“This Is A Glock Block” – Frustrated Homeowners All Over America Are Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands
All over the United States, frustrated homeowners are banding together, arming themselves and patrolling their own streets. One of the primary reasons this is happening is because police budgets all over the nation are being slashed at a time when violent crime rates in the United States are increasing and many our our largest cities are being transformed into crime-infested war zones. So instead of waiting for government to come up with a solution, many Americans are taking matters into their own hands. For example, one community group in Milwaukie, Oregon has started posting flyers with an ominous message for potential criminals: “This is a Glock block. We don’t call 911.” You can see a photo of this flyer right here. One of the founders of the “Glock Block” is a breast cancer survivor named Coy Tolonen. She decided to arm herself after a thief stole one of her favorite statues out of her front yard while she was watching…
It’s mostly petty crime that neighbors are sick and tired of: stolen lawn ornaments, vandalism. But for neighbors like Tolonen, a breast-cancer survivor, that’s enough: “I will defend myself — and my home,” she told KOIN 6 News.
Tolonen recently had a beloved statue she calls “Lilly Rose” stolen off her front porch. She said she even saw the man who stole it and tried to chase him down — but he got away.
This was the last straw for Tolonen, who decided to take a class to get her concealed carry permit.
We are seeing similar things happen in other areas of the nation. As I wrote about yesterday, the size of the police force has been cut in half in the city of Detroit over the past ten years. Meanwhile, crime rates have skyrocketed. So frustrated citizens are now teaming up with the police to patrol their own neighborhoods…
Volunteers given radios and matching T-shirts help officers protect neighborhoods where burglaries, thefts and thugs drive away people who can’t rely on a police force that lost a quarter of its strength since 2009. With 25 patrols on the streets, the city hopes to add three each year. Meanwhile, the homicide rate continues rising.
In some wealthier neighborhoods around the country, citizens are pooling their resources and are hiring private security firms to ward off criminals. Just check out what is happening in Oakland…
After people in Oakland’s wealthy enclaves like Oakmore or Piedmont Pines head to work, security companies take over, cruising the quiet streets to ward off burglars looking to take advantage of unattended homes.
“With less law enforcement on the streets and more home crime or perception of home crime, people are wanting something to replace that need,” says Chris de Guzman, chief operating officer of First Alarm, a company that provides security to about 100 homes in Oakland. “That’s why they’re calling us and bringing companies like us aboard to provide that deterrent.”
According to Steve Amitay, the executive director of the National Association of Security Companies, this is also happening in other high crime cities such as Atlanta and Detroit. In fact, it is being projected that the “private cop” business is going to absolutely boom in the years ahead.
But not everyone can afford to hire private cops. Those with more limited resources are trying to cope with rising crime any way that they can.
In Chicago, firefighters are actually being enlisted to provide security for public school students walking to and from school…
The city of Chicago has ordered its firefighters to provide security for public school students walking to and from class through the city’s gang turf, according to an official memo from the Chicago Fire Department that WND obtained.
The memo, signed by Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago, states that the fire department will have “a strong physical presence” along student walking routes for three weeks at the beginning of the school year in the fall.
Sadly, this is just the beginning. As the U.S. economy continues to get even worse, so will crime, gang activity and social decay.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone will be bad.
The truth is that there are still some decent people out there.
Today, someone sent me a story about human decency that made me smile. In Laguna Niguel, California a man accidentally sold a wooden watch box for $10 that contained his wife’s $23,000 wedding ring. When his wife found out about it, she was absolutely crushed…
Racquel Cloutier was distraught after her husband, Eric, told her he had sold the wooden watch box in which she had hidden the ring before going to hospital to have their fifth child. “I immediately started crying,” said Mrs. Cloutier, 31, of Laguna Niguel, California. “I just wanted the ring to be in a safe place and out of reach from my two-year-old twins.”
Fortunately, the box had ended up with a very honest couple…
A dozen kilometres away, in Mission Viejo, Alyssa and Andrew Lossau were frantically searching for a set of keys. They looked inside a box that Mrs. Lossau’s mother, Chaundel Holladay, had bought at a garage sale and given them as a gift.
Inside, they discovered the three-carat diamond ring. Mrs. Lossau found an email address for Mrs Cloutier and contacted her. “It is giving me faith in people again,” said Mr. Cloutier, 38. “By the grace of God it ended up with the most honest people,” said his wife.
