusively as such would have required a degree of expertise few journalists have.

In other words, it's not that PolitiFact was wrong to withhold its jejune "pants on fire" designation from the Obama statement in 2008, 2009 and 2012. It was wrong even to make a pretense of "fact checking" a statement that was, at the time, not a factual claim. Its past evaluations of the statement were not "fact checks" at all, merely opinion pieces endorsing ObamaCare.

Lots of people wrote opinion pieces endorsing ObamaCare, and some are still at it. Apart from the substance of the arguments, there's nothing wrong with that. But selling opinion pieces by labeling them "fact checks" is fundamentally dishonest. In this case, it was in the service of the most massive consumer fraud in American history.
3768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: December 13, 2013, 12:00:34 PM
"military spending is like turning a big ocean going tanker-- it takes a LONG time to turn, start, or stop."  - True.

I'm REALLY not liking what I am reading about what the sequester cuts are doing and am glad to see them being lessened.
   - Point taken.

OTOH, defense spending 2013 was $821B, cut back to 2010 levels but more than years 2003-2009 with two wars going.
If it is being spent unwisely, increasing the total won't necessarily address that.

One might also say:  Domestic spending is like turning a big ocean going tanker-- it takes a LONG time to turn, start, or stop.

The (other) good news in the budget deal (give Paul Ryan credit for this) is that so-called tax loopholes were left untouched, leaving the closing of loopholes, exclusions and tax system gimmicks on the table for real tax reform that could lower the rates across the board and help grow the economy - if we ever become interested in that.
3769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science, Middle East Snow on: December 13, 2013, 10:45:18 AM
Just 13 years ago, Dr. David Viner, senior scientist at Britain’s University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit, confidently predicted that, within a few years, winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event.”  “Children [in Britain] just aren’t going to know what snow is.”

Nothing was said about Israel and Egypt...,0,1691393.story#axzz2nMzV6vMp
snow blankets Middle East
A bruising winter storm brought severe weather to the Middle East, forcing the closure of roads and schools,0,4657856.photogallery#ixzz2nNFfAFFD
CAIRO -- Snow coated domes and minarets Friday as a record Mideast storm compounded the suffering of Syrian refugees, sent the Israeli army scrambling to dig out stranded motorists and gave Egyptians a rare glimpse of snow in their capital.

Nearly three feet of snow closed roads in and out of Jerusalem, which is set in high hills, and thousands in and around the city were left without power. Israeli soldiers and police rescued  hundreds trapped in their cars by snow and ice. In the West Bank, the branches of olive trees groaned under the weight of snow.

In Cairo, where local news reports said the last recorded snowfall was more than 100 years ago, children in outlying districts capered in white-covered streets, and adults marveled at the sight, tweeting pictures of snow-dusted parks and squares

Photos: Rare snow blankets Middle East,0,4657856.photogallery#ixzz2nNEMXRdq
Associated Press / December 13, 2013

Jerusalem, 12/12/2013

3770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy: Interest rates WILL go up on: December 13, 2013, 10:17:36 AM
A good read on excess reserves (of $2.5 trillion!) and what the Fed will eventually have to do to control their use:

Friday, December 13, 2013
Why Interest Rates Will Eventually Explode to the Ups you are being warned about the incredible boom in interest rates that is coming because the Fed is going to have to attempt, at some point, to manage these excess reserves once they start leaving the Fed.
3771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Minimum Wage Laws, Neumarkm, Wascher, Murphy on: December 13, 2013, 09:49:24 AM
My perspective on minimum wage is not what wages should be but who should set them.  Wages should be set by consenting the parties of employer and potential employee for both efficiency and moral reasons, not controlled by the state or the federal government.

Paul Krugman, dishonest and unworthy of quoting, says “there just isn’t any evidence that raising the minimum wage near current levels would reduce employment”.

But there is.

Start here, at the MIT press with a Jan 2013 book, Minimum Wages, By David Neumark and William L. Wascher

David Neumark is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Irvine, Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Senior Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor.  William L. Wascher is Senior Associate Director in the Division of Research and Statistics at the Federal Reserve Board.

