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J. KARL MILLER: Nation's fiscal train wreck averted for now

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 4:24 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 10, 2011

As I predicted last week, Congress voted to increase the debt ceiling, thus avoiding default, and everyone got their checks on time.

Well, not quite everyone. Apparently in haste to get home for the summer break, the Senate failed to pass a temporary bill to finance the Federal Aviation Administration, leaving 4,000 agency employees out of work, along with thousands of airport construction workers.

Late last week, leaders in Congress worked out a deal to end the partial shutdown that had threatened to become the Capitol's next partisan stalemate.

That the debt ceiling legislation, passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, was not lauded as an unqualified success is an understatement of some magnitude. Nevertheless, this should not have surprised anyone. Compromise, particularly on a hotly contested issue, rarely satisfies its architects or those affected by its passage.

If there is a silver lining in this compromise, it is that the system did work, albeit a bit frantically. Brinkmanship pushed its passage and signing to the point of emulating the “Perils of Pauline,” the 1914 silent film considered the most suspenseful episodic serial in cinema history. This suspense could have been avoided had the debt ceiling been treated as a serious matter prior to the month of June.

The major roadblocks to early resolution of the debt ceiling crisis were the product of ignoring economic reality on both sides of the political aisle, a malady that has not materially abated.   

The Republicans' tea party faction, riding a wave of conservative popularity as the catalyst of the GOP landslide in the 2010 elections, was frustrated by unrealistic expectations in its ability to influence larger spending reductions.

The tea partyers' aggravation is recognized as genuine. Nevertheless, when your party controls but one house of Congress and faces the fate of a sure presidential veto, your leverage is limited.  

Comprised primarily of first-termers, this faction’s lack of legislative experience and leadership is readily apparent, though they were instrumental in the dollar-for-dollar debt reduction package and allowing no new taxes to survive the compromise.

The Democratic Party’s brush with economic reality appeared in several venues.  Initially, the president, the Senate majority leader and the House minority were adamantly opposed to anything other than passing a clean debt ceiling increase with no corresponding spending cuts.  

When that position proved untenable, Social Security, Medicare, the health care bill and “green” innovations were declared “non-negotiable.”  Meanwhile, the Nancy Pelosi wing continued to wage its never-ending obsession for class war on the productive, demanding that the rich pay more taxes.

Accordingly, while not perfect by any means, a measure of success was achieved in raising the debt limit while also limiting spending.  

There is cause for concern for the future of this agreement, as it is to be governed by a 12-member, bipartisan committee. If it cannot enact a qualified debt reduction plan by December, an automatic trigger kicks in. Should this occur, nearly half the cuts would be borne in security spending, the bulk coming from the Department of Defense.

These additional cuts in defense spending, on top of those already agreed upon by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, portend a serious reduction and/or sacrifice in national security. The age and condition of our arms and equipment following two decades and three wars show an alarming wear and tear.  

Additionally, when defense spending is reduced, the day-to-day operational commitments remain ongoing, while the cuts made in R&D (research and development), procurement, military construction and manpower place readiness in peril.

Although defense must absorb a measure of the needed frugality, it should be clear that such draconian cuts will have a devastating effect on combat readiness, our own national defense and the military posture of the western civilized world.  

That the military power of our allies is at low ebb is abundantly clear in the pitiful performance of NATO in failing to remove Moammar Gadhafi from power in Libya. Like it or not, without the military arms, equipment and manpower of the United States, the majority of our allies are paper tigers.

Conversely, as there are no automatic cuts in entitlement spending, future security is held hostage to the cause of the debt crisis — spending as usual on high-dollar social programs such as Social Security and the ultra-costly Obamacare. Admittedly, the existence of social safety nets is necessary, but they have been abused, overused, added to and taken for granted to the point where one must wonder who is going to be left to pull the wagon when we all climb aboard.  

Currently, Social Security and Medicare account for 41 percent of all federal spending, while the Defense Department’s share is 20 percent. The latest estimates, made April 1, show Social Security solvent through 2040, Medicare through 2020 and the Social Security disability fund to go under by 2018.  

Unless Congress elects to bite the bullet and overhaul these entitlements rather than buy votes by convincing the public that the trust fund is other than a massive IOU, the well will run dry.

Balancing entitlements against defense spending is, of course, a tenuous position, “guns versus butter” being a familiar argument, particularly during time of peace. Nevertheless, are our citizens not equally entitled to protection and security against an armed enemy in that “to provide for the common defence” is included in the Preamble to the Constitution?

Without an adequate and modern national defense, any social/medical entitlements could easily become OBE (overtaken by events).

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via e-mail at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.