So that story had a very happy ending.
There are still people out there that are ready and willing to do the right thing.
But not everyone is that way. It has been said that desperate people do desperate things, and when the next major wave of the economic collapse strikes there are going to be millions of very desperate people out there on the streets of America.
Now is the time to get prepared for that.
View full post on The Economic Collapse
Currently congresspeople and their staffs have 75% of their premiums paid for by the taxpayer. The plans they enjoy are also top notch. Top top notch.
But because of the way Obamacare was written, the law we needed to pass before we knew what was in it, lawmakers and their aides are about to be thrown into the vortex of the Obamacare healthcare “exchanges.” And guess what? They don’t wan’t to go down the hole.
Now, it’s perfectly OK for the average American to deal with this nightmare.
House Democratic leadership says the issue must be resolved.
“The leadership has assured members that fixing this issue is a top priority,” said one Democratic leadership aide. “This issue must be fixed by administrative action in order that the flawed Grassley Amendment’s spirit is honored and all staff and members are treated the same.”
It could be politically difficult to change this provision. The provision was put in the bill in the first place on the theory that if Congress was going to make the country live under the provisions of Obamacare, the members and staff should have to as well.
But for the members of the House and Senate who voted for the colossal mistake which is Obamacare, or as I like to call it “Obama’s Iraq,” the “Affordable Care Act” is a burden they’d just assume not deal with. They are federal employees after all. A special imperial class.
Rep. John Larson, a Connecticut Democrat in leadership when the law passed, said he thinks the problem will be resolved.
“If not, I think we should begin an immediate amicus brief to say, ‘Listen this is simply not fair to these employees,’” Larson told POLITICO. “They are federal employees.”
Good enough for you. Not good enough for them.
View full post on AgainstCronyCapitalism.org
Bank Of Japan Machinations Crash Into Reality
THURSDAY, JUNE 13, 2013 AT 8:09AM
The Japanese stock market has become a case study of central-bank manipulations, and of what happens eventually as reality cannot be eliminated forever.
On Thursday, the Nikkei, after a horrific 800-point or 6% dive on a staircase to hell, or to 12,416, whichever came first, recovered a few hundred points, then climbed back down that staircase and ended the day at 12,445, the lowest close since April 3, down 844 points for the day, the second largest swoon so far in 2013.
The largest swoon this year? May 23, a 1,460-point crash, or 9.2%, from its intraday peak (after a 300-point jump that morning) of 15,943 – the highest most euphoric point since December 2008. Now the Nikkei is down 21.9% from that peak, and in bear market territory. Both the Nikkei and the Topix dropped below the 100-day moving average during the day, which in itself triggered more selling, as these technical indicators, and the buy-sell behavior they engender, become self-fulfilling prophecies (for a while), not only on the way up, but also on the way down – their raison d’être; otherwise they’d be utterly useless.
It took the Nikkei 50 days – from April 3 to May 23 – to make it up that far, and just 20 days to come back down. Up by escalator, down by elevator (with ear-popping speed).
This is what happens when a stock market gets inflated by a central bank: promises of boundless money-printing attract the hot money that causes values to balloon to ridiculous highs in the shortest time. Then something happens, some silly event, the recognition that enough money has been made, a rumor that some big hedge fund is bailing out, a disappointing statement by the Bank of Japan, something… and some of the hot money suddenly has had enough, tries to take profits, tries to bail out, just when there are not many euphoric buyers left, and what you hear is a giant hissing sound. And what you get is capital destruction and wealth transfer.
Thank goodness, for the Bank of Japan, there is nothing like a good stock market crash to prop up the otherwise wilting market for Japanese Government bonds. They’ve been an awful investment recently: the 10-year JGB has been yielding below 1% even though the BOJ promised to create 2% inflation. The official plan is to hand JGB buyers a loss on an inflation-adjusted basis. So investors have been bailing out of JGBs while the BOJ has been gobbling them up through its massive bond-buying program. Yields have been jumping up and down in the most tumultuous manner, rising for the 10-year JGB from the freaky 0.315% low of April 5 to briefly kissing 1% on May 2, and panicky bondholders have been pulling out their hair along the way.
