Archive for July, 2007

Bridges (July 30, 2007)

Posted in Term Limits on July 30, 2007 by

While Senator Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young, Republicans from Alaska, were busy seeking funds from the federal feeder for their “Bridges to Nowhere,” some “Bridges to Somewhere” were deteriorating.  The money spent on frivolous projects detracts from beneficial projects.

Both Stevens and Young are being investigated for a variety of other crimes.  They will never be held accountable for their looting of the public fisc.

The state of Alaska reported that 100 of its bridges are “structurally deficient.”  Would the proposed “Bridges to Nowhere” also be structurally deficient?

A partial solution:  Term Limits.  [See the e-ssay dated May 14 entitled “Term Limits”].  A limit of a dozen years in each chamber is necessary.  Both Stevens and Young would have been termed out years ago.  Politicians must be termed out because many citizens impacted by their actions cannot turn them out.

Bumper sticker of the week:

Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

Any Justice At Justice? (July 30, 2007)

Posted in Law on July 30, 2007 by

Federal courts in America typically are not in business to dispense justice.  Federal courts generally protect and advance the interests of the Justice Department including executive agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  Last week is notable because a federal judge in Boston ordered the federal government to pay $101.8 million to make amends for framing four men for a murder they did not commit, the largest sum of money ever awarded to people who were wrongfully convicted.

“It took 30 years to uncover this injustice,” Federal District Judge Nancy Gertner said in announcing her decision. She said the case was about “the framing of innocent men,” adding that “FBI officials allowed their employees up the line to ruin lives.”

And the current head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, appears to be telling the truth to Congress which may get his boss, Attorney Generalissimo Alberto Gonzalez, in trouble for perjury, obstruction of justice and other Republican pastimes.

Bumper sticker of the week:

There is no justice at Justice

The Dow Jones (the Murdoch ?) Hits 14 K In A Hollow Economy (July 23, 2007)

Posted in Debt/Deficits, Economics, Housing on July 23, 2007 by

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (the Murdoch Average?) exceeded 14,000 last week.  At some time it will retreat because it has to retreat.  Why is it so high?  First, there are a small number of individuals who have too much money and few productive outlets.  That money has no ready home now that the last domestic American industry–the real estate industrial complex–has run its course.  However, no one, Republican or Democrat, will get elected by arguing that too much money is in private hands and not enough in government hands to pay for the common weal and reduce purposefully the nearly 9 Trillion dollar  Debt.  Government borrowing is “crowding out” funds for private sector projects.

In addition, the rampant easy credit has fueled a hollow and unsustainable expansion.  The economy since 2002 was driven and is being driven by spending that mortgages the future of the country and its citizens.  Too many Americans view their residence as an asset.  A residence may be an asset if there is some equity, yet it is not a productive asset.  Too many Americans view their residence as an ATM (automatic teller machine).  The “wealth effect” experienced by homeowners who see their home prices rise is giving way to a more realistic “poverty effect.”  The purchasers with “sub-prime loans” drove up the price of all homes and made everyone feel wealthy and thus more inclined to spend.  When some of these purchasers are unable to pay and foreclosures result, the price of all homes will decline.  Even homeowners without dubious mortgages are negatively impacted if they have used their homes as an ATM to purchase other consumer goods.  When the value of a home declines below the remaining arrears on a mortgage, some homeowners may question how long they are willing to sustain the hemorrhaging.  [See the e-ssay dated February 7, 2005 entitled “The Microeconomics of Suburban Subsistence”].

The myopic emphasis in business on the next quarter is not surprising.  Bonuses are paid for results in the short term not for long run performance.  Although some businesses are reporting profits, the consumer spending that is driving the economy cannot continue.  Many companies are selling to foreign consumers with more disposable income which admittedly diversifies the sources of revenue and offsets the decline in spending in America.  Americans are in debt their tonsils.  They do not save.  Soon there will be few funds available to borrow and few Americans willing and able to loan them.

