Friday, July 31, 2009

I Was Wrong On Cash For Clunkers

I have to apologize. I thought that the Cash For Clunkers program would fail because I wrongly believed that people wouldn't just run out, in the middle of a recession, and take on new debt and new monthly payments, new higher insurance rates, and new vehicle taxes by trading in their inexpensive and old, yet running, vehicles for a new one that might get them 4 miles-per-gallon over their old clunker's mileage. I guess I was just dead wrong. I guess I was wrong in thinking that people would have learned their "debt" lessons of the past year-and-a-half and kept their money for the important things in life like paying off their mortgages or their credit card bills. But, I guess I was stupid. The Congress was right and they knew that people just couldn't help themselves when the government decides to almost dump money out of helicopters over their heads. Recession? What recession? Lose my job? You've got to be kidding me?

But, the program was so wildly successful that the 250,000 clunkers are now off the road in just 4 days; using up a billion dollars in taxpayer money. Of course, the intelligentsia of our Democratic Congress thought this program would really take up to 4 months to eat up a billion dollars. Boy, were they wrong! I guess, based on experience, they thought this program would be as slow as the Stimulus Package that they had passed, earlier this year.

When you think about, you've really got to wonder what all these clunker-traders are really smoking.

First off, I would hope that the car that they are trading in has a resale value that is "less" than $3,500 or, really, they are getting screwed. Of course, this is if the new car that they are buying is 4 miles per gallon better than the old one that they are clunking. A resale value of $4500 would have to apply if there is a 10 mile-per-gallon differential. The $3500 or $4500 is all they are going to get on their trade-in because, under the conditions of the Cash For Clunkers program, the dealers are legally obligated to destroy all the trade-ins; once the sale is done. They will not be able to resell them and get any profit from the car that is being traded in. Of course, the "clunkier" the car that you are trading in, the better off you are in making the deal. After all, if your piece of s**t is only worth $1000 dollars on a normal trade, you just got a $2500 or $3500 gift from Uncle Sam; depending on the mileage differential. If your car was worth $3500 or more in value as a trade, you literally got screwed by our Congress.

Secondly, I would hope that these "new car" owners are prepared for the future shock of all the new costs that are associated with their new, government-subsidized car. That $3500 or $4500 clunker that they just traded in was probably paid for. My guess is that the new car will put these owners in hock for monthly payments that are in excess of $250 a month for the next 5 years. And, then there's all the taxes and the higher insurance rates. Didn't we get into this recession because people took on too much debt?

As a result of how successful this program has been, our Congress is now in the process of allocating another $2 billion to extend the program. In effect, and assuming they get Senate approval for another $2 billion extension, there will be a total of 750,000 old and perfectly running cars that will be destroyed and taken off the road as a result of this program. The impact of that fact won't be known for awhile. But, our Congress has unwittingly created a reduced inventory shortage of nearly a million used cars in America. Given the law of supply and demand, this newly reduced supply means that the average used car will be more costly in the future. This is inflationary and the people most hurt by this will be the poor who can't hardly afford to buy a new, fuel efficient car. But, thank God, we saved the planet by shearing off 4 miles-per-gallon on almost 1 out of every 240 cars on the road. Never mind the fact that first-time new car sales in both China and India ate up the CO2 savings of this country's Cash for Clunkers program in, probably, just a few hours of one day.

As I said before in this blog, the Cash For Clunkers is bogus program. Much of what is being done will just be a benefit to those who were already going to buy a new car. What's worse, it may have pushed people into irresponsibly buying a new car that they really cannot afford. Further, the amount of CO2 savings is minimal' at best. And, lastly, the poor of America will ultimately pay for this program in higher used car pricing in the future. Only people, like the Democrats in Congress, who don't understand business, would do something so stupid and, then, repeat their own stupidity with another $2 billion program.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Amid Obama's Sinking Polls: Two Liferafts Are Thrown

Almost all of the major polls have President Obama at or below 54% in his approval rating. But, not the Time Magazine Poll nor the CBS/New York Times Poll! In their "sampling (?)" of America, Obama always seems to do quite a bit better than in all the rest.

In the world of statistics, especially in political polling, there is a term used to define data that is way off the mark and that term is "outlier". Maybe, when looking at the polling results for CBS/New York Times and for Time, we should be use the expression: "out and outright LIARS".

For some almost "mystical" reason, each of these polling operations always under-polls Republicans while over-polling Democrats and/or Independents. For example, when you look at the sample data for the latest CBS/New York Times poll, you will find that only 20 percent of the respondents were Republicans. This is an under-polling of Republicans by nearly 30 percent. This fact alone is why this poll has Obama at 58 percent (Click to See Poll Results In a PDF file format). It also explains why Obama's disapproval rate is only at 30% when most of the others are closer to 40%.

I think, by now, everyone knows that the New York Times is "the" media outlet for the Democratic Party. CBS, too, is pretty biased towards Obama and the Democrats. You only have to look at Katie Courics' bias over the years to know that to be the case. Then, of course, there's David Letterman who has never told a single Obama joke; but, instead, has constantly trashed Bush and every other Republican on the planet. And, let us never forget that his is the same media organization that allowed Dan Rather to "air" falsified "reserve" documents on George Bush.

Then, there's Time Magazine. To say that they are totally in love with Obama would be an understatement! Just look at this screen shot from this morning's Drudge Report:

Time has almost killed a complete forest of trees in reporting favorable stories about Barack. Time is part of Time-Warner organization who also brings us the always Obama, CNN news network and HBO's Obama-love-fest, the Bill Maher show.

What I find interesting is that one of the most typically left of the News Media, NBC, published a poll that showed Obama's favorability rating at only 54% and in line with most all the other polls. Maybe, there is hope, yet, for this formerly time-honored source of television news.

Anyway, its interesting that CBS, the New York Times, and Time are all losing subscribers and viewers. I think the American public has figured them out and know that they are more inclined to be more ideological and not an honest broker of the news.

Note: The first graphic is a screen-shot from the Real Clear Politics website.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The "Teachable Moment" On Race That Nobody Seems To See

Amid all the firestorm over race relations with regard to the white Cambridge policeman versus the black Harvard Professor, there is an obvious fact that is being totally ignored.

At the heart of this entire flap, you have a noted "black" Professor at one of the most prestigious Universities in America. Secondly, you have a "black" President who is the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. Third, also weighing in, is the "black" Governor of the State of Massachusetts. Quite a "powerful" portrait of America.

To use Obama's own words, this too is a "teachable moment"! I would clearly think that this represents much of the "dream" that Martin Luther King once envisioned.

All too often we look at the "bad" in every situation. Encapsulated within this controversy is the "good" that nobody really seems to see.

This Trend Isn't Obama's Friend!

In the investment world, there's an old saying that the "Trend Is Your Friend." It doesn't matter if it's going up or going down but, if you recognize the trend you will be "out" when the market or a stock is going down or "in" when a stock or the stock market is trending upwards. But, when talking about politics, if you've got a declining trend in your approval rating, that trend is only a friend to your political opponents.

When Obama took office, he had a 65% approval rating when Real Clear Politics took its average of all the major polls at that time (as noted in the interactive chart - above). Similarly, his disapproval score was about 20%. The differential between those who approved of him and those who didn't was a whopping separation of nearly 45%. Further, with only a 20% disapproval rating and a registered Republican base of nearly 30% of the people in the country, it was obvious that about 1/3 of all Republicans had a favorable view of the new President.

Today, you can clearly see that Obama's approval rating is on a precipitous downward slide as evidenced by taking the interactive chart (above) and adding a couple of trend lines to it as shown below:

At the same time, the rise in his disapproval rate is mirroring his decline; but a slightly faster rate.

As noted previously, Obama had a 45 percentile differential in his approval/disapproval scores when he took office. Today, that separation has fallen to just over 13 points.

At the current trend, it looks as if Obama will flip his approval/disapproval ratings in just one to two months from now; assuming that the things that are turning people off about this President continue to rise.

I believe that team Obama is well aware of this and, for that reason, they are literally panic-pushing to get these big items like Cap and Trade and Health Care reform done before the President's composite popularity in all the polls falls below 50% .

(Please note: The latest Rasmussen daily tracking polls now have Obama's approval at only 49% (Click to See Data) and Gallup's daily tracking polls are not far behind at 55% (Click to See that Data)).

The big thing about Obama losing approval is that it opens the door for a reversal of the wins that the Democrats enjoyed in 2006 and 2008. For the Republicans, this could be a foot back in the door; only if played right. However, it might not be as beneficial for the Republicans as one thinks. If the Republican's popularity remains low and the Democrats ratings continue to fall, this might give rise to a strong third party in America. Because of the winner-take-all effect of our Electoral College system, the Democrats could win again because they have a higher number of registered voters. I think a third party could easily hurt the Republicans more than the Democrats.