Since then, JGBs have “stabilized” somewhat, with yields retreating below 0.9%. But during yesterday’s stock market massacre, these despicable JGBs suddenly seemed like a pretty good deal again, given the choice between losing money fast in stocks and losing money more slowly in JGBs. In response, yields on the 10-year JGB briefly plunged from 0.88% to 0.80%, only to rise back to 0.86%.
In support of its machinations, the BOJ has stated repeatedly and explicitly that it is trying to inflate the stock market to create the "wealth effect" – that ephemeral and treacherous impetus for people to spend money they see on a computer screen but haven’t realized yet and haven’t paid their taxes on yet. But on average, they actually can’t spend the money they see on that screen because they’d have to sell to do so, and pull their money out of the market. It would cause a crash. And annihilate that beautiful wealth effect.
Instead, central banks use the wealth effect to lure consumers with a vision of wealth so that they’d spend their savings, or spend with their credit cards. And then, when the market does crash, consumers are left holding the bag: the vision of wealth has dematerialized, their savings have been decimated, and credit card bills have piled up. An insidious central bank strategy.
But that’s secondary for the BOJ. Its primary concern is the enormous government bond market – and the banks, retirement funds, and other institutions that own a big portion of these crappy bonds. They’re the lifeblood of the Japanese economy. And when push comes to shove, the BOJ lets stocks plunge in order to support bonds – as it has done on numerous occasions.
It’s hard to blame the BOJ. There are no more good options available for Japan. The economy has become physically dependent on out-of-control government deficit spending – with half of the spending being borrowed money! The debt, now over 200% of GDP, is so huge and growing so rapidly that reasonable solutions no longer apply. But reality cannot be pushed out forever. Someone eventually MUST pay for it all: the bondholders, the taxpayers, or all Japanese (via run-away inflation).
The one thing we know from Abenomics, and from the policies of all prior governments: they’ll try to push the day of reckoning out as far as possible, hopefully beyond their time in politics, and hopefully with enough warning to allow the elite to protect itself from the fallout. The BOJ’s job is to make that possible.
Abenomics has its detractors – in peculiar places – and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must be experiencing some interesting pillow talk. His wife has attacked one of the major components of his economic policies, the nuclear power industry.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:31 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Protests continue across Turkey. There’s a lot of loose talk about the “Arab Spring” coming to Turkey, but Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) was democratically elected. One of his great accomplishments was dismantling the military-dominated “Deep State” system which effectively controlled the Republic of Turkey since its founding in 1923.
Modern Turkey evolved out the ruin of the Ottoman Empire and was ruled by Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who took on the name Ataturk (“Father of the Turks”). His image still dominates the modern nation. He was a modernizer, not a democrat. Those who followed him enforced a ruthless nationalism and secularism; the military routinely interfered in politics, effectively destroying the predecessor party to the AKP in 1997.
These were not the “good old days.” The military jailed, tortured, and murdered opponents. The Kurds were brutally repressed. Liberals of all sorts were prosecuted, fired, and threatened for their views. Prime Minister Erdogan ended most of these abuses.
Unfortunately, however, power seems to have corrupted the prime minister. As I explain in my new article:
tragically, however, Prime Minister Erdogan has stopped acting as a liberator, and increasingly begun acting as oppressor at home. His government has used preexisting security laws to prosecute civilians, including many journalists, as well as military officers for alleged crimes, some going back many years. While those who in their time persecuted others deserve little sympathy, misuse of the law puts the liberties of all into jeopardy. Warned the U.S. State Department in its latest human rights report: “Broad laws against terrorism and other threats to the state and a lack of transparency in the prosecution of such cases significantly restricted access to justice.”
Particularly threatening is the prosecution of journalists. Last year the Journalists Union of Turkey counted 94 reporters in prison, while another group figured that number at 104. The New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins cited “an extraordinary climate of fear among journalists,” leading many editors to expressly discourage criticism of the prime minister.
