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: Private Sector

Congress to Grill Ex-Im Bank Chairman Over Corruption Charges

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, June 25, 2014: 

English: , President of the

Fred Hochberg, President of the Export-Import Bank

On Thursday Fred Hochberg, Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank, will be grilled by members of the House Financial Services Committee over charges of corruption and mismanagement at the 80-year old agency. His task to defend the agency appears formidable, especially with its charter being up for renewal at the end of September.

On Tuesday the Wall Street Journal reported that four Ex-Im employees have either been suspended or fired over the last few months as a result of “investigations into allegations of gifts and kickbacks.” But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Heritage Foundation reported on the same day that

Keep Reading…

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

Keep Reading…

Census Bureau Reports 62 Million more Takers than Payers

Attack of the Giant Leeches

Attack of the Giant Leeches (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The latest Current Population Survey, a joint venture between the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau , showed 148 million “benefit takers” compared to the benefit providers – workers in the private sector – who number less than 90 million. According to Terence Jeffrey, the senior editor at CNSNews, that’s a ratio of 3:2 and it’s only going to get worse: “As more Baby Boomers retire and as ObamaCare comes fully online … the number of takers will inevitably expand. Eventually there will be too few carrying too many, and America will

Keep Reading…

Senator Tom Coburn’s “Holier-than-Thou” release of his 2013 “Wastebook”

In Tuesday’s press release Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) announced the publication of his annual “Wastebook” which highlights Congress’ “most egregious spending” while at the same time distancing himself from the big spenders and earmarkers in Congress who provided fodder for his book:

While politicians in Washington spent much of 2013 complaining about sequestration’s impact on domestic programs and our national defense, we still managed to provide benefits to the Fort Hood shooter, study romance novels, help the State Department buy Facebook fans and even help NASA study Congress…

What’s lacking is the common sense and courage in Washington to make those choices – and passage of fiscally-responsible bills – possible.

Coburn then provided some teasers out of the 100 examples in his Wastebook:

The Popular Romance Project has received nearly $1 million from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) since 2010 to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs and internet fan fiction…

The military has destroyed more than 170 million pounds worth of useable vehicles and other military equipment [in Afghanistan] … rather than sell it or ship it back home…

In January, 2013, Congress passed a bill to provide $60.4 billion for [victims of] Hurricane Sandy. However, instead of rushing aid to the people who need it most, state-level officials … spent [$65 million of it] on tourism-related TV ads…

Since NASA is no longer conducting space flights, they have plenty of time and money to fund … the “Green Ninja” in which a man dressed in a Green Ninja costume teaches children about global warming.

While promoting his book recently on CBS News, Coburn tried to distance himself from any responsibility for such “egregious spending” by asking rhetorically: “Where was the adult in the room when this was going on?” Interviewer Nancy Cordes then asked if any of his previous editions of Wastebook had made any impact or had reduced or eliminated any of the more outrageous examples of waste:

Cordes: Have you ever gotten any traction in Congress, where members say “We’re actually going to get rid of this?”

Coburn: No. They don’t pay attention to it. It’s hard work to get rid of junk, it’s hard work to do oversight, it’s hard word to hold agencies accountable. And so what they would rather do is look good at home, get re-elected, and continue to spend money, and that’s Republican and Democrat alike.

What Cordes failed to ask at that moment would have been the perfect follow-on question:

How does your effort, then, and your voting record, separate you from them? Doesn’t this Wastebook of yours cost a lot of taxpayer money? Isn’t this part of your attempt to look good at home while providing cover for your own votes for some of these projects? Isn’t this part of your attempt to continue to get reelected?

Unfortunately there is no record of Cordes asking, or of Coburn’s response. But in July 2007 when Coburn criticized pork-barrel spending by Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson that would benefit Nelson’s son’s employer with millions of dollars of taxpayer money, newspapers in both Nebraska and Oklahoma noted that Coburn himself failed to criticize similar earmarks that he voted for that benefited his own state of Oklahoma.

In May, 2012 Coburn voted for H.R. 2072, to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank with increased lending limits backed by taxpayer monies from $100 billion to $140 billion. According to analysts assessing his vote, the federal government has no constitutional authority to risk taxpayers’ money “to provide loans the private sector considers too risky to provide.” Those analysts added:

Indeed, U.S. government-backed export financing is a form of corporate welfare, and if the Ex-Im Bank goes bust (as happened to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae), the taxpayers will get stuck holding the bag.