"Neumark and Wascher demonstrate the overwhelming weight of careful U.S. evidence and other evidence showing the detrimental effects of minimum wages on low-skilled workers."

 Synthesizing nearly two decades of their own research and reviewing other research that touches on the same questions...
Neumark and Wascher argue that minimum wages do not achieve the main goals set forth by their supporters. They reduce employment opportunities for less-skilled workers and tend to reduce their earnings; they are not an effective means of reducing poverty; and they appear to have adverse longer-term effects on wages and earnings, in part by reducing the acquisition of human capital.

The evidence still shows that minimum wages pose a tradeoff of higher wages for some against job losses for others, and that policymakers need to bear this tradeoff in mind when making decisions about increasing the minimum wage.

Of the 19 states with higher-than-federal minimum wages, six are among the top-ten for teen unemployment, while only one is among the bottom ten.  The probability this could have happened by chance is under 1%.

3772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: December 13, 2013, 09:24:22 AM
That is the thinking, end the stalemate blame game until we have new election and new congress.  And after the next election we will again have divided government - with a higher spending baseline.

It would be nice if we never again had to hear about fictitious cost savings in the out years of ten year budgets that are in place for less than two.

I am for a strong military but less money is required when the Commander in Chief is against weapons, defense systems and interventions. 
3773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Ryan-Murray deal on: December 12, 2013, 06:59:22 PM
What do we make of the Ryan-Murray budget deal?

What do we think of paying $8 trillion in ransom with no promise or expectation that we will get our country back alive or unharmed, knowing they will come back for more and more, and knowing that they know we fear them and will pay whatever any and all demands?

It's pretty good, I think.  Better than the Iran deal in that he has indicated he is willing to give up his nuclear arsenal.

What ever happened to 'the power of the purse' and having all spending bills originate in the House?  This will 'originate' in the House only after it has been approved by the powers of the Senate and White House.

3774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Economics, jobless claims up, joining the load pulled by the Plowhorse on: December 12, 2013, 01:53:36 PM
Initial Jobless Claims Rise | 12/12/13

Seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims increased 68,000 to 368,000 for the week ended Dec. 7, 22% higher than a revised figure released a week earlier.

Monday morning Wesbury will explain this.
3775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No Grounds for Claim that Obamacare Lowers Healthcare Costs on: December 12, 2013, 01:15:30 PM
A persuasive article on the healthcare cost trends:
No Grounds for Claim that Obamacare Lowers Healthcare Costs

"the public is being told that the ACA is responsible for government actuaries’ improved health spending projections, when an examination of those projections clearly shows that not to be so. "

Charles Blahous is a senior research fellow for the Mercatus Center, a research fellow for the Hoover Institution, and a public trustee for Social Security and Medicare.
3776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics at State & Municipal level: MN Estate, gift, income taxes on: December 12, 2013, 01:06:49 PM
“Every day we get calls from people about changing residency,”  And they tend to be employers!

This could go under Tax policy.  Also under Calif as the problems, post-Pawlenty here, are nearly the same with Dems controlling the state house, senate and Governor office.

Alarming excerpt buried in a positive, economic piece:

"This is the largest upward move in tax progressivity … since we started our tax-incidence reports in 1990.”

Many liberals and moderates like this trend. But some high-earners predict an exodus of affluent Minnesotans to Florida and other low-tax states. Especially troubling, they say, is the state’s failure to increase the amount excluded from inheritance taxes closer to the higher federal estate tax exclusion. Federal law exempts the first $5.25 million, Minnesota only the first $1 million.

Hunt Greene, a veteran Minneapolis investment banker, said: “I’m a Democrat. I can afford and tolerate paying higher income taxes. This is different. The Minnesota gift-and-estate taxes kick in at $1 million. The federal level is $5.25 million. And Minnesota is one of only a few states that have a gift tax.

“The result is that, as I talk to the big law firms about their business … their estate practices are swamped with people figuring out how to change their residences,’’ Greene said.

He’s not alone. Others predict that more wealthy Minnesotans will leave rather than subject their estates of over $1 million, or gifts made to heirs, to what can be up to a 40 percent tax that doesn’t exist in states such as Florida or Arizona.