The government could respond to the latest protests by returning to the reform track. If not, the public needs to solve the problem of unaccountable political power through the ballot box. Ironically, Prime Minister Erdogan has made further democratic transformation of Turkey possible by breaking the military’s hold over politics. Now it is up to the Turkish people to act.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Did you know that Barack Obama has been secretly negotiating the most important trade agreement since the formation of the World Trade Organization? Did you know that this agreement will impose very strict Internet copyright rules, ban all “Buy American” laws, give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and force even more domestic manufacturing offshore? If you have not heard about this treaty, don’t feel bad. Obama has refused to even give Congress a copy of the draft agreement and he has banned members of Congress from attending the negotiations. The plan is to keep this treaty secret until the very last minute and then to railroad it through Congress and have it signed into law by October. The treaty is known as “the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and the nations that are reported to be involved in the development of this treaty include the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia. Opponents of this treaty refer to it as “the NAFTA of the Pacific”, and if it is enacted it will push the deindustrialization of America into overdrive.
The “one world” economic agenda that Barack Obama has been pushing is absolutely killing the U.S. economy. As you will see later in this article, we are losing jobs and businesses at an astounding pace. And each new “free trade” agreement makes things even worse.
For example, just check out the impact that the recent free trade agreement that Obama negotiated with South Korea is having on us…
- A 10 percent decline of U.S. exports to Korea
- The U.S. trade deficit with Korea has climbed 37 percent
- U.S. auto industry has been crippled
- Loss of U.S. control where international trade, banking and finance is concerned
- A projected 159,000 jobs will be lost
Wait a second – I though that “free trade” agreements were actually supposed to increase exports.
So why have they declined by 10 percent?
Did someone make a really bad deal?
And of course we have all seen the economic devastation that NAFTA has wrought.
When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States actually had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars. By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.
And “free trade” with China has turned out to be a complete and total nightmare as well.
Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year.
In 2012, our trade deficit with China was 315 billion dollars. That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.
But instead of learning from the mistakes of the past, Barack Obama is pressing for more “free trade” agreements.
The New York Times is calling the Trans-Pacific Partnership “the most significant international commercial agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995“. It is reportedly going to include a whole host of provisions which would never be able to get through Congress on their own. Even though this treaty will affect all of our daily lives, the Obama administration is keeping this treaty a total secret. In fact, Obama won’t even show it to Congress even though members of Congress have asked repeatedly to see it…
The agreement, under negotiation since 2008, would set new rules for everything from food safety and financial markets to medicine prices and Internet freedom. It would include at least 12 of the countries bordering the Pacific and be open for more to join. President Obama has said he wants to sign it by October.
Although Congress has exclusive constitutional authority to set the terms of trade, so far the executive branch has managed to resist repeated requests by members of Congress to see the text of the draft agreement and has denied requests from members to attend negotiations as observers — reversing past practice.
While the agreement could rewrite broad sections of nontrade policies affecting Americans’ daily lives, the administration also has rejected demands by outside groups that the nearly complete text be publicly released.
So exactly who in the world does this guy think that he is? Why won’t Obama let us know exactly what is in this treaty?
Fortunately, there have been a few leaks. One thing that we have discovered is that this new treaty would reportedly ban all “Buy American laws“.
That certainly would not be popular if it got out.
And do you remember SOPA?
The American people wanted nothing to do with the very strict Internet copyright provisions of SOPA and loudly expressed their displeasure to members of Congress.
Unfortunately, now the provisions of SOPA are back. It is being reported that most of the provisions of SOPA have been quietly inserted into this treaty. If this treaty is enacted, those provisions will become law and the American people will not be able to do anything about it.
And according to the New York Times, there are all sorts of other disturbing things that have been slipped into the treaty…
And yet another leak revealed that the deal would include even more expansive incentives to relocate domestic manufacturing offshore than were included in Nafta — a deal that drained millions of manufacturing jobs from the American economy.
The agreement would also be a boon for Wall Street and its campaign to water down regulations put in place after the 2008 financial crisis. Among other things, it would practically forbid bans on risky financial products, including the toxic derivatives that helped cause the crisis in the first place.
Are you starting to understand why the Obama administration is keeping this treaty such a secret?
If the details of this treaty were revealed to the American people right now, it would create such an uproar that Congress would never approve this treaty.
So please share this article with as many people as you can. We have got to get the American people educated about this.
Enough damage has already been done to the U.S. economy by “free trade” agreements. Just consider the following statistics…
-The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
-There are less Americans working in manufacturing today than there was in 1950 even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then.
-According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
-According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.
-Without enough good jobs, more Americans are becoming dependent on the government. If you can believe it, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from about 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today.
-Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.
And things continue to get even worse. The Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index declined to 49.0 in May. Any reading below 50 indicates contraction.
