Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Brother Can You Spare a Trillion - Obama Can!

Gingrich, regarding possible DD and dangers of Dodd-Frank legislation for financial companies. (See 1 below.)
The Arab Spring is turning into an economic swamp. (See 2 below.)
PJTV.Com - More logic to explain why Keynesian theories do not work:
"Trifecta: Obama's Economic Recovery Summer, Part II: The Wrath Of Keynes!

Trifecta looks at the failed theories of economist John Maynard Keynes, and his economic follower, President Obama. Does more government spending lead to prosperity, or does it result in more debt and a severely damaged economy? Find out."
Behind every man is a smart woman! Posted before but worth a re-posting. (See 3 below)
Brother can you spare a trillion tells the story of the dangers of compounding interest:
" Take time to watch this YouTube from Government Gone Wild. If this doesn't concern you, nothing will about our nations not pretty!"

YouTube - Brother, Can You Spare A Trillion?: Government Gone Wild! (Also, see 4 below.)
Is NATO engaged in indiscriminate bombing? Suppose Israel was bombing Tripoli as NATO is would the world remain silent? This is headline from a major newspaper: "Gadhafi Vows to Fight NATO Air strikes."
St John's gives students and the nation their money's worth. The article is also about my friend, President Chris Nelson, who several years ago was one of my speakers. (See 5 below.)
More sage comments from Tom Sowell and Walter Williams is irked. (See 6 and 6a below.)
Rand Corp is one of the best and they report Iran is within eight weeks of having the material for a nuclear bomb and the second article is about the loss of Western Civilization. Are the two connected? (See 7 below.)
Was the selling of Obamascare simply a bunch of lies? Nothing surprises me about Obama.

Now Obama must lie about the 'success' of his failed stimulus program.

Well we asked for hope and change because GW lied.

In my opinion, Americans have been lying to themselves for years and thus, they have become comfortable when others lie to them.

Do Obama and Pinocchio have something in common?(See 8 and 8a below.)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1)The Danger of the Obama Recession Turning into the Obama Depression
By Newt Gingrich

Recent reports are a grave warning sign Washington must act now to prevent the economy from becoming much worse. They make clear the urgency with which the job-killing policies of the last two years must be replaced by pro-jobs solutions for economic growth.

We learned last week U.S. housing prices have fallen more than they did during the Great Depression.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, home prices have dropped 33 percent since 2006, compared with a 31 percent decline in the 1930s. The values of bottom-tier homes have fallen a disastrous 63 percent.

Nationally, this means home prices have crashed to the levels they were at in mid-2002—nearly a decade ago—while homes in many American cities, including Atlanta, Detroit, and Las Vegas, are now selling below their price levels in January 2000. Last week’s report from Standard & Poor’s warned there is “no relief in sight” for this free-fall in prices.

In the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Washington should have done everything possible to stabilize the housing market and the economy. Instead, President Obama and Democrats in Congress took the opportunity to pass the Dodd-Frank Act, sweeping regulation of one-sixth of the economy that promises to make the crash in home prices even worse.

Dodd-Frank gives the federal government the authority to deem certain institutions “systemically important” to the financial system, and thereby subject them to unique regulations at the arbitrary discretion of the Federal Reserve and executive branch. These institutions could include banks, insurance companies, and other large financial firms.

Although the Administration claimed Dodd-Frank abolished “too big to fail,” it in effect will do the opposite, creating a class of financial institutions that have the government’s implicit backing and guarantee – potentially giving these firms an unfair advantage over competitors and even opening the possibility that the government could dictate decision-making at these firms.

The threat of arbitrary regulation becomes even more dangerous with the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which Dodd-Frank created as a virtual appendage of the Federal Reserve. In the mold of Obama’s “czars,” it will be headed a presidential appointee and draws its funding from the Federal Reserve, as opposed to appropriations from Congress. The CFPB will have wide-ranging authority to regulate financial institutions, yet remains essentially unaccountable to Congress.

The cost of compliance with the Dodd-Frank Act’s hundreds of pages of regulations, as well new ones from the CFPB, will weigh significantly on large institutions and disproportionately on small ones. The mandates the law contains pose an existential threat to community banks, which will struggle to comply with the requirement to hold more capital and the onslaught of additional rules. The law is already killing community banks and crippling loans to small businesses and homeowners.

Dodd-Frank is terrible for the housing market, which is dependent on the very lenders for whom Democrats have chosen to raise costs and uncertainty. The result is the worst drop in home values since the Great Depression.

This is a tragedy for the millions of Americans whose homes are now worth less than what they paid for them just a few years ago, and for the millions more whose houses make up a large portion of their net worth. Even the most responsible homeowners are seeing their money evaporate in a housing market distorted by bad government policy.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------2) Humpty Obumpty and the Arab Spring
By Spengler

I've been warning for months that Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and other Arab oil-importing countries face a total economic meltdown (seeFood and failed Arab states, Feb 2, and The hunger to come in Egypt, May 10). Now the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) has confirmed my warnings.

The leaders of the industrial nations waited until last weekend's Group of Eight (G-8) summit to respond, and at the initiative of United States President Barack Obama proposed; what sounds like a massive aid program but probably consists mainly of refurbishing old programs.

The egg has splattered, and all of Obumpty's horses and men can't mend it. Even the G-8's announcement was fumbled; Canada's Prime Minister Steven Harper refused to commit new money, a dissonant note that routine diplomatic preparation would have pre-empted. The numbers thrown out by the IMF are stupefying. "In the current baseline scenario," wrote the IMF on May 2, the external financing needs of the region's oil importers is projected to exceed $160 billion during 2011-13." That's almost three years' worth of Egypt's total annual imports as of 2010. As of 2010, the combined current account deficit (that is, external financing needs) of Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Morocco and Tunisia was about $15 billion a year.