“Every day we get calls from people about changing residency,” said Bob Abdo, a political moderate and 40-year Minneapolis business lawyer. “This pains me. I grew up and was educated here. Essentially, what we have got now is a disincentive for longtime Minnesota residents to stay in Minnesota.

“This means mom and dad … who are loyal to Minnesota because they earned a lot of money here, may now be worth more than $1 million. So, dad dies. No estate tax consequence to mom. But mom is worth $1 million, and it doesn’t take much if you add a house, your retirement accounts and a life insurance policy. Mom dies. It’s supposed to go to the kids. Any amount that goes to the kids in excess of $1 million, whether one kid or 12, will be taxed at about 40 percent for the first $250,000. The tax goes down from there.
3777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: December 12, 2013, 12:57:55 PM
"The Republicans are on target to win by default.  Not win with an agenda as far as I can see."

"The same was said here by some of us with regard to the 2012 presidential election."

That's right.  Thomas Sowell made a point that I took a rare disagreement with, that politics is zero-sum.  When R's screw up, Dems gain. That makes sense.  But when Dems screw up, it only opens an opportunity, and is not an automatic vote for Republicans nor does their failure alone create any new conservatives, libertarians or Republicans.  On this, Crafty has been right on the money in asking, what is our answer, what is our message, what is our policy that would replace theirs and why, how do we explain this better.  Here on the forum, we are constantly agonizing over how to do that.  In Washington it seems they are not.

In 2012, Romney spent the final stretch on defense, I'm not as bad of a guy as you think I am and that they told you that I am, he told us.  Meanwhile, unspoken and un-promoted was the fact that his economic plan would have led us out of this economic misery and that his Supreme Court appointments might have at least attempted to uphold the constitution.

In elections, you need personalities and sound bites, but during these periods in between elections it seems to me that we can take on the longer arguments as to why these philosophies and policies of theirs are misguided - and what kinds of policies will work. 

So far we are divided, confused and playing defense.

3778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Charles Blow on: December 12, 2013, 12:27:00 PM
"The case made here is not without eloquence:  How do we respond?"

In messaging, the more compassionate voice wins, hence Obama elected twice, a Dem Senate, etc.  in practice, the Charles Blow view loses; it makes things worse for the people they purport to help.  Easily proven in the data, see yesterday's posts.

So Rand Paul is right on policy and wrong on messaging.  Unemployment compensation prolongs unemployment.  It is a provable fact.  Food stamps create dependence.  Minimum wage hurts low end employment.  SSI requires a contract with poverty for people on the edge of the workforce.  Pointing out any of these truths inspires columns by well-publicized, liberal Blow-hards.

No one here, especially not me, has messaging figured out.  But the answer has something to do with focusing our time and message on positively painting the picture of a prosperous, opportunity society, how we can do that, and not arguing against the details of social spending programs with leftists.  When you suggest cutting food stamps, unemployment, disability you are losing votes.  Instead, move prosperity forward and move these programs down in importance.
3779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Martin Feldstein: Obamacare’s Fatal Flaw on: December 12, 2013, 12:05:10 PM
Obamacare’s Fatal Flaw
by Martin Feldstein,  Professor of Economics at Harvard University and President Emeritus of the National Bureau of Economic Research, chaired President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1982 to 1984.

The potentially fatal flaw in Obamacare is the very same feature that appeals most to its supporters: the ability of even those with a serious preexisting health condition to buy insurance at the standard premium.

That feature will encourage those who are not ill to become or remain uninsured until they have a potentially costly medical diagnosis. The resulting shift in enrollment away from low-cost healthy patients to those with predictably high costs will raise insurance companies’ cost per insured person, driving up the premiums that they must charge. As premiums rise, even more relatively healthy individuals will be encouraged to forego insurance until illness strikes, causing average costs and premiums to rise further.
The “wait-to-insure” option could cause the number of insured individuals to decline rapidly as premiums rise for those who remain insured.