That was the lowest reading that we have seen since June 2009. Just like most of the rest of the world, we are rapidly heading toward another major economic downturn.
And if you want a perfect visual example of what deindustrialization is doing to America, just look at the city of Detroit.
It was once one of the greatest manufacturing cities in the history of the world, but now it is a rotting, decaying, festering hellhole.
According to the New York Times, there are now approximately 70,000 abandoned buildings in Detroit, and at this point the city is so broke that there is talk that the female giraffe at the Detroit Zoo could be sold off to help pay the bills.
For much more on how deindustrialization is ripping the guts out of the U.S. economy, please see the following articles…
What Barack Obama is trying to do is a mind blowing mistake.
The “one world” economic agenda that he is pursuing is destroying the American worker and the American middle class.
U.S. workers are being thrown into a global labor pool with workers on the other side of the planet that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.
Do you want to directly compete with a worker on the other side of the globe that is doing your job for a dollar an hour with no benefits?
If not, you need to stand up and make your voice be heard.
There is no way in the world that American workers should have to compete for jobs with workers making slave labor wages in communist China.
What we desperately need are some red-blooded economic patriots to arise and to tell both political parties that we do not want this “one world” economic agenda.
So what do you think?
Will the American people wake up, or will our economy continue to lose thousands of businesses and millions of jobs?
Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…
View full post on The Economic Collapse
Bosses drive their companies into debt promoting risky share buybacks to boost their annual bonuses
Posted on 25 May 2013
US firms have authorized $275 billion in stock repurchases this quarter, according to Bloomberg, the highest level in five years. This is the major source of buying that is keeping the stock market up while the global economy is slowing down. But why are companies willing to go into debt now to buyback their own shares priced close or at an all-time high, seemingly an obvious overpayment?
It’s the stock options stupid! Senior management nowadays do not generally have long in the job to enrich themselves. Cashing in stock options with share prices pumped up by money borrowed by their own companies is one way to do it. Think subprime bonuses all over again.
If you can’t get your earnings per share to rise through raising profits then you do it by reducing the number of shares in issue. It is as simple as that. CEO compensation packages are also frequently linked to rising EPS but the biggest kicker by far is the impact on stock option payouts.
A lot of these buyback scheme operate on a type of auto-pilot. That is to say the firms’ boards approve a scheme and then an investment bank does the buying over a longer period. It puts a floor under the stock market in general because every time prices dip back come the buyback buyers.
The problem comes when interest rates rise: then corporate bonds will tank in value, a loss to the company balance sheet. It might prove a very expensive way to pay top executives an annual bonus.
The Nasdaq Buyback Achievers Index that comprises that repurchased five per cent or more of their shares in the past 12 months, has risen 300 per cent since March 2009 against 144 per cent for the S&P 500.
Of course, there is proper rationale for share buybacks. Paying out dividends on stocks can look expensive in comparison to the very low-cost of issuing corporate bond. Still bonds have a nasty flipside when interest rates come off these record lows. The consensus issuing bonds now is forgetting that danger or ignoring it for personal gain.
The question is getting the balance right and not exposing the company to possible losses on its own shares when the share price tanks. Then share buybacks behave like any other badly-timed acquisition by incompetent managers.
Share buybacks have reached something of a frenzy this year. There is no doubt that bossess will be able to claim later that everybody was doing it as a defense. But this is going to make the inevtiable stock market correction all that more painful for corporates America this year as losses will be that much bigger.
Will the stock buybacks just continue if there is a big correction? Throwing good money after bad might not make quite so much sense then.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat May 25, 2013 1:22 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
BP invests $2.85 Billion into Iraq’s Largest Oilfield
It is no secret that Iraq’s oil is coveted by many oil companies throughout the U.S, and other other countries. Several companies have acquired a small piece of the oil rich land and are able to have a taste of the Middle East’s major money maker.
by Gypsy Lyn | http://www.oilreviewmiddleeast.com/indu … a-oilfield | Friday, May 24, 2013
It is no secret that Iraq’s oil is coveted by many oil companies throughout the U.S, and other other countries. Several companies have acquired a small piece of the oil rich land and are able to have a taste of the Middle East’s major money maker. However, few have been able to make a sizable mark on the industry that is guarded by turmoil. BP has decided to brake the barrier and invest $2.85 billion into Iraq’s largest oilfield, The Rumaila Oil Field. British Petroleum’s announcement was made public on May 23, 2013, however this is not the companies first time investing in the massive field. They also signed a contract worth $15 billion in 2009 with a contract to develop the field, allowing them to hold a 38% stake in the company. From 2012 to 2013 the Rumaila field in the Middle East has increased financial stability by $2.2 billion, making the investment for BP that much more appealing.
