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Sanctions Kill

March 04, 2014 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

Some people are calling for the US and EU to place sanctions on Russia for its deplorable actions in Ukraine. This is probably the worst thing that the US and EU can do about this situation without resorting to nuclear war. Sanctions are an act of war and should be opposed by all peace loving people.

Sanctions kill.

The Bush-Clinton-Bush sanctions in Iraq are just one example of how horrible of a policy sanctions can be. These sanctions killed an unknown but extremely high number of people. Sanctions also do not punish the offenders in the regime: rather they punish the innocent people who are already suffering under an oppressive regime. Estimates range from around 170K to around 600K or more children who were killed by these sanctions. I am willing to bet that not one of these children was a high ranking government official. In contrast: as terrible, as immoral, and as violent as the Iraq War was, estimates of civilian deaths range from around 100K to around 600K. In other words, sanctions killed as many or more people than did a massive military invasion followed by a bloody civil war.

Besides all this, some estimates put Putin’s personal wealth at $70 billion. Do you think that sanctions are more likely to hurt him or impoverished Russians?

Democrats Plan Fines Americans Who Refuse To Buy Health Coverage

July 03, 2009 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

The new nationalized health care bill from Senators Kennedy and Dodd just keeps getting worse.

According to the AP:  “Americans who refuse to buy affordable medical coverage could be hit with fines of more than $1,000 under a health care overhaul bill unveiled Thursday by key Senate Democrats looking to fulfill President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.”

I thought this was America.  I thought this was the land of the free.  I thought that people in this Nation were allowed to live their personal lives as they choose.

Apparently I thought wrong.

Who do these Senators and this President think they are?

Congress and President Obama have no right to fine people for choosing not to purchase health coverage.

If the President and others can justify abortion by citing privacy rights and the right to choose, cant the same rights be applied to those who privately choose not to purchase health insurance?

And what will happen if you dont purchase health insurance and then you refuse to pay the fines?  Will the government have you thrown in prison?

In lingo straight out of the socialist phrase book, these fines will be called “shared responsibility payments!”

Shared responsibility payments?  Are you kidding me?  I share absolutely NO responsibility for the health and well being of others. The punishment for not purchasing health care coverage should come in the form of denied or increased cost for services rendered, not a government imposed fine.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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Overblown: The Non Existent Crisis Of The Uninsured

June 25, 2009 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

In debates on health care, one number seems to pop up repeatedly:  the claim that 45 million Americans are uninsured.  Proponents of government controlled health care argue that it is immoral to allow approximately 15% of our fellow citizens to be left without health care.

But, there is something that they arent telling you:  many (if not most) of those without health care in this country choose to not have health care.

Yes, at least 45 million Americans are not currently insured (according to most studies, but Ill get back to that later), but a closer look at the numbers tells a different story than the one that you have probably been told in the past.

I recently read John C. Goodman’s paper titled “Solving the Problem of the Uninsured,” and although I do not support the same solution that he does, I found his paper to be quite interesting.

Dr. Goodman took a hard look at the numbers and facts about the uninsured in this country and found some surprising information.

He wrote that the lack of health insurance can be compared to an experience like unemployment–many people experience it at one time or another, but it rarely is a long term problem.  For example, “75% of uninsured spells are over within 12 months.  Less than 10% last longer than 2 years.”

Many of the uninsured are actually eligible for government or job related health care, but chose not to that advantage of it: “there are between 10 and 14 million people who are theoretically eligible for Medicaid and SCHIP (for low income families who do not qualify for Medicaid) but do not bother to sign up.  This is almost one in every four uninsured persons in the country.”

“Furthermore, in most places people are able to enroll in Medicaid up to 3 months after they receive medical treatment.  Because these people can enroll at the drop of a hat, even after they have incurred medical expenses, are they not de facto insured even without the necessity of formal enrollment?”

“A lot of other people are also voluntarily uninsured.  For example, about 9 million people (more than one in five of the uninsured) are eligible for employer insurance and decline to enroll even though the employer share of the premium is usually nominal.”

Many of the uninsured in America actually have the money to purchase insurance, but for one reason or another chose not to:

“The largest increase in the number of uninsured in recent years has occurred among higher-income families.”

“Further, over the past decade, the number of uninsured increased by 54% in households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 and by 130% among households earning $75,000 or more.  By contrast, in households earning less than $50,000 the number of uninsured decreased approximately 3%.”

“Some information about middle-class families who are voluntarily uninsured is provided by a California survey of uninsured with incomes of more than 200% of poverty.  Forty percent owned their own homes and more than half owned a personal computer.  Twenty percent worked for an employer that offered health benefits, but half of those declined coverage for which they were eligible.  This group was not opposed to insurance in general, however, because 90% had purchased auto, home, or life insurance in the past.”

Now, lets add all of this up:  we have 10-14 million who are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP, but do not enroll, and an additional 9 million that are eligible for benefits at work but do not sign up and we have between 19 and 23 million people in these two situations alone who are eligible for health insurance, but decline (or choose not to sign up for) it.