The only reason I even mention a third political party is because of the "Tea Party" movement. While it appears the Tea Party participants have the support in all areas of the political spectrum -- Republicans, Independents and Democrats -- the highest level of support is by far Republicans. For this reason, it could split the Republicans and hurt them the most if the "Tea Party" goers actually morph into a political party. But, what will "actually" happen is anyone's guess because months can be like a lifetime in the world of politics.

One thing you can be sure of is if the President's popularity falls below 50%, his policies will struggle; despite having complete control in both Houses of Congress. That's because the individual members of Congress will abandon the party line and adopt a posture of "every man for themself" if they feel their own job is in jeopardy. When that happens, Obama's remaining years might well be totally fruitless; just as Jimmy Carter's only term in office was. We can already see that happening with the Blue Dog Democrats rebelling against Health Care Reform and Cap and Trade. Obama's fight on these issues is no longer with the Republicans but with the members of his own Party; no matter how he tries to spin it.

It should be really interesting to see what happens over the next couple of months. Increasingly, the trend is "not" hardly Obama's friend!

Note: If you would like to see how all the national pollsters faired in their accuracy in the 2008 election, please review these results from a Fordham U. study: (Click to See Full Story). While the Rassmussen Poll has Obama under 50%, it should be pointed out that it is the only major national poll that soley focuses on "likely voters". The others included reflect all those who answer their polls; regardless of their past voting status or whether or not they are even registered as voters. To me, "likely voters" is more important than some generalized popularity rating.

Also Note: The first chart being displayed in this blog entry is being dynamically linked from the Real Clear Politics website. Therefore, its data will be constantly updated past the orgininal date of this particular blog posting.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Worst Is Yet To Come for Foreclosures

This year, about $30 billion in Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) had their interest rates reset and the resulting monthly payments were jacked up by as much as 63%. In a worst case example, a person who had a $2000/month mortgage payment, before the interest rate was reset, might wind up with a new payment that is as much as $3,260/month after the reset. That's why the first half of this year saw the rate of foreclosures rise by 15%. People just can't afford the new mortgage payments and still keep themselves above water on all the other bills and those expenses associated with home ownership.

Also, contributing to the high rate of foreclosures is the ever climbing unemployment rate. Both historically and statistically proven, about 45% of all foreclosures are a direct result of people losing their jobs.

But here's some ominous facts that say that 2010 will be the "mother" of all foreclosure years in this country.

First, it is estimated that $67 billion worth of ARMs are due to have their monthly payment rates reset in 2010. This is more than twice the number of ARMs that were schedule to reset in this year (See Full Story). It is highly possible, from this fact alone, that 2010 could see double the foreclosure rate over this year's rate. That means more houses will hit the market; driving home prices down even further.

Secondly, the unemployment rate just keeps rising. Many economists are predicting a 13% (or even higher) unemployment rate for next year. That could mean another 4 or 5 million workers losing their jobs next year. Since nearly half of all foreclosures result from the loss of jobs (See Full Story), 2010 could be a horrible year when there is both high unemployment and ARM resetting. This one-two punch could literally send foreclosures through the roof.

Third, unlike this year, there are a number of ARMs that have 3, 5, or 7-year balloon payments or similarly scheduled loan "recasts" that are due under the contractual commitment of the original loan. Simply speaking, this means that a number of Adjustable Rate Mortgages are set to be mandatorily renegotiated. The problem lies in the fact that the bulk of these kinds of mortgages are as much as 50 percent upside down on on the value of their homes due to the falling of home prices. Because of this, two things can happen. The mortgage lender can demand a massive one-time payment in the tens of thousands of dollars to bring the equity level up on the home before a new mortgage is even renegotiated. Secondly, the mortgage lender might dictate a monthly mortgage rate that is set extremely high because he (the lender) will be forced to realize an abnormaly high risk for a home that has extremely negative equity. As a result, many homeowners with recasts and balloons due will be forced into foreclosure because they won't be able to afford the new payments or come up with thousands of dollars in the equity that is needed to have a new and reasonable mortgage loan and affordable monthly payments.

Lastly, this country hasn't really seen a substantial rise in commercial mortgage loan defaults. But, that could all change next year as businesses struggle to pay their bills against declining business activity. This could result in a potentially high rate of foreclosures against business properties. You can also expect bankruptcies to rise markedly.

While the foreclosure rate for the first half of 2009 was up by 15%, the rate in June 2009 was up 33% from June 2008 and that's a warning that the worst is yet to come.

If you listened to the chief economist on Obama's economic team, Larry Summers, you would have heard him say the Obama economic policies pulled us back from the "brink of catastrophe" (See Full Story).

However, I believe that, unless economic policies are changed, the real "catastrophe" is yet to come. If next year sees the continuation and growth of high unemployment and the foreclosure rates keep climbing, we will fall into an economic abyss that Larry Summers seems to think the Obama policies may have dodged. But, sadly, the Obama administration has really done nothing to effectively stop the rising rates of unemployment and foreclosure. Now, they want us to all believe that they have done their jobs and they all appear to be taking their victory laps.

If all that I have outlined above comes to pass, 2010 could be a disastrous year. Consumer confidence will plummet as the increase in foreclosures will continue to reduce the value of their homes. Bank failures will rise as the foreclosure rate rises. The unemployment rate will be exacerbated by these conditions. And, more Americans will have their dream of home ownership taken away from them. In some cases, forever!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Obama Is Guilty of Racial Profiling

On Wednesday, Barack Obama created a mini-firestorm by siding with a black professor and a friend who had a dust-up with a Cambridge Massachusetts policeman(See the Full Story from the Boston Globe: "Obama scolds Cambridge police") .

From the onset of Obama's commentary about the situation, he said he didn't know all the facts. Yet, he continued on by painting a broad stereotyped observation about how white cops have always interacted with blacks and presumed that to be applicable in this case. Unfortunately, the police report (See Report) doesn't really support that commentary by the President.

Obama, once again, fell back into his Community Organizer roots by pitting the people against the establishment and by demonizing that establishment. This time the establishment was the police. In the past, it has been things like "greedy Wall Street" and the banks and the rich. This time, the target was a white cop doing his job; just as "Joe the Plumber" was his target for simply asking a question that raised questions about Obama's policies.

What this President "did" is to do the very thing that he was trying to condemn: Racial Profiling. This time it was in reverse by "profiling" the "typical" behavior of "white cops"; just as he had once typified his white grandmother (See Full Story from the Left-wing Huffington Post).

All the evidence points to the fact that it "was" Barack Obama who was the one who acted "stupidly" in this situation by even commenting. But, this is so typical from the un-Presidential President that we now seem to have. To me, this supposed post-racial President can't keep himself from stirring up the racial pot; from his own grandmother who was shaken by the somewhat aggressive behavior of a black man at a bus stop; to this white cop who had to sustain abusive insults from a college professor who had a past history of verbally condemning the whites of American society.

All this does is remind me that Barack Obama may have, in fact, sat in the pews of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church and, contrary to what he now claims, was a whole-hearted listener and believer in the Black Liberation Theology that was being preached in that church on almost every Sunday. An integral part of that racist philosophy is the constant condemnation of all whites by broadly painting them as stereotypical racists. I believe that Obama's comments about his grandmother as a "typical white person", and his recent comment about this "typical" white cop reflects that belief. If so, this man will never really be the so-called post-racial President that the media seems to want to paint him as.

The Minimum Wage Bomb

Today, the Federal minimum wage is being raised by nearly 11% or by 70 cents from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour (See Full Story). This change will affect at least 4 million workers in America. With the rate of inflation at about 2.2 to 2.3%, this is an increase in the minimum wage that is over 4-1/2 times greater than the current average rise in prices in America (See U.S. Department of Labor Report, Last Line of Table Q2).

Even in the best of times, any increase in the minimum wage would result in some amount of workers being laid off. Now, in the midst of a recession, a boost in the minimum wage could be even more detrimental to the employment situation than this country has ever seen before. Here are my reasons.

More Lost Jobs.

Almost all economists agree that raising the minimum wage will result in some job losses. However, there is a division among them as to how dramatic that impact would be. Some argue that the greater benefits outweigh any small loss of jobs. Of course, that might be a "hard sell" for those losing their jobs to the increase.

Certainly, in the best of economic times, the increase of the minimum wage could be lessened by the employer offsetting the increased labor costs by increasing their prices for their products and/or services that they sell. But, we aren't in the best of times. Product and services pricing is being constrained by the extremely tight competition for business in the midst of a deep economic recession. In an extremely labor intensive business, such as landscape maintenance, the consumer isn't going to tolerate an 11% increase in pricing when their own money is tight. This puts the employer in position to cut people; rather than lose customers.