The Rumaila Oilfield, located just west of Basra in Southern Iraq, is the largest field in Iraq and 6th largest in the world. It was discovered in 1953, however did not start operation until 1972, and continues production today with 1.1 million barrels of crude oil produced in a 6 month period. With British Petroleum’s contribution, they hope to expand production to 2.85 million barrels produced. Not only will this be a major financial gain for BP, but it will also help boost the struggling economy in Iraq. It is expected that this will also steep the economy for the states also. With the new investment, and share holding, BP is expected to be sending more of there own employees to help develop the newly expanded production oil fields, and will be looking to hire a vast majority of different levels of employees to help fill in the employment gaps. In regards to generating work, BP has already invited more than 20 firms to compete in the project that plans to drill another 300 wells in the area, and build a 300,000 bpd production facility on location. Employment generated will very from security, to construction, to drilling, and to all of the other necessary positions needed to work a rig. The prospects of this project are promising for both Iraq and the countries affiliated with BP’s services.
The growth and current success of this huge oilfield in Iraq has not come at an easy cost. The process has been slow, regardless of the production rate. Partially, because of the existent turmoil in Iraq and neighboring Iran. For example, in October 2010, 6 men were killed while working, when the old mines exploded near a rig site. Also, the field dropped to 700,000 barrels produced per day when the U.S. Troops were pulled from the country in December 2011, leaving the fields prone to bombing and attacks. Through it all, Iraq has been able to protect this wealthy land, and provide the country with 40% of its oil production. If the expansion is successful as predicted, Rumaila Oil field, will become the second largest producing oil field in the world, the first being the Ghawar Field in Saudi Arabia.
BP, or British Petroleum, has been, and continues to be, one of the major oil industry companies that, regardless of mishaps and lawsuits, still provides many with steady work. They continue to be a company with breaking ground capabilities. The company is proving that they can overcome adversity and continue to provide the world with a service. A necessary service that provides the world with energy, and countries with bargaining power. Oil is liquid money, it is work for the unemployed, it is bargaining power for political leaders, and it is financial stability for anyone with the power to invest. Thus making BP’s announcement on their investment in Iraq a monumental break thru in oil dominance.
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION??????AFTER THE WRECK BP HAD IN THE GULF OF MEXICO RECENTLY THEY SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO DRILL ANOTHER WELL ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD NOT EVEN IN IRAQ .BP IS ANOTHER WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Sat May 25, 2013 12:18 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger and Patrick J. Michaels
When it comes to the press, the New York Times pretty much defines “mainstream.”
And Justin Gillis is the Times’ mainstream reporter on the global warming beat.
So it is somewhat telling, that his article on Tuesday, “A Change in Temperature,” was largely dedicated (although begrudgingly) to facing up to the possibility that mainstream estimates (i.e., those produced by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) of climate sensitivity are too large.
Despite our illusions of grandeur, this blog isn’t the mainstream press –although we do seek to influence it. Maybe we are being successful.
Throughout Gillis’ article are sprinkled references to “climate contrarians,” and even the recognition of the effort by such contrarians to push the new science on low climate sensitivity to the forefront of the discussion to change the existing politics of climate change.
Still, the recent body of evidence — and the political use that climate contrarians are making of it to claim that everything is fine — sheds some light on where we are in our scientific and public understanding of the risks of climate change.
We at the Cato’s Center for the Study of Science are at the leading edge of efforts to present a more accurate representation of the scientific of climate change through our testimony to Congress, public comments and review of government documents and proposals, media appearances, op-eds, and serial posts on this blog, among other projects. We emphasize that current regulations and proposed legislation are based on outdated, and likely wrong, projections of future climate impacts from human carbon dioxide emissions from the use of fossil fuels to produce energy.
Gillis recognizes the positives of a low climate sensitivity value:
“…tantalizing possibility that climate change might be slow and limited enough that human society could adapt to it without major trauma.”