What the IMF says, in effect, is that the oil-poor Arab economies - especially Egypt - are not only broke, but dysfunctional, incapable of earning more than a small
fraction of their import bill. The disappearance of tourism is an important part of the problem, but shortages of fuel and other essentials have had cascading effects throughout these economies.

"In the next 18 months," the IMF added, "a greater part of these financing
needs will need to be met from the international community because of more cautious market sentiments during the uncertain transition."

Translation: private investors aren't stupid enough to throw money down a Middle Eastern rat-hole, and now that the revolutionary government has decided to make a horrible example of deposed president Hosni Mubarak, anyone who made any money under his regime is cutting and running. At its May 29 auction of treasury bills, Egypt paid about 12% for short-term money, to its own captive banking system. Its budget deficit in the next fiscal year, the government says, will exceed $30 billion.

And the IMF's $160 billion number is only "external financing"; that is, maintaining imports into a busted economy. It doesn't do a thing to repair busted economies that import half their caloric intake, as do the oil-poor Arab nations.

Egypt's economy is in free fall. Its biggest foreign exchange earner was a tourist industry that won't come back for a decade, if ever. The IMF's $160 billion doesn't take into account the costs of teaching two-fifths of the Egyptian population to read, or raising crop yields to more than a fifth of American levels, or training university graduates to do more than stamp identity cards and shuffle papers. As the international organization made clear, this is what Egypt and its neighbors require merely to pay for essential imports.

Of course, the IMF's admission that Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Yemen can't meet the majority of their import bill without foreign aid does not increase the probability that these countries will obtain financing on that scale. On May 30, the IMF announced that it would lend $3 billion to Egypt - a tenth of its budget deficit - sometime in June. The G-8 offered the grandiose pledge of $20 billion in their own money along with $20 billion from the IMF, World Bank, and so forth, to support the "Arab Spring", with the dissension of the Canadian prime minister. But it is
unclear whether that represents new money, or a shuffling ofexisting aid commitments, or nothing whatever.

Whatever the Group of Eight actually had in mind, the proposed aid package for the misnomered Arab Spring hasalready become a punching bag for opposition budget-cutters. "Should we be borrowing money from China to turn around andgive it to the Muslim Brotherhood?" Sarah Palin asked on May 27.

Now, given that Egypt has a history of corruption when it comes to utilizing American aid, it is doubtful that the money will really help needy Egyptian people. Couple that with the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is organized to have a real shot at taking control of Egypt’s government, and one has to ask why we would send money (that we don't have) into unknown Egyptian hands," the former Republican
vice-presidential candidate added.

Whether any amount of foreign aid will stabilize Egypt's economic position is questionable, even if the industrial nations and the Arab Gulf states opened their purses, which is doubtful.

From Arab-language online media, it appears that Egypt's economic troubles have metastasized. Last month, rice disappeared from public storehouses amid press reports that official food distribution organizations were selling the
> grain by the container on the overseas market. Last week, diesel fuel was the scarce commodity, with 24-hour queues forming around gasoline stations. Foreign tankers were waiting at Port Said on the Suez Canal to pump diesel oil from storage facilities, as government officials sold the scarce commodity for cash.

This is the sort of general breakdown I observed in 1992 in Russia, following the collapse of the communist government. As an adviser to finance minister Yegor Gaidar, I heard stories of Russian officials selling unregistered trainloads of raw materials on foreign markets and depositing the proceeds in Swiss banking accounts. Anything of value that could find a buyer overseas was sold. I didn't last long as an adviser; looting and pillaging wasn't my area of competence. Russia, it should be recalled, is largely self-sufficient in food and is among the world's largest oil producers, while Egypt imports half its food. Russia had enormous resources on which to draw. Egypt, Syria and Tunisia have nothing.
For 60 years, the Egyptian army and associated crony capitalists ran the economy as a private preserve. Although the army remains in nominal charge, the public humiliation of Mubarak serves notice on the previous masters of Egypt's little universe that they are as vulnerable as their former patron. Everyone who can get out will and will take with them whatever they can.

Syria is also vulnerable to hunger, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned May 23. "Continuing unrest in Syria will not only affect economic growth bu could disrupt food distribution channels leading to severe localized shortages in main markets," according to the FAO. ''Syria hosts one of the largest urban refugee populations in the world, including nearly one million Iraqis who have become more vulnerable because of rising food and fuel prices."

Nearly 700,000 Libyan refugees have reached Libya and Egypt, fleeing their country's civil war. At least 30,000 Tunisian refugees (and likely many more) have overwhelmed camps in Italy, and perhaps a tenth of that number have drowned in the attempt to reach Europe. A large but unknown number of Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon an Turkey.

Robert Fisk wrote in the London Independent on May 30 that Turkey fears a mass influx of Syrian Kurdish refugees, so that "Turkish generals have thus prepared an operation that would send several battalions of Turkish troops into Syria itself to carve out a 'safe area' for Syrian refugees inside Assad's caliphate." The borders of the affected nations have begun to dissolve along with their economies. It will get worse fast.

(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)


Barbara Walters, of 20/20, did a story on gender roles in Kabul,
Afghanistan, several years before the Afghan conflict.

She noted that women customarily walked five paces behind their husbands.

She recently returned to Kabul and observed that women still walk behind
their husbands. Despite the overthrow of the oppressive Taliban regime, the women now seem happy to maintain the old custom.

Ms. Walters approached one of the Afghani women and asked, 'Why do you now
seem happy with an old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?'

The woman looked Ms. Walters straight in the eyes, and without hesitation
said, “Land mines.”

Moral of the story is (no matter what language you speak or where you go):

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------4)The Economy Is Worse Than You Think
Expect more bad news until someone enacts a plan to bring deficits under control without raising taxes.

The policies of the Obama administration have led to the weak condition of the American economy. Growth during the coming year will be subpar at best, leaving high or rising levels of unemployment and underemployment.