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Comments

Ellis Smith August 10, 2011 | 5:02 a.m.

We will know that we are making progress toward reducing the deficit when NO government program/entitlement is considered immune from reduction, and no program means NO program.

That doesn't mean all programs must be reduced, and certainly it doesn't mean that if they are reduced they need to be reduced equally.

The late Senator Dirksen (R-IL) said, "A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money." That also works when you're cutting expenses.

As long as we have this "we'll cut your program, but don't you even think of cutting our program" attitude we are going nowhere.

Lost in our own mess, we may not be paying proper attention to what's happening in Europe/Ireland. Apparently certain governments have overspent on generous social programs, and European socialism appears less rosy than some would have us believe.

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox August 10, 2011 | 9:54 a.m.

Every-time Miller post an article I amazed at how one sided it is, normally I don't bother to respond. This time I just can't believe it, even the headline is completely false. Nothing has been averted, as soon as the debit ceiling raise was announced the DOW tanked and our credit rating was downgraded. We don't over-spend on defense we over-spend on offense, what it would cost to defend our borders is a far cry from what it takes to wage four wars in countries that don't have the capability to attack the United States. I'm sure Miller is happy that his government check is still coming in, but some of us younger people are relying on our 401k plans, and when the market tanks we lose money. Most of us are well aware the Social Security won't hold out and we are basically being robbed. Frankly most of these problems were full blown by the time I was born, and well established by the time I was old enough to vote. The "baby boomers" and those in the "lamest generation" before them allowed the dissolution of personal freedom, the destruction of the middle class, and the rise of the military industrial complex. Raising the debit ceiling may have made it so we can slide by for a bit longer but these bills will have to be paid, and the rest of us will be stuck trying to pay off that debit long after Miller is pushing up daisies.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub August 10, 2011 | 10:26 a.m.

SS and Medicare are not "programs" they are mandatory insurance policies for the lower and middle class, which have been so successful they have managed to fund several wars, and still manage to pay the benefits. They were never intended to be part of the budget, but were to be kept separately and exclusively in a "lock box" . Of course Reagan forgot to tell us that he made quite a few copies of the key before he threw it away. Young people like Eric, are now paying more for that insurance then the fat cats who make their money solely on capital gains. The recent report that showed that 1500+ millionaires paid NO taxes probably falls on deaf ears of the black hearted conservatives, who believe they should not have to contribute anything.

(Report Comment)
matt arnall August 10, 2011 | 10:43 a.m.

The writings of Mr. Miller do seem a bit askew, but they are opinion peices. I have already dropped any hope that I will recieve anything from Social Security, as it seems obvious that it will never make it that far. It is disheartening that most have accepted that business as usual is not working, but the government can't take the steps neccessary to admit that and form a plan to move forward, rather than bickering and not actually getting anything accomplished.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 10, 2011 | 12:21 p.m.

Gary, even if those 1,500 turned over 100% of their income to the federal government, it would not come close to covering the deficit. To do that, taxes will have to go up -- way up -- on the lower and middle classes. Even if the top rates were 50% or 75%, there simply aren't enough millionaires and billionaires to pay for everything.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks August 10, 2011 | 2:07 p.m.

Odds are those people are millionaires do to something they started or a business or a company they run. So for them to pay no taxes is completely reasonable do to the fact that the corporation is writing a check each week then most pay in their lifetime.
I know that I personally do not pay much if anything at all but my LLC sure does.

(Report Comment)
matt arnall August 10, 2011 | 2:42 p.m.

It is not about millionaires paying obscene percentages, it is about making quality choices in what our government does. Entitlements are killing us. A line needs to be drawn in the sand in regards to SS. Scale it down over a period of time, with clear stated benifit amounts for people at various ages. Make an educated choice as to what year the benifits will expire, and stop making those of us that will recieve nothing, pay anything right now. I could save my own money for my own retirement. What a novel idea!!! People on welfare should be considered a public employee, and given a job to maintain to recieve public moneys. I really think there are solutions out there, and there are lots of people smarter than me, so why do I never hear of any solutions? This is the tip of the iceburg. We must cut spending, in all catagories, but it should be done in a way that encourages private companies to hire Americans to fill in the holes that will be left by sliding some of these responsibilties from government to the private sector. If I hear one more politician reapeat the same thing that they have said a million times, I might loose my mind. Also, taxes should be simplified. Spending cuts and increased revenue is the only way to get out of this hole we have made for ourselves, and it must be done intelligently, if that is possible for politicians......

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop August 10, 2011 | 7:46 p.m.

The main reason SS can't be saved is because:

A. The federal govt since 1965 has been raiding it.
B. The baby boomers didn't have enough kids to support it. It's a ponzi scheme.

