With their Economy in the Toilet Argentina looks once again to the Falkland Islands

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 5th, 2013

Week in Review

The Argentine economy is a basket case.  Annual inflation is estimated to be at 20-25%.  Their currency is worthless outside of Argentina.  They have strict currency controls to keep foreign currency out of the hands of their people.  The economy is depressed.  And they’re defaulting on their foreign sovereign debt obligations.  So with your nation in such a mess what is a president to do?  Why, address a burning national interest.  The Falkland Islands (see David Cameron must return Falklands to Argentina, Cristina Kirchner demands in open letter by Christopher Hope posted 1/2/2013 on The Telegraph).

In an emotional open letter to the British prime minister, Cristina Kirchner, Argentina’s president, has called on him to honour a United Nations resolution dating from 1965 and start negotiations about handing over the islands.

The letter, which was due to be published in the British national newspaper The Guardian on Thursday, is timed to mark the anniversary of when on January 3 1833, Britain took control of the islands from the Argentinians.,,

The 3000-strong population of the Falklands are overwhelmingly pro-British. The islanders are due to be asked if they want to continue to be an overseas territory of the United Kingdom at a referendum in March this year. Mr Cameron has said the UK would “respect and defend” the result of the plebiscite…

A spokesman said: “The people of the Falklands are British and have chosen to be so. They remain free to choose their own futures, both politically and economically, and have a right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter.

“This is a fundamental human right for all peoples. There are three parties to this debate, not just two as Argentina likes to pretend. The Islanders can’t just be written out of history.

The same thing happened in 1982.  When bad governing oppressed the Argentine people.  An economic crisis and an unhappy population caused the ruling junta to look to the Falklands to rally the people behind the government.  And to help the people forget how miserable their lives were so they wouldn’t rise up and over throw the ruling dictatorship.  About the only difference between now and 1982 is that the Argentines invaded the Falklands and went to war with the British.  The only difference so far, that is.  Well, that.  And the possibility of oil in the waters around the Falklands.  Which would come in real handy for a country whose economy is a basket case.

If the Argentine government got their way what would happen to the British in the Falklands?  Would they deport them?  Seize their property?  Would they install an Argentine governor to rule over the British people?  Like the Islanders say, they are a third party in this debate.   So the question is what is Argentina’s plan for them?  Perhaps the UN would be interested in hearing that.

The Argentine people will probably rally around their president for they are a proud people.  And no doubt resent past British colonialism.  But they would probably be happier with economic prosperity.  A little laissez-faire capitalism.  So they can unleash the great potential of the middle class.  To work hard and enjoy the fruit of their labors.  Instead of just working hard only to see the fruit of all their labors disappear by runaway inflation.

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The Current Economic Recovery is so Bad that Fast Food Restaurants have to Increase their Dollar Menu Offerings

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 5th, 2013

Week in Review

While the Obama administration, their economists and those in the mainstream media celebrate job creation month after month the official unemployment rate (U-3) remains at 7.8%.  Worse, the better gauge of how awful the economy is, the U-6 unemployment rate, is holding steady at 14.4%.  Which says a lot about the horrible economic policies of the Obama administration.  But these numbers still seem a little abstract to most.  So here is a summary of the current economic climate most people will be able to understand.  At least, if they eat at fast food restaurants (see Wendy’s Doubles Down on Dollar Menu by Martha C. White posted 1/3/2013 on Time).

Although it bumped Burger King out of second place by positioning itself as a more upscale fast-food burger chain, now Wendy’s is supersizing its value menu by adding a second tier of under-$2 items in addition to a core group of 99¢ offerings.

The company missed analysts’ earnings expectations last quarter, while rival McDonald’s recovered from an October dip in sales by heavily promoting its dollar menu. (The thousands of McDonald’s stores that stayed open on Thanksgiving helped lift sales too…)

In a conference call last month, president and CEO Emil Brolick told investors, “We have lost some share in the value-menu area,” and said  the new menu would help the company reverse that slide…

According to research firm Technomic, Wendy’s took the No. 2 spot from Burger King among fast-food burger brands last year. Helped along by Burger King’s sluggish response to changing tastes among fast-food diners, Wendy’s stole the King’s crown by focusing on higher-end (and higher-priced) items like bigger, more natural-looking patties and specialty sandwiches like an asiago ranch chicken club.

The problem was, it got almost too good at aligning itself with the higher end of the market. “The new menu is intended to better balance Wendy’s overall menu, which had gotten top-heavy through [the addition] of higher-priced sandwiches,” Burger Business observed.

“We do believe that the number of price-value-sensitive customers out there is not insignificant,” Brolick told analysts. He’s right. Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant-industry analyst at research company NPD Group, says fast-food diners, especially those under 35, are abandoning combo meals in favor of the dollar menu to save a few bucks.