The drop in GDP growth to just 1.8% in the first quarter of 2011, from 3.1% in the final quarter of last year, understates the extent of the decline. Two-thirds of that 1.8% went into business inventories rather than sales to consumers or other final buyers. This means that final sales growth was at an annual rate of just 0.6% and the actual quarterly increase was just 0.15%—dangerously close to no rise at all. A sustained expansion cannot be built on inventory investment. It takes final sales to induce businesses to hire and to invest.

The picture is even gloomier if we look in more detail. Estimates of monthly GDP indicate that the only growth in the first quarter of 2011 was from February to March. After a temporary rise in March, the economy began sliding again in April, with declines in real wages, in durable-goods orders and manufacturing production, in existing home sales, and in real per-capita disposable incomes. It is not surprising that the index of leading indicators fell in April, only the second decline since it began to rise in the spring of 2009.

The data for May are beginning to arrive and are even worse than April's. They are marked by a collapse in payroll-employment gains; a higher unemployment rate; manufacturers' reports of slower orders and production; weak chain-store sales; and a sharp drop in consumer confidence.

How has the Obama administration contributed to this failure to achieve a robust and sustainable recovery?

The administration's most obvious failure was its misguided fiscal policies: the cash-for-clunkers subsidy for car buyers, the tax credit for first-time home buyers, and the $830 billion "stimulus" package. Cash-for-clunkers gave a temporary boost to motor-vehicle production but had no lasting impact on the economy. The home-buyer credit stimulated the demand for homes only temporarily.

As for the "stimulus" package, both its size and structure were inadequate to offset the enormous decline in aggregate demand. The fall in household wealth by the end of 2008 reduced the annual level of consumer spending by more than $500 billion. The drop in home building subtracted another $200 billion from GDP. The total GDP shortfall was therefore more than $700 billion. The Obama stimulus package that started at less than $300 billion in 2009 and reached a maximum of $400 billion in 2010 wouldn't have been big enough to fill the $700 billion annual GDP gap even if every dollar of the stimulus raised GDP by a dollar.

In fact, each dollar of extra deficit added much less than a dollar to GDP. Experience shows that the most cost-effective form of temporary fiscal stimulus is direct government spending. The most obvious way to achieve that in 2009 was to repair and replace the military equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan that would otherwise have to be done in the future. But the Obama stimulus had nothing for the Defense Department. Instead, President Obama allowed the Democratic leadership in Congress to design a hodgepodge package of transfers to state and local governments, increased transfers to individuals, temporary tax cuts for lower-income taxpayers, etc. So we got a bigger deficit without economic growth.

A second cause of the continued economic weakness is the president's emphasis on increasing tax rates. Although Mr. Obama grudgingly agreed to continue the Bush tax cuts for 2011 and 2012, his budget this year repeated his call for higher tax rates on upper-income individuals and multinational corporations. With that higher-tax cloud hanging over them, it is not surprising that individuals and businesses do not make the entrepreneurial investments and business expansions that would cause a solid recovery.

A third problem stems from the administration's lack of an explicit plan to deal with future budget deficits and with the exploding national debt. This creates uncertainty about future tax increases and interest rates that impedes spending by households and investment by businesses. The national debt has jumped to 69% of GDP this year, from 40% in 2008. It is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to reach more than 85% by the end of the decade, and to keep rising after that. The reality is even worse since ObamaCare alone will cost more than $1 trillion in its first 10 years. The president's boast that his health legislation would not "add a dime" to the national debt was possible only by combining that increased spending with proposed new taxes and with projected cuts in Medicare spending that will never occur.

Finally, there is the administration's incoherent position on the international value of the dollar. The Treasury repeats the slogan that "a strong dollar is good for America" while watching the real value of the dollar fall by 7% over the past year, and while urging the Chinese to allow the dollar to fall more quickly relative to the yuan. The lack of a consistent dollar policy adds to the uncertainty that limits business investment and hiring.

The economy will continue to suffer until there is a coherent and favorable economic policy. That means bringing long-term deficits under control without raising marginal tax rates—by cutting government outlays and by limiting the tax expenditures that substitute for direct government spending. It means lower tax rates on businesses and individuals to spur entrepreneurship and investment. And it means reforming Social Security and Medicare to protect the living standards of future retirees while limiting the cost to future taxpayers.

All of these things are doable. But the Obama administration has not done them and shows no inclination to do them in the future.

Mr. Feldstein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan, is a professor at Harvard and a member of The Wall Street Journal's board of contributors.
5)At St. John’s, a defender of liberal arts
By Daniel de Vise

The economic downturn has not been kind to liberal arts schools. Middle-income families with depleted portfolios are fleeing to public colleges. To some, the very term “liberal arts” now symbolizes impractical indulgence. Tuition is at an all-time high. So, too, are tuition discounts. The vicious cycle is driving colleges into debt.

For Christopher Nelson, that fractured business model begets a single question: What would Socrates say?

Chris Nelson is completing his 20th year as president of St. John’s College in Annapolis, one of the nation’s oldest and most distinctive schools, where there are no academic departments. At this college devoted to great works of Western civilization, Nelson has become a national spokesman for the liberal arts, a visible and passionate defender of learning for learning’s sake.

In an era when many recession-scarred parents have come to view college as a path to a higher income bracket, Nelson dares to define it as the route to a life well-lived.

“As important as the world of work is to us, we don’t live in order to get a job,” he told an audience in San Francisco this year. “But we work in order to make it possible for us to live a good life.”

Liberal arts colleges, once dominant in higher education, now command less than one-tenth of the higher-education market, which has gravitated toward schools offering more practical majors at lower price points. The sector is “always defending itself, always on the edge,” said William Durden, president of Dickinson College in Pennsylvania and fellow defender of the faith.

The Great Recession of 2008 exposed vulnerabilities at St. John’s. Applications fell from 460 in 2008 to 357 in 2010, yielding an uncharacteristically small freshman class. The average tuition discount off the school’s $54,000 annual price tag rose from 29 percent to 40 percent, driven by its commitment to meet spiraling need.

