Saturday, November 21, 2009

Unraveling of the Society, Faster and Faster

Fellow SKF MB member Temo1051 has a post on his blog titled "The Critical Unraveling of the U.S. Society".

Here are some pieces of anecdotal evidence of the unraveling, which seems to be accelerating with almost each passing hour.

Police: Man fatally stabbed over NYC subway seat (11/21/09 AP via Yahoo News)

As other passengers watched in horror. (Just watched?)

Bathe or Tase: Police Officer Tasers 10-Year-Old Girl Who Refused to Take Shower (11/19/09 Jonathan Turley)

And this was done at the suggestion of the girl's mother. I hope the father gets the full custody of the girl as soon as possible.

Police Shoot VA Man Suspected of Stealing Flowers (11/17/09 WHSV.COM)

David Alan Masters, 52-year old self-employed cabinetmaker and a former Green Beret, was shot dead by Fairfax county police because he allegedly refused to pull over. When he was fatally shot, he was sitting at the wheel of his SUV and he was unarmed. Police didn't report the incident until 4 days later.

Do you still believe in "change"? Do you think "change" is good?

Senate Health Bill Gives Louisiana $300 Million

not $100 million. Vote-buying? Hell no, it is business as usual.

This is a piece of news from 2 days ago:

The $100 Million Health Care Vote?
(Jonathan Karl, ABC News The Note)

"What does it take to get a wavering senator to vote for health care reform?

"Here’s a case study.

"On page 432 of the Reid bill, there is a section increasing federal Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster.”

"The section spends two pages defining which “states” would qualify, saying, among other things, that it would be states that “during the preceding 7 fiscal years” have been declared a “major disaster area.”

"I am told the section applies to exactly one state: Louisiana, the home of moderate Democrat Mary Landrieu, who has been playing hard to get on the health care bill.

"In other words, the bill spends two pages describing would could be written with a single world: Louisiana. (This may also help explain why the bill is long.)

"Senator Harry Reid, who drafted the bill, cannot pass it without the support of Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu.

"How much does it cost? According to the Congressional Budget Office: $100 million."

The ABC article has the actual section (Section 2006 of the Senate health care bill).

And now? Did it work? Sure it did. In another sneaky vote done on the Saturday evening (8 PM EST), the bill had just enough votes (60, super-majority) to move to debate. Louisiana, thanks to Ms. Mary Landrieu, would receive not $100 million but $300 million:

Landrieu defends state funding in heath bill
(11/21/09 Politico Live Pulse) [emphasis is mine]

"Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu defended a provision in the health bill that would send $300 million to her state, saying it was not the reason she will vote in favor of moving the bill forward. Insiders questioned whether the money was dropped in as a sweetener to win her vote."

"“I’m proud to have asked for it and I’m proud to have fought for it and I will continue to. That is not the reason I am moving the debate," Landrieu said, adding that the entire Louisiana congressional delegation and Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal support the provision."

[Well, who wouldn't? Free money for them.]

""And, in typical Louisiana fashion, Landrieu corrected reports, based on a Congressional Budget Office estimate, that the provision would cost $100 million. In fact, she said, it will bring home Louisiana $300 million."

$300 million to buy her vote, which was really, very, truly, absolutely critical in securing the Saturday's vote to move the bill to debate. The vote was 60 to 39, and Reid needed all of 60 votes.

Louisiana, by the way, is suffering from budget shortfall partly due to its ever-expanding state payroll. Under the Republican governor, as the state revenue has decreased, the state payroll increased by 3%, with the largest job gain in the higher incomes. (For more, read this news from February this year.)

I wonder what has been promised to the other wavering Democratic Senator, Ms. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

Friday, November 20, 2009

FHA Loans in San Francisco for Young Speculators

Anything wrong with this picture? (Nah.)

Three 20-somethings get together and buy a two-unit apartment complex for nearly a million dollars in San Francisco, pay $33,000 as downpayment, as the rest comes from low-rate FHA mortgage, fully guaranteed by the federal government.

With FHA Help, Easy Loans in Expensive Areas
(David Streitfeld, 11/20/09 New York Times via Yahoo Finance)

"SAN FRANCISCO -- In January, Mike Rowland was so broke that he had to raid his retirement savings to move here from Boston.

