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Archive for January, 2014

What’s eating the world…

The way satan feeds and rewards his children… and yes, if they continue to be allowed to live, then God Almighty’s children will continue to die…   —Editor
Psalm 53:4 (NIV)
… Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on God…
corporate greed
Article below is from www.cryptogon.com

Why Are U.S. Corporate Profits So High? Because Wages Are So Low

January 27th, 2014

Automation is the key, but this piece doesn’t mention it.

The companies have, “Still managed to boost profits beyond anything ever seen before because they’ve got away with employing as few workers as possible at as low a rate as possible.”

I’ve got news for Jamie McGeever at Reuters: Companies only ever employ as few workers as possible at as low a rate as possible.

How, then, are companies managing to keep increasing profits with fewer people?

Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee

Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing by John E. Kelly III and Steve Hamm

Jobocalypse by Ben Way

Eventually, all of this hits the wall because there aren’t enough people with enough income to keep consuming stuff.

In any event, with one in seven people requiring the dole to avoid starvation in the U.S., I think it’s safe to say that we’re not going to get the Star Trek package when it comes to how all of the whiz-bang technology is impacting society.

Via: Reuters:

U.S. businesses have never had it so good.

Corporate cash piles have never been bigger, either in dollar terms or as a share of the economy.

The labor market, meanwhile, is still millions of jobs short of where it was before the global financial crisis first erupted over six years ago.

Coincidence?

Not in the slightest, according to Jan Hatzius, chief U.S. economist at Goldman Sachs:

“The strength (in profits) is directly related to the weakness in hourly wages, which are still growing at just a 2% nominal pace. The weakness of wages and the resulting strength of profits are telling signs that the US labor market is still far from full employment.

Companies have not been unable to raise prices much because of the economic recovery has been fragile. But they’ve still managed to boost profits beyond anything ever seen before because they’ve got away with employing as few workers as possible at as low a rate as possible.

Deuteronomy 32:43 (NIV)   Especially if He is asked to carry out His vengeance…
… Rejoice, you nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people…

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Obamacare… just another bailout

When someone is either forced or tricked into paying someone else’s way, that is a very good example of favoritism…   —Editor
Psalm 82:2-4 (ESV)   How long??? As long as no one calls them into account…
… “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
favoritism
Article below is from www.weeklystandard.com

Bailing Out Health Insurers and Helping Obamacare

8:01 AM, Jan 13, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON

Robert Laszewski—a prominent consultant to health insurance companies—recently wrote in a remarkably candid blog post that, while Obamacare is almost certain to cause insurance costs to skyrocket even higher than it already has, “insurers won’t be losing a lot of sleep over it.”  How can this be?  Because insurance companies won’t bear the cost of their own losses—at least not more than about a quarter of them.  The other three-quarters will be borne by American taxpayers.

Obamacare

For some reason, President Obama hasn’t talked about this particular feature of his signature legislation.  Indeed, it’s bad enough that Obamacare is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to funnel $1,071,000,000,000.00 (that’s $1.071 trillion) over the next decade (2014 to 2023) from American taxpayers, through Washington, to health insurance companies.  It’s even worse that Obamacare is trying to coerce Americans into buying those same insurers’ product (although there are escape routes).  It’s almost unbelievable that it will also subsidize those same insurers’ losses.

But that’s exactly what it will do—unless Republicans take action.  As Laszewski explains, Obamacare contains a “Reinsurance Program that caps big claim costs for insurers (individual plans only).”  He writes that “in 2014, 80% of individual costs between $45,000 and $250,000 are paid by the government [read: by taxpayers], for example.”

In other words, insurance purchased through Obamacare’s government-run exchanges isn’t even full-fledged private insurance; rather, it’s a sort of private-public hybrid.  Private insurance companies pay for costs below $45,000, then taxpayers generously pick up the tab—a tab that their president hasn’t ever bothered to tell them he has opened up on their behalf—for four-fifths of the next $200,000-plus worth of costs.  In this way, and so many others, Obamacare takes a major step toward the government monopoly over American medicine (“single payer”) that liberals drool about in their sleep.

Laszewski adds, “The reinsurance program has done and will continue to do what it was intended to do; help attract and keep more carriers in Obamacare than might have otherwise come.”  Thus, Obamacare is being aided by having taxpayers subsidize big insurance companies’ business expenses.  (Who could ever have guessed that big government and big business might be natural allies?)

But, amazingly, it doesn’t stop there.  Laszewski writes that Obamacare also contains a “Risk Corridor Program that limits overall losses for insurers.”  So insurers not only don’t have to pay out all of their costs; they also don’t have to swallow all of their losses.

Laszewski explains that if an insurance company expects its costs in a given year to be X, and those costs end up being more than X plus 2 percent, taxpayers will come to that insurance company’s rescue—thanks to Obamacare.  In fact, once an insurance company covers that initial 2 percent in unexpected costs, taxpayers will cover at least 80 percent of any additional costs the insurer accrues.

Laszewski provides a couple of examples to help illustrate taxpayers’ unwitting generosity toward these “participating health plans” (plans sold through Obamacare’s government-run exchanges):

“[I]f the health plan has costs at 110% of the medical cost target [the costs that the insurer expects to accrue], it will be responsible for only 102.4% of the target (a 2.4% shortfall)—only about a quarter of its losses.

“If the health plan’s medical costs come in at 120% of the expected claim cost target level, the health plan will only be responsible for 104.4% of the target (a 4.4% shortfall)—again only about a quarter of its losses.”

It’s actually only about a fifth in this example, as taxpayers would cover 78 percent of the losses, with the insurer covering just 22 percent.

Importantly, Laszewski (who’s in a position to know) says that “my sense is that health plans, because they are so insulated from big losses, will generally stand pat with their 2014 rate structures for 2015—no matter how bad the early claims experience looks.  I expect that the health insurance industry will be content to give the Obama administration one more chance to reboot Obamacare in the fall of 2014, when the 2015 open enrollment takes place.”

In other words, because taxpayers will bail them out (through both the “Reinsurance Program” and the “Risk Corridor Program”), insurers won’t raise their premiums as much for 2015 as they otherwise would in response to the sicker, older risk pools that Obamacare is clearly attracting.  This in turn will make Obamacare look better going forward than it should and will give its government-run exchanges another good swing at the “young invincibles,” who so far don’t seem too enamored with the product that Obama and his insurance cronies are hawking.

All of this puts two things in sharp relief:  First, Republicans should attach a no-bailout provision to any debt-ceiling increase—as Charles Krauthammer has suggested—along with a provision delaying Obamacare’s liberty-sapping individual mandate (the delay of which would further undermine Obamacare’s exchanges).  Second, Obamacare needs to be comprehensively repealed in January 2017, not modified or “fixed”—and Republicans need to advance a winning alternative to pave the way to that crucial result.

UPDATE: Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill in November to stop the part of the bailout that would take place through the Risk Corridor Program.

Related posts…

Cruelty, Hypocrisy, Favoritism…

America’s real problem…

The gods you made for yourselves…

Psalm 82:5-8 (ESV)   Whoever or whatever these “gods” are, they can and should and if we pray for this, they will die…   —Editor
… They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

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Proverbs 22:3 (NLT)
… A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences…

What follows below is reposted from wealthydebates.com

Will the Dollar Crash in 2014?
Posted by: webmaster on December 31, 2013 Dollar Comments Off

dollar-implode-600x330

(Gonzalo Lira) Everyone’s talking about Quantitative Easing, and the famed “taper”. Smart people have claimed that it’s “the end of QE”, when with just a glance, you realize that it’s just a slow down of QE: I mean really, the Fed is still printing—it’s now printing “only” $75 billion a month, down from the previous $85 billion a month. Not much of an end, hmm?

Anyway, along with claiming that the end of QE is well nigh here, people have been claiming that QE worked: That all those heroic measures to get us out of the 2007–‘09 recession got the job done and put the American economy on the road to recovery.

Oh really . . .

I’ve never been one to approve of measuring the health and growth of an economy by way of gross domestic product. But for the sake of this piece, let’s look at GDP, shall we? Here is a chart of the last eight years:

GDP fell during 2008, during the Global Financial Crisis, then rebounded starting in 2009. In the aggregate, from 2009 through 2013, the U.S. economy grew some $4.25 trillion dollars.

Very respectable growth, wouldn’t you think?

But then, why don’t you take a look at this chart, of Federal government debt:

As you can see, between 2008 and 2013, the Federal government debt grew some $6.75 trillion.