Nelson is nursing the school back to health by breaking with tradition. The famously anti-commercial school now actively recruits thousands of potential students, rather than waiting for the intellectually curious to find their way to Annapolis. Nelson even hired marketing consultants, who persuaded the school to emphasize its high graduate-school placement rates and play down the fact that St. John’s has no majors.

Yes, he thinks big thoughts. But what makes Nelson a particularly effective president, colleagues say, is his canny ability to engage with the world, a skill honed in his previous life as a labor lawyer. He is perfectly at ease parsing what he calls “the human project” with a roomful of politicians.

“I count him among the three or four most influential presidents in the country,” said David Warren, president of the D.C.-based National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

In Nelson’s office one recent morning, an industry leader on speakerphone beseeched him to lean on a prominent state lawmaker to fund capital projects at several private colleges. “I know that you have a very good relationship” with the lawmaker, she said.

Nelson made the call. The projects were funded.

When not behind his desk, Nelson crisscrosses the nation, delivering speeches in a rolling, bass-baritone voice about the transformational power of liberal learning.

“The well-educated adult,” he told a Washington group this year, “has an integrity of character, a rootedness in essentials, and a self-understanding that makes it possible to live well and consistently in an unpredictable world.”

Nelson was a founder of the Annapolis Group, a consortium of more than 100 liberal arts schools whose presidents first gathered at his residence in 1993. He was among the first presidents to boycott the U.S. News & World Report college rankings, dismissing them as foolish and withholding necessary data. Two decades later, St. John’s stands almost alone in its defiance.

Nelson, 63, did not fit the mold of future college president when he enrolled at St. John’s in 1966 with the lowest SAT scores in his class.

In the education vernacular of the time, young Christopher Nelson was “slow.” He tested poorly. He learned to read later than his younger sister. Try as he might, he could not follow a lecture.

Books delivered him from ignorance: first the Hardy Boys, then Edith Hamilton’s “Mythology,” then “The Iliad.” Soon, Christopher was reciting Homer in the family home, re-imagining the living-room rug as the river Scamander.

Great books were in his blood. His father, Charles Nelson, had hitchhiked to Annapolis from Chicago in 1941 to attend St. John’s, an intellectual pilgrim. He went for the unusual curriculum, adopted in 1937 to give the college a niche and stave off bankruptcy. The elder Nelson spent the formative years of his career disseminating those works to the masses.

Christopher Nelson grew up in the New York suburbs, the eldest of four. He rose to student-body president at White Plains High School. As a St. John’s student, he earned the nickname Hector, after the Trojan hero, for derring-do on the athletic field.

A comparatively tiny college of 500 students, with a sister campus in Santa Fe, N.M., St. John’s has one of the strongest brands in academe. The Annapolis campus traces its origins to 1696 and would probably rank among the top 50 liberal arts schools, if Nelson would cooperate. This year, U.S. News lists the school as No. 166 among national liberal arts colleges, based on incomplete data. Williams, Amherst and Swarthmore top the list.

St. John’s operates differently than other colleges. Its curriculum requires all students to read the same essential texts, in roughly the order they were written, starting with Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey.” There are no lectures, only seminars guided by faculty “tutors.”

The Program, as it is called, attracts a small group of passionate students. Nearly everyone gets in, making St. John’s less selective than its peers. But the students generally bring high test scores and a strenuous work ethic. St. John’s ranks among the top 2 percent of colleges for producing future PhDs.

Johnnies, as they are known, drop words such as “truth” and “virtue” in casual conversation. At a recent morning coffee in Nelson’s office, a student told how he was wrestling with what it means “to be just, rather than just to seem just.”

A faculty member jumped in: “Well, there’s a very good book about that, called ‘The Republic.’ ”
The steady diet of Chaucer, Copernicus, Dante and Heidegger is no cakewalk; there is a high rate of burnout. Fewer than half of Johnnies graduated when Nelson arrived. The rate now reaches 70 percent.

St. John’s has always put academics first. Practical matters, such as buildings, fundraising and money in general, were something of an afterthought before Nelson arrived.

He was an unusual choice for president. Though active on the St. John’s governing board, Nelson had never worked in academia, an odd deficit for the leader of a most cerebral college.

But colleagues say he combines administrative skill and intellectual heft. Nelson ran meetings in much the same way the tutors ran seminars: listening, thinking, deliberating.

“He’ll sit at a table forever until we get it figured out,” said Barbara Goyette, vice president of fundraising and alumni relations.

St. John’s was chewing through its tiny endowment when Nelson arrived. Nelson built it up from $27 million to $135 million. He renovated neglected facilities.

Longtime faculty have few quibbles with Nelson’s leadership. Some wish he traveled a bit less. Others say he deliberates a bit much. No one seems ready for him to retire.

“We may, if we’re very, very lucky, get someone in the future who’s as good as he is,” said Harvey Flaumenhaft, a tutor since 1968. “I don’t think we’ll ever have anyone who’s better.”

Applications to St. John’s rebounded to 394 this year. Nelson expects a larger freshman class and hopes financial aid expenditures will level off.

“Good news from admissions,” Nelson said, opening a meeting of the school’s financial committee on a recent morning. “I mean, those numbers are holding up really nicely.”
6) Different Decisions
By Thomas Sowell

Two unrelated news stories on the same day show the contrast between government decisions and private decisions.

Under the headline "Foreclosed Homes Sell at Big Discounts," USA Today reported that banks were selling the homes they foreclosed on, at discounts of 38 percent in Tennessee to 41 percent in Illinois and Ohio.

Banks in general try to get rid of the homes they acquire by foreclosure, by selling them quickly for whatever they can get. Why? Because banks are forced by economic realities to realize that they are not real estate companies.

No matter how much expertise bank officials may have in financial transactions, that is very different from knowing the best ways to maintain and market empty houses.

Meanwhile, there was a story on the Fox News Channel about schools that are using their time to indoctrinate kindergartners and fourth graders with politically correct attitudes about sex.