"A week ago, he and a couple of buddies bought a two-unit apartment building for nearly a million dollars. They had only a little cash to bring to the table but, with the federal government insuring the transaction, a large down payment was not necessary.

""It was kind of crazy we could get this big a loan," said Mr. Rowland, 27. "If a government official came out here, I would slap him a high-five.""

How did they accomplish this feat?

"The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 helped change that by temporarily doubling the maximum loan the F.H.A. insured, to $729,750. A two-unit property like the one bought by Mr. Rowland and his friends can be insured for up to $934,200."

""We were resigned to waiting another year," said a second partner, Michael Bedar, 31. "Then we read about the F.H.A. I had never heard of it before, and couldn't quite believe it. But it was the answer to our problems." They put down about $33,000, split among the three of them."

"Their building, for which they paid $963,000, is on a quiet street in the up-and-coming Hayes Valley neighborhood, close to fashionable restaurants they have already been trying out. The friends plan to live in the bottom unit and rent out the top. Thanks to rock-bottom interest rates, none of them will pay much more than a thousand dollars a month. "Everyone should have the chance to do this," Mr. Kurland [third partner] said."

""We're banking on real estate," said Mr. Kurland, 24. "Everyone expects prices to keep going up.""

3.4% down for a $963,000 property that they purchased for speculation (investment). Fully insured and guaranteed by the federal government.

The article concludes with these sentences:

"Everyone may get a chance.

"A few weeks ago, Congress extended the higher lending limits for another year. Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview that he planned to introduce legislation next year raising the maximum F.H.A. loan by $100,000, to $839,750.

"His bill would make the new limits permanent."

Why stop at $839,750? Let the good time rolling again, shall we? The country is broke anyway.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Senate Health Care Bill Is Bigger than House Bill

and probably contains just about everything they wished for all along.

Not to be outdone by Pelosi, Harry Reid has unveiled his 2,074-page health care "reform" bill. Not to be discouraged by the sheer size, I've started peeking in. The Table of Contents alone constitutes 14 pages.

This bill is supposed to reduce the federal deficit. How? By sucking up the money from you, the taxpayers. So the government may or may not reduce the deficit which has suddenly become important (even Obama mentioned it), but you can be sure it will cost you more, as that's where the money for the government comes from.

The following is taken from the Table of Contents of the bill (I found the link to the entire bill from CNN). It looks like a list of revenue sources to fund this monstrosity of a "reform". [My quick find is in the square bracket. I will add as I read more.]

Subtitle A—Revenue Offset Provisions

Sec. 9001. Excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored health coverage.
[Tax equal to 40% of "excess benefit", which is defined as any monthly benefit in excess of 1/12 of $8500 for self-only plan, 1/12 of $23000 for coverage other than self-only.]

Sec. 9002. Inclusion of cost of employer-sponsored health coverage on W–2.
Sec. 9003. Distributions for medicine qualified only if for prescribed drug or insulin.

Sec. 9004. Increase in additional tax on distributions from HSAs and Archer
MSAs not used for qualified medical expenses.
[IRS codes are modified to increase the tax from 10% to 20% on HSAs, 15% to 20% for Archer MSAs.]

Sec. 9005. Limitation on health flexible spending arrangements under cafeteria
Sec. 9006. Expansion of information reporting requirements.

Sec. 9007. Additional requirements for charitable hospitals.
[If they fail to qualify, they will have to pay $50,000 tax.]

Sec. 9008. Imposition of annual fee on branded prescription pharmaceutical
manufacturers and importers.
[If the sales receipt is less than $5 million, 0% of the receipt is taxable. More than $5 million but less than $125 million, 10%. More than $125 million but less than $225 million, 40%. More than $225 million but less than $400 million, 75%. Over $400 million, 100% of the receipt is taxable. They call it "annual fee", but it is an excise tax.]