"...a better plan: eliminate the current enormously expensive tax subsidy for employer-financed insurance and use the revenue savings to subsidize everyone to buy comprehensive private insurance policies with income-related copayments. That restructuring of insurance would simultaneously protect individuals, increase labor mobility, and help to control health-care costs."
3780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Greenspan's book on: December 12, 2013, 11:54:19 AM
Alan Greenspan, who couldn't speak intelligibly, can't write either.

He was chief economist to Gerald Ford from 1974 to 1977, perhaps our most economically illiterate Republican President.  Reagan chose him to head the Fed for the independent reputation he earned being a skeptic of Reaganomics.  (Most Dems believe Reagan was senile by 1987.)

"It [Greenspan's new book] suffers in trying to appeal to two audiences.  One audience is the professional economists. The book contains dozens of graphs and tables of regression analysis, together with t-statistics calculated with the appropriate Newey-West heteroskedasticity and autocorrelation consistent standard errors. (Don’t ask.)  But Greenspan is also writing for lay readers who want to hear from this famous man about how the economy works. For their sake, most of those graphs and tables are put in an appendix, where they can be safely ignored.  In trying to reach two audiences, the book does not quite reach either. Economists can learn a lot from it, but they will recognize that many of the arguments would have trouble passing scrutiny in peer-reviewed journals. "
3781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: New York state of mind for some Supreme Court justices on: December 12, 2013, 11:36:15 AM
Peoria, Iowa.   It is one thing to not know where a famous American city of 115,000 is.  But he didn't not know; he knew wrongly.  Makes one wonder what else Justice Breyer falsely believes is true. 
3782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Senate Seats That Could Flip Parties in 2014, Sean Trende, RCP on: December 12, 2013, 11:06:32 AM
The good news, if this is a real sweep year, R's could pick up 9 or 10 seats.  The bad news, in order to hold onto the Senate in 2016, R's will HAVE to pick up 9 or 10 seats this year.
Read it all, if interested.  I'll post one chart.  R's have some shot at winning up to about  'D+2' and maybe Michigan, D+4.


Robert Gibbs (former Obama spokesman) said "if these numbers hold up, it's going to be very, very tough to get around that and see somehow that Democrats retain the Senate or have a reasonable chance of winning the House"
3783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 12, 2013, 10:43:12 AM
Yes, isn't it odd that Obama's policies actually cause income inequality to get worse - as we stagnant.  It only proves that, as he tries to teach uswhat he knows, he really knows nothing about the subject. 

Tax rate progressivity for the last 34 years - below.  (That the executive ever paid less in taxes than his secretary in any real sense is bullsh*t.)

3784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Humor, Are they married? on: December 12, 2013, 10:34:32 AM
    How can a stranger tell if two people are married?

    You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.  - Derrick, age 8
3785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: December 12, 2013, 10:25:50 AM
Yes, absent an American government account, we'll go with the photo.  GM has been right on this, where is the autopsy report - it's been 15 months!  Is it secret, do we need a Warren commission?

Who ordered the stand-down? How? When? Why?

Who came up with the youtube video story?  Who said run with it? Why?

There was no protest.  A blatant lie.  There was no report at the time or in post-attack interviews of a protest.  The lies about the protest and the video were put forward at least dozens different times by the highest officials intending only to obfuscate the truth.  So what is the truth, start to finish?!  We know where George Bush was when he learned of the 9/11/2001 attacks.  They made a full length movie on it.  Where was Pres. Obama?  Where was Sec. Clinton?  We paid for the cameras that filmed the attacks.  Did they watch in real time.  Did they have second thoughts on ordering the stand down.   Two of the dead were defying stand down orders.  Did they consider court-martial when they learned this?  Was the Pres. working on his Vegas speech during the attack?  Did he go to bed while Americans were under attack?  Did he sleep well?
3786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, counter-balancing Wesbury on: December 10, 2013, 11:41:48 AM
Wesbury:  the same Plow Horse trend of the past few years

G M: "Should crosspost that under the latest Webury drivel."