Perhaps Coburn can be forgiven for not knowing that such wasteful spending is part of a plan to reduce America’s influence in the world, first clearly laid out when Coburn was just 10 years old, in 1958 in Indianapolis, Indiana. At a meeting in December, candy maker Robert Welch spoke for three days to some friends about the direction the country was headed, claiming it was part of a plan to “surrender American sovereignty, piece-by-piece and step-by-step, to various international organizations…”. Part one of that plan was:

Greatly expanded government spending for every conceivable means of getting rid of ever larger sums of American money as wastefully as possible.

Other parts included:

Higher and then much higher taxes…

An increasingly unbalanced budget despite the higher taxes…

Greatly increased socialistic controls over every operation of our economy and every activity of our daily lives. This is to be accompanied naturally and automatically by a correspondingly huge increase in the size of our bureaucracy and in both the cost and reach of our domestic government.

Coburn’s report illustrates the success of that plan to which he himself is contributing. The man has feet of clay. He not only is the author of Wastebook but a contributor to it as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Congressional Staffers May Have to Pay More for Their Health Insurance. Oh, No!

This article first appeared at McAlvany Intelligence Adviser:

 

During the arm-twisting, the backroom deals, and the promises made (that were later broken) in order to force Congress to pass the hated Obamacare act that is now revealing itself in all its splendor, one little piece of legislation was inserted that is now coming back to bite the same people who voted for it. It’s called the

Keep Reading…

Slowing Economy Confirmed

The report from Automatic Data Processing (ADP) on Wednesday morning surprised economists once again by coming in substantially below their expectations. The 135,000 new private sector jobs created in May were way below the

Keep Reading…

Why the GOP is Foundering

The GOP still can’t figure out what happened last November. They invested many dollars and man hours to try to find out. The result is their Growth and Opportunity Project (GOP, got it?). It’s a colossal failure. Here’s why:

Keep Reading…

My critique of Mitchell’s critique of Ryan’s budget plan

It isn’t often that I conclude that Dan Mitchell misses the mark, but this time I do. He has a rule: “The private sector should grow faster than the government.” I like my rule better:

Keep Reading…

Friday’s Surprisingly Strong Jobs Numbers Aren’t Real

At first blush Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics looked pretty good, catching establishment economists off-guard by about 80,000 jobs. Instead of the 160,000 new jobs expected in February, the BLS reported 236,000, which pushed down the unemployment rate to 7.7%. This came on top of a

Keep Reading…

Don’t weep for Virginia as the Sequester hammer falls

It’s hard to be sympathetic for these folks. They’ve never had it so good. With the gargantuan explosion in government ever since 9/11 under Bush and now Obama, employment and salaries of government workers has increased apace in northern Virginia, and they have grown fat on other peoples’ money. With sequester, they are about to experience a little dose of reality –

Keep Reading…

The ADP Jobs Report for November Just Arrived

The ACP jobs report for November showed 118,000 new jobs were created in the private sector last month. This is hardly good news for the economy but better than I, or Wells Fargo, anticipated. The manufacturing sector is declining, confirming (as I noted yesterday) the recession call by ECRI last year. Wells Fargo thought we might see 80,000.

ACP isn’t the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) which is the big mack-daddy of employment tracking. They use a different methodology than does ACP and sometimes there is a divergence. But over time both outfits’ numbers are very close.

To parse the details:

118,000 new jobs in November, down from 158,000 in October.

19,000 new jobs were created by small businesses in November, down from 50,000 in October.

And, as expected, the manufacturing sector lost 16,000 jobs.

In December a year ago people were excited to see nearly 300,000 jobs created in the private sector. Later it turned out that a lot of them were temp jobs for the holidays. Job creation never touched 300,000 since, muddling around at about 100,000 ever since. This isn’t enough to restore the economy to good health. Or, put another way, there isn’t enough entrepreneurial activity to justify hiring at a level sufficient to absorb new entrants.