This takes a huge chunk out of the original 45 million number, bringing it down to a range between 22 and 26 million people who are uninsured and do not have the option to become insured.  This is a much smaller number, especially when you remember the above statistics that the vast majority of people who are uninsured are uninsured for less than a year.

But, there are also several reasons to doubt the 45 million number itself.  Dr. Goodman’s study cites a study by the CBO which “estimated the actual number of uninsured may be as low as 21 million.“  He also cites “another report [which] finds that, even using Census Bureau methods, the 45 million number is about 25% too high, or off by 9 million people.“  So, if those studies are correct, we have reduced the number of uninsured to 21-36 million.

And, if (and this is THE BIG IF) those two studies that he cited are correct and the number of uninsured is actually between 21-36 million, then it is safe to say that there is no major “insurance crisis” going on in this country.

Why?  Well, at least 19-23 million Americans are eligible for health insurance or coverage but do not take advantage of it.  Combining these numbers and the above numbers from the two studies (one of which came from the CBO), we are left with a range of anywhere from -2 million to 13 million uninsured.  13 million might seem like a huge number, but it is only around 4% of our population (and remember 13 million was the maximum).  There has got to be a way to take care of this small percentage of Americans that will cost less than President Obama’s $1,000,000,000,000 [$1 trillion] health care initiative.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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GM (Government Motors)

June 02, 2009 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

General Motors declared bankruptcy yesterday morning. This move had been much anticipated and probably didnt surprise anyone.

Presidents Bush and Obama gave General Motors billions of dollars to help it avoid bankruptcy, yet the inevitable still happened. No matter what your stance on bailouts and government interventions are, you probably agree that this money was wasted.  If you support bailouts and nationalizations, then you would probably argue that the money was wasted because the government could have and should have) bailed out and taken over GM six months ago.  If you are opposed to bailouts and nationalizations, then you would be opposed to any and all government assistance for GM.  More money will be wasted on GM in the future.

According to the Washington Post“During the GM bankruptcy, the United States aims to raise its investment in the company to $50 billion, take a majority stake in it and name most of its directors, giving the government unprecedented control over one of the nation’s largest manufacturers.”

I dont think that you can seriously deny that the United States is no longer a Capitalist Nation.  We have now officially morphed into a socialist country.  Yesterday was another sad day for Capitalists who again were forced to watch while the government continued to destroy this once great Nation.

President Obama and other supporters of these interventions have promised that they will be temporary.  I dont believe this and neither should you.  Thomas Sowell says that “nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”  Historically this has proven again and again to be true.  There are still programs in effect from the Great Depression which were said to be temporary at the time.  A 3% excise tax on phone use was enacted as a temporary measure in 1898 to help pay for the Spanish-American War.  This “temporary” tax lasted 108 years until it was finally ended in 2006.

Government programs, actions, and interventions tend not to end.  It is important to oppose them as they happen, while these actions are still fresh in the minds of the public.  If the government does not sell its stake in General Motors within the next few years the vast majority of people will cease to care, opposition will subside, and the government will continue to control General Motors forever (or at least for quite a long time).

Even if our government sells its stake in General Motors within the next few years, there will still be a tendency for future administrations to use Presidents Bush and Obama’s actions as precedents for future interventions and nationalizations.

President Obama told NBC’s Brian Williams that the government would be taking a controlling stake in General Motors. He also said that he essentially had no choice but to do so.

But, President Obama did have a choice.  A liquidation bankruptcy of GM might have caused temporary stress for the economy, but this stress would have been temporary and would have smoothed out in the long run.  Under a liquidation bankruptcy, General Motors would have been broken into pieces and sold off piece by piece to the highest bidder.  Every brand name, factory, patent, and all real estate owned by GM would have been sold off.  The money recovered from these sales would have gone to pay as much of the money owed to GM bondholders–who  to the company in good faith–as possible.

The brand names would have been sold–probably to existing car companies, although they possibly would have been sold to venture capitalists who were looking to start a new car company.  The factories would have been sold to new owners (or the same venture capitalists) who would either continue to make cars in them or would refit them for some other kind of production.  GM’s patents would have fetched lucrative amounts of money at auction.  Purchasing these patents at a discounted auction price could have helped move other automakers years forward in their research and development, saving them billions of dollars.  For example, GM was years ahead of the competition in developing fuel cell cars.

The auction process might have been stressful while it was being sorted out, but it would have been an efficient way to deal with General Motors.  Instead, our government has pledged to loan GM an additional $50,000,000,000 [$50 billion].  However, GM owes creditors $172,800,000,000 [$172.8 billion], meaning that the government’s invenstment will be unlikely to stop at $50,000,000,000 [$50 billion], just as AIG’s initial $85,000,000,000 [$85 billion] bailout ended up doubling.

You can argue that government control of General Motors will save American jobs, although this argument is tenuous at best. General Motors is losing money for several reasons including: their cars are not up to par with those of Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Ford, their union contracts force them to pay their current and former workers much more money than similar workers at Honda, Toyota, and Nissan, and they have been slower to innovate than have their Asian rivals.