Think of it this way. If a small company has 10 workers and those 10 workers suddenly become eligible for that 70 cents per hour raise in their wages, that's a combined increase of $7 per hour for that company. That extra seven dollars an hour is equal to the wage for one new employee being paid under the old minimum wage. If that company couldn't afford to hire another employee before the minimum wage increase went into effect, it certainly won't be able to afford the effective cost of another employee after the new minimum was imposed on them. Therefore, if a business owner can't raise prices, they will have no other choice but to let at least one of those 10 employees go.

It should also be mentioned that, depending on each State's individual laws regarding their own minimum wage, any increase in the Federal minimum can also trigger automatic increases in the State's minimum wage. Therefore, the loss of jobs can be expanded to include workers who were not directly affected by the Federal change in wages.

Lastly, a bottom up increase in wages can have a ripple effect for pay scales of worker who are above the minimum wage. That means that a company could be forced into a pyramidal series of wage increases in order to maintain wage parody for its longer-term and more valuable employees. This, too, could result in more entry-level employees being let go because most good companies would want to protect the jobs of their more senior and more experienced workers.

Losses in Federal and State Tax Revenues.

Businesses only pay income taxes on their profits. Profits are what is left over after a business deducts all it's expenses, including salaries, from the money or revenues that it takes in.

Based on what I just pointed out, the money that will be used to pay for the new minimum wage will be directly taken out of profits and moved into the pockets of the minimum wage earners. Since most all of the minimum wage earners are part of the 40% of Americans who don't pay any income taxes, that means that there will be a complete loss of tax revenues on that money that is being used to pay for the increase. For each dollar of a company's profits being use to pay the minimum wage, our Federal government could lose between 10 cent and 40 cents in tax revenues; depending on how profitable that company was before increase went into effect. States, too, will lose tax revenues if they have a progressive tax and if low end wage earners pay little or no taxes.

Any way you shake it, there will be a loss of tax revenue at a time when our Federal government and most States are realizing massive budget deficits.

Forced Wage Increases for Union Workers Could Kill Some Businesses and further hurt Governments.

Because many union contracts include a negotiated clause that would automatically adjust union wages upwards when the minimum wage is increased, many manufacturing and service companies will see cost increases for those workers who aren't even making the minimum wage. As a consequence, this could push some marginal companies into bankruptcy or into a complete shuttering of their businesses.

For the Federal government and some state and local governments, this could be a double-edged sword. First, as previously noted, there will be a loss of tax revenues as profits are being reduced. But, more than that, federal, state, and local expenses could increase when these kinds of "automatic clauses" are put into effect and if government employees are the ones being affected. That's because almost all state, local and federal workers belong to unions. In a State like California, that already has a massive budget deficit, this could be disastrous.

Consumer Price Inflation.

If they can, some companies will raise their prices to meet the new payroll demands of their minimum wage earners and for any other wages, above that level, that must be adjusted. In a recession, this type of price inflation is highly counterproductive. The consumer is already absent in this economic downturn and higher prices will only make "buying things" less attractive. That will further hurt the economy and could have the ripple effect of creating more job losses.

Some Workers Will Lose Government Aid Benefits.

Depending on whether or not a minimum wage earner is the sole provider of a family with children or a single parent, the increase in their salary could, in some cases, result in their loss of government subsidies like medicaid, food stamps, Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) and many other special aid programs. The exact number affected and the amount of aid that will be lost to any low-income wage earner is probably unquantifiable. However, it is only logical that some minimum wage income earners , depending on the family structure, will exceed the pay threshold for some or all of their aid benefits.

My Final Comments.

I have never been a believer in a Federal minimum wage. I believe that the minimum wage should be left up to the individual states. That's because the standards of living vary so greatly from state to state. What might be a good wage in Tennessee or Mississippi may be an unlivable wage in a place like New York or San Francisco.

Every action by our Federal government always has some downside associated with it. When the Democrats passed this massive change in the minimum wage law in 2007, the economy looked to be in good shape. However, now, nothing could be farther from the truth and the impact of their actions will do nothing but send this economy into deeper depths. I don't know how many workers lost their jobs in 2008 when, on July 24th, the minimum wage was upped by 12% to $6.55 per hour. But, for sure, with the recession already underway at that time, there had to be some losses of jobs and, surely, some losses in tax revenues.

Now, with an ever increasing rate of unemployment, this 2009 increase couldn't have come at a worse time. Don't be surprised if this newest punch to the midsection of our business community doesn't have an even more disastrous effect on business profits in the next two quarters to come. I would even guess that some employees were given walking papers as of yesterday; the day just before the wage increase went into effect. If so, that fact should be reflected in the number of employees filing for first-time unemployment insurance over the next two weekly reporting cycles.

In a strange way, the prior Republican Congresses are responsible for this mess. From 1994 on, when they had complete control of Congress, they ignored doing anything about the minimum wage. They could have passed legislation that gradually and automatically increased the minimum, year-by-year, so that we wouldn't have had this massive impact that will hit our businesses today. But, they did nothing. Therefore, it was only logical that the Democrats, after having taken complete control of Congress in 2006, would make up for all those lost years by passing legislation that would literally and mindlessly correct the situation in just two short years. The Republicans had their chance to disarm the Democrats; but, they didn't! Now, we all might be paying for their sins of absenteeism on this issue with continued skyrocketing unemployment and the cost that will bring to our economy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Climate Change: Getting Hotter and Hotter?

The above scrunched-down image is actually a table of the 20 hottest Junes out of the last 115 years of data available from the U.S. National Climatic Data Center (Click here for a Clearer Version).

If you will note, the hottest month of June, ever, was 1933; followed by 1918. The only 21st century Junes that made the top 20 list are 2002 (ranked 5th) and 2006 (ranked 6th). Nine of the top twenty hottest Junes are before 1936. 17 out of the 20 hottest Junes occur before 1990.

Now, I might be wrong but, if global warming is a result of increased carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and CO2 levels have been consistently rising every year for the last 115 years (according to the global warmists), shouldn't the top twenty hottest Junes be more heavily populated by dates later than 1989 (the last 20 years of June data)? Yet, there are only 4 years later than that date that appear on the top 20 list. That hardly shows a growing trend in rising temperatures due to global warming!

If you would like to replicate this listing or create lists for other month's of data over the last 115 years, you can do so by going to Then simply select the month of the year you wish to analyze. Be sure to select "Table" and "Rank" before you hit the "Submit" button.

Note: The table as shown in this blog entry has been edited to a shortened length for reference purposes only.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nancy Pelosi's Health Reform Press Conference

I didn't catch the whole thing but, Nancy Pelosi had a press conference this morning and dragged out cancer patients who each had specific tales of woe with regard to their existing health insurance companies.

The one woman I did hear was a woman who had cancer and racked up substantial medical bills and almost lost her home.

First, the woman complained about the having to get stuck with a $500-a-day charge to control her nausea while receiving chemotherapy. I might be wrong but, I think that $500 a day shot might not even be covered under the proposed tamped-down and government dictated health care system; simply because it would be too expensive under the government guidelines. That's one of the primary complaints about nationalized health care in many other countries.

Second, it appears she survived her cancer. However, in both Britain and in Canada, many types of cancers have lower survival rates than in the United States. Much of this has to do with the long queues and delays in receiving care. For sure, cancer never takes a vacation while you wait to see a doctor or wait to get any needed procedures. Furthermore, the newer and better, but more expensive, procedures and drugs aren't always available in many countries with nationalized healthcare. Again, purely because of the costs. This, too, is responsible for the lower-than-U.S. survival rates in places like Britain.

Third, she apparently had a low cost but high-deductible insurance policy. Not all medical insurance policies are equal. Some have low monthly costs but have high deductible rates when it comes to certain types of medical procedures, like surgery, or, as in this case, chemotherapy. People don't seem to understand that many insurance policies only pay 90% or 80% of their medical bills for much of the medical care that is outside of routine tests and doctor's visits. It is truly a pay me now or pay me later kind of situation. If someone has a policy that covers 80% of the cost of surgical care and they have a bill for heart surgery that is, say, $200,000, they will owe $40,000 of their own money against that billing. When people buy insurance, they need to understand this.