Sec. 9009. Imposition of annual fee on medical device manufacturers and importers.
Sec. 9010. Imposition of annual fee on health insurance providers.
Sec. 9011. Study and report of effect on veterans health care.
Sec. 9012. Elimination of deduction for expenses allocable to Medicare Part D
Sec. 9013. Modification of itemized deduction for medical expenses.
Sec. 9014. Limitation on excessive remuneration paid by certain health insurance
Sec. 9015. Additional hospital insurance tax on high-income taxpayers.
Sec. 9016. Modification of section 833 treatment of certain health organizations.

Sec. 9017. Excise tax on elective cosmetic medical procedures.
[Botox tax is back! Cosmetic procedures are taxed at 5%. What's "cosmetic" anyway? It is a procedure that: "is not necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or disfiguring disease". (Is aging considered "disfiguring disease"? I'm thinking about Pelosi's botox and Biden's hair transplant.)]

Just remember, whatever added cost is to these entities - hospitals, insurance companies, medical device manufacturers, you will end up paying as those costs are passed on as higher price tags for their goods and services.

Lower Dollar to Sell More Treasuries?

Is that what Geithner and Bernanke have been doing?

Treasury Secretary Timmy Geithner periodically espouses his "support" for stronger dollar, no matter how he may get ridiculed. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke recently said he was "watching the dollar drop closely". He may have meant that he was watching the dollar closely to make sure it weakens in an orderly manner, but it was generally interpreted as he is concerned about weak dollar. Even the spendthrift president of the U.S. chimed in, saying he was concerned about the growing government debt.

Weak dollar means stronger Euro, yen, yuan, ruble, real, etc. Foreigners who holds U.S. dollar-denominated assets (majority of them in the form of Treasury notes and bonds) doesn't like to see their assets decline in value as the dollar tumbles. So what do they do, other than protest to Geithner and Obama when they have a chance?

They buy U.S. Treasuries.

According to the Treasury Department's Treasury International Capital (TIC) data released on November 17, foreigners (including foreign central banks) increased their holdings of U.S. Treasuries in September. Treasury auctions of all durations continue to enjoy decent bid to cover ratios, and the rates are getting lower.

In September, total foreign Treasury holdings increased from $3,452.9 billion in August to $3,497.3 billion. It is a fifth-consecutive increase since April this year, coinciding with the stock market turnaround. Year over year, it marks 25% increase. Foreign central banks hold $2,369.5 billion Treasury bills, notes and bonds, or 68.6% of the total foreign holdings.

Foreigners, governments and private entities alike, are defending the dollar by buying up the Treasuries.

So, Geithner, Bernanke, and Obama don't need to do a thing. They can just sit pretty, occasionally express their verbal support for a stronger dollar to placate the foreign creditors, and simply let the dollar slide gradually. As long as the slide is gradual, they can rope in more and more buyers who hope to arrest the decline of their asset value by buying up Treasuries.

Some might say they can't do a thing. If the dollar strengthens too much or too rapidly, that would jeopadize the dollar carry trade, particularly the one engaged by the foreign governments (issuance of U.S. dollar-denominated bonds; here's a post from October, by The Debts of a Nation blog).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Complaint Free Wednesday Bill


Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is looking for his colleagues' support on his legislation to mandate Wednesday before Thanksgiving a "Complaint Free Wednesday".

If you don't believe me, you can read it here.

Frank to Consider Fed Audit Amendment Tomorrow

Ron Paul already said his bill "has been gutted", thanks to Mel.

Bloomberg reports that Barney Frank's committee (House Financial Services Committee) will take up "Fed audit proposals". The article isn't quite clear on what exactly will be taken up, but it looks like the amendment by North Carolina Democrat Mel Watt, which Texas Republican Ron Paul has said "has gutted" his proposal, H.R. 1207 (which has wide bipartisan support of 310 co-sponsors in the 435-member House).

Huffington Post is more explicit, and surprisingly forthcoming in denouncing the Watt amendment:

Audit The Fed Effort Under Threat in House
(Ryan Grim, 11/17/2009 Huffington Post)

"A bipartisan effort to force transparency on the Federal Reserve is suddenly in jeopardy after a House Financial Services Committee member introduced an amendment that would let the multi-trillion dollar organization continue throwing tax dollars around in secret.