Anyone familiar with the low standards and mushy notions in the schools and departments of education that turn out our public school teachers might think that these teachers would have all they can do to make American children competent in reading, writing and math.

Anyone familiar with how our children stack up with children from other countries in basic education would be painfully aware that American children lag behind children in countries that spend far less per pupil than we do.

In other words, teachers and schools that are failing to provide the basics of education are branching out into all sorts of other areas, where they have even less competence.

Why are teachers so bold when banks are so cautious? The banks pay a price for being wrong. Teachers don't.

If banks try to act like they are real estate companies and hold on to a huge inventory of foreclosed homes, they are likely to lose money big time, as those homes deteriorate and cannot compete with homes marketed by real estate companies with far more experience and expertise in this field.

But if teachers fail to educate children, they don't lose one dime, no matter how much those children and the country lose by their failure. If the schools waste precious time indoctrinating children, instead of educating them, that's the children's problem and the country's problem, but not the teachers' problem.

Sex indoctrination is just one of innumerable "exciting" and "innovative" self-indulgences of the schools. There is no bottom line test of what these boondoggles cost the children or the country.

Incidentally, conservatives who think that schools should be teaching "abstinence" miss the point completely. The schools have no expertise to be teaching sex at all. We should be happy if they ever develop the competence to teach math and English, so that our children can hold their own in international tests given to children in other countries.

Schools are just one government institution that take on tasks for which they have no expertise or even competence.

Congress is the most egregious example. In the course of any given year, Congress votes on taxes, medical care, military spending, foreign aid, agriculture, labor, international trade, airlines, housing, insurance, courts, natural resources, and much more.

There are professionals who have spent their entire adult lives specializing in just one of these fields. They idea that Congress can be competent in all these areas simultaneously is staggering. Yet, far from pulling back-- as banks or other private enterprises must, if they don't want to be ruined financially by operating beyond the range of their competence-- Congress is constantly expanding further into more fields.

Having spent years ruining the housing markets with their interference, leading to a housing meltdown that has taken the whole economy down with it, politicians have now moved on into micro-managing automobile companies and medical care.

They are not going to stop unless they get stopped. And that is not going to happen until the voters recognize the fact that political rhetoric is no substitute for competence.

6a)Irksome Things
By Walter E. Williams

There are a lot of things, large and small, that irk me. One of them is our tendency to evaluate a presidential candidate based on his intelligence or academic credentials. When Obama threw his hat in the ring, people thought he was articulate and smart and hailed his intellectual credentials. Just recently, when Newt Gingrich announced his candidacy, people hailed his intellectual credentials and smartness as well.

By contrast, the intellectual elite and mainstream media people see Sarah Palin as stupid, a loose cannon and not to be trusted with our nuclear arsenal. There was another presidential candidate who was also held to be stupid and not to be trusted with our nuclear arsenal who ultimately became president -- Ronald Reagan. I don't put much stock into whether a political leader is smart or not because, as George Orwell explained, "Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them."

All the evidence that I see is that academics and intellectuals have messed up the world. I challenge anyone to show me a major calamity that was engineered by a stupid, inarticulate person, but those caused by intelligent, articulate persons are too numerous to count, from the likes of Hitler, Stalin and Mao to Woodrow Wilson, FDR and Obama.

My vision of a good presidential candidate is a person with ordinary intelligence but great respect and love for our Constitution. Maybe Palin's and Reagan's respect and love for our Constitution qualified them as dumb in the eyes of the mainstream media, intellectuals and academics.

There are less important things that irk me. One of them is teleological explanations. I've listened to TV weather reports and heard the weatherman say, "There will be morning clouds, but the sun will try to come out later in the day." Often, the weatherman's predication is wrong, and it remains cloudy all day. Would the weatherman explain that the day remained cloudy because the sun didn't try hard enough? Trying to do something is purposeful behavior. Inanimate objects cannot engage in purposeful behavior.

Another mini-irk is to hear someone say something such as "Dave and myself went shopping." My question might be that if Dave hadn't come along, how would you describe what you did? Would you say, "Myself went shopping?" Grammar lesson: Myself is a reflexive pronoun. As such, it must be preceded by a pronoun to which it refers, namely its antecedent, within the same sentence. For example: "I, myself, wrote this column."

Another grammatical irritant is a statement such as "John is taller than me." Hearing such a grammatical error, Dr. Martin Rosenberg, my high school English teacher, would pitch a fit, sarcastically asking, "Do you mean John is taller than me am?" He'd explain that am is the elliptical, or understood, verb in the sentence, and the subject of any verb must be in the nominative case; therefore, the sentence should be, "John is taller than I."

An irritant along mathematical lines is when the telephone information operator tells me that the number for the party I wish to reach is 285-77o-8855. On occasion, I've asked the operator whether I'd reach my party if I dialed 77o. She'd reply that I'd have to dial 770. Then I'd ask her why she told me to dial 77o, telling her there is a difference between o and zero. I would explain that the letter o is defined as a vowel and the 15th letter of our alphabet. By contrast, zero is defined as a number that when added or subtracted from another number does not change the value of that number. Needless to say, our conversation would go downhill and reach a strained and unpleasant end.

One shouldn't expect to go through a day, much less life, without annoyances of one kind or another, but I thought I'd share a few of mine with the people who read my column.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

7)RAND Corp: Iran 8 weeks from the Bomb
By James Lewis

According to a RAND report, the United States and the world have blown the chance to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon. Half a year ago, US air strikes and a no-fly zone might have prevented a nuclear bomb in the hands of the martyrdom ideology of Khomeinist Iran. That window has now slammed shut. In about 8 weeks, the RAND report concludes, Iran will have the nuclear material for its first bomb.

RAND Corporation's Gregory S. Jones believes that Iran has produced almost 40 kilograms of uranium enriched near 20% percent. Jones suggests that air strikes can no longer stop Ahmadinejad's rush to nuclear weapons.