Lastly, she acknowledged that she had a sub-prime loan on her home and that she was, at one time, about to lose it because of her medical bills. She also said that she was only able to keep it because of the intervention by her Congressional Representative, Jim Cooper. That says to me that she apparently is a person who went on the "cheap" for both her home mortgage and her medical insurance. It is truly too bad that she has had these problems on top of cancer. However, people get themselves into problems by not understanding or reading the contracts they commit too. Further, no one should ever assume that their life will be a life without problems. All too often people gamble that they won't get sick or they won't lose their jobs. However, life hardly ever deals anyone that lucky of a hand. In fact, more than 1/3 of the 46 million who "don't" have health insurance could afford it but elect not to buy it. In most cases, they are younger people who think they're to young to get seriously ill.

Contrary to today's dog and pony show by Nancy Pelosi, the health care reform that is being proposed by the Democrats isn't better care. This woman has her life; even though she's got some financial problems. Under the government-run health care system that is being proposed, every patient will get their medical care with, figuratively, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid looking over their doctor's or surgeon's shoulders and advising that physician as to what they can or cannot do. What Pelosi did today was what most lawyers do in medical malpractice lawsuits to garner even bigger jury awards. Nancy found the worst of the worst examples of people who had problems with the current health care system. But this is a distortion.

I think everyone wants some kind of reform of our health care system. But, people are balking at Obama-Care because they see less care and higher costs. Many don't trust the Democrats after the debacle of the failed Stimulus Package. Even many Democrats are now having trouble buying into Obama-care.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Poll Shows Obama Losing Public Trust

Abraham Lincoln once said this of "trust":
"If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."

Savings? Savings? Where art thou?

While the House and Senate Democrats scramble to find the almost $1.5 trillion in spending for their health care reform, I think it would be appropriate to jump into the "wayback machine" and see what the then-presidential candidate, Barack Obama, promised about health care in his first term in office.

Back in mid-2008, the campaigning Obama said his health care plan would save every family in America $2500 a year. And, better yet, he promised that we would all see those savings in his first term! At the time, said that Mr. Obama's plans were simply "wishful thinking" (Click to See Full Story and Commentary).

Now, it appears that the Democrats are going to have to tax almost anything that moves to pay for this mammoth government spending program. Their tax plans include everything from taxing the rich, or your existing health benefits, to sodas you drink and to the potato chips you eat.

I ask you, again? Where is that $2500 a year that Mr. Obama promised us in his first term?

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Search For Economic Recovery

According to Larry Summers, Obama's chief economic adviser, the stimulus package is working because the number of searches on Google for the words "economic depression" have come down to normal levels after having been 4 times higher in January (See Full Story).

My guess is that the number of Google searches for the words "michael jackson dead" are down, too. Using Mr. Summers' logic, am I to assume that Michael Jackson is now alive again?

I guess Summers would prefer to put a happy face on his own miserable performance by completely ignoring those statistics that say the economy is poor and getting poorer like rising unemployment rates, increasing foreclosures and bank defaults, and falling consumer confidence and spending.

While the searches for "economic depression" might be down, my guess is that they have been replaced with increasing searches for the words "one term presidents"!


Barack Obama and his Administration have already been caught suppressing a report that showed that Global Warming was abating (Click to See My Blog Entry: "The EPA Report Obama Doesn't Want You To See!").

Now, it appears that Obama wants to hide the real facts about how bad our economy is and how poorly his Stimulus Package has done so that the disclosure of that data doesn't impede the approval of his Health Care Reform bill(Click to See the Full Story: "White House putting off budget update"). Apparently, to show how "off base" he was on the economy and the effect of the stimulus might cause people to question his rosy claims about health care.

Then, there was the last report on the unemployment rate (Click to See My Blog Entry: "The Ripple Effect Of High Unemployment Going Higher"). Even though the number of unemployed was greater than expected, the explicit unemployment rate came in less than expected and that doesn't hardly make sense or compute. Don't forget that the agency responsible for reporting the unemployment rate, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, reports up through the Department of Labor; which, in turn, reports to Barack Obama.

From information either being suppressed or delayed, to some very questionable numbers, I can't trust anything being reported by this Administration. This, to me, isn't transparency. When the Stimulus Package was passed, we were told a pack of lies about how immediate and effective it would be. Now, 7 months later, it appears we were sold a very rosy pack of B.S. Now, we are getting all of the same kind of promises with regard to Obama's Health Care Reform and the supposed minimal costs for Cap and Trade. When is America going to wake up to the fictional and political Kabuki dance that this President seems to be so skilled at?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Canada's Backlogged Health Care

I'm sure you've all heard the expression: "Necessity is the Mother of Invention."

Well, in Canada nothing could be more true.

Right now, there are an estimated 875,000 Canadians who are on waiting lists for critical medical procedures and testing that range anywhere from hip and knee replacements to heart bypass surgery. In fact, a person with a heart blockage could wait up to one year for something that, in America, would be done within a week to 10 days. Waiting a year for heart bypass surgery could literally be a death sentence if you are a Canadian.

The proof that Canada's government-run health care system is broken comes from a Canadian-based medical service group that was developed out of the need for Canadians to get immediate tests and care for critical and life threatening situations. The group is called Timely Medical Alternatives and here's their website: (Click to View). Their goal is to refer Canadians to private medical service providers so they can literally save their own lives. The people that are being helped by this group are all on weeks to year-long waiting lists for critical medical tests and procedures. Many are probably in pain while waiting for care.

Simply speaking, if the Canadian health care system was doing what it should do, people wouldn't have to seek private solutions and, in all too many cases, come to the United States to save their lives. They wouldn't have to spend thousands of dollars of their own hard-earned money to get the critical care they need.

Is this the kind medical care that you want for yourself and your family in this country? If it is, then you'll love Obama-Care. If it isn't, give your Congressional Representatives an earful. You're life could literally depend on it!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

On Heath Care: Insuring the Uninusured Appears No Longer Important!

Going all the way back to Hilliary-Care in the early 1990's, the push for health care reform in America has always been to inure those -- now 46 million Americans -- who have no health care insurance. Suddenly, with Obama in office and with the Democrats in full-throttle control of our government, the need to insure the uninsured has become less important than totally dismantling our current health care system.

The goal now seems to be for the Democrats to create a single-payer health care system that is run by the government and that will ration health care so that bureaucrats of Washington, D. C. -- not your doctor -- can decide what medical procedures and practices are necessary to keep you alive. That decision won't be based on efficacy but, instead, simply based on cost. In the health care world according to the Democrats, there will be no extraordinary efforts, by either drugs or procedures, to save our lives. The Democrats not only see this as reducing health care costs in this country; but, they also believe it will save Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid by literally shortening the lives of an ever aging population who statistically rack up the largest amount of medical expenses in the last few years of their lives. But, you will never actually hear that from any of them. One of the biggest expenses of Medicare/Social Security is the cost of long-term nursing home care for people being increasingly kept alive "longer" by extraordinary medical practices and drugs.

I know that insuring the uninsured is no longer important because the initial Kennedy-Dodd Senate bill for health care reform only reduced the uninsured population from 46 million to 38 million. So, obviously, the plight of the uninsured is not what's really important to the Democrats. Simply, they want to have complete control of our health care and, subsequently, our lives. Or, better said, control over our deaths.

Nowhere in the Kennedy bill or in the Obama mindset on health care reform are there any plans for tort reform to reduce rapidly rising monetary awards stemming from medical malpractice lawsuits. It is these awards that are, more than anything, pushing up costs. Almost every economics study of health care costs in America have identified malpractice lawsuits as the primary driver behind the rapidly rising costs. By far, we are ten times more the litigious society than any other country in the world. If countries like Britain, France, and Canada had the same malpractice activity as seen in this country, their health care costs would be just as expensive as ours.

To put this fact into perspective, just think about what happens in a court room when a doctor and his insurance company are being sued for supposed malpractice. The lawyer representing the litigant in the malpractice suit won't ever focus on what that doctor did right in providing care to his client. Instead, that lawyer will focus on what the doctor didn't do or should have done in the most perfect of medical worlds. To reinforce that opinion, the lawyer will bring in paid experts to tell the jury what the doctor failed to do. This fact, alone, has driven most doctors in America to protect themselves by initiating every unnecessary test in the world so, that if they do have to go into court, they can testify that they covered all the bases. Besides unnecessary tests, doctors now rely heavily on expensive specialist referrals as a means of covering their rears in the event of any future litigation. That's why health care costs have spiraled out of control. But, the Democrats get a lot a campaign funds from the lawyers and they have no desire to punish these golden geese in order to lower heath care costs. They would rather ration health care than minimize big paydays for the lawyers of America.

If all that health care reform is supposed to do is to cover the uninsured, the task is both simple and cheaply done. All you would have to do is force employers to cover all their employees through some access to lower cost pooled insurance. Then, for those not able to afford insurance, provide private pooled insurance that is partially funded by the taxpayers. Further, make insurance coverage portable so that workers can move from one job to another without losing insurance. As part of this portability requirement, make it illegal for insurers to exclude coverage for anyone who has a pre-existing medical condition.

