Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Great Recession

Stock Market Gains Failing to Bail Out Pension Plans

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 26, 2014: 

Pension managers’ hopes that investment returns – i.e., pixie dust – would bail them out from their bad assumptions, and keep their plans solvent and fully funded so that they would be able to keep every promise made, have finally crashed on the rocks of reality. Just three months ago, the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College released a study showing that the shortfall between promises and assets to pay them for 25 of the largest public defined-benefit pension plans in the country amounted to more than

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Despite Stock Market Gains, Public Pension Plans Fall Further Behind

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, September 25, 2014:

 

In its latest report on public pension plans, Moody’s announced on Thursday that, despite recent historic gains in the stock market, those plans’ liabilities are increasing even more quickly. Reporting on the 25 largest public defined benefit pension plans in the country, Moody’s Global Credit Research estimates that those plans are now $2 trillion short of where they need to be to pay out all the benefits promised to their beneficiaries. This has occurred despite record gains in the stock market, which,

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California Governor Being Challenged by Republican Upstart in November

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, September 23, 2014:

English: Photo of California Attorney General ...

California Governor Jerry Brown

In response to a challenge posed by his Republican opponent for the governorship in November, California Governor Jerry Brown said:

A lot of people forget the mess that California was in just four years ago. There were 1 million jobs that had been lost. Our budget deficit was astronomical: 27 billion. We hadn’t had a budget on time in probably 10 years.

Brown’s challenger is Republican Neel Kashkari, a practicing Hindu born of Indian parents with a background as a Bush appointee and a former executive with Goldman Sachs. While his political positions on key issues qualify him as a RINO — Republican in Name Only — he is already closing the gap on the once-invincible California governor.

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The Kansas Referendum on Reagan’s Tax Cut Policies

This article was published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 24, 2014:

Big government liberals and high spending politicians have converged on Kansas, seeing an opportunity to discredit not only Ronald Reagan’s tax policies but to get even with the Tea Party, which took out a number of “moderate” Republicans in the state Senate over the last two election cycles.

Gov. Sam Brownback (pictured above), a supporter of less government and lower taxes, was able to ride the conservative wave that resulted in tax reform that not only increased an individual taxpayer’s standard deduction from $4,500 to $5,500 but also

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Homeschoolers Outnumber Private-school Students in North Carolina

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, September 9, 2014:

Homeschooled children in the kitchen

Homeschooled children in the kitchen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

News from North Carolina marks another milestone toward developing an informed, politically active citizenry familiar with the basic fundamentals of the American Republic.

Homeschooled students now outnumber private-school students in North Carolina. This represents an increase of more than 14 percent from the year before, and a 27 percent increase from just two years ago. The state estimates that there are nearly 100,000 homeschoolers in North Carolina, while private school enrollments have been dropping ever since the beginning of the Great Recession. According to the Charlotte News Observer, this extraordinary growth is due to parental concerns about school violence, the lack of a religious focus in public schools, and the large classroom size.

But it also has to do with the accelerating pushback against the Common Core nationalized curriculum.

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Foreign Affairs: Give Away Free Money!

This article first appeared at the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, August 29, 2014:

Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

What happens when a college professor meets up with a graduate student from Oxford University, intending to solve the world’s economic problems? What happens when they consider that the previous attempts to revive the economy have failed and their recommendation is to do more of the same?

The title of their resultant article in Foreign Affairs – the premier publication of the Council on Foreign Relations – explains it all:

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Article in CFR Magazine: Give Away Money to Stimulate Economy

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, August 28, 2014:

 

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Bell 206 ...

Mark Blythe, a professor at Brown University, and Eric Lonergan, a hedge fund manager living in London, have conjured the ultimate solution to a stagnant economy: Central banks should give away free money.

These two authors of a lengthy and allegedly erudite article in the September/October 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs, published by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), appear to be living in an alternate universe, as their suggestion, if it were fully implemented, would push the world’s economy back to the Dark Ages.

The article, entitled “Print Less but Transfer More: Why Central Banks Should Give Money Directly to the People,” rests on the false assumption that

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July BLS Jobs Report: The Sound of One Hand Clapping?

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 4, 2014:

MarketWatch

To Jeffry Bartash, writing for the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, Friday’s jobs report looked awfully good: 209,000 new jobs were added in July and in all the right places: mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing. In addition, there was almost no growth whatsoever in the “government” sector: just 11,000 new jobs were created there last month. This, according to Bartash, means that the economy is on a hot streak, having generated more than 200,000 new jobs every month for the last six months — the first time that has happened since 1997.

Added Bartash:

In the first seven months of 2014 the economy has gained an average of 230,000 jobs. That’s the best stretch of job creation since the [Great Recession] ended in mid-2009 and 19% faster than the pace of hiring in 2013.

End of story? Not quite.