"Rep. Mel Watt, a Democrat from North Carolina, has introduced an amendment intended as an alternative to the measure to audit the Federal Reserve introduced by Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Alan Grayson's (D-Fla.) . But instead of increasing transparency, as the amendment claims to do, Watt's measure would instead make the institution more opaque."

The article has a link to Watt's amendment, which I reproduce here.

According to the article, Representative Watt, whose district is a home to one of the largest recipients of the Fed bailout money (Bank of America), has said that his amendment will provide unprecedented transparency. But the writer of the article doesn't buy that argument:

"In fact, the critics are conceding no such thing. "The Watt Amendment, as written today, actually places new restrictions on the little authority that exists, such as it is, for independent auditing of the Fed," Grayson said. "It keeps in place all existing restrictions and adds four more. So I don't see why anybody would reasonably think that it creates unprecedented authority to audit the Fed."

"The devil, as always, is in the details. While Watt's amendment talks a big game about opening up the Fed to a complete audit, all of the new powers granted must be carried out "each case in accordance with subsections (b) and (e)."

"Those subsections of the current law delineate the many restrictions that an auditor confronts when seeking to audit the Fed. Watt's measure not only leaves those in place but requires all audits to abide by them.

"And in addition to the current restrictions in place, it creates new ones. An auditor could not look at loans or liquidity arrangements the Fed enters into, the terms of those arrangements, or the effect of those loans and other liquidity deals on "reserves, the balance sheet or financial condition of a Federal reserve bank or the Federal Reserve System."

Florida Representative Grayson is downright sarcastic:

""The new exemptions are described as limited but they are extremely broad," Grayson said. They're so broad, in fact, that there would be very little left for an auditor to look into. What could an auditor check up on?

""Count the pencils on the desks," Grayson speculated. "Perhaps check on proper Metro card usage.""

I want to add two problems I see regarding "Audit the Fed".

First, the Federal Reserve is audited, contrary to the claim otherwise, by one of the large accounting firms (Deloitte & Touche). So, those people demanding the audit because "it's never been done" are showing their ignorance.

Second, the root problem seems to me to be the fact that the Federal Reserve doesn't do their books like other banks, corporations, or even non-profit organizations. The Federal Reserve has its own uique set of rules that it has developed, and does not follow GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principle). If you look at the audit report, it is full of exceptions because of the Federal Reserve's unique status as policy-setting institution. Here's from the Deloitte & Touche's audit report for 2008:

Accounting principles for entities with the unique powers and responsibilities of a nation's central bank have not been formulated by accounting standard-setting bodies. The Board of Governors has developed specialized accounting principles and practices that it considers to be appropriate for the nature and function of a central bank.
Differences exist between the accounting principles and practices in the FAM and
generally accepted accounting principles in the United States ("GAAP"), primarily due to the unique nature of the Reserve Banks’ powers and responsibilities as part of the nation’s central bank.
In my personal opinion, Ron Paul's bill should have first demanded that the independent third party do the accounting and produce the balance sheet, income statement, and all the supplemental statements just like they are required for banks and corporations, then do the audit based on that information.

If you are so inclined, here's the list of the Committee members to contact.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

U.K. Government Snoops Enter Family Homes

It's for the children, it's for the safety ...

It's very difficult to believe that this was once a country that told its king what to do (Magna Carta for King John) and not the other way around, and even got rid of the rulers whom they deemed unfit for their kingdom (Charles I, for one, whose levying of taxes without Parliament's consent, caused widespread opposition).

United Kingdom of today is planning to allow government inspectors to enter private homes to make sure the homes are child-proof. "Nanny state" is an understatement; it should be a disgrace for the country.

Health and safety snoops to enter family homes
(Robert Watts, 11/15/09 Times Online UK)

"Health and safety inspectors are to be given unprecedented access to family homes to ensure that parents are protecting their children from household accidents.

"New guidance drawn up at the request of the Department of Health urges councils and other public sector bodies to “collect data” on properties where children are thought to be at “greatest risk of unintentional injury”.

"Council staff will then be tasked with overseeing the installation of safety devices in homes, including smoke alarms, stair gates, hot water temperature restrictors, oven guards and window and door locks.

"The draft guidance by a committee at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has been criticised as intrusive and further evidence of the “creeping nanny state”."

