BIG GOVERNMENT - Looking Out For You

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2001
BIG GOVERNMENT - Looking Out For You
102
Thu, 05-06-2010 - 11:48am

Looks like Big Government is batting a thousand on "taking care of us", , ,social security, medicare, medicaid,

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-01-2004
Sun, 09-26-2010 - 8:04am
Obama Stimulus Made Economic Crisis Worse, `Black Swan' Author Taleb Says

By Frederic Tomesco -



Sep 25, 2010 10:36 AM ET




U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration weakened the country’s economy by seeking to foster growth instead of paying down the federal debt, said Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan.”



“Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done,” Taleb said yesterday in Montreal in a speech as part of Canada’s Salon Speakers series. “He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better but the cancer gets worse.”



Today, Taleb said, “total debt is higher than it was in 2008 and unemployment is worse.”



Obama this month proposed a package of $180 billion in business tax breaks and infrastructure outlays to boost spending and job growth. That would come on top of the $814 billion stimulus measure enacted last year. The U.S. government’s total outstanding debt is about $13.5 trillion, according to U.S. Treasury Department figures.



Obama, 49, inherited what the National Bureau of Economic Research said this week was the deepest U.S. recession since the Great Depression. Even after the stimulus measure and other government actions, the U.S. unemployment rate is 9.6 percent.



Governments globally need to cut debt and avoid bailing out struggling companies because that’s the only way they can shield their economies from the negative consequences of erroneous budget forecasts, Taleb said.



Errant Forecasts



“Today there is a dependency on people who have never been able to forecast anything,” Taleb said. “What kind of system is insulated from forecasting errors? A system where debts are low and companies are allowed to die young when they are fragile. Companies always end up dying one day anyway.”



Taleb, a native of Lebanon who gave his speech in French to an audience of Quebec business people, said Canada’s fiscal situation makes the country a safer investment than its southern neighbor.



Canada has the lowest ratio of net debt to gross domestic product among the Group of Seven industrialized countries and will keep that distinction until at least 2014, the country’s finance department said in March. Canada’s ratio, 24 percent in 2007, will rise to about 30 percent by 2014. The U.S. ratio, now above 40 percent, will top 80 percent in four years, the department said, citing IMF data.



“I am bullish on Canada,” he told the audience. “I prefer Canada to the U.S. or even Europe.”



Mortgage Interest



Canada’s economy also benefits from the fact that homeowners, unlike their U.S. neighbors, can’t take mortgage interest as a tax deduction, Taleb said. That removes the incentive to take on too much debt, he said.



“The first thing to do if you want to solve the mortgage problem in the U.S. is to stop making these interest payments deductible,” he said. “Has someone dared to talk about this in Washington? No, because the U.S. homebuilders’ lobby is hyperactive and doesn’t want people to talk about this.”



Taleb also criticized banks and securities firms, saying they don��t adequately warn clients of the risks they run when they invest their retirement savings in the stock market.



‘Have Fun’



“People should use financial markets to have fun, but not as a depository of value,” Taleb said. “Investors have been deceived. People were told that markets go up regularly, but if you look at the last 10 years that’s not been the case. The risks are always greater than what people are told.”



Asked by an audience member if returns such as those posted by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chief Executive Officer Warren Buffett -- who amassed the world’s third-biggest personal fortune through decades of stock picks and takeovers -- are the product of luck or talent, Taleb said both played a part.



If given a choice between investing with Buffett and billionaire investor George Soros, Taleb also said he would probably pick the latter.



“I am not saying Buffett isn’t as good as Soros,” he said. “I am saying that the probability Soros’s returns come from randomness is much smaller because he did almost everything: he bought currencies, he sold currencies, he did arbitrages. He made a lot more decisions. Buffett followed a strategy to buy companies that had a certain earnings profile, and it worked for him. There is a lot more luck involved in this strategy.”



Soros gained fame in the 1990s when he reportedly made $1 billion correctly betting against the British pound.



Taleb’s 2007 best-seller, “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable,” argues that history is littered with rare, high-impact events. The black-swan theory stems from the ancient misconception that all swans were white.



A former trader, Taleb teaches risk engineering at New York University and advises Universa Investments LP, a Santa Monica, California-based fund that bets on extreme market moves.



To contact the reporter for this story: Frederic Tomesco in Montreal at tomesco@bloomberg.net.