It appears that the Obama administration knowingly allowed the optimal window of opportunity against Iranian nuclear weapons to pass. As a result, the world has suddenly become immensely more dangerous.

The slogan "Death to Israel! Death to America!" has been chanted on a daily basis by mass meetings in Iran. It is sheer wishful thinking to believe that after 30 years of daily threats they don't really mean it. The Obama Administration either believes there is no looming nuclear threat, or that it's willing to live with it. But the Saudis and other neighboring countries don't agree.

Thirty years after Jimmy Carter allowed Iran to be conquered by the Ayatollah Khomeini, a proponent of martyrdom war to spread Shiite Islam, Iran has the means to strike countries it has threatened directly, including Saudi Arabia and Israel. Iran's ballistic missile program, with major North Korean help, may be able to reach the United States by 2015. ICBMs only require a flight time of about half an hour.

It is likely that Saudi Arabia and possibly Egypt will import their own nuclear weapons from Pakistan, which is now rushing to build an advanced plant for uranium production. An American nuclear scientist who visited a North Korean centrifuge plant recently reported that the plant he saw was so advanced it could only have been built with Chinese help. North Korea therefore seems to have been working as a Chinese proxy to promote worldwide proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Iran is dominated by a martyrdom ideology. Ahmadinejad was likely involved in mass suicide charges in the Iran-Iraq war, in which boys wearing green plastic "Keys to Paradise" were ordered to drive their motorcycles into Saddam Hussein's minefields. Ahmadinejad is thought to be a "Twelver," a devout believer in the Shiite Mahdi (messiah), who will bring Armageddon to infidels and victory to an extremist sect of Shi'ism.

No nuclear war has occurred in the last sixty years since Stalin's (stolen) atom bomb explosion. Rational nations do not commit suicide. The Iranian Twelver regime is the first openly suicide-promoting regime since the Japanese Imperial cult of World War II. Ahmadinejad is a religious fanatic who claims to have direct conversations with Allah and the Twelfth Imam, a claim that has led to internal struggles between Ayatollah Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard factions. Khamenei recently arrested Ahmadinejad supporters accusing them of practicing witchcraft against the dominance of the religious elite.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor when Khomeini overthrew the Shah, has recently said that Obama's demand for Israel to pull back to its 1949 ceasefire lines was not strong enough. Brzezinski apparently wants greater concessions from Israel.

Newt Gingrich has called Obama's demand "an invitation for Israel to commit suicide." Michele Bachmann has called it "a betrayal" of Israel.

It is now beyond serious doubt that Obama and Carter have empowered the most radical and dangerous forces in the Islamic world.

1. In 1979 Jimmy Carter brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power by undermining the Shah, who was a modernizer and relatively enlightened on issues like women's education. The result is 30 years of a reactionary Islamist regime, the Iran-Iraq war, and now, nuclear weapons.

2. A few months ago Obama publicly pushed Hosni Mubarak out of power in Egypt. The result has been a rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and an apparent breakdown of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. The Saudis are outraged and frightened by the "Arab Spring," which is bringing down regimes all over the Arab world. Pakistan is ready to supply the Saudis and Egypt with nuclear weapons, probably backed by China.

The world has had 30 years to prepare for this moment. Only the United States has the military power to knock down Iran's nuclear industry and impose a no-fly zone that will keep Iranian missiles and aircraft from being launched. Israel is motivated to do it, but cannot sustain a long air campaign. The only option Israel seems to have is to launch its own weapons of mass destruction first.

Dr. Jones' eight-week estimate for the first Iranian Bomb may be off by weeks or months. Nobody can doubt that we will be facing a nuclear Iran some time soon. George W. Bush was mercilessly mocked for launching a preemptive war against Saddam Hussein because Bush did not want to take the risk that Saddam might have WMD's. It now appears that Obama has failed to preempt Iran's nuclear breakout. We will therefore have an opportunity soon to find out what happens when the United States does not try prevent rogue regimes from getting nukes.

7a)Enrichment transfer to Fordo: Iran's slap in the face for Obama, IAEA and Israel

Iran struck another blow in its nuclear offensive against the world. Tuesday, June 7, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad termed Iran's nuclear program "a train with no brakes or reverse gear" after Tehran announced the deployment of submarines in the Red Sea. Wednesday, Iran's vice president and atomic chief Fereydoon Abbasi Davani said Iran's 20-percent uranium enrichment work would be transferred from Natanz to Fordo this summer. Purification capacity would be tripled, he said, by improved centrifuges.

Military sources report that this move further shortens Iran's road to weapons grade uranium of 90 percent.

Last November, Abbasi Davani escaped an attempt of his life in northern Tehran, for which Iran held Israel responsible.

Fordo is a well-guarded underground facility situated near the military installations surrounding the holy city of Qom and protected by air defense missile batteries. It was burrowed deep into the side of a mountain. These features make the facility all but invulnerable to an American or Israel air strike.

The very name Fordo is a red flag for US President Barack Obama.

In Pittsburgh on Sept. 25, 2009, Obama appeared before the world media, flanked by the British prime minister of the day, George Brown, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, to reveal the existence of the surreptitious Iranian enrichment facility at Fordo. He gaveTehran two weeks to open up the facility to full International Atomic Energy Agency inspectionand disclose the plans for the site, failing which Washington, London and Paris would pursue joint action against the Islamic Republic.
The answer Iran gave was that the US president's allegations were baseless and the nuclear watchdog inspectors were welcome.

The UN inspectors arrived at the Fordo subterranean facility a month later and returned to Vienna to report they found nothing – neither centrifuges for enrichment nor nuclear materials. Two more UN inspections produced the same result.

Iran's announcement Wednesday demonstrates that in 2009, it made a fool of Western leaders, especially President Obama, and tricked the international atomic agency inspectors.Enrichment uranium to 20 percent meanwhile takes Iran another big step towards attaining the fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Three years ago, Obama accused Tehran of concealment and deceit. Today, the Iranians no longer bother to conceal the true function of the Fordo facility - or even that 3,000 advanced centrifuges will be working there when the plant reaches full capacity.