But, the true fact is that Obama, Kennedy, Pelosi and Reid and the rest of the Democrats could really care less about the uninsured. Their goal is all about government control. And, that's the truth!

Friday, July 17, 2009

On Obama's Stimulus: A New GOP Ad Says It All

Better than anything I could ever say, this new Internet ad from the GOP says it all about Obama's "Trickle Out" Stimulus Package that has done nothing to help this economy:

Until Obama, Where Were All These Democratic Ideas?

A day doesn't go by where the Democrats don't criticize the Republicans for having "no ideas" and for "saying no" to almost everything that they and this President proposes.

Well, I would like to flip those comments around.

Where were all these Democratic ideas on health care reform and saving the environment over the last 8 years while Bush was in office? What is even more perplexing, the Democrats have had almost complete control of the House and Senate for the last 2-1/2 years and, up until Obama took office, there was never any plans from the Democrats for health care reform or the immediate push for climate control. Now, all of a sudden, there is this mad rush to do something, almost anything, because Obama made some campaign promises.

To me, this is just nuts!

If all that they want to do, now, are such good ideas, why not have proposed them 8 years ago; or, even, 2 years ago!

Sonia Sotomayor and Joe Biden

Don't be too quick to call Sonia Sotomayor a racist because of that a-wise-Latina-making-a-better-decision-than-a-white-man remark. She was obviously talking about our Vice President, Joe Biden. Actually, my dog could make a better decision than Joe Biden. And, almost every day, with every gaffe, Joe just proves Sonia right!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More Proof That The Stimulus Isn't Working

Obama is now on a daily speech-making campaign of "trying" to convince us all that his stimulus package is working. But, that gets hard and harder to believe with the increasing amount of bad data that keeps coming out about our economy.

Back in February, Obama announced a plan that was intended to abate the high foreclosure rate by "helping" 9 million homeowners who were in jeopardy of falling behind on their mortgages. At the time it was announced, I was very skeptical about the projected results and wrote this critical blog entry: "The 31 Percent Solution?".

This morning, the first-half of 2009 foreclosure data was published by RealtyTrac, Inc. (See Detailed Story). As predicted, Obama's plan hasn't worked because the foreclosure rate is accelerating and not hardly abating. Foreclosures were up an unexpected 15% in the first half of this year; and, even more disconcerting, the foreclosure rate was up 33%, year-over-year, in June, alone. Further, June rocketed another 5% over May's record rate. This hardly reflects a slowing of the foreclosures in America. Again, this is another Obama plan that is falling well short of all his rosy predictions.

This is just more proof that the Obama economics team doesn't know what they're doing. I'm just a blogger with a little more than some practical business experience and I knew that Obama's "foreclosure" plan wasn't going to work. People should wake up to the fact that none of the recovery plans that this President and his National Economic Council and the Treasury Department have cooked up have actually done anything. All we are getting from this guy is a bunch of well-delivered speeches and no results.

All of this comes at a time when this President and his people are now telling us that their health care reform will lower costs, cover all of our uninsured, and "not ration" our medical care in the future. Given Obama's performance to-date, how in the hell can anyone believe that this President is capable of predicting what he says will happen!

Simply speaking, Obama and the Democrat's push for all these new programs like "Cap And Trade" and "Health Care Reform" just shows how grossly irresponsible these people are by implementing expensive, job-killing programs at a time when this country is in the midst of an ever-increasing recession.

Based on decades of past experience, people are always asking for trouble when some charlatan says that they need to "act immediately" and, then, slips a contract under their nose and says: "You don't have to read it...just sign it!" This is right out of every scam artists playbook and Obama and the Democrats seem to be practicing it big time.

From day one, this President and this Congress keep saying that we must act immediately. And, there's no time to read anything.

All of these massive Congressional spending and programs bills have been intentionally written in excess of 1,000 pages each so the true details of what they are doing are completely buried in the sheer size of these documents. Then, the voting process is rushed so that no one can read all those pages; even if they wanted to. This has been the pattern of deception for the Stimulus Package, "Cap and Trade" and Health Care Reform. We are truly being set up by Obama.

I would hope that the people of this country -- Independents, Democrats and Republicans -- would wise up and put a stop to all this by lodging their complaints to their respective Congressional Representatives. Remember that old saying: "Cheat me once, shame on you. Cheat me twice, shame on me!" If we don't stop "Cap and Trade" and "Health Care Reform", right now, it will only be shame on us!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On the Secret CIA/Cheney Plan, the Democrats Are The One's Looking Bad!

Right now, there's a big flap on Capitol Hill about a secret plan within the CIA that was intended to hunt down and kill or assassinate Al Qaeda leaders. Apparently, Dick Cheney is at the heart of this flap because he advised the CIA to develop the plan and keep it secret (See Full Story). All indications are that this plan was never really implemented. Now, the Congressional Democrats are all upset because they weren't ever advised of this supposedly "phantom" program.

I don't know about you but, I would have thought that a plan to assassinate Al Qaeda leadership was a "given" following 9/11. Did Congress actually think that such a plan wasn't on the table in the wake of those murderous attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon building? How stupid are these people who call themselves members of our Congress? Even if the CIA didn't tell them, wouldn't they, as concerned leaders of our country, ask if the CIA had formulated any plans to hunt down Al Qaeda and ask for the details? If the CIA didn't have a plan, wouldn't you or I, if we were members of Congress, tell them to come up with one. Are the Democrats implying that they went to dozens upon dozens of CIA briefings and had no input or questions about what seems to be an obvious reaction or response to the events of 9/11?

For this reason, it sure looks like this whole Cheney/CIA thing is being hyped for the purely political reason of protecting Nancy Pelosi from her own stupidity in saying that the CIA consistently lied to Congress. Of course, if the Democrats say that it isn't about politics; then, one can only conclude that they are admitting to their own, complete stupidity and their complete lack of the kind of leadership that is needed to protect this country! Either way, it makes them look very bad!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sotomayer the Pawn

What does it feel like to be a Judge, knowing that the primary reason you have been promoted twice -- first to the U.S. Court of Appeals and then, maybe, to the Supreme Court -- is because you're a Hispanic woman. Personally, I wouldn't feel real good about myself knowing this was the primary reason I got my job. I would want to be promoted on the basis of being a good, if not great, judge.

But, with Sonia Sotomayer, this is exactly what is going to happen.

For Sotomayor, the Democrats only care that she is a Hispanic -- first --- a woman -- and second -- that she has a "great life story." Her experience and her decisions about the law are apparently immaterial. Just forget about her quirky ways of reaching court decisions. Just forget about her being so out of step with the mainstream that the Supreme Court has had to override her decisions 60 percent of the time. Just forget about her judicial activism that tends to rewrite the laws of this country without any representation by the American people. Just forget about her possible racist views about being "better" than any "white judges" because she's a "Latina woman" that may cloud any future Supreme Court decisions.

You know damn well that Obama "only" picked Sotomayor to put the Republicans in a kind of political box. She is being used by Obama as a pawn; and, she has to know that. Obama knows that any kind of adverse Republican treatment of Sotomayor, including any hard questioning or any no-votes, will further alienate the Hispanic voter and hurt the Republicans. She's being used as a pawn for pure political reasons. And, again, I would think that any person who has the least amount of pride in themselves, and pride in their life's work, would feel cheapened because they aren't being picked on the basis of qualifications or what they've done over the years in their chosen profession.

Let's face it. Sotomayor has the "cred" to be a judge. But, so do a lot of judges. The real questions are: Out of the many thousands of Judges, is she the right one to be put on the Supreme Court's bench for life? Does she have the all-encompassing, legal temperament to be the next Supreme Court Justice? Is she truly a person who will make the right, legal decisions for all Americas; regardless of race or economic stature? Does she harbor too many biases to be truly a fair Supreme Court Justice?

But, sadly, I don't think we will ever know any of this because she is only going to get her job because she is a "Hispanic woman" and because she could hurt the Republicans politically. That makes her "nothing" but a great political pawn for both the Democrats and Barack Obama. Sonia, where's any real pride in that?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reduced Dependence On Foreign Oil? What a Big Lie!!

I guess I'm getting a little tired of hearing that wind and solar power will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Probably, the biggest promoter of this lie is Al Gore and his "Repower America" TV ads like this one: "Do Right".

Wind and solar power are solely intended to replace electrical power that is currently being produced by coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy. All of these fuels are domestically sourced producers of "electrical" energy in this country. They have nothing to do with any foreign imported oil. Or any other source of oil, for that matter!