To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-01-2004
Sat, 09-25-2010 - 5:04am

What kind of hope?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Fri, 09-24-2010 - 6:43pm
I'd seen a report that he was paid 125k of your tax dollars. I haven't verified, though.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2001
Fri, 09-24-2010 - 10:31am

Just how many tax payer dollars do you suppose were spent arranging for this "joke", how many hours for staff and congressmen

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2001
Fri, 09-17-2010 - 12:31pm

From International Business News:



By IB Times Staff Reporter | September 17, 2010 3:41 AM EDT







The Los Angeles City Controller said on Thursday the city's use of its share of the $800 billion federal stimulus fund has been disappointing.



The city received $111 million in stimulus under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) approved by the Congress more than year ago.









View Full Image


Reuters
Applicant Veronica Diaz, 35, holds her 18-month-old son Diego Galliano as she stands in line during a job fair at the Southeast LA-Crenshaw WorkSource Center in Los Angeles November 20, 2009.





"I'm disappointed that we've only created or retained 55 jobs after receiving $111 million," says Wendy Greuel, the city's controller, while releasing an audit report.



"With our local unemployment rate over 12% we need to do a better job cutting red tape and putting Angelenos back to work,” she added.



According to the report, the Los Angeles Department of Public Works generated only 45.46 jobs (the fraction of a job created or retained correlates to the number of actual hours works) after receiving $70.65 million, while the target was 238 jobs.



Similarly, the city’s department of transportation, armed with a $40.8 million fund, created only 9 jobs in place of an expected 26 jobs.









The audit says the numbers were disappointing due to bureaucratic red tape, absence of competitive bidding for projects in private sectors, inappropriate tracking of stimulus money and a laxity in bringing out timely job reports.



“While it doesn’t appear that any of the ARRA funds were misspent, the City needs to do a better job expediting the process and creating jobs,” she said.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2010
Fri, 09-17-2010 - 10:09am
What would one expect from Penn? It's a deep blue state and liberals have little concern about civil rights.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2001
Wed, 09-15-2010 - 4:55pm
Lawsuit planned after protesters put on terror list

















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By Andrew Conte, Mike Wereschagin and Brad Bumsted
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Last updated: 12:17 pm






An activist who believes he was improperly included on a state terror threat list said this morning he is preparing a federal lawsuit.



"When people's civil rights are trampled it's a federal issue," said Gene Stilp of Harrisburg, who holds a Virginia law license but does not practice as an attorney.



Gov. Ed Rendell, speaking Downtown this morning, said he does not believe activists' Constitutional rights were violated.



The statement was a reversal from what he said yesterday. Asked in Harrisburg on Tuesday whether monitoring activists was "tantamount to trampling" on their Constitutional rights, he said: "I would say so."



Rendell said he is "deeply embarrassed" by the disclosure that state Homeland Security officials included information about protesters on what was supposed to be a list of possible terrorist threats.



"Being embarrassed doesn't cut it," Stilp said.



The list, which included information on public hearings that opponents of Marcellus gas drilling might attend, was sent to drilling companies.



Stilp said he believes he was among those monitored, based on Rendell's comment that a 25-foot inflatable "pink pig" Stilp takes to rallies was included in the monitoring.



"The pig! They were after the pig," Rendell said Tuesday. "That pig is what makes Harrisburg a very special place."



Stilp owns the pig and frequently displays it at the Capitol at protests over what he sees as government excesses.



Stilp said an outside investigation is warranted, by the attorney general or federal authorities.



The state paid a Philadelphia-based nonprofit $125,000 to compile the list as part of the state Homeland Security's federally mandated mission to protect public infrastructure.



The list included a Washington County meeting that Rendell attended to discuss Marcellus shale gas drilling, a screening of a documentary on the industry, a rally supporting Rendell's education budget and anti-tax protesters who took an inflatable pig to Harrisburg.



Homeland Security officials distributed the list in a security bulletin to government and law enforcement officials — including Pittsburgh City Council members — as well as universities and gas drilling companies.



City Councilman Doug Shields said he was "flabbergasted" about the bulletin he received by e-mail last week.



"The governor was outraged. I'm outraged. I'm glad this was put an end to, but we will be seeking answers. ... There will be requests of information from the state government for an explanation of who these people are, who made the decision to essentially engage in espionage and who is behind it."



Shields said he wants to see the financial statements of York-based Institute Of Terrorism Research And Response, a registered nonprofit, according to state records.



"Am I on a list somwehere? Am I on someone's dossier?" Shields said.



"If there's a list I hope we're all on it," said Councilwoman Theresa Smith.



Rendell said he "should have been notified" about the contract, but that it didn't warrant firing Homeland Security director James Powers. It was a "cumulative responsibility" and it would do no good to "make him a scapegoat," Rendell said.



The state will not renew its one-year contract with the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response when it expires in October, Rendell said.



The nonprofit, which has offices in Washington and Jerusalem, provides "actionable intelligence briefings" and "threat and hazard monitoring," among other services, according to its website.



"We maintain confidentiality with our clients, and we respect that confidentiality," said Mike Perelman, co-director of the institute.



The gas industry has to know of physical threats to its workers and equipment, but it supports people's right to discuss the issues, said Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry trade group in Cecil.



"Where we have to be vigilant, I believe, is ... if infrastructure is being targeted and the safety of employees and the communities we operate in are at risk," Klaber said.



Drilling industry opponents said they pose no danger. Barbara Pribila, 45, a founder of the anti-drilling Lincoln Place Action Group, said she never considered herself a rebel — and certainly not a threat to homeland security.



"I thought this was a free country and I was allowed to have my own opinion," Pribila said. "Now what, you're going to watch me and every move I make? That's not right."

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2001
Wed, 09-15-2010 - 2:22pm

One set of rules for Dems. . .another for you:



Posted by Henry Payne
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2001
Fri, 09-10-2010 - 3:35pm

As you struggle to save for your education or that of your children, the Masters of Big Government

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2001
Wed, 09-01-2010 - 3:39pm
Signs in Arizona warn of smuggler dangers
Drivers advised to travel northASSOCIATED PRESS
Federal police stand guard by Texas-born kingpin EdgarASSOCIATED PRESS Federal police stand guard by Texas-born kingpin Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez during his presentation to the press in Mexico City on Tuesday. Valdez, who was captured on Monday by federal police, faces drug-trafficking charges in the U.S. and has been blamed for a vicious turf war that has included bodies hung from bridges and shootouts in central Mexico.

By Jerry Seper and Matthew Cella


-


The Washington Times


8:58 p.m., Tuesday, August 31, 2010





The federal government has posted signs along a major interstate highway in Arizona, more than 100 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, warning travelers the area is unsafe because of drug and alien smugglers, and a local sheriff says Mexican drug cartels now control some parts of the state.


The signs were posted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) along a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 8 between Casa Grande and Gila Bend, a major east-west corridor linking Tucson and Phoenix with San Diego.


They warn travelers that they are entering an "active drug and human smuggling area" and they may encounter "armed criminals and smuggling vehicles traveling at high rates of speed." Beginning less than 50 miles south of Phoenix, the signs encourage travelers to "use public lands north of Interstate 8" and to call 911 if they "see suspicious activity."


Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, whose county lies at the center of major drug and alien smuggling routes to Phoenix and cities east and west, attests to the violence. He said his deputies are outmanned and outgunned by drug traffickers in the rough-hewn desert stretches of his own county.


"Mexican drug cartels literally do control parts of Arizona," he said. "They literally have scouts on the high points in the mountains and in the hills and they literally control movement. They have radios, they have optics, they have night-vision goggles as good as anything law enforcement has.


"This is going on here in Arizona," he said. "This is 70 to 80 miles from the border - 30 miles from the fifth-largest city in the United States."


He said he asked the Obama administration for 3,000 National Guard soldiers to patrol the border, but what he got were 15 signs.


Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer condemned what she called the federal government's "continued failure to secure our international border," saying the lack of security has resulted in important natural recreational areas in her state being declared too dangerous to visit.


In a recent campaign video posted to YouTube, Mrs. Brewer - standing in front of one of the BLM signs - attacked the administration over the signs, calling them "an outrage" and telling President Obama to "Do your job. Secure our borders."


BLM spokesman Dennis Godfrey in Arizona said agency officials were surprised by the reaction the signs generated when they were put up this summer.


"We were perhaps naive in setting the signs up," he said. "The intention of the signs was to make the public aware that there is potential illegal activity here. But it was interpreted in a different light, and that was not the intent at all."


He said there should be "no sense that we have ceded the land," adding that no BLM lands in Arizona are closed to the public.


"I kind of liken it to if I were visiting a city I were not familiar with and asked a policeman if it were safe to go in a particular area," Mr. Godfrey said.


Rising violence along the border has coincided with a crackdown in Mexico on warring drug gangs, who are seeking control of smuggling routes into the United States.


Mexican President Felipe Calderon has waged a bloody campaign against powerful cartels, yesterday announcing the arrest of Texas-born Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez - a powerful cartel leader captured outside of Mexico City on Monday evening.


More than 28,000 people have died since Mr. Calderon launched his crackdown in late 2006, and the bloodshed shows no sign of ending. Law enforcement authorities have been warning for more than two years that the dramatic rise in border violence eventually would spread into the U.S.


T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents all 17,500 of the Border Patrol's front-line agents, said areas well north of the border are so overrun by armed criminals that U.S. citizens are being warned to keep out of those locations.


"The federal government's lack of will to secure our borders is painfully evident when signs are posted well north of the border warning citizens that armed and dangerous criminals are roaming through those areas with impunity," he said. "Instead of taking the steps necessary to secure our borders, politicians are attempting to convince the public that our borders are more secure now than ever before.


"Fortunately, some responsible civil servants are candidly warning the public about the dangers that exist not just along the border but, in some cases, well beyond," he said. "This situation should alarm all sensible people, and should spur endless demands that our legislators take whatever actions are necessary to restore law and order to these areas."


Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican and a member of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees, said the federal government's new border security plan apparently is to "erect some signs telling you it's not safe to travel in our own country."


"If you are planning on loading up the station wagon and taking the kids to Disneyland, the federal government doesn't advise going through Arizona - it's too dangerous and they can't protect you," said Mr. Poe. "These signs say to American citizens, the federal government has ceded this area to the drug cartels. Don't come here; we can't protect you."


Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, called the signs "an insult to the citizens of border states."


"American citizens should not have to be fearful for their lives on U.S. soil," he said. "If the federal government would do its job of enforcing immigration laws, we could better secure the border and better protect the citizens of border states."


Michael W. Cutler, a retired 31-year U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) senior criminal investigator and intelligence specialist, said the BLM warning signs suggest the U.S. government is "ceding American territory to armed criminals and smugglers."


Meanwhile, he said, politicians in Washington, D.C., including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, continue to claim the border is now more secure than ever and, as a result, it is time for comprehensive immigration reform.


"How much more land will our nation cede to drug dealers and terrorists? At what point will the administration understand its obligations to really secure our nation's borders and create an immigration system that has real integrity?" Mr. Cutler said.


"At the rate we are going, the 'Red, White and Blue' of the American flag will be replaced with a flag that is simply white - the flag of surrender."


Ms. Napolitano said this week that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would begin flying a Predator B drone out of Corpus Christi, Texas, on Wednesday, extending the reach of the agency's unmanned surveillance aircraft across the length of the 1,956-mile border with Mexico.


Last month, Mr. Obama signed a $600 million bill to beef up security along the southwestern border. The bill funds 1,000 more Border Patrol agents, as well as 250 CBP officers and two more unmanned aerial vehicles.


Two years ago, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the investigative arm of Homeland Security, said in a report that border gangs were becoming increasingly ruthless and had begun targeting not only rivals, but federal, state and local police. ICE said the violence had risen dramatically as part of "an unprecedented surge."


The Justice Department's National Drug Intelligence Center, in its 2010 drug threat assessment report, called the cartels "the single greatest drug trafficking threat to the United States." It said Mexican gangs had established operations in every area of the United States and were expanding into rural and suburban areas. It said assaults against U.S. law enforcement officers along the southwestern border were on the increase - up 46 percent against Border Patrol agents alone.


At the same time, the Justice Department brought a lawsuit to stop a new immigration enforcement law in Arizona, saying it violated the Constitution by trying to supersede federal law and by impairing illegal immigrants' right to travel and conduct interstate commerce.


Mr. Cutler said it was "outrageous" for the BLM to direct travelers to dial 911 to report suspicious activities since the calls do not go to the federal government but to state and local police. He said the signs are telling Americans to call state and local law enforcement authorities to deal with border lawlessness while at the same time telling Arizona that only the federal government can write and enforce immigration laws.


"You can't make this stuff up," he said.


Mr. Godfrey said that just because the signs direct travelers who witness illegal activity to call 911, "that does not mean that only a local agency will respond."


"The idea is that people will get help as quickly as they can," he said.


Sheriff Babeu has dealt firsthand with the rising violence in his county since his 2008 election. One of his deputies, Louie Puroll, was shot and critically wounded in April after he spotted five men he suspected of transporting drugs along a remote span of desert near Interstate 8 and Arizona 84.


He said his experience makes him see the issue differently from the administration in Washington.


"The president is only looking at this from a political perspective," he said. "Everything is not fine. Everything is not OK."


© Copyright 2010 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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