Excerpt from Political Economics, by request:
Food stamp use nearly doubles in suburbs

The Sharp Rise in Disability Claims
90,609,000: Americans Not in Labor Force Climbs to Another Record - See more at:

Women leaving the U.S. workforce in record numbers
Unemployed women hit an all-time historical high of 53,321,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
U.S. savings rate hits lowest level since 1933

3787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Amend the 'Affordable Care Act' to allow affordable plans to qualify on: December 10, 2013, 11:33:40 AM
In semi-sound bite fashion, how do we answer the argument that Powell is making here?
Okay, you first! 

My view is that we need a clean and simple political compromise that a number of Senate DEMOCRATS in red and swing states can grab onto to save face.  Amend the Affordable Care Act to allow affordable plans to qualify.  Combine this with other cost savings reforms including an individual tax deduction to match what employers take, selling across state lines, healthcare tort reform and mandatory price disclosures.  Then move on to improving affordability by improving economic growth!

Powell:  "I don't see why we can't do what Europe is doing, what Canada is doing, what Korea is doing, what all these other places are doing."

What these other places are doing to a large extent is paying only the variable cost of what is developed in the US.  Along with rationing via queue.  Average wait between GP referral and receiving orthopedic surgery in Canada is 40 weeks?

Powell, as a four-star general in a military hospital, always had good service.  Ya think?  How are the rest doing at the VA? 

Two countries in the world do not have a private healthcare system operating alongside the public system, Canada and North Korea.  In Canada, the private healthcare system is to travel to the US. - leaving North Korea alone in that distinction.

Americans just saw the failure of a bureaucracy-based transformation of healthcare.  We weren't ready for the full government takeover in 1993 or in 2009.  Post-Obamacare, we really aren't ready now!   If you take away the private system altogether and there are 80 million or so dissatisfied in the US, where do they go for healthcare.  To a private system in Canada??  There is no such thing.

3788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, War on Wealth is not the cure for poverty! on: December 10, 2013, 10:11:02 AM
Pope Francis is an expert on poverty; he has lived within and around it all his life.  The President is an expert on demagoguing wealth; he rose to great heights doing that.  The Pope does not know how to solve the condition of poverty and the President does not know how to solve the false problem of income inequality.

As George Gilder and others have pointed out, poverty is not something in itself to study or know.  Poverty is the lack of something - the lack of wealth.  You don't learn about poverty by studying poverty.  You learn about it by studying wealth and wealth creation.  Then go back to poverty to see what elements of wealth creation are missing.

Income inequality isn't the study of any one phenomenon.  It is the study of two unrelated phenomena and meaninglessly comparing them.

How much do people who do not participate or fully participate in our economic system make?  Don't count all the assistance we already give them in trying to alleviate the condition.  How much do other people make who have fully committed, invested and succeeded?  Don't count what we take from them that they don't get to keep or reinvest.  Income Inequality is the stunning revelation that the people who make more money, make more money than the people who make less money.

Removal of income inequality is the removal of a ladder up.  What you earn now is all you will ever aspire to earn.  Education, saving, investing, hard work, commitment, innovation, surrounding yourself with the best people you can find, persistence, perseverance - all would make no difference.

The top 40% already pay106% of the taxes in this country, (how much more should they pay?):

You do not and cannot fight poverty or economic under-performance by taking down wealth.  What you do is lock in that success, find what is working for the top 40% and make it available to the rest.

A war on income inequality is a war on wealth.  A successful war on wealth means that poverty will be even more widespread.  Instead of celebrating and wealth creation and spreading it to others, we punish it, demonize it, and instead reward the opposite - in all its manifestations.
Food stamp use nearly doubles in suburbs

The Sharp Rise in Disability Claims
90,609,000: Americans Not in Labor Force Climbs to Another Record - See more at:

Women leaving the U.S. workforce in record numbers
Unemployed women hit an all-time historical high of 53,321,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
U.S. savings rate hits lowest level since 1933
3789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nelson Mandela - Some Inconvenient Facts... on: December 10, 2013, 09:26:04 AM
Besides choosing the wrong side and policies for foreign affairs, how bad are your economic policies when ending apartheid leads to a doubling of unemployment?;jsessionid=78392164F8856F5204DF0F58B82ADFE5.present2.bdfm
Unemployment doubles after apartheid
"since apartheid ended unemployment has more than doubled from 13% to according to the broad definition to 36%"
"South Africa in labour competitiveness ... to ranks seventh lowest out of 139 countries"

I hope that is not what we are celebrating.
3790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 10, 2013, 08:58:20 AM
Curious, is he bowing to 'President' Castro, or just trying to adjust for the height difference?