Iran's rulers feel they can be afford to be barefaced about their activities because they are certain that neither the US nor Israel with take military action against the Fordo plant. They do not find the condemnation of world powers or the nuclear watchdog too burdensome to live with.

7b)Obama and the End of Western Civilization
By Steve McCann

The global and domestic landscape is one of turmoil, indecision, and uncertainty. Everywhere one looks there is chaos and potential disaster, whether in the financial, economic, or political sphere. Since the beginning of the post-World War II era there has been one constant that has been the stabilizing force in the world: the stature, power, and influence of the United States. In a matter of a few short years the Obama presidency has deliberately and overwhelmingly eroded America's pre-eminence, which has resulted in global instability and domestic unease.

Barack Obama assumed the office of the presidency as a man brought up and steeped in 1960's radicalism, which advanced the doctrine that America, as the lone Western superpower, represented the evil nature of colonialism and capitalism's exploitation of the masses -- whether there was any truth in this assertion or that the United States was guilty of these sins was irrelevant. The material and military success of America and the West could only have come about from expropriating the wealth and labor of the peoples of the world.

This is a simplistic and emotional argument and one that refuses to take into account the basic nature of the human race and its failings and foibles. Mankind always has and always will have as its preeminent trait the need to survive, and to that end human beings are susceptible to committing crimes and exploiting their fellow man. Thus any society will always have many failings, but the key measure of any civilization is what it does to control those tendencies and strive for an equitable culture. No nation or culture in history has done more to advance the well-being of mankind than the United States and Western civilization.

However to the Marxist mindset of the radical left, only they, utilizing the vehicle of a massive central government, could control mankind's nature and create a fair society. It is the ideal philosophy for those who, so enamored with themselves, can wallow in their self-importance and rule with a heavy hand the same masses they claim to protect. Under no circumstances, therefore, can these revolutionaries defend or profess admiration for their country; instead they must not only transform the United States into a villain, but destroy any vestiges of its accomplishments in order to permanently retain control over the populace and exact revenge for the alleged transgressions of the West.

Barack Obama has spent his entire life, from birth to the present, marinated in this mindset. He is thus incapable of change or being receptive to any other viewpoint, as that would be an admission of failure. His chief concern is himself, the retention and expansion of government power as well as the plight of the third world, rather than the suffering of the average American citizen facing economic and societal ruin.

He and his fellow-travelers can thus justify bankrupting the country as a necessary part of the remaking and absolution of the United States. He can show disdain and at times outright hostility toward age-old European allies who were, in his mind, the original sinners in the exploitation of the downtrodden. He has no compunction in forcing Israel, as an outpost of Western civilization, to compromise and bend to all the demands of the Palestinians. To Barack Obama there is no overriding American interest in virtually all foreign matters except to take a back seat and surrender its influence to other mainly non-Western powers.

He continues to pursue many of George Bush's policies against terrorism and the war in Afghanistan, while taking steps designed to assure America does not win the conflict in the long-term. His short-term goal is to be certain a terrorist attack within the United States does not occur in the next two years as that would doom his re-election chances and put in jeopardy his agenda. Meanwhile he willingly discards old allies in the Middle East while turning a blind eye and tacitly promoting the radicalization of many countries in the region.

He relies on his ego-driven messianic demeanor and skin color to intimidate both domestic political adversaries and international allies, while believing the same traits will cause those in the non-Western world to view him as their savior.

It is now inarguable that the 1980's were the high-water mark of competent and viable American international leadership in the post-World War II era. Today, during the Obama years, the international scene is led by arguably the least competent and most easily intimidated, as the majority of world leaders consist of those whose principal interests are themselves and the trappings of office. They are unwilling or unable to challenge the ruinous economic and foreign policies of President Obama and they fail to understand that the United States, under his leadership, will no longer be the leader of the free world but will instead be just another socialist member of the global community while atoning for its supposed sins of the past.

There are no world leaders, with one or two exceptions, willing to look Barack Obama as well as their own citizens in the eye and tell them the unadulterated truth, as they are incapable of handling the truth themselves, much less knowing what to do about the situations and dilemmas at hand. They react instead with futile collectivist theories promulgated by self-proclaimed and egocentric intellectuals who themselves have no worldly experience.

The financial dilemma in Europe continues on, and will fester until the European Union collapses, as those in charge remain adamant in their failed strategy of bailouts and subsidies -- a collapse, together with ruinous American fiscal and monetary policy, that will trigger another worldwide financial crisis.

Many global leaders are enamored with and dote on the terms democracy and self-determination in the Middle East and the rest of the world. However, people do not aspire to self-determination as an end in itself; they aspire to the freedom and prosperity that democracy can potentially bring about. Thus, these same heads of state are helping overthrow governments in nations once allied with the West because of a sophomoric and naïve adherence to mere words and a concurrent unwillingness to understand who is behind the "democracy movements and self-determination." This disastrous scenario has been repeated constantly over the past century.

The most insidious trait of the worlds so-called "best and brightest" is their naiveté and inability to admit their mistakes. Until today's narcissistic global ruling class, particularly in America, are replaced by those willing to face reality and act accordingly, the world will continue to become an increasingly dangerous place.

Unfortunately there is, currently, a president who does not believe in American Exceptionalism and is determined to allow chaos, both domestic and international, to metastasize and change the United States and world forever. This mindset, combined with a lack of forceful leaders of other nations, will result in another financial catastrophe, the rise of a hegemonic China, an inevitable military conflict in the Middle East, and the spread of radical Islam. The ultimate goal of the fall of Western civilization will then be realized, but at a massive and bloody cost. The handwriting is on the wall; will anyone pay attention?
8) No, You Can't Keep Your Health Insurance
A new study by McKinsey suggests that as many as 78 million Americans could lose employer health coverage.
By Grace-Marie Turner

ObamaCare will lead to a dramatic decline in employer-provided health insurance—with as many as 78 million Americans forced to find other sources of coverage.