In other words, had there been no growth in the Federal government debt, the U.S. economy would have had a net loss of some $2.5 trillion over five years. Averaged out at $500 billion a year, that’s roughly –4% growth per year. In other words, without the increased government debt, the U.S. economy would have contracted some 4% per year from 2009 through 2013.

Those are Greek numbers.

So much for the “recovery”, which to me sounds like an NFL player who got both his legs broken—but got pumped with so much morphine that he’s still out there playing full-throttle, when in fact he ought to be lying in the hospital.

But be that as it may, let’s look at the growth of the Federal government deficit over the last five years, those ugly-looking $6.75 trillion. How much of it is Fed “heroic measures”?

Here is a chart of the size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet from 2008 through late 2013, just before the taper:

This chart is courtesy of Zero Hedge, helpfully labelled with the various iterations of QE: QE-1, QE-2, QE-Twist, and QE-3.

Remember, the whole point of this balance sheet expansion was so that the Fed could go and buy bonds on the open markets: Mortgage-backed bonds originally (the Maiden Lane vehicles), and both agency and Treasury bonds during QE-2 and -3.

As you can see, the Federal Reserve increased its balance sheet—that is,printed—some $3 trillion. The “balance sheet expansion” especially during QE-3 has outpaced the growth of the Federal government’s budget deficit—the Fed’s been printing more than the Federal government needed.

Now, in fiscal 2013, the Federal government was $680 billion, while Fed QE-3 was $1.02 trillion, of which $540 billion went to buying Treasury bonds. In fiscal 2014, the current estimate is that the deficit will be $675 billion, with the Federal Reserve supporting the Federal government deficit by printing $480 billion a year for Treasury bonds. (The current ratio of bond purchases by the Fed is $35 billion a month for agency bonds, $40 billion a month for Treasuries.)

Question: What if there’s a recession?

If there is a recession, the Federal government will have no choice but to go into further deficit spending in order to “save the economy”, while the Federal Reserve under incoming Chairwoman Janet Yellen—who is an avowed “dove” when it comes to QE—will quite naturally raise the level of Quantitative Easing. Retracing the taper and going up to $100 billion a month would not be outlandish inference, with a ratio of bond purchases more skewed towards buying Treasury bonds than agency bonds, in order to keep interest rates low.

Now, if this happens, there is no way that the Fed or the Federal government would allow an increase in interest rates. ZIRP would continue, bond yields would remain minuscule precisely because of QE. In fact, the Fed would want there to be a bit of inflation, for the Keynesian “pump-priming”.

Here is the mistake I believe will happen: Once consumer price inflation begins, it will not be possible to rein it in, the way Chairman Paul Volcker did in 1980 following the inflation brought by the Iranian Oil Shock of ‘79. The Fed will not want to rein it in, as they will see it as a sign that the economy is improving. And once inflation reaches double digits—as it did just before Volcker slammed the brakes hard via 22% interest rates—the Federal Reserve under Janet Yellen will not have either the room-to-maneuver or the inclination to raise rates to fight inflation.

Inflation can easily spiral out of control. I personally have seen it in South America—Chile, Argentina, Brazil. Once that genie is out of the bottle—and once a central bank proves itself unwilling to apply the strong medicine necessary to stop it—inflation will accelerate and blow up.

We are already seeing excessive asset price inflation due to the Federal Reserve’s QE and ZIRP policies: Equities are at historic highs while being completely divorced from fundamentals, bonds are yielding historic lows.

Commodities are where you want to keep your eye on. Even as production and manufacturing slow down—as they currently are slowing to a crawl—you will see industrial commodities maintain their prices. Look at copper: $3.34 a pound, even as construction in China, the world’s largest consumer of copper, has virtually stopped. As to precious metals, the lows we are seeing now are likely the calm before the storm.

We are one good shove away from a dollar crash—and 2014 looks like it’ll be the year. The U.S. economy is due for a recession, and the Federal Reserve will have to apply the same medicine of yore, QE. Only this time, it won’t succeed.

Time to batten down the hatches, and get ready for a bumpy ride!

Related posts…

Fiat money…

The way of the world is extremely wasteful…

Some will call murder a mistake or an oversight…

Proverbs 1:17 (NLT)
… If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away…

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Lamentations 3:34-36 (NIV)   He does see…
… To crush underfoot all prisoners in the land, to deny people their rights before the Most High, to deprive them of justice— would not the Lord see such things?
fourth amendment excemption
Judge Reaffirms Constitution Free Zones 100 Miles Inside U.S. Borders

www.theminorityreportblog.com

Jan 1, 2014 by Steve Foley

This nonsense makes my blood boil…

District Judge Edward Korman, a US federal judge, has reaffirmed an Obama administration policy granting officials the authority to search Americans’ laptops, citing a controversial premise that makes citizens within 100 miles of the border eligible for a police check.