A little less enthusiasm and eye contact during a Boehner handshake:

Speaking of knowing friend from foe, if anyone has any photos of President Obama at the Maggie Thatcher services, please post.
3791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential, Thomas Sowell on Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker on: December 10, 2013, 08:50:30 AM
Highly respected conservative historian and economist Thomas Sowell concludes his Christmas book recommendation column today ( with this high praise of Scott Walker:

"With so many people already speculating as to who might be the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s new book, Unintimidated, may be especially worth reading. It shows a man of real depth, and with an impressive track record that ought to overshadow the rhetoric of others, especially among the Washington Republicans.  Unlike the Washington Republicans, Governor Walker has been tested and has come through with flying colors. His ending the labor unions’ sacred-cow status in Wisconsin — in spite of union thuggery in the capitol and death threats to himself, his wife, and his children — tells us what kind of man he is."
3792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: December 10, 2013, 08:42:22 AM
Concluding a short rant on income inequality on Powerline is this concise truism:

"The GOP must be the party of opportunity. As long as voters understand that Republicans stand for upward mobility and Democrats are the party of establishment cronyism, the future will be bright."  - John Hinderacker,
3793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 09, 2013, 10:44:35 PM
"...we need to be aggressively presenting our solutions!!!"

The right answer from my point of view is to get the government, especially the federal government, out of healthcare, except for basic and essential regulations.

To clarify the question though, I think what we are seeking is the best political compromise that could realistically get us out of this train wreck known as Obamacare in the least sociailistic, totalitarian, big government way possible.

3794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 09, 2013, 10:30:26 PM
My numerous complaints notwithstanding, President Obama decision to invite George and Laura Bush with the Obamas and Hillary to the Mandela services on Air Force One appears to be a classy move IMHO.
3795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The war on the rule of law, NY Post: Jobless rate may be rigged on: December 09, 2013, 10:22:40 PM
By John Crudele, NY Post Business Writer

December 7, 2013
Warning: Jobless rate may be rigged

The most curious thing of all about the November jobs report released on Friday was the huge drop in the unemployment rate — and the fact that the Labor Department chose not to disclose that the data going into that figure are under investigation for falsification.

On Nov. 19, I broke the news in my column that the Census Bureau, which collects data that goes into the jobless rate on behalf of Labor, had caught one of its enumerators fabricating interviews in 2010.

The culprit said back then (and to me during an interview) that he was told to do so by Census supervisors who were in the position to instruct others to make similar fabrications.

In fact, a source who I haven’t named but who is familiar with the Census data accumulation process has told me that falsifications have been occurring on a regular basis.

The Census Department surveys that went into the November jobless rate actually took place during the week that included Nov. 5 instead of the normal Nov. 12 week.

The Labor Department did put in a note about the survey week change in its November report.

But it should also have included another line that said: “The data for the unemployment rate may have been compromised. Lots of people are looking into the matter right now. We’ll get back to you on whether you should believe these numbers or not.”

Why didn’t the Labor Department include a note like that? A source who knows the department well says the concept of data being falsified is so unprecedented that the bureaucrats just don’t know how to react.

They had better figure it out soon. That drop in the unemployment rate might be the straw that sends the Fed into tightening mode.
3796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care, Medicaid continued, NY Post / Cato on: December 08, 2013, 01:58:56 PM
"The poor already had unlimited free healthcare in America.  This (Obamacare) never was about helping the poorest among us."

It seems to me that too many people are unaware that the poorest among us are receiving more than 4400/yr subsidy PER PERSON for free health care.  No one fully understands federal social spending programs, but Medicaid mostly addresses the so-called poor, CHIPS is aimed at up to 200% of the poverty line.  Obamacare gives subsidies up to about 400% of the poverty line.  And then, of course, we don't count money like this when we measure their income.  Please read this in its entirety.