If, somehow, we could instantly and magically replace every existing power plant in America with wind and solar power, there wouldn't be a single drop of crude oil that was truly saved by that action.

The 7 percent of homes that are currently being heated by heating oil would continue to be dependent on foreign and domestic crude oil sources. Those 240+ million vehicles on our roads today would continue to burn the gasoline and the diesel that is being derived from foreign and domestic oil. The vast majority of cars, trucks, buses, ships, boats, and airplanes that are being sold, both now and well into the future, will continue to use petroleum based fuels. Our road building and resurfacing will still need oil-derived asphalt products. The majority of the paints and plastics that we use in our everyday lives will continue to be derived from domestic and imported crude oil.

The only thing that will change when wind and solar replaces natural gas and coal is that hundreds of thousand of workers who are involved, either directly or indirectly, in those "carbon" industries will lose their jobs. This is evidenced by an extremely detailed university study that was done in Spain and reviewed the Spanish model of wind and solar conversion. It concluded that 2.2 jobs were lost for every "green job" that was created (See Full Study Results). Additionally, it cost the Spaniards about 571,000 euros (approximately $800,000) to create each new "green job".

Our dependence of foreign oil will continue to increase; despite what Obama and the Congressional Democrats seem to think. Contrary to their ideological beliefs, there isn't going to be a mad stampede to buy the all-electric Chevy "Volt" that carries a price tag of $40,000 and that can only go 40 miles without having to fall back on its gasoline engine or be recharged for hours (See Full Story).

All the crude oil dependent things we need and use in our lives will continue to grow in lock step with the growth of our population. More importantly, our current sources of domestic oil are dying off faster than any increases nade in fuel mileage. Unless we expanded domestic production, we will only continue to rely more and more heavily on foreign oil. Not less.

All of Al Gore's "Repower America" TV ads are one, big ideologically-based lie; much like the rest of his B.S. with regard to global warming. We are being sold a false bill of goods by the environmentalists and the Democrats. What's worse, the national media is complicit in this lie. Because of this irresponsibility of the media, the people of this country are being shielded from the truth. They only believe what they are being falsely told.

If we continue to go down this road of wind and solar power, we will become a weaker country; not more profitable or energy independent. What's worse, the poor of America will only become poorer as they are forced to use up any available income to pay for their energy and energy related needs; which includes food and clothing. We will become a lot like Spain with its current high rate of unemployment; the highest in Europe at 18%. The high energy costs that will result from Cap and Trade and from the costs needed to convert to wind and solar power will just eat into any available monies that could have been used to create new jobs. Besides becoming more dependent on foreign oil, we will continue to become more and more dependent on products that are being produced in places like China and India who won't have the added and burdensome production costs that will result from our costly conversion to wind and solar power and from the taxes and production penalties that will result from Cap and Trade. For this very reason, expect many more manufacturing operations to be shipped out of this country to low cost production countries like China.

You can either believe Obama and Al Gore's claims that we can use wind and solar to "create good paying jobs in America and not ship them overseas" or you can look at the real-life examples of places like Spain where just the opposite has become the truth. The future of America is hanging in the balance. We can either take a path that is based on a bunch of ECO-lies or take a logical path and produce more domestic oil and grow this country and maintain our standard of living. It's your choice. You can either express it in the voting booths and by calling or writing your members of Congress.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wind Power: From T.Boone to Bust!

Last year, when T. Boone Pickens was promoting his wind power agenda, the left and the left-leaning media couldn't get enough of him. From Al Gore to Barack Obama and the Democratic members of Congress, T. Boone's plan was music to their ears. ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS touted the benefits of his plan. The New York Times, Newsweek, the Washington Post and other lefty printed media spared no ink on the topic. All was glowing and positive for his wind power project. For the lefties, it was the greatest story ever told: An Oil Man Going Green. Who'da ever thought?

So, it's no wonder that hardly anything was even printed or even verbally reported this week when T. Boone announced that he, at the very least, is suspending his wind power plan; if, not, completely abandoning it (See Full Story). You gotta know that the left just hates to report any negative or bad news about America going green. They would prefer to let us all believe that wind power is the only way to go. You know. It will save America money and create all those new jobs. But, here's a self-made billionaire who spent $2 billion in upfront money and can't make a go of it. That should tell us all something.

Because his plan was never really cost effective in the first place and because it was heavily dependent on the deep and dumb pockets of the American taxpayer, the economic downturn has just completely demolished his dreams of making another billion or more in profits for himself. He was hoping that oil would stay high and the Obama Administration would fund all the unfunded and extremely expensive grid requirements that would be needed to make his scheme both work and payoff big-time for him. But the recession changed all that.

Just like my previous report on that EPA Report that contradicted Global Warming and which was buried by Obama and his people, this, too, is another example of how the left hides the truth from Americans in order to promote their ideological agenda.

In the wake of T. Boone's wind power bust, he has now moved on to promoting natural gas to replace gasoline and diesel in cars, trucks, and buses (See Full Story). Apparently, like having a bunch of Brooklyn Bridges to sell us, Mr. Pickens sees big bucks being made by a little company he owns that is called: Clean Energy (See their Website). It just so happens that this company is a leading producer of natural gas in the United States and Canada. They also own most of the natural gas delivery and fueling stations in this country and in Canada. What a coincidence! Now he just needs a "cooperative government" to both mandate and fund natural gas powered cars and refueling stations.

One way or another, Pickens is bound and determined to make some money off all these Democrats who are in charge of government. Wind didn't work; maybe gas will. Let's not forget. The only "green" that Mr. Pickens is really interested in is the green that makes up the color of money.

Mr. President, Nothing Says You've Failed Like The Calls For A Second Stimulus Package!

Have you noticed? Suddenly, there seems to be a chorus of calls for a second Stimulus Package. Those calls aren't coming from Republicans but from Democrats who are apparently quite nervous about the current state of the economy and the fact that the first stimulus isn't working.

Let's face it, when the $787 billion Stimulus Package was passed in early February, the unemployment rate was only 7.6 percent. Now, it's at 9.5 percent and expected to climb above 10 percent to possibly 11 percent by December's reporting.

Since the passage of the stimulus, things have only gotten worse. Besides the climbing unemployment rate, home foreclosures haven't abated. In fact, they are on the rise and a second wave of foreclosures is expected to hit in the 1st quarter of 2010 . Home prices have continued to fall; albeit at a somewhat slower rate. But, then, prices would have to naturally slow down; otherwise, every home in America would ultimately be worth zero. As it is, homes in some parts of the country are now selling for the same price they were selling for in 2001. Literally, 8 years of price appreciation on home values has been lost to this recession.

Except for the most credit-worthy borrowers, lending is still really tight. That fact has seriously effected both the housing and the auto industries. Consumer confidence and spending is falling again after only a brief pause. This is just one of those supposed "green shoots" the Obama Administration had been touting but has since turned brown and died.

GM and Chrysler are belly up and are mere shadows of their former selves. In the wake of that, thousands of dealers have gone out of business and their workers have lost their jobs. Scores of manufacturing jobs are yet to be lost due to the shutdown of further manufacturing operations at GM and Chrysler. In addition, the list of corporations announcing new rounds of layoffs is, once again, on the rise.

At least 8 states, lead by California, are getting close to bankruptcy. And, while the first stimulus supposedly saved teachers, police, and firemen jobs, there are now 33 states that are in the midst of such budget troubles that those jobs will be lost anyway, along with many others; stimulus or no stimulus.

Yes, sir. That stimulus package has really worked. It was so-immediate, so-targeted, and so-effective that my head is spinning. We "were" literally at crisis point and -- you gotta know -- that speed was everything. In fact, speed was so paramount that there was no time to even read the near thousand pages of legislation that doled out that $787 billion in spending.

When Reagan turned this country around from the inherited Jimmy Carter recession, he used massive tax cuts in what is now known as "Trickle Down" economics. What are we supposed to call the Obama plan? Trickle Out Economics!

Right now, the Democrats are fearing voter backlash and they want another stimulus package in the hopes that it could "save" their own jobs. Forget the economy! No one on the left or in the left-wing media is actually saying that Obama failed at reviving this economy. Instead, excuses (aka "spin") are being handed out in machine gun like fashion. The biggest of those excuses is, as always, that we were handed this recession by George W. Bush. But, that excuse is getting quite old and quite tired. With Obama and his cohorts having to constantly revive the blame-Bush excuse, it only speaks to their own failures. I don't believe that the American people are buying the Bush excuse anymore. I think most assume that Obama took responsibility on the day he signed the Stimulus Bill into law.