Toyota, Honda, and Nissan have been continually building more and more of their cars in America, while General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford have been building less. Last November, I wrote an article detailing my opposition to all bailouts, but said that if the government had to bailout auto companies, I would rather it bailout the successful ones (ie Toyota and Honda).  At least this way money would be flowing to innovative companies who have a chance of paying back the loans, rather than to sluggish companies who refuse to adapt and will be unlikely to repay any loans.

The United States government now has a controlling stake in General Motors and a very large stake in Chrysler.  General Motors, the world’s second largest automaker, is now owned by the United States government (with a minority stake being held by the UAW).  Chrysler is now owned by the UAW (with a sizable minority stake being held by the US government).  Additionally, a significant percentage of Nissan is owned by the French government (the French government owns 15.7% of Renault which owns 44.4% of Nissan).  This is not fair to Ford, Honda, and Toyota. These three companies have to compete with three large automakers who are owned by large and powerful governments who have made it a matter of public policy to ensure that the automakers they own do not disappear.  As a Ford stockholder, I’m pretty mad that a company that I have invested in (because I believe in its products and its management) now has to compete with a powerful government which can print money to pump into Ford’s competitors as it sees fit.  Additionally, the US government also had the right to increase regulations on the auto industry which can hurt Ford and benefit its government owned competitors.

As unfair as this is to Ford’s shareholders, this is extremely unfair to the taxpayers who will have to foot the bill for these bailouts.  The tens of billions of dollars in additional funding for GM are not the whole picture.  American consumers will have to pay thousands more for their cars in the future due to the inefficiencies being created by the government bailiuts.  The United States government is keeping car companies in business which have no business being in business.  It is also mandating that certain GM models now be produced in America, rather than in foreign countries.  While this may sound like a good thing in an economy that is hemorrhaging jobs, it is not.  GM has chosen to produce cars overseas becaue it is cheaper to do so.  Simply put, forcing GM to produce cars here will raise the cost of those cars and will make American consumers poorer.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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The Scariest Thing You Will Read Today

May 12, 2009 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

Please take a look at the following article and then read on:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/134820-the-worst-case-scenario-someone-has-to-say-it?ref=patrick.net

This article comes from what I believe is the best financial site on the internet. Its a list of predictions for what the worst case scenario will look like in 2012. I think that every prediction made in the article is accurate and will happen if the government continues to respond to this economic crisis in the manner that it has been for the past year and a half. His unemployment predictions for 2009-2012 are almost exactly in line with what happened during the Great Depression from 1930-1933. I think that the author’s timeline is probably off by a few years, but if we do not change our course, every single prediction in this article will come true within the next 10-15, and possibly sooner.

[[However, this might not be all bad: From the comments section of the article: "On the bright side, this means there will be no money to build machines that will wind up conquering us, so we won't have to bring a terminator back from the future."]]

We have more than doubled the amount of money we have in print in just the last year. We have “spent, lent, or committed $12.8 trillion” in less than 2 years–over 90% of our GDP–trying to stop this financial crisis from getting worse. This money has been printed, but most of it has only been pledged and has not yet been spent. When this money is spent, economic laws of the multiplier effect and the velocity of money, along with the realities of the current fractional reserve system will lead to a massive and unavoidable increase in the money supply. This will cause the value of the dollar (and any savings that you may have) to drop, while the cost of goods and services will rise.

If you have the means to do so, I suggest that you buy some gold… just in case.  This isnt just a solution for the rich.

On top of this, we are nearing a major crisis with Medicare and Social Security.  According to the Social Security Administration, the Medicare fund will be in a deficit starting this and will be completely exhausted by 2019.  Social Security will be in a deficit starting in 2011 and will be exhausted by 2041.

Future funds for these programs will have to come from general revenues, but the CBO is already forecasting trillion dollar deficits for quite some time.  Deficits in Medicare and Social Security will put an even greater strain on our budget.  This happening because of a collective failure which is the fault of all Presidents from President Franklin Roosevelt up to and including President Obama, as well as all Congressmen who refused to debate proposals to reform these programs for the past 60 plus years.

Here is an interesting article from the President of the Dallas branch of the Federal Reserve.  In the article, he explains that to fund these programs at current levels, spending will have to be cut by 97%!  I took a few quotes and posted them below:

I would say the mathematics of the long-term outlook for entitlements, left unchanged, is nothing short of catastrophic.

And just to drive an important point home, these spending cuts or tax increases would need to be made immediately and maintained in perpetuity to solve the entitlement deficit problem. Discretionary spending would have to be reduced by 97 percent not only for our generation, but for our children and their children and every generation of children to come. And similarly on the taxation side, income tax revenue would have to rise 68 percent and remain that high forever. Remember, though, I said tax revenue, not tax rates. Who knows how much individual and corporate tax rates would have to change to increase revenue by 68 percent?

To fund these programs, the government essentially has 3 options:  borrow, raise taxes, and print money.  At some point, other nations will stop lending us money.  It is only a matter of when.  Raising taxes is politically explosive.  The  economics of printing money is too boring for the vast majority of Americans to care about, making it the only political solution to this problem.

Of course, there is a 4th option:  cut spending drastically and reform these programs before our economy collapses.  But, does anyone think that Congress or the President will make any serious effort to do so?

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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