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Friday’s Underwhelming jobs Report

This article first appeared at the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, August 4, 2014:

Liar

Criss Jami, the lead singer of the rock band Venus in Arms, may reasonably be accused of having given the president lessons in deceit, especially as they both live in the city where truth-telling is a lost art. Said Jami:

Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.

When Friday’s jobs report came out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), President Obama spoke “mere portions” of its truth:

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Sage Foundation: Wealth “Inequality” Will Continue to Worsen

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, July 29, 2014: 

LaSalle Mansion

LaSalle Mansion

In another so-called research study about wealth inequality, the liberal think-tank Sage Foundation said in June that while the super-rich have fully recovered from the Great Recession, the vast majority of Americans have not. Specifically their report shows that median household net worth “was $32,000 lower in 2013 that [it was] 10 years earlier,” a decline of 36 percent. It concluded:

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Texas 7, California Nothing

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 9, 2014:

Moving Day.

Moving to Texas from California

One would think the good doctor is running for Congress from Texas, but he’s not. He’s running to boot a hard-left Democrat who’s been representing the 24th District in California for 15 years by touting all the good things Texas has been doing compared to California. In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Brad Allen, a pediatric heart surgeon from Paso Robles, wrote:

As a Californian, I am pained to say that three of the nation’s five fastest-growing cities – and seven of the top 15 – are in Texas.

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Texas Beats California: No Income Tax, Booming Economy, Friendly Folks

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, July 8, 2014:

texas our texas

Texas, Our Texas!

Following Toyota’s announcement April 28 that it would be consolidating its three American business headquarters and moving them from California to a new $300-million campus in Plano, Texas, the debate over why has heated up once again. Toyota follows Occidental Petroleum (which is leaving Los Angeles for Houston, after being there for a hundred years), Raytheon (which is moving its El Segundo headquarters to McKinney, Texas), and Legal Zoom (the largest legal-issues website in the world, which has already moved from Los Angeles to Austin). In the past 18 months more than 50 companies have made the same decision to move from California to Texas.

Some say it’s because of the lower cost of living in Texas. The cost of living in Plano is about a third lower than in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area where Toyota is currently located. As calculated by the Dallas-based conservative think tank National Center for Policy Analysis, “People of all incomes will save in Texas,” according to Pamela Villarreal, a senior fellow at the institute. Some will save a little; others will save a lot by moving to Texas to keep their jobs with Toyota. As Villarreal explained, the calculation takes into account property taxes “which are pretty high in Texas” — about twice what they are in California for equivalently priced homes. Once real estate taxes are factored in, a single woman in Texas making $75,000 a year will have about $14,000 more in discretionary income than she would if she lived in California, but married workers making $150,000 a year who move from California to Texas would not see as dramatic a jump in discretionary income.

The Manhattan Institute says it makes sense for California companies to make the move to Texas, owing to California’s high taxes, oppressive regulations, expensive electricity, union influence, and the high cost of labor. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the cost per kilowatt-hour for commercial establishments in California is 13.11 cents while it’s only 8.2 cents in Texas — a saving of almost 40 percent. For industrial users, the savings are even greater: 10.72 cents per KWH in California versus just 5.86 cents in Texas. That cuts a heavy user’s energy bill in Texas nearly in half. Advantage: Texas

The advantage enjoyed by Texas is reflected in the states’ comparative economic growth rates: nearly four percent last year in Texas versus half that in California. In job growth, Texas regained the jobs it lost during the Great Recession by May of 2011 while California just made it back to even by May of this year — a three-year difference in favor of Texas. Since May 2011, Texas has added more than a million new jobs, while California has added barely 25,000 new jobs since this past May. Advantage: Texas

According to the blog 24/7 Wall Street, Texas ranks eighth among the country’s most quickly growing states with GDP growth jumping by $1.5 trillion in 2013. Its population continues to grow as well, with unemployment below the national average. California is well off the pace. Advantage: Texas

Bradley Allen, a pediatric heart surgeon in Paso Robles, just announced his candidacy for Congress in California’s 24th district, and in the process noted the difference between California and Texas in an opinion article at the Wall Street Journal: “Texas has no state income tax, while California’s 13.3% marginal rate is the highest in the country. Electricity rates are about 50%-88% higher compared to Texas due to the Golden State’s renewable-energy mandate, and its gas is 70-80 cents per gallon more expensive because of taxes.” Advantage: Texas

Allen’s opponent is incumbent Lois Capps, who sports a dismal Freedom Index rating of just 21 out of 100 on constitutional issues. Out of California’s 53 congressional districts, 18 of them have FI ratings of 20 or lower, while just one has an FI rating of 80 or higher. In Texas, by contrast, just three representatives have a rating of 20 or less out of the state’s 36 districts, with one, Rep. Steve Stockman, holding an FI rating of 95. Advantage: Texas

One of the best measures of the difference between the two states is just how much a Californian would have to pay to move his family to Texas. In November 2012, a Californian living in San Francisco would pay $1,693 to rent a 20-foot U-Haul truck and drive it San Antonio. On the other hand, a Texan in San Antonio moving to San Francisco would pay just $893 for the same truck. (Since then the numbers have become even more favorable: A Californian moving his family on August 1 from San Francisco to San Antonio would have to pay $1,890 for the same truck while a Texan moving the other way would pay only $737.) Advantage: Texas

However, David Horsey, writing for the Baltimore Sun, noted that Californians moving to Texas will leave an awful lot behind:

California has Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Texas has oil and gas.