And that’s the key understanding from today’s ADP numbers: regulations, uncertainty about the fiscal cliff, the awareness that Obama has little interest in reviving the economy because of his totalitarian ideology and commitment to reducing the US to just another weak socialist state are all combining to keep entrepreneurs – the real job creators – from taking a risk on the future.

I frankly don’t see much to change these numbers from ADP or the BLS going forward. ECRI’s recession call appears accurate: they think it started last July. Nothing here from ADP changes that outlook for the near future.

Latest Manufacturing Report Confirms ECRI’s Recession Call

Cogs and gears

Calling it “unexpected,” Reuters reported that the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) from the Institute for Supply Management for November fell to its lowest level in over three years. A poll of economists by Reuters showed they didn’t see it coming.

The PMI covers the private sector and quizzes 400 purchasing managers in 18 different manufacturing sectors to get their view of market conditions from their perspective: better than last month, same as last month, or worse, along with any comments they wish to make. Any reading above 50 indicates the sector is growing, and below that it’s contracting.

Bradley Holcomb, the chairman of the survey committee, said:

 The PMI registered 49.5 percent, a decrease of 2.2 percentage points from October’s reading of 51.7 percent, indicating contraction in manufacturing for the fourth time in the last six months. This month’s PMI reading reflects the lowest level since July 2009 when the PMI registered 49.2 percent.

The New Orders Index registered 50.3 percent, a decrease of 3.9 percentage points from October, indicating [slowing] in new orders for the third consecutive month…

The Employment Index registered 48.4 percent, a decrease of 3.7 percentage points, which is the index’s lowest reading since  September 2009 when the Employment Index registered 47.8 percent.

Holcomb noted that unsolicited comments from the purchasing managers also reflect the slowdown:

From Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products: “We are in a lull.”

From Plastics & Rubber Products: “Differences between [the] first half of [the] year and [the] remaining half are very dramatic,   growing to a peak in the middle of the year with a gradual decline since.”

From Computer & Electronic Products: “Seeing a slowdown in requests for quotes [RFQ] activity.”

From Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components: “Seeing a slowdown in demand across [all] markets.”

From Transportation Equipment: “Economy is every sluggish. Production is down and orders have slowed considerably from Q1.”

This report may have surprised the economists polled by Reuters but it certainly didn’t surprise Lakshman Achuthan, chief economist at the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI), who called for another recession back in September, 2011. Following the prediction, The New York Times noted that ECRI not only correctly called the beginning and the end of the last recession, “it has gotten all of its

Keep Reading…

Mark Zandi’s Credibility is Seriously Damaged

Mark Zandi

Mark Zandi (Photo credit: New America Foundation)

Mark Zandi is an establishment economist who is highly regarded and often quoted with reverence by others in the media. I’ve been known to quote him from time to time when he has something worthwhile to say. He’s a co-founder of Moody’s Economy.com, which is part of Moody’s Analytics, which in turn is owned by the credit rating company, Moody’s Corporation.

But his latest book reveals a fatal flaw. He made an error so glaring that it not only exposed his statist worldview but damaged his credibility significantly because of it.

Garett Jones reviewed his Paying the Price, over which people like Alice Rivlin of the Brookings Institution positively gushed. Wrote Rivlin:

One of our most insightful economists examines the extraordinary actions the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and other authorities took to cope with the economic catastrophe that followed the financial crash of 2008. A readable, balanced account of what they did, why they did it, and how well it worked out–so far.

Jones wasn’t as impressed:

There are plenty of areas where Zandi tells only part of the story; it’s his book and he’s welcome to his angle. But his dismissal of Fannie’s and Freddie’s role in the housing bubble cries out for exposure.

Zandi uses incomplete data and then draws the wrong conclusion from it:

His discussion of the government-sponsored enterprises features a graph showing that the “nongovernment” share of subprime “mortgage originations” rose during the bubble years. From this he concludes that the private sector, not Fannie and Freddie, deserves the blame for the subprime bubble.

It’s that nasty, private capitalist, laissez-faire greedy runaway system that caused the Great Recession. This is the statist’s primary meme in

Keep Reading…

The Story Behind Black Friday

Black Friday shoppers at Walmart

Black Friday shoppers at Walmart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As usual, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. Retailers discovered the benefits of promoting Christmas shopping earlier and earlier, pushing Franklin D. to move Thanksgiving Day back a week:

Before 1930s: Unwritten Rules

In the early 1900s it was an unwritten rule that no retail store would promote Christmas items until after Thanksgiving. (Wow, can you imagine?) Instead of holiday sales in October, companies would spend lots of money on parades the day after Thanksgiving.