“It will certainly be good news if these recent papers stand up to critical scrutiny, something that will take at least a year or two to figure out.”
“So if the recent science stands up to critical examination, it could indeed turn into a ray of hope…”
But, the “mainstream” is slow to change. And so despite the good news about climate sensitivity, Gillis closes his article by pointing out that, in his opinion, the political response to climate change has been “weak” (contrary to our view), and that therefore:
Even if climate sensitivity turns out to be on the low end of the range, total emissions may wind up being so excessive as to drive the earth toward dangerous temperature increases.
Clearly we still have work to do, but there are signs of progress!
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Tax and Expenditure Limits: The Challenge of Turning Mitchell’s Golden Rule from Theory into Reality
Daniel J. Mitchell
The main goal of fiscal policy should be to shrink the burden of government spending as a share of economic output. Fortunately, it shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve this modest goal. All that’s required is to make sure the private sector grows faster than the government.
But it’s very easy for me to bluster about “all that’s required” to satisfy this Golden Rule. It’s much harder to convince politicians to be frugal. Yes, it happened during the Reagan and Clinton years, and there also have been multi-year periods of spending discipline in nations such as Estonia, New Zealand and Canada.
But these examples of good fiscal policy are infrequent. And even when they do happen, the progress often is reversed when a new crop of politicians take power. Federal spending has jumped to about 23 percent of GDP under Bush and Obama, for instance, after falling to 18.2 percent of economic output at the end of the Clinton years.
This is why many advocates of limited government argue that some sort of external force is needed to somehow limit the tendency of politicians to over-tax and over-spend.
I’ve argued on many occasions that tax competition is an important mechanism for restraining the greed of the political class. But even in my most optimistic moments, I realize that it’s a necessary but not sufficient condition.
Another option is budget process reform. If you can somehow convince politicians to tie their own hands (in the same way that alcoholics can sometimes be convinced to throw out all their booze), then perhaps rules can be imposed that improve fiscal policy.
But what sort of rules? Europe has “Maastricht” requirements that theoretically limit deficits and debt, and 49 states have some sort of balanced budget requirement, but these policies have been very unsuccessful – perhaps because they mistakenly focus on the symptom of red ink rather than the underlying disease of government spending.
Are there any budget process reforms that do work? Well, I’ve written about Switzerland’s “debt brake,” which has generated some good results over the past 10 years because it actually imposes an annual spending cap.
Some American states also impose expenditure limits. Have they been successful?
Unfortunately, they usually don’t seem to do a good job of controlling spending. Here are some key passages from a new study by Benjamin Zycher from the American Enterprise Institute.
…tax and expenditure limits (TELs) vary substantially in terms of their details, definitions, and underlying structures, but the empirical finding reported here is simple and powerful: TELs are not effective. …The ineffectiveness of TELs is unambiguous in terms of summary statistics, case-study examination of the records of several individual states, and estimation of an econometric model. This model was estimated for both state and local spending combined and state outlays considered alone.
The author finds some positive impact, but it’s unclear whether the results are meaningful…or durable.
In terms of the growth rates of per capita outlays, 20 of the 30 states display a decline in that growth rate during the periods when the respective TELs were effective, but none of those differences is statistically significant. …to the (highly limited) extent that spending limits prove effective, they are likely to be subject to erosion driven by the same political factors that yield the fiscal pressures.
Though three states seem to have generated genuine budgetary savings.
Among the 30 states with TELs in effect during 1970–2010, the econometric analysis finds that only three of those limits had the effect of reducing total outlays, by approximately 4–6.5 percent. This evidence does not provide grounds for optimism that an emphasis on spending limits would prove useful in terms of reducing long-term fiscal pressures.
Looking at all the evidence, Zycher is not very optimistic about expenditure limits, though he does recognize the valuable role of tax competition.
…a TEL is unlikely by itself to reverse the underlying conditions that yield expanding government. In particular, the incentives of interest groups to circumvent and neutralize the effects of TELs are unsurprising; that may be one central lesson from the California and Washington experiences. Future efforts to restrain the growth in government spending may find greater success if they are directed at increasing competition… One obvious way to achieve this is to strengthen the institutions of federalism, thus forcing states and localities to compete with each other.