District Judge Edward Korman made his ruling in New York on Tuesday, more than three years after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit. The ACLU claimed that – since Americans put so much of their lives on their computers, cell phones, and other devices – border officials should have reasonable suspicion before sifting through someone’s personal files.

Attorneys argued that searches conducted without reasonable suspicion are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.

Not so, according to Judge Korman. In his decision Tuesday he argued that the area 100 miles inland falls under a “border exemption.”

“Laptops have only come into widespread use in the twenty-first century. Prior to that time, lawyers, photographers, and scholars managed to travel overseas and consult with clients, take photographs, and conduct scholarly research,” wrote Korman.

“No one ever suggested the possibility of a border search had a chilling effect on his or her First Amendment rights. While it is true that laptops make overseas work more convenient, the precaution plaintiffs may choose to take to ‘mitigate’ the alleged harm associated with the remote possibility of a border search are simply among the many inconveniences associated with international travel.”

The federal government has long conducted searches on travelers entering and leaving the US, but Congress expanded that policy by creating the Department of Homeland Security and setting up at least 33 checkpoints inside the country where people are stopped and asked to prove their citizenship.

The trouble is, the ACLU noted, that almost two-thirds of the population (197.4 million people) live within 100 miles of the US border. New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, and dozens of other major metropolitan areas fall under the so-called “exemption” zone.

The civil-liberties advocacy group filed suit in 2010 on behalf of Pascal Abidor, a 29-year-old Islamic Studies student whose laptop computer was held for 11 days when he was traveling by Amtrak rail from Canada to his parents’ home in New York.

Abidor was sitting in the train’s cafe car when an officer forced him to take out his laptop then “ordered Mr. Abidor to enter his password,” the suit claimed. The computer contained images of Hamas and Hezbollah rallies and the agents, unmoved by Abidor’s assertion the images were related to his studies, handcuffed the young man and kept him detained for three hours, questioning him numerous times.

Department of Homeland Security data indicates that 6,500 people had their devices search between 2008 and 2010 alone.

Here’s what the ACLU attorney, Catherine Crump, had to say about this controversial ruling…

“We’re disappointed in today’s decision, which allows the government to conduct intrusive searches of Americans’ laptops and other electronics at the border without any suspicion that those devices contain evidence of wrongdoing,” she said.

“Suspicionless searches of devices containing vast amounts of personal information cannot meet the standard set by the Fourth Amendment… Unfortunately, these searches are part of a broader pattern of aggressive government surveillance that collects information on too many innocent people, under lax standards, and without adequate oversight.”

The absolute malicious stripping away of our rights has got to stop, folks, we must stand-up and fight back against this at every turn! The future of or Republic is at stake and many want to bury their heads in the sand… Wake Up!!!

2014 is now upon us and we must battle these big government intrusions at the ballot box. Please stay tuned to The Minority Report as we prepare to support good conservative small government candidates and totally destroy those in the establishment who are in the way!

—-

Related story (and source for the above post)…

Constitution ‘exemption’ zone spans 100 miles inland of US border– judge
Published by the RT network (rt.com) on December 31, 2013

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Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)
This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

The ancient “Soldier’s Sabbaths”…

March 18, 2014 is the spring 91st day

March 19, 2014 is the added day for year 2013 (to total 365 days for year 2013)

Days for 2014 thru 2015…

March 20, 2014… new years day, spring equinox, day one of count…

April 2, 2014… 14th day of Abib (Passover, the “thumb day”, one cannot hold a sword without a thumb)

June 18, 2014… summer 91st day, day one of next count is June 19th…

September 17, 2014… fall 91st day, day one of next count is September 18th…

December 17, 2014… winter 91st day, day one of next count is December 18th…

March 18, 2015… spring 91st day, March 19th is the added day (day 365 of 2014)

91st day info…

Pamphlet by Peter J. Peters, “Solar Sanity -vs.- Lunar Lunacy”

Hard copy…

www.sfawcart.com

PDF file that be read online…

www.scripturesforamerica.org

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