"Speaking truth to the powers that be..." is our most powerful weapon. "Trading liberty for security results in the loss of both" "Give me liberty or give me death - Patrick Henry" "Government of, by and for the people"

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Coming Economic Meltdown Is Here!

Publicly available information now points to the coming of an Economic Meltdown. Consider the convergence of each of the following: (1) Credit Card minimum payments double this month, with approximately 39% of all credit card holders presently paying the minimum balance and the average adult carrying a balance in excess of $6000 each this will trigger exorbiant fees and costs and lead to default interest rates as high as 30%; (2) New Bankruptcy Law becomes effective October 17, 2005, and significantly impairs the right to a "fresh start". Consider that most will not qualify for traditional bankruptcy and will be forced to file a Chapter 13 which will tie them to a "repayment plan" over 5 years if their income over that time would contribute a total of 25% of the debt owed, will require repayment of all credit card debt incurred in last 90 days before filing, and raise the cost to file and participate in the plan for 5 years; (3) Rising interest rates will affect every form of credit for a nation that borrows 125% of its disposable income rather than saving. Adjustable rates on credit cards will continue to go up. Adjustable rate mortgages will hit homeowners like a brick as the cost of everything else goes up; (4) The housing bubble will shake the economy to its foundation as housing properties flood the market when people can no longer make the payments, driving prices straight down, and resulting in the loss of millions in equity for not only those selling but those still owning homes; (5) Job layoffs are going up as good paying jobs flow overseas by the thousands every week, and the paltry number of jobs created pay little more than minimum wage; (6) States are finding that they have to both raise taxes and cut back on services to meet demands; (7) Healthcare costs are skyrocketing like never before, with premiums set to increase 10% more this year, on top of 1/4 of the population having no medical health insurance, which transfers that costs for healthcare to the states with no increase in federal assistance for medicare and medicaid; (8) The Chinese and Japanese are beginning to cut back on their monthly purchase of treasury bills which provide liquidity and lower interest rates for all Americans, which will lead to even higher interest rates throughout the economy; (9) The increase in the price of oil and gasoline is hitting Americans not just at the pump, but in the cost of everything we buy. Gasoline surcharges are appearing on invoices for small businesses already operating on the margins, which must be passed on to consumers in higher costs. (10) The increase in the price of natural gas will hit people extremely hard during the upcoming winter; (11) The new Energy bill will transfer billions of dollars from the public treasury to the oil and energy companies who are drowning in corporate profits; (12) The non-budgeted cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to escalate beyond the $300 billion already spent, drawing needed capital out of the US economy; (13) Taxes will have to increase at the Federal Level on workers as the corporations pay less, the wealthy pay less, and the Bush tax cuts are allowed to become permanent, along with the elimination of the Estate and Gift Tax; (14) Global warming will soon require US companies to expend more of their assets to respond to the effects of global warming; (15) Weather related disasters within the US further strain the US budget in a time of war; (16) The US is facing increased competition on the world market from China in its acquisition of oil, and our foreign policy could lead to an oil embargo against the US by oil producing countries; (17) A depression would be profound if the stock market takes a huge plunge; (18) Economist are already stumped by the increased in corporate profit and resulting stagnation in worker wages and real earning potential; (19) Pensions are being raided by corporate entities, leaving huge numbers of workers with only social security to rely upon; (20) Airlines will require a bigger piece of federal government assistance to keep running, which will further lessen available funds needed by businesses, driving up interest rates even further.

Each of these events has been public addressed individually, but few are putting them together in the same time period and analyzing the expected outcome from their convergence.

Who knows how to proceed in the face of all this bad news. It would appear wise to become as liquid as possible. Beyond that paltry piece of advice, we are probably on our own.

To all of the trained economists out there, if you have some well-considered timely, constructive ideas as to how we can weather this coming economic meltdown, please share them with the rest of us.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Solution to United States Declaring Only Necessary Wars

Often you hear that giving peace a chance is the solution to all wars.

Not So.

Sometimes wars are necessary. Fighting against Hitler and WWII were necessary.
Most wars could be avoided if the circumstances giving rise to them are properly addressed early enough to ward off the use of military power. However today, almost all major wars are event driven, sustained by patriotic statements of a higher calling, and fought by the economically disadvantaged and politically powerless.