SS and medicare are both funded by employment taxes. Other welfare and education programs should be returned to the states where they belong, and funded as each state sees fit. Taxes for which those programs were funded should be reduced from the amount individual taxpayers send to the federal government. In other words, cut taxes to individuals.

(Report Comment)
Patrick Bitterman August 10, 2011 | 8:00 p.m.

Eric Cox is an idiot that has never served our nation..idiots like him can LEARN from J. Karl Miller, a person that gave his entire life to serving our nation.

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox August 10, 2011 | 8:45 p.m.

I'm not a fool who serves defense contractors and is blind to the truth. My grandfather fought in World War 2 and that was the last time there was even a question of U.S. sovereignty. No sir, you are the idiot, and idiots like you are the cause of all this needless death.

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox August 10, 2011 | 9:05 p.m.

Patrick Bitterman , I also have all of my arms and legs, and am alive and breathing. Lol yeah I'm the idiot. I love to set people like you off, noticed that is your only post ever, did ya sign up just to call me an idiot? First post and you're already a troll.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller August 11, 2011 | 9:06 a.m.

Mr Cox, you are certainly entitled to your opinion and to voice it without fear of censorship. And, I am happy to learn that you are alive and breathing and are in possession of your arms and legs. However, did it ever occur to you that perhaps the reason you are able to voice that opinion and have your limbs intact are because of the fools like me who served citizens like you in addition to your "despised defense contractors?"

(Report Comment)
matt arnall August 11, 2011 | 12:27 p.m.

When a cook working for a defense contractor makes $120,000 a year cooking, never seeing any real action, and the fine soldiers over there risking life and limb make just over $30,000, something seems way outta balance. Defense contractors are a huge problem, as it is the US government that is paying for these contracts. And if they pay that much for a cook, how much money are they wasting in other areas. I support our troops, but defense contractors are the hedge fund managers of the middle east, and they are screwing us just as much as wall street does.

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox August 11, 2011 | 12:43 p.m.

Yes Mr. Miller I have entertained that idea, but as I pointed out there has not been a serious threat to U.S. sovereignty since World War 2 (my father would argue the Cuban Missile Crisis), so I logically concluded that is not the case. I have not been endangered by a foreign nation in my lifetime, so military service by anyone has not benefited my supposed freedom. Borrowing money to fight illegal wars is not helping me either. Additionally one of my best friends spent 8 years in the Army, was in Yugoslavia, Croatia, and Iraq. He received many medals for his service including the Bronze Star for valor in combat. But if I ask him how invading Iraq did anything positive for my freedom, he's got nothing. And that's what you have, nothing, blind patriotism isn't a good thing, when our country falls short of the ideals of the Constitution, head down and mouth closed is no place for a true patriot. I know this isn't a popular topic, but I believe we need to stop perpetuating the lie that these illegal wars protect our freedom. Sometimes the truth isn't easy to hear, nobody wants to think they sacrificed life, limb, blood and tears for some companies bottom line, but believing a lie is not the answer. I'm for more young men and women not dying or being maimed, I'm for not killing innocents the so called civilian casualties. Silence is no longer an option, needless death does not make me free.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 11, 2011 | 1:17 p.m.

Sometimes I find it constructive to think about "might have beens".

INO, take all the conflicts of the world in which we have become involved over...say...the last 30 years and ask, "What would the world look like now if we had (1) lost or (2) not become involved?

For example, if Cuba had kept Grenada, what would the rest of the Caribbean look like today?

If no one had intervened in Croatia, how would the evolution of that region appear today?

What if Israel had gotten rolled over?

What if Reagan had not dropped an egg on Gaddafi's tent?

What if the USSR had not gone bankrupt?

What would Saddam have been doing today, 20 years after the 1st Gulf War?

What if Noriega was still in Panama?

I could go on. I have no answers to the above questions, but they (and others) are worth thinking about. Many of these conflicts are much more than stopping an immediate problem; actions/inactions have consequences that go beyond just...say...kicking or not kicking a dictator out the door. The end result will evolve just like anything else, an evolution that has worldwide economic and political consequences far beyond the original goal...positive or negative.

Just a thought...I'm not advocating one action or another here; I'm just asking that we remember that isolation has consequences, too. Political and economic evolutions can be a surprise (they usually are), and sometimes it's not a pleasant one.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm August 11, 2011 | 1:24 p.m.

Miller I served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and if you think we are doing anything in those two countries to protect Americans or their freedom you are fooling yourself. The Cold War is over; it would do this country a lot of good if you and your generation would accept that fact.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 11, 2011 | 10:08 p.m.