California has Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi. Texas has Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert.

In California, billionaires get taxed more to pay for programs for the poor. In Texas, billionaires get to keep their money, and the poor go without health care.

[California Governor Jerry] Brown got voters to approve a tax hike to balance the budget and fund education. [Texas Governor Rick] Perry balanced the budget by slashing spending on education.

In lots of places in California, it’s tough to live on a middle class family budget. In lots of places in Texas, it’s hard to live outside a church-going, football-loving, white, heterosexual lifestyle.

Absence of snarky, politically correct, bitter liberals. Advantage: Texas.

 

Gas Prices Ease as U.S. Oil Production Soars

This article was first published by TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 7, 2014: 

English: $4.06 Gas Prices, Lewiston, Maine, Cu...

Despite predictions to the contrary, the price of gas over the July 4 weekend dropped by two cents per gallon, confounding seers who were looking at gas approaching $4 a gallon. Those prognosticators were guilty of “straight-line thinking in a curvilinear world” — meaning that since gas this year was 20 cents a gallon more than a year ago, they believed it would continue to go up steadily for the foreseeable future.

With political disruptions in Iraq and Syria seriously reducing their contributions to the world’s oil supplies, one would think that prices would have to go straight up.

One would be wrong.

On July 4, Bank of America reported that U.S. production of crude oil (along with the liquids separated from natural gas) “surpassed all other countries this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels [per day] in the first quarter.” Francisco Blanch, BofA’s head of commodities research, told Bloomberg,

The U.S. increase in supply is a very meaningful chunk of oil. The shale boom is playing a key role in the U.S. recovery [from the Great Recession].

If the U.S. didn’t have this energy supply, prices at the pump would be completely unaffordable.

The nearly exponential growth in oil production, thanks to the free market’s invention and development of fracking technology, has put the United States firmly on the path of energy independence. As we become energy independent, disruptions in the supply chain from the Middle East will matter less and less.

Texas and North Dakota — which Professor Mark Perry calls “Saudi Texas” and “Saudi Dakota” respectively — are now producing almost half of all U.S. oil, and would rank as the fifth largest oil producing country as a separate nation. The growth in production is astonishing, according to Perry:

A decade ago the combined conventional crude oil production in the states of Texas and North Dakota … represented less than 21% of total U.S. crude oil output.

By 2008, the combined crude oil output in the two states … were producing one-third of all U.S. crude oil.

In eight out of the last nine months, their combined share exceeded 47% of all U.S. oil.

Perry predicts that it will exceed 50 percent sometime before the end of the year. And that prediction could come back to embarrass him, if the International Energy Agency (IEA) is correct. The IEA is estimating that total U.S. crude oil production (currently at 8.4 million bpd) will continue to soar, exceeding 13 million barrels per day in less than five years. That 50-percent increase in oil production would mean that the United States could be producing nearly 80 percent of its domestic needs for energy, closing in on energy independence.

In the very short run, gas prices will remain higher than they should be, thanks to the disruptions of supply in the Middle East, but with the continuing success of fracking making shale oil deposits now available with current technology, prices may reasonably be expected to decline further over time. Blanch admitted as much to Bloomberg:

The shale production story [in the United States] is bigger than Iraqi production, but it hasn’t made the impact on prices you would expect.

Typically such a large energy [production] growth should bring prices lower but in fact we’re not seeing that because the whole geopolitical situation outside the U.S. is dreadful.

Those involved in capitalizing on the fracking revolution, however, are taking a much longer view. The annual investment in oil and gas development and production hit a record $200 billion this year, one-fifth “of the country’s total private fixed-structure spending for the first time,” said Blanch.

The explosion in the oil patch is doing much to offset the otherwise nearly stagnant economy. In the last 10 years, direct jobs in the patch have almost doubled, while “indirect” jobs that support the industry have almost tripled in that same time period. As Professor Perry noted: “No other sector … has added as many jobs for American workers or made as much of an overall economic contribution to the US economy as the oil and gas sector.”

Citizens often don’t know how well they have it here. At present the average cost of gasoline is $3.69 a gallon for regular. In Norway it’s an astounding $9.79 a gallon, while in Germany it’s $8.50, and in England a gallon of petrol is $8.25.