Bumper sticker of the week:

It is only a matter of time

Back Door Inflation (July 16, 2007)

Posted in Economics, Inflation on July 16, 2007 by

A half gallon of ice cream is now 1.75 quarts (or 7/16ths of a gallon).  A six pack of avocados is now “Contents: 5.”  However, the prices have not gone down correspondingly.  The “2 by 4” piece of dimensional lumber has not sported 2 inch by 4 inch dimensions for decades, but they are not called 1.5s by 3.5s.  The venerable 12 ounce beer is now 11 or 10.5 ounces (or some fraction of a liter) in some countries.  Imagine the reaction when Joseph Six Pack enters a store and discovers that a six-pack of beer contains only five 11 ounce beers.  There likely will continue to be six or four containers of some size because of design considerations.  The ad types will give it some manly spin.  However, the Interstate Commerce Clause or some penumbral provision in the United States Constitution may prohibit the sale of anything less than a 12 ounce beer in anything smaller than a pack of six.  Perhaps Bobby Bork will bring the law suit.

The government’s figures on inflation do not reflect things on the ground.  Or at the gas pump.  Or in the supermarket.  The government’s “core inflation” figure does not include energy or food prices.  The “core inflation” figure is only insightful if the populace does not drive or eat.  The public policy encouraging ethanol production, which requires large quantities of corn to produce, favors energy over food.  Food prices rise even more.  The trade-off may be desirable, yet it still comes at a cost.  At core, prices are rising higher and faster than the government statistics reflect.

The price of a “Support The Troops” decal is also going up.  The decals may get smaller.

Bumper sticker of the week:

Whip Inflation How?

The Crashing Escalation Surge (July 9, 2007)

Posted in Bush, Iraq, Military on July 9, 2007 by

The escalation surge in Iraq is not working.  Less than three months away from the promised results, the answer is clear.  Even two or three or four hundred thousand troops would only make a terrible situation even more desperate.  More is less.  Less is more.  Bush likely will assert “mission accomplished” or demand a further extension of time to show results.  Bush should claim victory and begin the withdrawal.

Few have argued lately that more Americans must be killed so those who have been killed will not have died in vain.  [See the e-ssay dated February 27, 2006 entitled “The Arithmetic of Futility”].  More casualties must accrue before any sustained opposition will develop.  Each village now has lost a son or daughter (or grand niece or fishin’ buddy or Eagle Scout or practical joker); each town a few; each city a few more.  There are likely to be a few public statements when the death toll hits 4000.  The critical mass may be 5000 dead and 35,000 to 50,000 serious casualties.  Daily war statistics are becoming as pedestrian as daily car crash statistics.  A few die on the road to Baghdad and a few die on the roads every day.  Body counts may not count.  They volunteered anyway, they observe.

Bumper sticker of the week:

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.


Twisted Justice (July 2, 2007)

Posted in Law, Society on July 2, 2007 by

The case involving the $54,000,000.00 pair of misplaced pants was resolved.  Until the inevitable appeal.

The First Amendment was blue-penciled to protect certain individuals and certain (uncertain?) speech rather than to protect free speech.

The New Republican Party is the party of lawlessness and disorder.  And still the party that believes in the credo “spend and spend and spend and spend and spend.”

Stare Decisis is dying — S.Ct.  Ideology is now the benchmark.

Equal Justice under Law is wounded — Bush.  The Pardon, Part I.  First, Bush commutes Libby’s sentence and continues Scooter’s Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and effectively silences him.  Second, as he departs on Marine Corps One, Bush pardons him.  The pardon is a back door absolution of Bush’s high crimes and misdemeanors.  If the sentence really was too long, why did Bush not reduce it to a more appropriate length, say, six months or a year?  Bush did not commute the sentence of prisoners wrongly sentenced to death while he was governor of Texas.

Cases to indict Bush, Cheney and Rove could still be brought after January 20, 2009.  The statutes of limitations will not have run by then.

Nixon considered pardoning himself before he left office, although he was confident that Ford would do his bidding.

Billy C. did not set any high standard with his sale of indulgences particularly to Marc Rich, the crook usually described as a fugitive financier.

Bumper sticker of the week:

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.  He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.