I note that Social Security is still being referred to by some as "insurance." The United States Supreme Court years ago ruled that Social Security does not meet the legal definition of "insurance."

So what did the USSC say Social Security is? A welfare program.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle August 12, 2011 | 7:41 a.m.

Ellis Smith August 11, 2011 | 10:08 p.m.: "I note that Social Security is still being referred to by some as "insurance." The United States Supreme Court years ago ruled that Social Security does not meet the legal definition of 'insurance.'"

A quick check shows that *one* person in this thread referred to Soc. Sec. as "insurance" and did so in a quite informal manner.
.
If your point is that Congress has the power to alter the terms of Soc. Sec. eligibility, fine. I think most sane people would note that as obvious. Soc. Sec. is a statutory entitlement program; beneficiaries have the legal right to receive benefits if they meet eligibility requirements, but Congress does have the right to "amend, alter, or repeal" provisions of the Act [Flemming v Nestor, 1960].
.
But perhaps you could expand on your point?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 12, 2011 | 8:53 a.m.

True insurance is CONTRACTURAL (a legal contract between insurer and insured); Social Security is NOT contractual.

Any inference that Social Security is "insurance" in the accepted sense of that word is bogus and misleading.

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin August 12, 2011 | 9:19 a.m.

@Ellis ... Calling Soc Sec. "welfare" is bogus and misleading, as well, since it implies getting something for nothing.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 12, 2011 | 10:14 a.m.

In a sense, SS can be called "welfare" since there is no involvement of the worker (i.e., something for nothing); all you have to do is get a W2 wage. I understand that if you had to pay SS AFTER you cash your check, your take-home pay would be increased by 15% above what it is now. But, since you never see the money, there is no emotional involvement like there is when you open your wallet and buy something.

Perhaps "forced savings" is a better term for SS.

If you have W2 wages, you have no alternative but to pay (save) into the system. Indeed, you never even see the money. It is "forced" because if you or your employer does not pay, someone goes to jail.

Like with state and federal income taxes, I believe folks would have a much greater appreciation of their SS "contributions" if they were able to handle the money first, then write the checks.

At the very least, folks would care a whole lot more about how the programs are structured and the money spent.

(PS: Are you aware that if your spouse dies, you as the survivor cannot get both your and your spouses SS even though you both paid into the system? You must choose one or the other. And when you die, all those "forced savings" are not heritable; the money goes to someone else.)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 12, 2011 | 10:21 a.m.

This just ain't good news for the job searches.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-12...
______________________

Companies will continue to accumulate cash rather than hire; after all, why hire when inventory does not need refilling?

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 12, 2011 | 11:01 a.m.

Mike, do you really feel that attempting to assert your anticipation, for your own reasons, of doom and gloom on to the impressionable is in any way constructive? Also, I note that there has been some reduction in newly unemployed recently so the opinion you keep repeating is contentious at best.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 12, 2011 | 12:03 p.m.

Paul: I have no problem if you wish to keep your head in the clouds...or sand, as the case may be. You've done very well with this strategy so far, and it's only harm is to help you avoid reality. So, for you, why change?

But, I do not share your low opinion of the "impressionable", as if they are sufficiently "low" so as to need protection from knowledge and the boogymen of the world. Such a posture is patronizing and, quite frankly, classist. You dropped your drawers and exposed what you think of *lessers* and their ability to absorb knowledge, Paul.

Economic and financial knowledge allows a person to protect him/herself. All is not rosy in this world right now, and to think it's rosy when it's not is a recipe for personal and financial disaster. Folks need to understand that the picture is much bigger than the boundaries of their apartments/homes. What happens in Europe directly impacts an American in Columbia, MO. How the President carries himself has importance to each and every one of us. "Sentiment" is everything, and to sit around and be hopeful for "good things are just around the corner" is delusional when, in fact, good things are a long way out. If even ONE person reading my stuff starts to read and pay attention to what is happening, then my posts will have done at least some good.

After months, months, and months of 400K+ numbers, are you really willing to stick your neck out for ONE sub-400 number (actually, 395K) and say, "Let the good times roll"? Perhaps you noticed that LAST month, the number was under 400K until it was revised UP to above 400K. Perhaps you also noticed that it takes about 300K jobs PER MONTH just to make a serious dent in the unemployment rate.

Your "hope" is your own, delusional at worst, and naive at best in the face of what the world is experiencing right now.

The article I posted concerns consumer confidence. It concerns "sentiment". Such things are incredibly important for each and every one of us, workers and entrepreneurs alike.

I'm retired, yet I have every financial incentive to want things turned around. I need an income, too, and the only way I'm gonna get what I'd like is if everyone gets back to work and companies start growing.