You can still see evidences of these parades today in the Macy’s Day Parade and others. Retail stores would sponsor giant parades the day after Thanksgiving and you could bet that one of the final floats in the parade would include Santa Claus, reminding all people to buy their Christmas gifts from the sponsoring store.

But then an interesting concept began to emerge: today we call it “crony capitalism.” It’s the conjunction of interests of some/many in the private sector seeing the advantages of

Keep Reading…

No Defense Spending Cuts

English: Explosive Ordnance Disposal 1st Class...

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that we are focusing on life after the election, the fiscal cliff looms. And if Congress does nothing, the military budget will be “slashed” – by some $50 billion or so a year. That’s about 7 percent of the total military budget.

That will never happen. Congress will not allow it. The New York Times says so. Aaron O’Connell, author of the Op-Ed piece appearing there on Sunday, is a history professor at the Naval Academy and a Marine reserve officer. So he writes from the inside, and with a bias. But he thinks the militarization of the country is permanent. He starts with President Eisenhower‘s warning about the military-industrial complex in 1961:

[Eisenhower] worried that the defense industry’s search for profits would warp foreign policy and, conversely, that too much state control of the private sector would cause economic stagnation. He warned that unending preparations for war were incongruous with the nation’s history. He cautioned that war and war making took up too large a proportion of national life, with grave ramifications for our spiritual health.

He notes that the US spends $700 billion on defense, which is half of all military spending in the world! – but it’s only about 5 percent of

Keep Reading…

Ann Coulter’s True Colors

English: Commentator and author at CPAC in .

English: Commentator and author at CPAC in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the most part I enjoy reading Ann Coulter’s columns. True, sometimes she is over the top with her vitriol, but most of the time her targets deserve it.

But her column today betrays her. She makes two mistakes immediately – two incorrect assumptions in my view – and comes out with the inevitable wrong conclusion: Romney is our man!

Assumption number one:

The single most important issue in this election is ending the national nightmare of Obamacare.

If Obamacare if not stopped, it will permanently change the political culture of this country. There will be no going back. America will become a less productive, less wealthy nation. What wealth remains will have to be plowed into Obamacare — to the delight only of the tens of thousands of government bureaucrats administering it.

Has she been away? There is credible persuasive evidence that the slide – the push – into socialism began in 1887 when President Cleveland signed into law the Interstate Commerce Act. Others say it began in earnest under

Keep Reading…

Post Office Privatization Moves Closer

English: United States Postal Service, Ford Wi...

United States Postal Service, Ford Windstar Minivan. In Olympia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the announcement that the U.S. Postal Service will be unable to make a $5.6 billion payment to its employees’ health benefit plan due on September 30th, calls for privatization of the archaic service are mounting.

The service already failed to make last year’s payment of $5.5 billion which Congress had allowed to be delayed until August 1st. And it’s no wonder that the service can’t make those payments: it lost $5.2 billion in the third quarter this year, up from a loss of $2.1 billion a year ago. Estimates are that the service will lose at least $10 billion this year without counting the default of $11 billion in payments to its benefit plan.

USPS spokesman David Partenheimer thinks the service can still be salvaged through “comprehensive reform” of the laws that govern the service. He said:

They are urgently needed in order for the Postal Service to fully implement its five-year business plan and return to long-term financial stability.

Missing from his statement was any mention of profitability, just

Keep Reading…

Medicare: The Latest Political Football

paul ryan medicare

paul ryan medicare (Photo credit: Brendan Loy)

With political ads defending and bashing various proposals about how to “fix” Medicare reaching a crescendo, fact-checkers are having a field day in sorting through who’s right and who’s wrong. The claim by Democrats that Paul Ryan’s reform bill would “end Medicare as we know it” was awarded the “lie of the year” by Politifact, while Factcheck.org named it one of the “Whoppers of 2011.” Even the liberal Washington Post gave the canard its highest—or lowest—rating of “four Pinnochios.”