1.46 million of the first 1.6 million to sign up for 'Obamacare' are really enrolling in Medicaid (Is it hard to 'sell' free health care?)

ObamaCare created a Medicaid time bomb

By Michael D. Tanner

December 7, 2013 | 9:15pm
Modal Trigger
ObamaCare created a Medicaid time bomb

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that roughly 1.6 million Americans have enrolled in ObamaCare so far.

The not-so-good news is that 1.46 million of them actually signed up for Medicaid. If that trend continues, it could bankrupt both federal and state governments.

Medicaid is already America’s third-largest government program, trailing only Social Security and Medicare, as a proportion of the federal budget. Almost 8 cents out of every dollar that the federal government spends goes to Medicaid. That’s more than $265 billion per year.

Indeed, already Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for 48% of federal spending. Within the next few years, those three programs will eat up more than half of federal expenditures.

And it’s going to get worse. Congress has shown no ability to reform Social Security or Medicare. With ObamaCare adding to Medicare spending, we are picking up speed on the road to insolvency.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that, in part because of ObamaCare, Medicaid spending will more than double over the next 10 years, topping $554 billion by 2023.

And that is just federal spending.

State governments pay another $160 billion for Medicaid today. For most states, Medicaid is the single-largest cost of government, crowding out education, transportation and everything else.

New York spent more than $15 billion on Medicaid last year, roughly 30% of all state expenditures. The Kaiser Foundation projects that over the next 10 years, New York taxpayers will shell out some $433 billion for the program.

But none of these projections foresaw that so many of ObamaCare’s enrollees would be Medicaid eligible.

To be sure, the health-care law’s designers saw the expansion of Medicaid as an important feature of their plan to expand coverage for the uninsured. Still, they expected most of those enrolling in ObamaCare to qualify for private (albeit subsidized) insurance.

It’s beginning to look like that was just another miscalculation, one that could have very serious consequences for the program’s costs.

Moreover, any projection of Medicaid’s future cost to New York taxpayers assumes that the federal government keeps its promise to pay 100% of the cost for Medicaid’s expansion over the next three years and 90% thereafter. But given the growing burden that Medicare will put on a federal budget already facing high debt levels, how likely is it that changes in the federal share of Medicaid will stay off the table?

In fact, as part if last December’s fiscal-cliff negotiations, the Obama administration briefly considered changing to a “blended” reimbursement rate, somewhere between the current and promised rates. The administration quickly backed away from the offer, but it’s likely to come back in the future. If it does, it would cost New York tens of millions of dollars.

Every bit as bad as the cost is the fact that for all this money, recipients are going to get pretty lousy health care.

Of course, one might say that even bad health care is better than no health care. But, unfortunately, for Medicaid, that’s not true.

The Oregon Health Insurance Exchange study, the first randomized controlled study of Medicaid outcomes, recently concluded that, while Medicaid increased medical spending increased from $3,300 to $4,400 per person, “Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical-health outcomes.”

Other studies show that, in some cases, Medicaid patients actually wait longer and receive worse care than the uninsured.

While Medicaid costs taxpayers a lot of money, it pays doctors very little. On average, Medicaid only reimburses doctors 72 cents out of each dollar of costs. ObamaCare does attempt to address this by temporarily increasing Medicaid reimbursements for primary-care doctors, but that increase expires at the end of next year.

Because of the low reimbursement, and the red tape that accompanies any government program, many doctors limit the number of Medicaid patients they serve, or even refuse to take Medicaid patients at all. An analysis published in Health Affairs found that only 69% of physicians accept Medicaid patients. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that individuals posing as mothers of children with serious medical conditions were denied an appointment 66% of the time if they said that their child was on Medicaid (or the related CHIP), compared with 11% for private insurance — a ratio of 6 to 1.

Even when doctors do still treat Medicaid patients, they often have a harder time getting appointments and face longer wait times. One study found that among clinics that accepted both privately insured children and those enrolled in Medicaid, the average wait time for an appointment was 42 days for Medicaid compared to just 20 days for the privately insured. One study found that among clinics that accepted both privately insured children and those enrolled in Medicaid, the average wait time for an appointment was 42 days for Medicaid compared to just 20 days for the privately insured.