Protect yourself. Uncalled-for optimism is a recipe for personal disaster.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield August 12, 2011 | 12:29 p.m.

"Calling Soc Sec. 'welfare' is bogus and misleading, as well, since it implies getting something for nothing."

For some recipients, it is welfare. For example, if you marriage ends after more than 10 years, your ex can claim 35%-50% of your SS benefits. Yet you still receive your full benefit. So where does that 35%-50% come from? The money that other people paid into the system.

Medicare is similar. Someone who is 85 years old today will receive an average of $2.69 in benefits for every dollar paid into the system. Where does the $1.69 come from? Partly from 22-year-olds, who can expect to receive 75 cents for every dollar paid by the time they're eligible.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 12, 2011 | 1:32 p.m.

Mike says..."after all, why hire when inventory does not need refilling?"

I also noticed that consumer spending was up a little bit last month.

"But, I do not share your low opinion of the "impressionable", as if they are sufficiently "low" so as to need protection from knowledge and the boogymen of the world."

Your speculation hardly passes for knowledge. In effect, you are behaving much like "the boogymen" in that you are attempting to spread as much fear as you possibly can. The largest fundamental change that has transpired in the recent past is that an office is currently occupied by an individual you dislike.

"You dropped your drawers and exposed what you think of *lessers* and their ability to absorb knowledge, Paul."

I never attempted to hide my opinion regarding anyone who would give any undue weight to yours. You are clearly mistaken if you think I am embarrassed. The stuff that's in my drawers is pretty!!!

"Uncalled-for optimism is a recipe for personal disaster."

And uncalled for FEAR is a recipe for a world wide disaster.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 12, 2011 | 2:10 p.m.

OK, Paul. You keep on believing whatever you wish.

I'll keep on posting whatever I wish.

Folks can make up their own mind. They can plan, or not plan. They can take action, or they can whine. They can buy assets, or not buy assets. They can insist upon one course of political solution(s), or another. They can understand finances and money, or not understand. They can understand how many jobs it will take to get to 5% unemployment, or not understand.

Each person has a right to believe what they wish and live with the consequences of those beliefs. But, there will be little sympathy for those who make chronically bad decisions about such things, including a willingness to not pay attention. Bailouts will have to be taken from me by force or threat because I won't do it willingly.

Many free-thinkers...aren't.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 12, 2011 | 2:22 p.m.

Paul also mumbles, "The largest fundamental change that has transpired in the recent past is that an office is currently occupied by an individual you dislike."
______________________

No, the largest fundamental change in the recent past is we are headed for a double-dip that will adversely affect us all.

As for me disliking the President, you would be hard pressed to find posts where I have attacked the man personally. I HAVE attacked his policies.

Except for once...just the other day. I said, "We've hired Bart Simpson." My thinking on the man has evolved; I now believe he is utterly incompetent, a drone of those with whom he has surrounded himself. He is Jimmy Carter all over again, except not as nice. His "fixes" have utterly failed. Apparently, many Democrats are now stating publicly they wish they had nominated Hilliary. Quite frankly, so am I.

At least she has strength and realistic street smarts. I don't care for her, but I'd settle for her. I'd be quite happy if the President and Vice-President would resign in favor of our Secretary of State for the rest of this term.

So would a lot of libs.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 12, 2011 | 4:04 p.m.

"Each person has the right to believe what they wish and live with the consequences of those beliefs."

But a problem can occur in "living with the consequences." Some people would rather share any negative consequences with as many other people as possible.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 12, 2011 | 4:30 p.m.

"As for me disliking the President, you would be hard pressed to find posts where I have attacked the man personally. I HAVE attacked his policies.

Except for once...just the other day. I said, "We've hired Bart Simpson." My thinking on the man has evolved; I now believe he is utterly incompetent, a drone of those with whom he has surrounded himself. He is Jimmy Carter all over again, except not as nice. His "fixes" have utterly failed."

So then you ARE now willing to admit that you dislike who is occupying the office? (Note that I didn't state that you attacked him personally.)

"Folks can make up their own mind. They can plan, or not plan. They can take action, or they can whine. They can buy assets, or not buy assets. They can insist upon one course of political solution(s), or another. They can understand finances and money, or not understand. They can understand how many jobs it will take to get to 5% unemployment, or not understand."

I hear you whining a lot about the economy. I see you implying that you understand finances and money and more importantly that I don't. Why don't you tell us all how you would cause the necessary number of jobs to be created? Possibly your method is telling everyone who will listen to you that the economy is going down the toilet? Do you think that you will improve employment by encouraging people to curtail their spending?

