It is strangely apt that the stock market this week has been experiencing turbulence, in the wake of Standard & Poor’s downgrade of U.S credit and fears of a double-dip recession. After all, this week marks the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s removal of the United States from the last vestiges of the gold standard, an action that ushered in 40 years of fiat monetary instability. For four decades we’ve been in a state of almost constant financial crisis, from the stagflationary ‘70s through the savings and loan debacle and stock market crash of the ‘80s to the more recent dot-com and real estate bubbles and their messy aftermaths.
And now this. After 40 years of a “new normal,” the nations of the West are exhausted and bankrupt. Debt in Europe and the United States is spiraling out of control while economies stagnate, and all central bankers can think of is what they’ve been doing since the Nixon years (and, in truth, a lot longer than that): print more money.
I don’t want to sound like Lansberry, the legendary Pittsburgher who walked around town for decades with a protest sign saying that the government was withholding his mail, but I’m missing about 300 pieces of mail.
My problem started in June when I went to my local post office and filled out a mail forwarding card, as I do every year in June, stating that our mail should be re-routed temporarily to our house in Sea Isle, New Jersey, for five weeks.
We probably get an average of 10 pieces of mail a day, not counting the junk mail, so in five weeks that’s about 300 pieces of mail.
It worked every year, except this year. Each week, we’d get no mail for four or five days and then one piece would arrive.
I checked Sea Isle’s post office and they had no idea of why so little mail was arriving.
I don’t know Peter Gadiel, and he apparently knows absolutely nothing about me. But that hasn’t stopped him from attacking me in a recent article (Influential Conservative is Dangerously Wrong on E-Verify). His article makes some outrageous statements about me, even to presume he can tell you what motives are in my head when I take a position.
Recently, I released an article entitled “E-Verify and the Emerging Surveillance State.” My opposition to E-Verify is that it is a major tool in the creation of a surveillance society; will give the government the power to decide who works and who doesn’t in America; will be a great burden on both worker and business; and will do absolutely nothing to protect us from illegal immigration or terrorism. In short, E-Verify represents another false promise of security and a greater threat to our freedom.
The latest ranking of contractors providing services to the federal government reveals that at least nine of the top 10 are tied to the Department of Defense and took in nearly $70 billion of the government’s money in 2010. Leading the pack as it has for the past 17 years is Lockheed Martin, with $17 billion, followed by Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon, and General Dynamics.
The top 27 contractors each received at least $1 billion in contracts from the government last year, with Number 100 on the list, Teledyne, getting $170 million. This reflects the enormous growth of government spending in general, and on outside vendors in particular, growing from $207 billion in 2000 to $535 billion last year.
Seattle, Washington, is one of 25 communities that received $20 million from the Stimulus program as part of “Retrofit Ramp Up” — an initiative of the Department of Energy in which stimulus dollars are utilized to make homes more energy efficient. The program was touted as one that would create 2000 “green” jobs in the city of Seattle and retrofit at least 2000 homes. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But there’s just one problem. The program is a massive failure.
“Retrofit Ramp-Up,” according to Vice President Joe Biden who announced the program, sought to accomplish the following:
It’s about making our homes and our office buildings more efficient and more comfortable and more affordable, replacing windows and doors. I have visited, along with some of the people in the front row, new window and door factories making incredibly -- incredibly energy-efficient windows and doors, which can save billions of dollars over time. Putting in new air conditioning or heating units that are much more efficient. Sealing up cracks and openings where air can leak into and out of your home.
President Barack Obama has been traveling in style — Canadian style — while riding through the Midwest to talk about creating jobs in America. The New York Post reported Wednesday that the $1.1 million bus — one of two purchased for the Secret Service — carrying the President through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, was made by the Quebec company, Prevost. It is the top of the line, VIP H3-45 model used by many rock bands and country music acts, Christine Garant of Prevost told the Post.
"That's the more luxurious model," Garant said. "When we have the Country Music Awards, we sometimes see a lot of them," she said, naming Kid Rock, David Lee Roth and Kenny Rogers among the owners of the luxury vehicles.
Like the presidential limousine, made by General Motors and nicknamed "The Beast," the bus carrying the President has armored doors. Inside is a large, flat-screen TV, chairs, sofas and electronic equipment that allows the President to teleconference with people in any part of the world. It has a bathroom, but unlike the buses used by many of the big-name entertainers, it has no bedroom or sleeping area. Its Secret Service code name is "Stagecoach" when the President is on board, sources told ABC News.
While the private-sector is drowning under a perpetual recessionary storm, U.S. regulatory agencies are flourishing. "If the federal government’s regulatory operation were a business, it would be one of the 50 biggest in the country in terms of revenues, and the third largest in terms of employees, with more people working for it than McDonald’s, Ford, Disney and Boeing combined," writes John Merline of Investors.com.
Indeed, the federal regulatory business is thriving, and if there is one "victory" President Obama can declare, this is it, because government regulation has grown rapidly under his watch. From Investors.com:
The recent attempt to terminate both the ethanol subsidies of $.45 a gallon and the $.54-per-gallon import tariff on Brazilian sugar-based ethanol by the Senate failed because it was an amendment attached to a bill that was doomed to failure anyway. Both will cease on December 31 automatically, ending 33 years of subsidizing the ethanol industry; however, food prices are likely to stay high anyway. The main reason is neither the subsidy nor the tariff, but the mandate by the government requiring gasoline refiners to continue to increase their usage of ethanol when blending their gasoline products. Under the 2007 Renewable Fuels Standard, the United States is required to use 12.6 billion gallons of ethanol this year, increasing to 15 billion in 2015, and 36 billion gallons by the year 2022.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack claims food stamps and other forms of government welfare are camouflaged stimulus programs that stir job growth by pumping money into the economy. After questioned about the cancerous issue of unemployment and the growing number of impoverished Americans forced to live on food stamps, Vilsack responded that the reason so many Americans are on food stamps — 46 million, or one in seven people — is because the Obama administration has helped states get "the word out" about the program.
During an interview on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," Vilsack asserted that though the food stamps program dates back to 1939, large states such as Texas and California have "underperformed" in bridging eligible participants to the program. "The reason why these numbers have gone up is that we’ve done a pretty good job of working with states that had done a poor job in the past in getting the word out about this program," he alleged. "We’re now working with them to make sure that people who are eligible get the benefits."
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has been riding the promotion circuit since his latest book, On China, was released on May 17 by Penguin Press. The release was timed to precede the 40th anniversary (July 9, 1971) of his secret trip to China that is credited with opening relations between the United States and the Communist regime of Mao Zedong (which was then assisting the Communist forces that were killing American troops in Southeast Asia).
The book's release also, coincidentally, was well timed for exploitation by the Chinese Politburo for the 90th Anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (July 1, 1921). As to be expected, the 608-page tome has been showered with adulatory reviews from the Kissinger-adoring mainstream media. Some examples: "Nobody living can claim greater credit than Mr. Kissinger for America's 1971 opening to Beijing ... a fluent, fascinating...book," — the Wall Street Journal. "Fascinating, shrewd..." — the New York Times. "From the eminent elder statesman, an astute appraisal on Chinese diplomacy ... Sage words and critical perspective ..." — Kirkus Reviews.