Creeping?? Don't they see it's not even creeping at all but outright staring straight in their faces?

Alas, this is also a country where people, walking on a busy street, lounging in a cafe, don't even see the surveillance cameras staring at them from every conceivable angle. And they say "Surveillance camera? What surveillance camera?" When someone points them out to them, they say "Oh I didn't even notice." And these cameras are not even deterring the crimes or solving the crimes (read the article from BBC, on 8/29/09: 1000 cameras solve one crime).

Now, since the new administration in the U.S. seems to like anything European (never mind that Europeans don't usually consider Brits European), maybe it will follow U.K. on the issue after it takes over the state and local transit system. Who can argue against "It's for the kids..." ?

Follow-Up on Ukraine: Not Swine Flu But Plague? Or Not?

What is striking Ukraine still remains a mystery.

On November 9, this blog reported on a deadly flu-like disease that seemed to appear out of nowhere in Ukraine in late October (see this post). At first, it was considered H1N1 swine flu or its mutated version. As the death toll rose, speculations as to what exactly was causing the death went wild: ebola, hemorrhagic fever, pneumonic plague.

There are two latest reports regarding this mystery disease in Ukraine, and they somewhat contradict each other.

The first one is the article that appeared in U.K.'s Daily Express:

(Greg Miskiw, 11/15/09 Daily Express)

"A DEADLY plague could sweep across Europe, doctors fear, after an outbreak of a virus in Ukraine plunged the country and its neighbours into a state of panic.

"A cocktail of three flu viruses are reported to have mutated into a single pneumonic plague, which it is believed may be far more dangerous than swine flu. The death toll has reached 189 and more than 1 million people have been infected, most of them in the nine regions of Western Ukraine.

"President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko has called in the World Health Organisation and a team of nine specialists are carrying out tests in Kiev and Lviv to identify the virus. Samples have been sent to London for analysis.

"In a TV interview, the President [Yushchenko] added: “Unlike similar epidemics in other countries, three causes of serious viral infections came together simultaneously in Ukraine – two seasonal flus and the Californian flu."

What is "California flu"? I looked up but couldn't find it.

The article ends with the comment from a Ukrainian doctor:

"A doctor in Western Ukraine who did not want to be named, said:” We have carried out post mortems on two victims and found their lungs are as black as charcoal.

"“They look like they have been burned. It’s terrifying.”"

But here's the second article, this one from It is an interview with a coroner in Ukraine, who claims the virus is a mixture of H1N1 and parainfluenza, and it is definitely not pneumonic plague:

Ukraine; Virus Is Mixture Of H1N1 And Parainfluenza, Causes Cardiopulmonary Failure; Indicates BioWeapon (11/14/09 Infowars Ireland)

"Professor Victor Bachinsky, PhD., is a coroner in the Chernivtsi region of Ukraine. He provides evidence which indicates that parainfluenza mixed with the H1N1 virus, not pneumonic plague, has caused so much illness in Ukraine. Yet more strains of influenza which have combined, a strong indication that we are dealing with a laboratory developed bio-weapon."

"The Head of the Chernivtsi regional forensic bureau, Professor Victor Bachinsky PhD, makes a strong statement: all the victims of the virus in Bukovina (22 persons aged 20 to 40 years) died not from bilateral (double) pneumonia, as previously thought, but as a result of viral distress syndrome, i.e. the total destruction of the lungs. We caught up with Professor Bachinsky, to find out how he came to this conclusion, and how people can protect themselves from this disease."

Dr. Bachinsky says the lungs of the victims are not black, and that this is definitely not pneumonic plague. If it were the pneumonic plague and if they had 60,000 people infected, they would have "a mortality rate of 59 thousand", he adds.

He goes on to explain the progression of the disease that's infecting Ukrainians:

"This is a viral attack that destroys the lungs.

"It’s not pneumonia! This destruction of the lungs. This strain is very toxic, and if the immune system is weak, there is bleeding in the lungs. In the lungs there is a tiny structure – acinus, which looks like a bunch of grapes. When you breathe, oxygen enters this tiny “bunch of grapes” ( pulmonary alveoli ). On the surface of the acinus are the capillaries, where red blood cells saturate with oxygen and give blood, which supplies all tissues and organs in the body.