"No, the largest fundamental change in the recent past is we are headed for a double-dip that will adversely affect us all."

Correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't that be a large fundamental change in the near FUTURE? Until recently I disbelieved clairvoyants. Now I just disbelieve MOST of them.

"Apparently, many Democrats are now stating publicly they wish they had nominated Hilliary. Quite frankly, so am I.
At least she has strength and realistic street smarts. I don't care for her, but I'd settle for her. I'd be quite happy if the President and Vice-President would resign in favor of our Secretary of State for the rest of this term.
So would a lot of libs."

You might be more credible if you were able to refrain from speaking for those who you dislike and disagree with, among other things.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 12, 2011 | 5:51 p.m.

Paul:

Can you read this chart? Hope it links ok. Set it on 3 years and hit "update". You and me and everyone else better hope what is going on right now doesn't mimic late 2008. Right now the DOW (and SPX and Naz) are technically oversold and we'll get a bounce, but it's what comes after that all of us should be afraid of. See a similar thing in 2008. All of the 2008 conditions are in place....PLUS debt.

http://stockcharts.com/h-sc/ui

Yes, I dislike the person sitting in the WH...not as a fellow human being...but as an administrator, leader, manager, philosopher, and thinker. I have concluded he is utterly incompetent. Hilliary, not Joe, should finish out his term and stand for reelection.

That simple act would help stabilize the markets.

Anything that reduces the real or perceived risk to entrepreneurs WILL increase jobs. This includes the uncertainties associated with the current liberal administration's statements and actions re: taxes, debt, and regulations. But mainly it involves the demonization of the job makers. They are uncertain and feel a high risk to their livelihoods. So, step 1 is: Quit playing class warfare!!! Wow, talk about working against your own self-interest!

Basically, entrepreneurs are telling the President to go to hell, and there's not a lot the President can do about this except shut the hell up. You can lead an entrepreneur to water, but you can't make him/her expand and create jobs.

The administration's policy of funneling stimulus money (and printing more of it) to the middle class in the hopes they will purchase stuff and reduce inventories just might have worked. IF, the other end of the equation...the risk perceptions of the job makers...had not been ground in the dirt via class warfare, threats to their livelihoods, and conduct of their businesses.

Half-right isn't good enough.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 12, 2011 | 5:58 p.m.

Oh, and I haven't been whining about the economy.

I've been trying to predict where it's headed and state why.

I've not been too far off for the last couple of years.

But, I sure hope I'm wrong about the next 3.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 12, 2011 | 6:12 p.m.

Creating jobs:

New President, someone with strong character who can communicate that strength.

Stability in Congress; one part conservative and one part liberal, with a conservative president.

Reduce spending across the board, but eliminate some federal programs entirely. Entitlements are on the table.

After spending is under control, we'll talk about increased taxes. The reverse is not acceptable; if the reverse happens, any increased taxes will be spent on new programs. I'm absolutely, positively convinced of that; therefore, I WILL NOT trust any politician who advocates tax first, then cut spending. No more blank checks. Ever.

Massive overhaul of tax code. Flat tax should be on the table. No more income tax.

After spending is under control, increase the SS tax by 1 or 2$. Retire one year later than now.

Start drilling. The revenues will be enormous.

Cut all foreign aid by 25% (I'll entertain 100% in some cases).

Start a Manhatten-style project to develop hydrogen from water with solar. Highly efficient catalysts will be required. We only have 92 letters of the chemical alphabet to do this. This will be paid for with a 1/2% surcharge on all flat taxes. Simultaneously, speed up nuclear building to bridge the gap. Reign in the environmentalists for no less than 20 years; we need change RIGHT NOW.

Just a few thoughts...I'm flexible, tho. ANYTHING except the way this administration is conducting itself right now.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 12, 2011 | 6:58 p.m.

My goodness. I had no idea you were THAT partisan.

Our new president has as strong a character as any I have seen. That he unflinchingly went in the direction that he has despite the bellyaching of yourself and countless people in your camp and mine is a testimonial of that. He has disappointed those on both fringes.

I don't know where the myth that we are not drilling originated. If there was something to recover we would be drilling more. Also, I don't know of any industries that are being hurt by a lack of electric power or excessive charges for the same. I agree that new initiatives will be needed and that at some point the economy will benefit greatly, but we are not going to avert a recession by solving a problem that is not currently having a negative impact on businesses.

You might also remember that the president was instrumental in using some of the stimulus to jump start (no pun) battery factories intended to supply power storage for electric vehicles. This is essentially accomplishes what you would have liked to with hydrogen technology. Unlike your suggestion, battery technology is firmly established, while the cost effective usage of hydrogen remains on the fringe. Also, you should note that your president agrees with your position on nuclear power. However, not everyone in congress does and frankly neither do I. I also believe that the portion of the stimulus that was directed toward solar and wind projects is obtaining good to great results. It will take a while for this to become obvious.