Other researchers also have looked at tax and expenditure limits, so let’s see whether they have different perspectives.
Matt Mitchell (no relation) has a slightly more optimistic assessment. Here’s some of what he wrote in a study for the Mercatus Center.
…some varieties of TELs can decrease state spending as a share of state income, but the effect is small—in the range of about 2 to 3 percent. …Certain characteristics can make TELs more effective. These include constitutional (as opposed to statutory) codification, a focus on spending rather than on revenue, a provision that automatically and immediately refunds surpluses, and—of particular importance—a provision that requires either a supermajority vote or a public vote for override.
Here are some of his specific findings.
Weak TELs…tend not to impact state spending very much in either low or high-income states. At best, they decrease spending by about 1/10 of one percentage point in low-income states. At worst, they increase spending by less than 1/100 of one percentage point in high-income states. The most-stringent TELs, on the other hand, do have an appreciable impact on state spending. …Those TELs that limit budgets to inflation plus population growth seem to limit combined state and local spending. In states with this variety of TEL, state and local spending as a share of state income is about 6/10 of a percentage point less than in other states (this is a 3-percent difference relative to the average state and local spending share). …This variety of TEL is often favored by advocates of limited government because it is particularly restrictive (the sum of inflation and population growth is typically less than income growth).
Michael New of the University of Michigan-Dearborn also found that the design of a TEL makes a big difference. Here are some excerpts from his study, which was published in the State Politics and Policy Quarterly.
…most TELs have been enacted by state legislatures, and it is not clear that legislators have the incentive to reduce their autonomy by placing meaningful constraints on their own behavior. …Conversely, TELs enacted through citizen initiatives are likely to be drafted by interest groups that actually possess an interest in limiting state spending, giving them considerably greater potential for effectiveness.
Here are some of his results.
Why has Colorado’s TABOR been more effective than other fiscal limits? …the results of Models 2 and 4, which categorize TELs based on how they were adopted, lend considerable support to my hypothesis. These models indicate that TELs enacted by citizen initiative are the most effective at limiting the size of government. Model 2 predicts that after a TEL is passed by a citizen initiative, annual growth in per capita state and local expenditures will be reduced by $35.70. Similarly, Model 4 predicts that the annual growth in per capita state and local revenues will be reduced by $35.64. Both findings are statistically significant.
Professor New’s research shows that it is very important to limit spending so it grows at inflation plus population rather than letting it climb as fast as personal income.
…holding increases in expenditures to increases in personal income is a relatively easy threshold for a state to maintain. …During the early 1990s, however, two states enacted TELs with a lower limit. Both Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and Washington state’s Initiative 601 (I-601) established a limit of inflation plus population growth. …Table 4 provides further evidence that strong TELs have been able to restrict government growth. Holding other factors constant, strong TELs annually reduce growth in both state expenditures and state revenues by over $100 per capita. …Both the coefficient for TABOR and the coefficient for I-601 are negative in all four regressions and statistically significant in three of the four. …My analysis provided solid evidence that these two TELs were even more effective at restraining expenditures and revenues as demonstrated by both statistical analysis and case studies.
Some people would conclude from the research of Zycher, Mitchell, and New that spending limits are not very effective. But that’s a hasty conclusion. The real lesson is that spending limits work, but only if they actually limit spending so that it grows slower than personal income, just as suggested by my Golden Rule.
In other words, spending limits are like speed limits in school zones. They are only effective if they’re set low enough to actually protect taxpayers and children.
This debate reminds me of the intellectual fight over the starve-the-beast hypothesis. Some have argued that tax cuts are not an effective way of limiting spending. But the research actually shows that tax cuts are an effective way of “starving the beast” if lawmakers don’t subsequently raise taxes.
The bottom line is that expenditure limits – if properly designed and enforced – are an effective way of controlling government spending. That doesn’t mean that politicians won’t figure out ways to over-spend, just like locks on doors don’t always stop burglars. But both are better than the alternative of no limits or no locks.
In prior posts, I’ve shared research showing that the United States today would be very close to a balanced budget if we had implemented something akin to the Swiss Debt Brake.
So far as I know, there’s no legislation to impose a spending cap specifically modeled on the Swiss system, but I’ve previously noted that Senator Corker’s CAP Act and Congressman Brady’s MAP Act both have sequester-enforced spending limits.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty