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Arrests at Occupy Wall Street March PEACEFUL PROTESTS in New York City have been assaulted but not broken by the New York Police Department (NYPD) bent on pepper spraying, silencing and arresting activists. The US mainstream media is mostly silent on the protests, which have extended into a second week, and alternative media sources have [...]
by Doug French
hat tip: Mises Daily
Monday, May 24, 2010
Anyone who follows financial markets has to wonder at times, “What are people thinking? How did they come to make those decisions?”
It’s hard to imagine that John Muth and Robert Lucas came up with what’s known as the “rational-expectations theory,” wherein, as explained in Wikipedia,
it is assumed that outcomes that are being forecast do not differ systematically from the market equilibrium results. That is, it assumes that people do not make systematic errors when predicting the future, and deviations from perfect foresight are only random.
Muth and Lucas should watch daily programs on the financial channels like Jim Cramer’s Mad Money, which is supposedly to help individual investors, or CNBC’s Fast Money, a show clearly geared toward speculators. No viewer can watch these shows and walk away believing, “people do not make systematic errors when predicting the future.”
So while financial markets have been a series of speculative bubbles as the Federal Reserve creates money ad infinitum, rational-expectations economists Robert Flood and Robert Hodrick daringly conclude, “The current empirical tests for bubbles do not successfully establish the case that bubbles exist in asset prices.”
by Ellen Brown
For over a decade, accountant Walter Burien has been trying to rouse the public over what he contends is a massive conspiracy and cover-up, involving trillions of dollars squirreled away in funds maintained at every level of government. His numbers may be disputed, but these funds definitely exist, as evidenced by the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) required of every government agency. If they don’t represent a concerted government conspiracy, what are they for? And how can they be harnessed more efficiently to help allay the financial crises of state and local governments?
The Elusive CAFR Money
Burien is a former commodity trading adviser who has spent many years peering into government books. He notes that the government is composed of 54,000 different state, county, and local government entities, including school districts, public authorities, and the like; and that these entities all keep their financial assets in liquid investment funds, bond financing accounts and corporate stock portfolios. The only income that must be reported in government budgets is that from taxes, fines and fees; but the investments of government entities can be found in official annual reports (CAFRs), which must be filed with the federal government by local, county and state governments. These annual reports show that virtually every U.S. city, county, and state has vast amounts of money stashed away in surplus funds. Burien maintains that these slush funds have been kept concealed from taxpayers, even as taxes are being raised and citizens are being told to expect fewer government services.
Hat tip: Cato at Liberty
By David Boaz
The sight of middle-class Americans rallying to protest overtaxing, overspending, Wall Street bailouts, and government-directed health care scares the bejeezus out of a lot of people. The elite media are full of stories declaring the Tea Partiers to be racists, John Birchers, Glenn Beck zombies, and God knows what. So it’s a relief to read a sensible discussion (subscription required) by John Judis, the decidedly leftist but serious journalist-historian at the New Republic. Once the managing editor the journal Socialist Revolution, Judis went on to write a biography of William F. Buckley Jr. and other books, so he knows something about ideological movements in the United States. Judis isn’t happy about the Tea Party movement, but he warns liberals not to dismiss it as fringe, AstroTurf, or a front group for the GOP:
But the Tea Party movement is not inauthentic, and—contrary to the impression its rallies give off—it isn’t a fringe faction either. It is a genuine popular movement, one that has managed to unite a number of ideological strains from U.S. history—some recent, some older. These strains can be described as many things, but they cannot be dismissed as passing phenomena. Much as liberals would like to believe otherwise, there is good reason to think the Tea Party movement could exercise considerable influence over our politics in the coming years.
by sherry mann
On this date (May 12) in 1962, Douglas MacArthur delivered his famous “Duty, Honor, Country” valedictory speech at the United States Military Academy. The original speech may be read here, but I have made small changes so that it might be a more fitting address from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico to a dying America 48 years later.
President Obama, British Petroleum officials, shareholders, and servicemen of the United Corporations of America. As I was leaving the hotel this morning, a doorman asked me, “Where are you bound for, General?” and when I replied, “The Gulf of Mexico,” he replied, “Beautiful place. Have you ever been there before? If so, you won’t recognize it today.”
No human being could fail to be deeply moved by such a setting as this, coming from a profession I have served so long and people I have loved so well. It fills me with an emotion I cannot express. But as look at these shores today–awash will the oil we have sacrificed so much for–this fitting reward symbolizes the moral code–the code of conduct of those like me who have served the US–the “defensive” arm of fine companies like Shell, Unocal and BP, we wore our uniforms proudly as we fought and often died for this “American way of life“.
What is the meaning of this medallion. For all eyes and for all time, it is an expression of the ethics of the American soldier. That I should be integrated with so feeble an ideal–yet somehow triumphant in its purpose as we can see, smell and feel here, arouses a sense of humility which will be with me always.
“Duty,” “Honor,” “Country”–those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, yet as an American soldier or oil consumer–what you will never be. They are your rallying points to build rhetoric when facts fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for it, and to create hope even when it is based on chains we can believe in.
by Ellen Brown
Author, “Web of Debt”
hat tip: opednews.com
May 7, 2010
Last week, Goldman Sachs was on the congressional hot seat, grilled for fraud in its sale of complicated financial products called “synthetic CDOs.” This week the heat was off, as all eyes turned to the attack of the shorts on Greek sovereign debt and the dire threat of a sovereign Greek default. By Thursday, Goldman’s fraud had slipped from the headlines and Congress had been cowed into throwing in the towel on its campaign to break up the too-big-to-fail banks. On Friday, Goldman was in settlement talks with the SEC.
Goldman and Wall Street reign. Congress appears helpless to discipline the big banks, just as the European Central Bank appears helpless to prevent the collapse of the European Union. . . . Or are they?
Suspicious Market Maneuverings
The shorts circled like sharks in the Greek bond market, following a highly suspicious downgrade of Greek debt by Moody’s on Monday. Ratings by private ratings agencies, long suspected of being in the pocket of Wall Street, often seem to be timed to cause stocks or bonds to jump or tumble, causing extreme reactions in the market. The Greek downgrade was unexpected because the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund had just pledged 120 billion Euros to avoid a debt default in Greece. Strategically-timed ratings downgrades of this sort are so suspicious that Indian market regulator SEBI recently created a stir by asking the rating agencies operating in India for periodic reporting concerning their fees and rating norms.
by James R. Hanson
If you’re not overwhelmed by the temporary construction jobs they will provide, and believe in a respectable future for the state, you will picture those four gambling derricks with their money-sucking pumps working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to pull income out of Ohioans’ purses to permanently shrink Ohio’s economic and moral stature. Even Atlantic City casinos are having a hard time. Ohio casinos will suck Ohio money. Money that won’t be there for something else.
We’ve already been taken for a ride and our constitution perverted. Not a single Central Ohio county voted to have a money-sucker but we got one anyway, done by outsiders who spent a huge amount of money to get it done, with the idea they would make it the central attraction of the Arena District–a place for families and sports fans with an atmosphere that has been conscientiously built upon for several years now. It would be like putting a python in the pen with your golden retriever just to watch the fun.
Issue 2 should be voted down because it is not the issue that should be on the ballot next Tuesday. It should have been one to give Central Ohio a chance to reject a casino by changing last fall’s constitutional amendment to eliminate the Columbus location, period.
John Kasich, GOP candidate for governor, favors Issue 2, he says, because “It does not expand gambling in any way. I support Issue 2 because it permits local control of economic development in the community.”
By David DeGraw, AmpedStatus Report (ampedstatus.com) Not only did Goldman Sachs profit on betting against CDOs they designed to fail; more importantly, they insured them through AIG which led to a $182 billion taxpayer bailout. Have you heard the news? It’s everywhere! The SEC and Congress have all of a sudden sprung to life and [...]
We can laugh at the desperate people who threaten violence against elected officials. But they are not the fools. We are.
March 31, 2010
by Chris Hedges
Photo Credit: cometstarmoon
hat tip: TruthDig.
The language of violence always presages violence. I watched it in war after war from Latin America to the Balkans. The impoverishment of a working class and the snuffing out of hope and opportunity always produce angry mobs ready to kill and be killed. A bankrupt, liberal elite, which proves ineffectual against the rich and the criminal, always gets swept aside, in times of economic collapse, before thugs and demagogues emerge to play to the passions of the crowd. I have seen this drama. I know each act. I know how it ends. I have heard it in other tongues in other lands. I recognize the same stock characters, the buffoons, charlatans and fools, the same confused crowds and the same impotent and despised liberal class that deserves the hatred it engenders.
“We are ruled not by two parties but one party,” Cynthia McKinney, who ran for president on the Green Party ticket, told me. “It is the party of money and war. Our country has been hijacked. And we have to take the country away from those who have hijacked it. The only question now is whose revolution gets funded.”
The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.
by David Kendall
March 26, 2010
Malnutrition comes in a delightful assortment of colorful flavors nowadays. But poverty and obesity are a correlation that Americans find hard to swallow.
“Genetics and family history can predict whether you will become obese but then so can your ZIP code,” says Adam Drewnowski, world-renowned leader in innovative research approaches for the prevention and treatment of obesity, and Director of the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington in Seattle. In December of 2003, Drewnowski said, “If poverty and obesity are truly linked, it will be a major challenge to stay poor and thin.” 
In a more recent interview regarding her new “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama argues: “A recent study put the health care cost of obesity-related diseases at $147 billion a year. This epidemic also impacts the nation’s security, as obesity is now one of the most common disqualifiers for military service.” 
It seems morbid that national security is Michelle Obama’s primary concern regarding obesity in American children. After all, raising healthy American children to become dead American soldiers doesn’t seem like a viable health care objective. But aside from that, poverty is directly correlated with obesity in Americans of all ages. So isn’t American poverty an even worse security threat than American obesity?