I don't disagree with your position on social security but I maintain that your stance for flat tax is flat wrong.

Possibly we might have to quit sending people to IRAQ!!!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 12, 2011 | 8:25 p.m.

Paul: Yes, batteries are great.

If you like lead mining.
Or nickel mining.
Or zinc mining.
Or cadmium mining.

Especially cadmium mining.

http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/cadmium/index.h...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itai-itai_d...

PS: Solar has similar problems with toxic heavy metals. These elements don't grow on trees.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 12, 2011 | 8:51 p.m.

I have a hard time imagining that most of those batteries won't get recycled AT LEAST a dozen times, given their cost.
Admit it. You have a battery in your car. You have a battery in your house. Do you have a fuel cell?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 12, 2011 | 11:39 p.m.

Yes, I have batteries, but no fuel cell.

So, you think there will be no more need for mines? That we have all the critical elements we need?

China and it's burgeoning rare earth metals industry will be disappointed.

Did the Potosi lead mines shut down or sumpin'? Do we have a need for more lead in the face of all this recycling?

PS: Recycling is not metal pollution-free. There is always a waste stream, and this one is particular toxic.

There's always a price; that price usually does not get mentioned when a green agenda is involved.

PSS: A university of which I am aware has decided to become more "green", so they decided their syllabi would be made available on-line to instructors and students rather than printed and mailed. Since the instructors and students still have to print the syllabi, the instructors and students are now less "green". But the university can claim they are more green. Now, isn't that absurd?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 13, 2011 | 5:14 a.m.

Here's a ninteresting thought experiment on what it would take in lead to make a battery sufficient to power the US for a week:

http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/20...

DK

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller August 13, 2011 | 11:14 a.m.

A better question might be "How much fossil fuel burning would be required to power that battery for a week?" So much for the myth that battery power is green. And, also how do you include crash safety in adoption of the newly proposed fuel standards without repealing the laws of physics?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 13, 2011 | 2:12 p.m.

J, Karl Miller wrote:

"A better question might be "How much fossil fuel burning would be required to power that battery for a week?" So much for the myth that battery power is green."

The idea is that renewable sources would fill that battery. I have a solar system that does exactly that, and it powers virtually all of my house year round, and I never have to go without electricity. The downside (and it's a minor one) is I have 1700 pounds of lead in my back yard.

"And, also how do you include crash safety in adoption of the newly proposed fuel standards without repealing the laws of physics?"

Driving is inherently dangerous - it's the most dangerous thing most Americans do by far. If we have to drive smaller cars, fine - Europeans do it all the time and they're not worried about it. If you choose to drive, you choose to face the risks.

There are also the risks of oil import dependency and climate change that a fuel economy standard does address.

The sutomobile is a tremedously inefficient form of personal transport, and our relationship with it more closely resembles a toxic, co-dependent love affair, with elements of drug addiction, than anything rational. If automobiles were an infectious disease, we;d be spending tens of billions of dollars to find a cure (for the death toll we let them create). The less any of us have to do with automobiles, the better. They're by far the most destructive tools we've ever come up with.

DK

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox August 14, 2011 | 12:22 a.m.

Patrick Bittermam thought they would delete your personal attack, but since they did not I offer you this challenge. IQ test, loser pays testing fee's, me and you let's find out who's the real idiot.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 14, 2011 | 6:28 a.m.

J. Karl Miller:

A significant component of our energy problems is lack of understanding of the requirements to generate the electrical power being used, both for present and projected needs. Simply quoting numbers for the vast quantities of electrical energy required goes over everyone's head, because the numbers themselves boggle the mind.

Consider a small child and a water faucet. The child learns that if he/she turns on the faucet,, water will flow from the faucet. The child is content with this knowledge, until one day he/she turns on the faucet and either no water comes out of there is a very weak stream. The child becomes confused and possibly angry. Why won't water come out of the faucet?

The problem is NOT the faucet; it's in the system. Same for electricity. If the system can't meet demand, there will be a problem!

There are those who spend their entire working lives making sure that both water and electricity will flow in the quantities required. Their jobs aren't glamorous, but they are necessary.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 14, 2011 | 8:04 a.m.

MarkF: "The automobile is a tremendously inefficient form of personal transport..."
________________________

I'll agree with this.....

Are their efficient alternatives? For example, what if I want to visit Jeff City, Lake Ozark, Hermann, Bennett Springs, Camdenton, Clinton, and Boonville....all in one day? How do I do that efficiently?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 14, 2011 | 11:26 a.m.