The only thing that will keep the price of gas from continuing its two-year decline is government, either through restrictions on energy development or through increased taxation. At present about $2.37 of that $3.69 represents the cost of crude oil. Refining costs are about $.45 a gallon, while distribution, marketing costs, and profits (estimated to be between eight and 15 cents per gallon) cost another $.33 a gallon. Taxes (federal and state) take up the balance: $.42 a gallon. Federal excise taxes are $.184 cents a gallon, while state taxes average about $.24 cents a gallon. If gas continues to drop in response to the natural laws of supply and demand (greater supply means greater demand thanks to the lower price), the temptation to raise state and federal excise taxes will become overwhelming.

In Germany, for instance, half the cost of a gallon of gas is due to taxes. In Great Britain the tax take on a gallon of gas is more than 60 percent. In Sweden it’s even higher.

At present, however, the laws of supply and demand are providing an enormous advantage to American drivers compared to their counterparts abroad. And they continue to confound the experts predicting ever higher prices at the pump as well.

A graduate of Cornell University and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at badelmann@thenewamerican.com This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Climate Changers Commit Fraud by Changing the Numbers

This article was first published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, June 26, 2014: 

 

English: Remote Weather Station. Experimental ...

Remote Weather Station. Experimental site investigating effects of Global warming

The James Hansens of the world just can’t seem to catch a break. Before he supported APG – anthropogenic global warming – he scoffed at it. Climategate added to the pile of woes facing those predicting the end of humankind thanks to global warming, while the list of legitimate scientists (those without funding and therefore not beholden) continues to grow longer almost by the day.

That’s how truth will out: drip by drip by drip.

Steven Goddard, who blogs at Real Science, explained how he happened to learn about NASA’s latest manipulation of US temperature data:

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More Proof that US Climate Temperature data is being Manipulated

Cover of "The Real Global Warming Disaste...

Writing in his Real Science blog, Steven Goddard explained how he found out that NASA had altered US temperature readings to show a warming trend where none existed: he compared graphs published on NASA’s website in 1999 to those available today. He even set up an animation of the two temperature graphs to show the extent of the fraud.

He went further by exhuming quotes from climate changers who also have changed their opinions, including the infamous James Hansen. In 2003 Hansen authored a paper for the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change entitled “Can We Defuse the Global Warming Time Bomb?” in which he concluded that “halting global warming requires urgent, unprecedented international cooperation…” with the clear implication that

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NJ Gov. Christie’s Conservative Light is Dimming

Chris Christie

Chris Christie (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Less than six months into his second term New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is having an increasingly difficult time pushing the New Jersey “comeback” theme that gained him reelection in January. This is in addition to the Bridge Gate scandal that has already seen five of his top lieutenants resign or be fired, with three investigations continuing into the matter.

First of all there’s the $807 million budget shortfall in his $33 billion budget that must be filled by the end of June. Then there’s the state’s credit rating which has been downgraded three times so far this year (it’s only May!) and

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There are Lies, Damned Lies and the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Mark Twain

Cover of Mark Twain

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, May 5, 2014:

Perhaps the most famous quote regarding statistics comes from Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” The only trouble is that Mark Twain said it didn’t originate with him: he got it from British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. But historians haven’t been able to find that phrase in any of Disraeli’s writings!

How appropriate is that? One cannot even validate a quote about statistics to prove

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New polls Suggest huge gains for Republicans in November

Cover of "Tragedy and Hope: A History of ...

Cover via Amazon

The change in attitude towards the November midterms is breathtaking, according to the latest poll by Pew Research. Last October when Pew asked “If the elections were held today, would you vote for/lean toward the Republican candidate or the Democrat candidate for Congress in your district?”, 49 percent of those polled favored the Democrat, while just 43 percent favored the Republican. In less than six months, just 43 percent now favor the Democrat while 47 percent favor the Republican.

The shift, according to Pew, reflects dissatisfaction on a number of fronts, including

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Rosy jobs Report Headline fails to mask Continuing Underlying Weakness

English: CALEXICO, CA, 4-4-07 --- Hundreds of ...

Photo by Michael Raphael (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The headlines from Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) were rosy: employment rose by 288,000 (exceeding expectations) while the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percent to 6.3, just above the rate dating back to September 2008.

The talking heads from the administration looked only at those headlines and took credit for the gains. Jason Furman, chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, said

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Connecticut’s Governor as King Canute

Seal of the Governor of Connecticut.

Seal of the Governor of Connecticut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article first appeared at the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, March 31, 2014:

King Canute appears to have been reincarnated in the body of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. On Thursday, the governor announced, with great fanfare, that by raising the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, he will be simultaneously raising people out of poverty, restoring business confidence, and bringing days of wine and roses back to the Nutmeg State:

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.