That’s one reason why so many Medicaid patients show up at the emergency room for treatment. They can’t find a doctor to treat them otherwise.

This not only increases the strain on already overburdened emergency room doctors, but increases the wait for those who arrive with real emergencies.

As bad as this is now, ObamaCare will make it worse by increasing the number of people on Medicaid without doing anything to increase the number of doctors treating them.

We don’t know yet whether the rush to Medicaid will continue. It may be that the troubles with the ObamaCare website might have skewed the early signups. But if ObamaCare really does lead to a massive expansion of this costly and inefficient program, that’s bad news for taxpayers, providers and patients.

Michael D. Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
3797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Rand Paul: My wife says 'no' to presidential bid on: December 08, 2013, 01:46:05 PM
My thought is that he can be (already is) a GREAT Senator.   Why screw that up with unsuccessful and divisive Presidential run. 

If R's should somehow take the White House, and the post-filibuster Senate while holding the House, they will need strong voices and consciences like those of Rand Paul to keep them honest and on track.

Rand Paul: My wife says 'no' to presidential bid
3798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics: Obama shifts to rising income inequality on: December 08, 2013, 01:40:00 PM
"The reason I keep harping on income inequality is because the false analysis of it is used as the foundation for all leftist economic policies, including the ones that are holding us back today."  - yours truly, 11/13/2013
" No clear trend toward greater income inequality since 1989"

Among the famous people reading the forum is President Obama:
Obama shifts to rising income inequality
President Obama gave a major policy address on the economy today, calling for an increased minimum wage and saying the income gap is a threat to the American dream.

Obama turns attention to income inequality,0,826560.story#axzz2mui3myOe

Obama: Income inequality a defining challenge

And from the echo chamber, Enron adviser Paul Krugman:
Don't bother read, bumbling idiosy based on a false premise.

3799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / war on the rule of law: Sensenbrenner calls for prosecution of Clapper on: December 08, 2013, 12:15:03 PM
Clapper, who is the Director of National Intelligence who famously said the Muslim Brotherhood is a secular group, might take the insanity plea.
Patriot Act author: Obama’s intel czar should be prosecuted

"Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be fired and prosecuted for it," the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with The Hill.

He said the Justice Department should prosecute Clapper for giving false testimony during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March.

During that hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper whether the National Security Agency (NSA) collects data on millions of Americans. Clapper insisted that the NSA does not — or at least does "not wittingly" — collect information on Americans in bulk.

After documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA collects records on virtually all U.S. phone calls, Clapper apologized for the misleading comment.

The intelligence director said he tried to give the "least untruthful" answer he could without revealing classified information.

Sensenbrenner said that explanation doesn’t hold water and argued the courts and Congress depend on accurate testimony to do their jobs.

"The only way laws are effective is if they're enforced," Sensenbrenner said. "If it's a criminal offense — and I believe Mr. Clapper has committed a criminal offense — then the Justice Department ought to do its job."
The Eric Holder, ends justify means, Justice Dept will get to this right after it prosecutes Attorney General Eric Holder for Contempt of Congress in Fast and Furious, after the Benghazi video maker is brought to justice, after closing Guantanamo, and after every American who likes their plan, keeps their plan.  These are busy times; they can't prosecutor every Obama administration official lie.
3800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues - Saudi's have the situation most like ours on: December 08, 2013, 11:57:57 AM

"Saudi Arabia is the world’s second biggest source of [expatriate and illegal expatriate] remittances, only behind the US, with outflows of nearly $28bn last year, according to estimates by the World Bank. “Millions of dollars of Saudi flows will vanish.  Riyadh has defended the expulsions, saying illegal expatriates have had months to legalise their status. The kingdom, which shares 1,800km of porous, mountainous borders with Yemen, had for years complained that the Yemeni government was not doing enough to stop illegal immigrants, drug dealers, armed militants or members of al-Qaeda from crossing to the kingdom."

"Riyadh has said it wants to forcibly expel as many as 2m of the foreign workers, including hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians, Somalis, Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, who make up around a third of the country’s 30m population. "

Good luck doing that here.
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