The problem is a bit bigger than the automobile itself. The problem is that we've built an entire economic and social structure around the automobile (and let's include trucks too). If all vehicle owners assigned their vehicles to the scrap yard we'd still have a problem. In fact we'd have bigger problems than we have now.

The situation sort of parallels one I've been harping on. I have no objection to the concept of phasing out fuel combustion to produce electricity or phasing out use of nuclear power to generate electricity, but we'd better have something on hand in real time with capacity to take their place!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 18, 2011 | 2:40 p.m.

Somebody else agrees sentiment (i.e., confidence) is the key:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/confide...

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 18, 2011 | 3:23 p.m.

So therefore you should do everything possible to erode it further?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 18, 2011 | 5:34 p.m.

Paul: I'm shocked that you would think information about what is happening has erosive powers. Do you just pay attention to good news...i.e., the stuff you like and agree with?

I've found that being an optimist is a fine thing...unless you are in denial.

Right now on this issue, I'm a "glass half-full" guy. I see no good news on the horizon that has the power to pull us out of this anytime soon. I simply wish to convey one thing: Sentiment (confidence, mainly in the job-makers) is everything. Everything else is the shirt onna bull.

The stimulus failed to increase confidence in buyers and sellers. Printing money failed to do the same thing. The President no longer has credibility, mojo, or gravitas on this issue. Neither do his financial advisers.

Loss of confidence is the child of uncertainty...and a President with a big classist mouth. Wow, talk about working against your own self interest!

No way would I start a company right now. Or expand one. I don't view incorporation as a financial suicide pact.

Protect yourself!

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 18, 2011 | 5:59 p.m.

"The President no longer has credibility, mojo, or gravitas on this issue."

That's what this is really about.
If you keep repeating it enough times, maybe somebody will join you. And then maybe someone will join them. And then, by golly, if you can get enough of you, well it must be true.

Except that you aren't an economist. You're someone who is going around digging for negative opinions that coincide with what you want to say and the reason you want to say it is because you don't like your president and you are afraid he might allow someone to raise your taxes five cents. So you would rather someone spread enough doom and gloom around that it cripples your nations economy and helps cripple the world economy instead.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 18, 2011 | 6:05 p.m.

"Wow, talk about working against your own self interest!"

Wow, talk about a pot calling a kettle black.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 18, 2011 | 6:24 p.m.

Ok Paul.

Just for you, I'll be an optimist.

Start spending money; it will help the economy.

Go into debt and buy a new car.

Sell your house. It will be easy. Buy a new one. That will most certainly be easy. Housing data is in great shape.

Start a business. Hire someone. Risk everything.

9.1% unemployment? Pfffft. No problem. After all, that means 90.9% are still employed!!! That 9.1% means nothing economically.

Don't save...there's plenty of time for that later. Debt is good. The world is in good shape. Print more stimulus. To hell with assets...buy a new truck you look good in.

The good times are right around the corner. Let the good times roll. All is well. It's hunky-dory out there. I take back everything I've posted on the topic.

Buy! Buy! Buy!
Spend! Spend! Spend!
Paul is right! Everyone...get on board and quit griping!

(Truth is...you agree with me, or at least fear that I'm right. You just don't like my saying such things because you feel I will traumatize the...as you say...great impressionables. No, I won't shut up on the topic. I want folks to start paying attention to this. I want folks to protect themselves. I want folks to understand that this economy goes NOWHERE until those who hire feel better about their financial risk. Until then, you get nothing. Nothing. Because you can't MAKE me hire...or anyone else for that matter.

Oh, PS: I have no problems raising some taxes and getting rid of some deductions. AFTER spending is under control. Not before. Not even a "little bit" before. Do that, and then we'll talk. Until then, no. That's my vote, and I'm stickin' to it...because I'm right. I practice this philosophy at home, my state practices it, and I see no gawddamned good reason my country shouldn't practice it as well)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 18, 2011 | 6:28 p.m.

Oh, btw Paul. Thanks so much for believing in me. I had no idea my words were spread so far and wide, "...spread[ing] enough doom and gloom around that it cripples your nation[']s economy and helps cripple the world economy instead.

Wow, it would be soooo cool to learn national and world leaders are reading my stuff. You really think so?

How much money do you think I should ask for? By the word, or by the post?

Gosh, I'm actually blushing!

Either that, or it's a hot flash.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 18, 2011 | 6:54 p.m.

It's a hot flash. This portion of what you have said is actually truthful when applied to yourself...

"no longer has credibility, mojo, or gravitas"

(Report Comment)

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