Claims by Republicans that President Obama “raided” Medicare by cutting benefits and using bookkeeping entries as ways to fund ObamaCare without increasing the deficit are adding to the noise. They also claim that cuts to suppliers of medical services will ultimately result in reduced services for Medicare beneficiaries, reductions exacerbated by the unelected panel—the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)—charged with keeping costs in line through essentially dictatorial powers granted by ObamaCare.

What’s clear is that Medicare is in trouble, and has been almost from the beginning. In 1965, when Medicare was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, costs were estimated to approach $9 billion annually by the year 1990. It exceeded $65 billion that year. Last year Medicare spending touched $560 billion, and is headed toward $1 trillion in less than eight years.

Trustees are frightened about its future. Their 2012 annual report states: 

Keep Reading…

New High-Tech Body Scanners Courtesy of the CIA

English: Millimeter wave technology. Gen 2 sca...

Millimeter wave technology. Gen 2 scanner manufactured by Brijot of Lake Mary, Fla. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The latest piece of terrifying technology, the Picosecond Programmable Laser scanner from Genia Photonics, will be able to identify gunpowder residue on an individual’s shoes, and what he had for breakfast along with his adrenaline levels, according to the anonymous author of Gizmodo.com.

The portable unit, about the size of a breadbox, is described as “robust” and “mobile,” meaning it could not only be used in airports to supplement  the invasions of privacy already being performed by the TSA but also in mobile units, such as police cruisers, roaming the streets, looking for suspicious “wavelength patterns and sequences.” According to anonymous:

The machine is ten million times faster—and one million times more sensitive—than any currently available system. That means that it can be used systematically on everyone passing through airport security, not just suspect or randomly sampled people…

The small, inconspicuous machine is attached to a computer running a program that will show the information in real time, from trace amounts of cocaine on your dollar bills to gunpowder residue on your shoes. Forget trying to sneak a bottle of water past security—they will be able to tell what you had for breakfast in an instant while you’re walking down the hallway.

All of this is being provided through a grant system set up in 1999 by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) when it was discovered that the agency was falling behind the technology curve and decided to do something about it. According to the CIA:

By the 1990s, however, especially with the advent of the World Wide Web, it is the commercial market that is setting the pace in IT [information technology] innovation. And, as is the nature of a market-based economy, the flow of capital and talent has irresistibly moved to the commercial sector, where the prospect of huge profits from initial public offerings and equity-based compensation has become the norm.

In contrast to the remarkable transformations taking place in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, the Agency, like many large Cold War era private sector corporations, felt itself being left behind. It was not connected to the creative forces that underpin the digital economy and, of equal importance, many in Silicon Valley knew little about the Agency’s IT needs. The opportunities and challenges posed by the information revolution to the Agency’s core mission areas of clandestine collection and all-source analysis were growing daily. Moreover, the challenges are not merely from foreign countries but also transnational threats [such as drug cartels].

And so, in coordination with Congress which provided some start-up funds, a quasi-private venture capital company was set up, called In-Q-Tel, with major intellectual input provided by

Keep Reading…

Will Senator Chris Lauzen’s Pension Reform Work?

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield {| cells...

Illinois State Senator Chris Lauzen made three simple suggestions to solving Illinois’ $83 billion unfunded pension liabilities: end abuses of the present system, raise the retirement age to 62, and limit cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) to 2 percent a year. What he failed to mention is how to get these changes implemented.

Lauzen has served in the Illinois state legislature beginning in 1992 when he ran on a promise to “work hard, stay honest, and use common sense.” Now that he is retiring he decided to spell out what was needed to bring order out of chaos in Illinois. He said that, if successful, his plan, “The Lauzen Plan,” could be applied to other states facing similar daunting challenges. And if it works there, it might even, he says, apply to Europe’s problems. First, Lauzen recognized the size of the problem. According to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) the total unfunded liabilities of all the states is at least $3 trillionpossibly more.

Many states, according to AEI, are in denial about that number, relying on old and outdated methods and assumptions used to calculate those liabilities. The interest rate assumptions and proper valuing of the assets held to provide the future benefits may be off, perhaps way off. As noted in an article in The New American, liabilities could be as much as

Keep Reading…

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