This disturbing finding is based on my calculations from a survey by McKinsey & Company. The survey, published this week in the McKinsey Quarterly, found that up to 50% of employers say they will definitely or probably pursue alternatives to their current health-insurance plan in the years after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014. An estimated 156 million non-elderly Americans get their coverage at work, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Before the health law passed, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that only nine million to 10 million people, or about 7% of employees who currently get health insurance at work, would switch to government-subsidized insurance. But the McKinsey survey of 1,300 employers across industries, geographies and employer sizes found "that reform will provoke a much greater response" and concludes that the health overhaul law will lead to a "radical restructuring" of job-based health coverage.

Another McKinsey analyst, Alissa Meade, told a meeting of health-insurance executives last November that "something in the range of 80 million to 100 million individuals are going to change coverage categories in the two years" after the insurance mandates take effect in 2014.

Many employees who will need to seek another source of coverage will take advantage of the health-insurance subsidies for families making as much as $88,000 a year. This will drive up the cost of ObamaCare.

In a study last year, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, estimated that an additional 35 million workers would be moved out of employer plans and into subsidized coverage, and that this would add about $1 trillion to the total cost of the president's health law over the next decade. McKinsey's survey implies that the cost to taxpayers could be significantly more.

The McKinsey study, "How US health care reform will affect employee benefits," predicts that employers will either drop coverage altogether, offer defined contributions for insurance, or offer coverage only to certain employees. The study concludes that 30% of employers overall will definitely or probably stop offering health insurance to their workers. However, among employers with a high awareness of the health-reform law, this proportion increases to more than 50%.

The employer incentives to alter or cease coverage under the health-reform law are strong. According to the study, at least 30% of employers would gain economically from dropping coverage, even if they completely compensated employees for the change through other benefit offerings or higher salaries. That's because they no longer would be tethered to health-insurance costs that consistently rise faster than inflation.

Employers should think twice if they believe the fine for not offering coverage will stay unchanged at $2,000 per worker. "If many companies drop health insurance coverage, the government could increase the employer penalty or raise taxes," according to the new study, authored by McKinsey consultants Shubham Singhal, Jeris Stueland and Drew Ungerman.

The case for repeal of ObamaCare grows stronger every year. The massive shift of health costs to taxpayers thanks to the disruption of employer-sponsored health insurance will add further to the burgeoning federal budget deficit. Congress can and must develop policies that allow the marketplace to evolve and not be forced into ObamaCare's regulatory straitjacket.

Ms. Turner is president of the Galen Institute and a co-author of "Why ObamaCare Is Wrong for America" (Broadside/HarperCollins, 2011).

8a)The Stimulus Was…Too Small? Seriously?
By John Podhoretz

By now it is clear to everyone that the Obama administration bungled the 2009 stimulus package. The dispute now is over the reasons for its failure. The conventional wisdom is coalescing around a view crystallized in a column by Mr. Conventional Wisdom himself, Charlie Cook of the National Journal: “The administration’s initial response, the much-maligned economic-stimulus package, was far too modest and unfocused.”

Cook is a rational analyst, so it is striking that he is able to advance an argument that is, on its face, nothing short of demented. The idea that the 2009 stimulus, which cost $840 billion, could have been less “modest” and more “focused” does violence to the facts of very recent American history and to the arugments made for the stimulus by its advocates at the time.

Even at its “far too modest” size, the stimulus was, by leagues, the costliest such effort in American history. Its astounding price tag was justified during the debate over its passage by the fact that there was a genuine economic emergency that had to be addressed. And the mere fact of addressing it with enormous public resources was, we were told, enough to do the trick almost on its own. The central point of taking emergency measures, we were told, was precisely not to focus them but to cause them to wash over the economy as a whole.

How many times during that emergency were we reminded of the supposed wisdom of John Maynard Keynes, who wrote in 1930 that it was enough to employ a man to perform any task at hand to create the conditions for macroeconomic growth? Simply “to dig holes in the ground,” Keynes wrote, “paid for out of savings, will increase, not only employment, but the real national dividend of useful goods and services.” This is the famous “multiplier effect” we also heard so much about, according to which $1 in government spending would blossom into $3 of value for the entire economy. In effect, we were told by the most enthusiastic believers in the magic of the multiplier effect, that for $840 billion in spending, we’d get more than $2 trillion in economic activity.

It’s also important to remember that the stimulus wasn’t the first bite at the apple. It followed the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program, itself a proposal of unprecedented size and scope, which was brought into being in September 2008. TARP’s managers did they thought was necessary to save the American and world economies from collapse, but the dishonesty in the execution—using the money for purposes other than the removal of the “troubled assets” for which the program was named—had created an unprecedented level of grassroots distrust of Washington’s economic policies, and not only within the GOP. Leftist populists like Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone made the most violent possible cases against the crony capitalism that seemed to be on display with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson favoring his own former firm, Goldman Sachs, above all others as the crisis progressed.

The point here is that in the reckoning of the public, $700 billion in taxpayer dollars had already been spent to right the economy. The notion that Congress could have passed a stimulus bill twice the size of the one that did—Paul Krugman’s idea—was then and is now preposterous. Obama’s stimulus was as large as it could possibly have been, and the parlous results indicate it was vastly larger than it should have been.

The growing consensus is that Obama’s economic policies have failed, and precisely in the ways that those skeptical of the stimulus predicted. The most expensive government intervention into the economy in this country’s history proved to have negligible macroeconomic impact. (UPDATE: A friend points out that if one adds together all the efforts taken by the administration to stimulate the economy directly, the number is not $840 billion but something like $2.1 trillion.) This fact should force supporters of the stimulus to acknowledge that the problem was not with the stimulus as it was implemented, but with the very idea of stimulus itself. And they just can’t.

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