"And once the virus enters the lungs – hemorrhaging begins immediately in the acinus. A continuous hemorrhage … It takes several hours. In the blood fibrin is formed, and from it – giolinovaya membrane, resembling a plastic bag. It envelops the acinus, and the person breathes in oxygen, but it is not transferred to the tissues. And people just gasp. There is a cardio-pulmonary insufficiency and cardiogenic shock. People die of cardiogenic shock. And there is no pneumonia. Pneumonia – an inflammation, which is treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics cannot help at any stage. There should be absolutely different treatment."

So people basically suffocate, because the oxygen is not being delivered to the tissues. That then triggers cardio-shock. What a nasty way to die.

The doctor ascribe part of the problem to the weakened immune systems of Ukrainians due to the overuse of antibiotics in Ukraine, which anyone can obtain at local pharmacies without prescriptions.

"The primary method of prevention is a face mask. This give 30% extra protection. If you wear glasses – it is 40%, because the virus enters through the mucous membranes.

"It is necessary to improve the human immune system. Not only now, but in general. Garlic, onions, wild rose, viburnum (guelder rose), raspberries, citrus fruit, honey, and other fruits and vegetables – whatever you want. Those with a strong immune system will survive. Those with weaker immune systems will succumb to the disease."

When asked why the Health Ministry hasn't figure it out, he has this to say:

"Perhaps this is due to the fact that there are scientists who are working on a purely theoretical basis. And there are scientists who have seen the autopsy results. I practice as head of the regional forensic bureau and as a professor. The fact that we have established this diagnosis – it is not just to my credit, and this is not my personal opinion. This is the opinion of specialists, morphologists and doctors in Bukovina. There are five professors in our group – I just head the group."

(Original article in Russian by Anna Yashchenko here:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Prepare To Pay Back Tax Credit and Be Penalized

Zero Hedge has an article ("Prepare To Pay Back The Tax Credit", Tyler Durden, 11/16/09) that has a link to the report dated November 4, 2009 by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

I took a quick peek at the report titled Millions of Taxpayers May Be Negatively Affected by the Reduced Withholding Associated With the Making Work Pay Credit, and here's what I found [emphasis is mine]:


The Making Work Pay Credit, a provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will apply to most taxpayers with earned income. The credit will be in effect for Tax Years 2009 and 2010. The Making Work Pay Credit was implemented using new income tax withholding tables issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Application of the tables could negatively affect a significant number of taxpayers. The overall objective of this review was to assess IRS efforts to implement the Making Work Pay Credit and to evaluate its impact on taxpayers.


The Making Work Pay Credit is to be advanced to taxpayers through their wages by a decrease in Federal income tax withholding. This creates the vulnerability that some taxpayers may have their taxes underwithheld at the end of Tax Years 2009 and 2010. If taxpayers are advanced more of the Making Work Pay Credit than they are entitled to, they may ultimately owe taxes when filing their Tax Years 2009 and 2010 tax returns and may be assessed estimated tax penalties.


Based on an analysis of Tax Year 2007 tax return data, TIGTA estimates that more than
15.4 million taxpayers could unexpectedly owe taxes for Tax Year 2009 as a result of the Making Work Pay Credit.

TIGTA’s analysis of the new withholding tables and the amount of the credit that taxpayers are to receive identified taxpayers who would be advanced more of the credit than they were entitled to receive. The changes to the withholding tables do not take the following situations into consideration:

  • Dependents who receive wages.
  • Single taxpayers with more than one job.
  • Joint filers where one or both spouses have more than one job or both spouses work.
  • Individuals who file a return with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
  • Taxpayers who receive pension payments.
  • Social Security recipients who receive wages.

More than 1.2 million taxpayers included in these groups may be subject to: 1) paying back some or all of the Making Work Pay Credit and 2) being assessed the estimated tax penalty or an increased estimated tax penalty as a direct result of the Making Work Pay Credit.