Just this week, Obama began a different tactic by saying that "the stimulus did it's job". He even repeated that fact this morning while in Ghana(See Full Story). When Bush was seen with a "Mission Accomplished" banner enblazoned behind him, the national press and the left had a field day mocking him. But, not so with Obama when, by saying "the stimulus did it's job", he is repeating that very same Bush mistake.

Obama seems to think that the only reason for the Stimulus Package was to extend unemployment benefits. However, we're hemorrhaging the losses of jobs and Mr. Obama seems content in just buying bandaids! You wouldn't need all the extended unemployment benefits if the stimulus package created jobs.

Another tactic by this Administration is to try and make lemonade out of a pile of lemons; but, with nothing but lemons. The Administration has sent "comb-over Joe" Biden to now say that the stimulus, by itself, was never intended to revive the economy. Biden says it was just part of many things that this Administration did to get the economy going. So, I guess we can derive from that comment, that everything Obama did to revive the economy was a failure; not just the stimulus package. I say this because the economy, today, is no better than it was five months ago. In fact, in many ways, it is worse.

All this psycho-babble baby-talk from Joe and Barack and the Obama economic team is just screaming of CYA spin. The more they talk, the more the public realizes that Obama's plan is a complete failure and the only thing it really did is create massive indebtedness for this country. These people really need some adult supervision. At the very least, someone who actually knows how to create jobs should check their work before they say or do anything. From the looks of Obama's rapidly falling approval ratings, the American people aren't buying all that fluff anymore and they are starting to hand out failing grades. Obama is not even close to being another Abraham Lincoln or FDR or JFK. Instead, he's just another Jimmy Carter; but, this time, on steroids!

Good job, Barack! Everyday you are looking more and more like a one-term president.

Just so the people reading this don't think I'm just another complaining conservative, here's what I think should be done to get this economy going again:
  1. Stop any further and stoppable spending against the current Stimulus Package.
  2. Stop any legislative action on Cap and Trade and Health Care until the economy can afford to pay for it.
  3. Convene the best and the brightest in the country who are the leaders in large and small businesses, economics, banking, etc to conduct a round table/ brainstorming session and to come up with some kind of consensus plan. Be sure to involve the leadership of both political parties.
  4. Implement a plan that is void of politics and any political payback and that truly has bipartisan approval. Let's put the country first; above politics.
Only then, can we be sure that the best possible actions were taken to get this country moving again.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Geithner Should Get Out More Often

This morning, Tim Geithner, our all-knowing Treasury Secretary, said that the Stimulus Package is working. His remarks came in his testimony before Congress (See Full Story).

Apparently, the loss of 2 million more jobs since February was all in the plan! Thank God for the plan! It's working!

What was really interesting is the fact that little Timmy seems to think consumer confidence has improved. His comment came on the same day the University of Michigan released their normal reporting on Consumer Sentiment. In that report, consumer sentiment fell by an unexpected and somewhat shocking 6 points from the month prior (See Full Story). This disappointing report follows a similar report on June 30 from the Conference Board that showed that consumer confidence had dropped sharply (See Full Story).

The consumer is an important factor in our recovery because we are primarily a consumer-based economy. Something that little Timmy doesn't seem to understand. He should really get out more often and look at all the the foreclosed-on homes and shuttered businesses. They are easy to spot because they are clearly marked with signs to that effect. Just reading the newspaper or watching TV, he could see all the "going out of business sales" that seem to be choking the ads sections of our media. At the very least, he should read the financial pages so that he would know that consumer confidence is falling. Then, maybe, he wouldn't embarrass himself in front of Congress and the rest of the world by saying dumb things like consumer confidence is rising.

I just keep thinking back to Geithner's appointment when most Democrats and many Republicans, alike, seemed to think that this idiot was the only guy who could be our new Treasury Secretary. Now, I'm starting to think that the only reason Geithner got his job is because he might have some "dirt" on every member of Congress. I certainly can't believe it's because he actually knows what he's doing!

Please Note: Right now there is a controversy surrounding the CIA and whether or not they deceived Congress in their various briefings. As many have noted, it is illegal for anyone to deceive or lie to Congress when giving testimony. Geithner's testimony is, at best, in error and, more probably, a misrepresentation that is intended to deceive both Congress and the American public. Is Geithner, then, subject to punishment for lying to Congress?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The EPA Report Obama Doesn't Want You To See!

When it comes to transparency, you'd better have x-ray vision when dealing with Barack Obama and his gang of ideologues in Washington, D.C. A case in point was proven, just this week, when an issue arose about a suppressed EPA Report on Climate Change and Global Warming.

Apparently, the Obama Administration, swept under the rug, a 98-page report that contested the effects of Global Warming and any immediate need to enforce "carbon footprint" reductions as mandated by the recently House-passed Cap and Trade Bill and the Kyoto Treaty.

(Click here to see a draft of that report that Obama and the EPA didn't want us to see)

The report was authored by Alan Carlin, an economist/physicist at the EPA and was rejected completely by the new EPA head because it was in complete conflict with the views and plans of the Obama Administration (See Full Story). Rather than allow the debate over Global Warming to go forward before pursuing the massive economic and regressive regulatory demands of Cap and Trade, Obama decided to stick that "report" where the sun doesn't shine.

Obama, like Al Gore, seems to think that the supposed cause of Global Warming, man-made CO2, and the solutions to it are a completely settled science. Of course, neither of these two people are scientists, themselves. Additionally, most of those on the United Nation's International Panel on Climate Change aren't either; and, it is obvious that Barack Obama wants to be in lock-step with this highly politically-motivated and primarily left-wing ecology group.

However, there are more than 31,000 scientists -- not politicians like Al Gore, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi -- in America, alone, who have put there names on a petition that begs the United States government to reject the false scientific claims of the global warming community (See Full Story). That, to anyone, cries out to the world that the science of "climate change" isn't even close to being settled.

Lately, any Republican criticism of the House of Representative's Cap and Trade Bill has been countered by the Democrats saying something like: "At least the Democrats have proposed something to fight Global Warming. Where is the Republican's proposal?"

This kind of argument is a red herring. By saying "Where's the Republican proposal?", the whole issue of whether or not global warming is even man-made is being completely skirted. In doing so, it implies that the science of global warming is settled; and, therefore, the Republicans should just fall in line and approve the Democrat's bill to fight the fight of global warming. End of discussion!

However, day by day, the people of this country and many of the people around the world are becoming more and more skeptical about global warming and its cause; as noted by this excellent article, "The Climate Change Climate Change", written by Kim Stassel of the Wall Street Journal. Even the proposed Cap and Trade Bill that was just passed by our one-sided House of Representatives had so many political concessions that the Congressional Budget Office found it to be totally ineffective. If the CO2 argument was truly a settled science and an important and valid fight, concessions would "not" have had to be made in an attempt to pass this bill because it would be seen by all as an important and valid cause for immediate and massive legislative action. But instead, there was significant dissent; especially from so many Democrats, themselves. They needed to be bought-off in this bill with both exclusionary language and with dedicated funding; attached as a 300-page addendum to the already 900-page piece of legislation.

As I have written before in this blog, the push for climate control is purely driven by an ideological belief and not based on any real or sustainable science. In fact, just last week I wrote: "The Truth About Cap and Trade" that covers this very topic. Everyday, the examples that the "greens" have used in support of controlling CO2 levels have begun falling apart. Take, for example, this article on the previously false belief that the Antarctic ice cap is melting away: "Report: Antarctic Ice Growing, Not Shrinking". Actually, most of the ice cap has been growing since 1993. Another fact that the "greens" don't want us to know and that their friendly mainstream media in this country has conveniently hidden from our sight. Then, too, the fact that the earth has been cooling, not warming, over the last decade has really hurt the climate-control movement.

Whenever scientific fact proves that those climate change ideologues are way off base, the ideologues fight back by suppressing the facts -- as in the case of Alan Carlin and as in the case of the Antarctic ice sheet gains. I actually heard one Democrat try to marginalize Mr. Carlin by saying that he wasn't a scientist; and, therefore, his report can't be taken seriously. He's just an economist. Well, apparently they don't know that Mr. Carlin obtained a degree in physics before he ever became a trained economist. That's why the EPA found him to be an important economist in their organization over the last 30 years; at least until Barack Obama took over the reins of the EPA. Apparently, that same standard is "not" being applied to Al Gore when everybody on the left seems to goes ga-ga over his words. Then, nobody questions the fact Al Gore only has a "civics" degree.

Anytime that the proponents of a policy or a program are afraid of being scrutinized, there's something that is being hidden from the light of day. Mr. Carlin's report exposes the lies of the climate change community and it is being suppressed because the eco-lefties of this country cannot really defend themselves against what that report is saying.