So who has the power to declare war? Congress and only Congress may declare war, as clearly set out in the Constitution -- the basis of all laws governing our democratic form of government. The President as Commander in Chief may act to protect the country, but may not sustain any military action that amounts to war without the approval of Congress exercising that exclusive Constitutional authority given it. So only Congress can declare war, and it is the check and balance on the power of the Commander in Chief.

So how does Congress determine when a war is necessary and inevitable?

In the past, members of Congress have acted on less than adequate information and with political motives in mind. What is the antidote to this approach to making war? We need to press each member of Congress to weigh the need for war in a real and personal way for them.

The solution could be something like this.

(1) All Members of Congress should be required to pledge that they will serve militarily by sending 1/4 of Congress' standing members to fight in any war it declares. In order to make it fair, tours of duty by members of Congress shall rotate every 3 months, so that any war lasting at least one year would mean that at the expiration of that time every member of Congress would have served on the ground. During any three(3) month period, members required to serve shall be drawn by lottery by their party, and each party shall provide the required number equal to the percentage of seats it holds. (So if the breakdown in Congress in the time of war was Repub 50%, Dem 45% and Indep 5%, then each party would supply that percentage of 1/4 of the total members of Congress by their own lottery).

(2) All members of Congress shall receive the same level of compensation and benefits(including healthcare benefits through VA) as other full-time active military during their tour of duty, and their regular pay and value of benefits they normally enjoy as a member of Congress shall be paid into a designated fund to be used to fund the war they voted to pursue).

(3) Any war which is necessary requires sacrifice by the entire country. So in the interest of proving to the rest of the country that the war declared is necessary, any draft age children or grandchildren of members of Congress shall be required to enlist or be drafted and deployed to fight with active military troops in the war theatre for such periods as are required of active military troops not related to members of Congress.

This three(3) step solution will result in every war declared by Congress being necessary and there being no alternative available. If they are required to serve, along with their children and grandchildren, then you know that the war declared is absolutely necessary and the country will be with them through this sacrifice.

A step (4) could be added by Congress which would also have a beneficial effect. Include all members of the Executive and Judicial Branches of the Federal Government in the same way members of Congress will be required to serve. (So instead of vacationing in Crawford Texas riding his bike, George Bush would spend 3 months in Iraq every year until the war is concluded. Likewise for Rumsfeld, Cheney, Condi and Karl Rove).

I suspect that the resignations in Congress would mount like a tidal wave if war were actually declared. But that is ok, because those left behind might decide to rescind the declaration of war if and when it no longer becomes necessary. The only condition I would put on those resigning their positions is that they may never serve in a governmental capacity again, and may not receive any government contracts in the future.

If we are going to ask others to sacrifice their lives for this country, members of Congress and the other two(2)branches of government should be willing to lead the way since there is no alternative to war.

The idea of public service would mean a good deal more than today, and wealth would not be an issue. Sacrifice by the country would be immediate in following the examples provided by our leaders.

Let's do it!

Monday, August 01, 2005

One Possible Scenario . . .

If Congress decides to hold hearings on the Plame outing, then offers of immunity to evildoers cannot be far behind. The Watergate grants of immunity for congressional testimony stand as precedent for following this game plan.

However, there is one possible scenario ...

Fitzgerald discloses his evidence BEFORE the guilty parties have an opportunity to testify before Roberts' Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- that way they have nothing to testify about which could be the consideration for an immunity deal.

So there they are under subpoena to testify before the Senate Committee, and subject to questions from DEMOCRATIC SENATORS about matters they would rather not discuss, including their knowledge of what Bush knew and when he knew it. However, they have to come up with something that Fitz does not have to save their own skins from criminal prosecution, and they can't pick and choose which questions to answer. (Rove under cross examination would be worth the price of admission!).

So there is Bush, with underlings about to spill the beans on him. My guess is Bush decides to pardon everyone concerned "for the good of the country, so we can move on to the people's business." But he cannot pardon himself.

Will enough Repubs in the House vote to impeach their imperial leader? Maybe. Remember Bush is a lame-duck, and after all the dirt becomes public showing Bush lied, they just might. If they did, Bush would almost certainly resign rather than risk conviction by the Senate. Plus resignation would make issuance of a pardon for him easier for whoever takes over.

Cheney should go down with him, leaving the Speaker of the House to take over for the remainder of the term. Which could be interesting since mid-term elections in 2006 could result in a DEMOCRATIC Speaker of the House acting as President.

None of the above will happen without a fight, and you can be sure that Bush & Co will use everything at their disposal to remain in power.