TIGTA recommended that the Commissioner, Wage and Investment Division: 1) increase media coverage and consider other forms of advertisement in addition to the mediums already being used and, to the extent possible, target these communications to taxpayers who may be adversely affected by underwithholding as a result of the Making Work Pay Credit, and 2) authorize the use of the withholding tables that were in effect prior to the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for pension payments to help prevent a significant number of pensioners from being negatively affected by the Making Work Pay Credit. The IRS agreed with Recommendation 1 and disagreed with Recommendation 2.


So the IRS would rather collect tax penalties from pensioners and wage workers.

(Remember, if the health care bill passes in any form, it will be IRS who will be in charge of health insurance coverage compliance under the direction of an unelected appointee (Health Choices Commissioner, or whatever he/she will be called).)

SEIU Protest Against Goldman Sachs

... Uh huh ...

Goldman Sachs has been under attack for some time over its bonuses, remarks by top executives (God's work and Jesus and swine flu vaccine), and its trading practices (does anyone still remember about HFT - high-frequency trading - that SEC is supposed to be doing something about it?).

Now, Mr. Andy Stern, SEIU President, admonishes Mr. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman's CEO.

SEIU, Service Employee International Union, gets on the Goldman-bashing bandwagon, and wants to bus its union members to Goldman Sachs to protest.

SEIU's Andy Stern to lead Goldman Sachs protest
(11/13/09 Politico)

"Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein may have had his tongue in his cheek when he said his bankers were doing “God’s work,” but the company’s critics aren’t laughing.

"In fact, a couple hundred of them — led by Service Unions International Union president Andy Stern — plan to gather outside of Goldman Sachs’ Washington offices Monday morning to protest the firm’s mega-bonuses, and demand the end of the "too big to fail" doctrine, according to a press release.

"The event will be held outside 101 Constitution Ave. N.W., an office building that’s home to many of the most powerful lobbyists and corporations in town, including Goldman. It’s also where you can find POLITICO’s Capitol Hill bureau (in the basement).

"Among their demands, the protesters will say that Goldman bankers should donate their reported $23 billion in bonuses to foreclosure prevention programs.

"Public Citizen will release a new report during the event analyzing how much the various bailout recipient like Goldman are spending lobbying on financial reform, which the groups say is aimed at squashing real reform."

Public Citizen is a non-profit, public advocacy group originally founded by Ralph Nader. Browsing the headlines on their website, it looks like it is highly supportive of the government intervention and regulation. Its website front page today has this headline: "Banksters Gave Heavily to Committees Debating Financial Reform".

Is this some kind of joke? What about SEIU's political donations and lobbying on all levels - from federal level all the way down to municipal and county level?

I don't know about you, but when I see SEIU organizing a bus tour to Goldman Sachs, just like they did with ACORN to AIG executives' homes, I fail to get excited about "wrongdoings" of "banksters" as defined by SEIU. (Yes, I am a contrarian both in trading and in the worldview.)

Besides, if Goldman Sachs is doing the government work (PPT) and/or they practically "own" the government as many allege, they must be doing the God's work. After all, "We are God's partners in matters of life and death" was what President Obama said to 1,000 Rabbis in a conference call back in August. (See my post.)

I'm sure it will be a wonderful addition to SEIU's photo library, along with photos of their AIG protest.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Apology for Kids Shipped from Britain to Colonies

... "but we meant well" would be their excuse.

Apology for kids shipped from Britain to colonies
(11/15/09 AP via Yahoo News)

"LONDON – As many as 150,000 poor British children were shipped off to the colonies over three and a half centuries, often taken from struggling families under programs intended to provide them with a new start — and the Empire with a supply of sturdy white workers.

"Forty years after the program stopped, Britain and Australia are saying sorry to the child migrants, who were promised a better life only to suffer abuse and neglect thousands of miles from home."

According to the article, this program was still on-going as late as 1967, with the bulk of "shipment" occurred from the late 19th century onward.

The reason?

"Authorities believed they were acting in the children's best interests, but the migration also was intended to stop them from being a burden on the British state while supplying the receiving countries with potential workers. A 1998 British parliamentary inquiry noted that "a further motive was racist: the importation of 'good white stock' was seen as a desirable policy objective in the developing British Colonies."" [emphasis is mine]

Good intention by the authority often ends in paving the way to Hell, particularly for the receiving end of that "good intention" (in this case, children).