Sadly, Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Al Gore are each trying to treat us all like mushrooms. And, like the old saying says: Mushrooms are maintained by keeping them in the dark and by feeding them bullshit!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Three Simple Questions For the Global Warming Alarmists

Over the last decade, the earth has been cooling down and not warming up. That is a fact. That is not some desk-jockey theory or some computer projection. At the same time, CO2 levels have continued to rise at an even a faster rate than in the prior decade.

For those who believe that the earth is being warmed by man-driven CO2, I have some simple questions.

  • Why is it that no Global Warming projection, either current or over the last 10 years, was able to predict the cooling period that we are now going through? Even the UN's International Panel on Climate Change projections of just a couple of years ago doesn't reflect this change in our climate's direction!

  • Why is there cooling in light of higher and higher levels of CO2 if CO2, alone, is the driver of global warming?

  • Because of the above, why should we believe in the validity of any of these pro-global warming studies? When, to do so defies all logic or, even, common sense!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Ripple Effect Of High Unemployment Going Higher

Yesterday's jobs report clearly showed that this recession still has the legs to continue on for a long time to come (See Full Story). Before yesterday's numbers were announced, all those "green shoots" proponents that thought this economy was about to turn around had said that the number of jobs being lost for the month of June would only amount to about 363,000; with an unemployment rate of 9.6%. Well, the number of jobs being lost last month was much worse than expected with 467,000 workers becoming unemployed in June. Further, May's previously bad numbers were also adjusted upwards from the prior month's report with the addition of another 15,000 workers hitting the streets. However, the somewhat perplexing part of yesterday's unemployment report was the fact that, despite a worst-case number, the unemployment rate only went up by one-tenth of one percent to 9.5%.

Anyway, the Friday's Stock Market looked at those numbers and reflected backwards on some other pretty sour numbers over the last two weeks and sold off by 223 points on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. That sell off to me, as a practicing stock market technician, seems to indicate that we are well on our way to a retesting of the multi-year market lows of 6470 that were seen in just March of this year. That means that the stock market rally, for the mean time, is probably over. If we do go down to 6500 or below on the "Dow", that will be a loss of about 1800 points from where we are right now. The stock market is, in effect, saying that the recession is far from being over. This is especially true if you believe in the old adage that the stock market has a track record of predicting changes in the economic conditions of this country that are at least 9 months ahead of time. If that is the case, it means that we probably won't see a recovery until at least the second quarter of next year; depending on whether or not the stock market stops falling below 6500. That also means that we probably won't see the economic recovery in this quarter that Team Obama had predicted only 4 months ago and has consistently repeated; even as of last week. But, then, they also said that if he Stimulus Package wasn't passed, unemployment would go above 8% this year. With unemployment now a 9.5% percent, that says a lot about their "economics" prowess and their ability to give this country true economic direction and stability.

Normally, you could say that, in economic terms, unemployment is a lagging indicator and that the economy will have turned around long before the unemployment rate starts to improve again. However, for that to be a reality, it is essential that unemployment stabilizes and doesn't just keep rising. Yesterday's report shows that unemployment is still on the rise. Before anyone can be comfortable about the direction of this economy, we need to see a few months where the unemployment rate remains somewhat constant or even starts falling. Only, then, can the it be said to be truly a lagging indicator. But, this continued rise in the unemployment rate makes unemployment reporting a real-time, and not lagging, indicator. And, that fact should worry everyone.

The problem with high, going higher unemployment levels is that it has a ripple effect on the economy.

Every time a person loses their job, that is one less person who will be paying any state and/or federal income taxes. Sales tax revenues will also suffer as that idle worker cuts back on their non-essential spending. In fact, almost every newly unemployed person will then become eligible for unemployment insurance and will start feeding off the State's coffers instead of contributing to them in the form of taxes. As the number of the unemployed grows, then, too, does the State's deficits as tax revenues decrease. Eventually, as the unemployment rate rises to another new tipping point, the State legislatures must raise taxes or let people go to compensate for the substantial loss in tax revenues. When a state is forced to raise its taxes, most everyone loses some part of their disposable income. That loss of disposable income will ultimately result in less money being spent to buy the things that would normally fuel the economy. Then, too, more people will begin losing their jobs. And, unless that cycle is broken, it can just keep going on forever. That's why tax increases are so punitive and so destructive to any economy.

Furthermore, every unemployed worker will impact the economy by buying less of almost everything that is outside of their need for food staples and other essential living expenses. That means that, as unemployment rises, businesses will continue to lose business. That, then, results in more workers being laid off and, again, less tax revenues. And, so the cycle of more jobs being lost continues.

Another consequence of higher and higher unemployment is greater losses of home values. From studies, we know that about 45 percent of those mortgages that fall into foreclosure are a direct result of employment. So, as unemployment continues to rise, so will the house foreclosure rates continue to rise. Bankruptcy rates will also go up. As the foreclosure rates rise, the value of homes will continue to fall. This has a psychological impact on the consumer and the consumer will continue to pull back and save rather than spend. Again, as consumer spending retracts, unemployment rates rise as businesses are once again forced to let people go in order to adjust to lower sales. Some marginal businesses will just fold and go out of business completely. As before, State tax revenues will again fall and, ultimately, taxes will have to be raised and some number of government workers will have to be let go.

In essence, every job that is lost has a serious ripple effect on the economy. The Obama Stimulus Package was supposed to break this cycle. But, to do so, it should have impacted this economy on an immediate basis so that the spiral of unemployment was, at the very least, slowed. Sadly, this $787 billion Stimulus Package was really only slated, from its inception, to spending 20% of its funds to create any jobs. The rest was purely for social engineering programs. Worse yet, most of that funding was actually backloaded to be spent next year with only limited spending this year; when it was truly needed. Also, the actual spending has be extremely slow. Only about 10 percent of the Stimulus Package money has even been applied to this economy as most of those so-called shovel-ready jobs have been languishing in the mud of state and federal bureaucracies, mismanagement, and political-payback stupidity. Subsequently, every day that goes by, this economy becomes even more broken. As a result, the impact of any stimulus money becomes less and less effective. It truly is a situation where you either pay me a little now or pay me big-time later on. Think of it like a cavity in a tooth. If that cavity is taken care of when it's small, the cost to fill it will be relatively inexpensive. Allow it to expand to where a "cap" is needed or to where that tooth becomes abscessed and it will cost thousands to repair.

Lastly, there was one other very disturbing and important number in yesterday's jobs report. This was that the average number of hours, in a worker's week, had fallen once again. This time, the average work week fell to 33 hours. This means two things. Hourly employees are working less and, subsequently, getting less pay. It also means that full time jobs are being filled by part-time workers. Both of these facts mean that less consumer spending is flowing into the economy and there is an increasingly smaller tax base for the Federal and State governments.

This economy should have been immediately shored up back in January when the unemployment was only 7.6%. Now, at 9.5% and well on its way to at least 10%, it is becoming apparent that this economy is more like a tooth abscessing and becoming a lot more costly to fix. That means the the cost to turn this economy around is going up by the day and that is why you are now hearing a chorus of calls for a second stimulus package. But, the real fix for the economy is to shut down the current useless waste of unspent Stimulus monies and create a new package that is more broadly targeted to get this economy back on track. Let's stop the political payback to the Teacher's unions and the other unions like the Police and Firefighters and focus on the broader issues of getting the larger base of non-union workers back to work (See the Video of Obama's equivalent of Bush's "Mission Accomplished" statement that was said at his Town Hall Meeting of this week. He seems to think the Stimulus Package has done its job!)

Only when federal money is actually targeted to stem the rising rate of foreclosures will consumer sentiment rise and consumer spending resume. We need bigger tax breaks than the $13 a week that this current Stimulus package gives the consumer to stop saving and start spending. We need to stop Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) from letting their rates keep adjusting upwards so that the rate of foreclosure stops rising. The existing toxic assets like those worthless Credit Default Swaps need to be taken off the Bank's books so that our banks stop failing and stop having to be taken over the FDIC.

All the problems that existed before the passage of Obama's Stimulus Package still exist and still aren't really being addressed. What's worse, we now have states, lead by California, that are seriously close to bankruptcy. Protecting policemen, firemen, and teachers is useless if a state has to shutdown most of its fire, police stations, and schools because it can no longer pay its bills. Would someone please tell Obama that!

Not one person on Obama's economic team has ever really created a job; and, it shows! We need business leaders to come together to formulate a true plan of action. We don't need a bunch of liberal, former-lawyers who are now ideological Democrats in the House and the Senate to spend billions so that they can guarantee getting votes in the next election by paying off those groups who got them elected in this last one. If this economy keeps tanking, all that money being spent on political pay-back will only be wasted when all those Democrats, who voted for this failed Stimulus Bill, are thrown out of office.