Fast food is not only fast it is also inexpensive.  So if fast food has to offer lower-priced items to entice people into their restaurants you know the economy is bad.  Which it is.  Bad.  However you want to measure it.  This economic recovery is so bad it is as if we’re still in the Great Recession.  Why?  Because this administration’s policies are not business-friendly.  So businesses are not hiring.  Or only hiring people part-time to escape some of their expensive anti-business policies.  Like Obamacare.

And there is worse to come.  Without having to worry about reelection President Obama has no reason to compromise with Republicans.  Which means only one thing.  Americans will be buying ever more off of these dollar menus.  As it is the most they can afford thanks to the horrible economic policies of the Obama administration.

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The Government made us Obese by making us Eat and Drink High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 5th, 2013

Week in Review

The study of sweeteners can be confusing.  Once upon a time people used sugar made from sugar cane grown in tropical climates.  Then we found we could make sugar from sugar beets grown in cooler climates.  These are pretty much pure sucrose.  Then there is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is a combination of glucose and fructose, heavy on the fructose.  Made from, of course, corn.  Today this is the dominant sweetener in the United States.  Because of intensive lobbying by the HFCS lobby.  Who had their friends in government place a quota on domestic sugar production, subsidize U.S. corn producers and slapped an import tariff on foreign produced sugar.  Artificially raising the price of sugar in the U.S.  To force those buying sweeteners to buy the higher priced HFCS.  Create great profits for the HFCS business.  And their friends in government.  While increasing the cost of the sugar millions of Americans add to their coffee.  And water else they like to sweeten.

As bad as this manipulation of the market economy is it gets even worse.  Due to the greed of those in government this rise in HFCS use may have caused another problem.  Our obesity epidemic (see Fructose makes people think they’re still hungry: Study by QMI Agency posted 1/3/2013 on the Toronto Sun).

A new study may provide a clue to North America’s obesity problem.

Fructose — a very cheap and sweet sugar found in North American staples — may be tricking people’s brains into thinking they’re hungry when they’re actually full.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to track the blood flow in the brains of 20 young men of normal weight before and after they drank beverages with fructose or glucose, another type of sugar.

They found glucose suppressed activity in the areas of the brain that control reward and a desire for food. Not so with fructose…

The study’s authors acknowledge the study is small and doesn’t prove a link between fructose and obesity. But the journal’s editors, Dr. Jonathan Purnell and Dr. Damien Fair, note the findings mirror those from previous studies on animals.

What’s more, the study’s participants also reported feeling less full after consuming the fructose drinks, lending credibility to the MRI results.

Of course, the only reason why HFCS is ‘cheap’ is because the government artificially increased the cost of the competition.  Sugar.

While the food purists on the Left are telling our parents they’re making their kids fat because they don’t make them watercress sandwiches for lunch they’re surprisingly silent on the chemically produced HFCS.  They don’t attack those in government that have put HFCS in so many of our food products.  Giving us our obesity problem.

HFCS started entering our foods from 1975 to 1985.  And it was following this period that we started jumbo-sizing everything.  Because we just didn’t feel full like we did when we ate and drank food products made with sugar.  So we overate.  And became obese.  Apparently.

Perhaps we should look at the government as the cause for our obesity problem.  Not the 32 ounce soda.  For we used to feel full when drinking a 12 ounce soda before the government forced us to start drinking and eating HFCS.

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Taking Guns away from the People Least Likely to use them will not reduce Gun Violence

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 5th, 2013

Week in Review

There’s a lot of talk about some kind of national gun control after Newtown.  Anything to take guns out of the hands of people.  Even the most law-abiding among us who have guns in their homes for self-defense.  The least likely among us to use that gun in a gun crime.  So you imagine they are going to get even tougher on those who may be more likely to use a gun in a gun crime (see A Question for Gun Control Liberals by David Frum 1/2/2013 on The Daily Beast).

How can you support gun control and oppose stop-and-frisk? Seriously, how otherwise do you imagine that get-tough rules on illegal handguns would ever be enforced?

Or not.

Apparently the safest place to hide a handgun is under your coat while walking the streets.  It may be profiling.  But if you’re in an area known for gun violence where people illegally carry handguns and sometimes use them in street altercations resulting in innocent bystanders getting shot then that intrusion on personal liberty may do more to protect people from gun violence than taking guns away from the homes of law-abiding citizens.

If we take guns away from people who aren’t using in gun crimes but do nothing to take them away from people carrying them illegally we unarm the good guys while leaving the bad guys armed.  It may stop someone from mass killing people in a theater with a gun.  But they may just find some other way to commit mass murder.  While those with illegal handguns will continue to fire their weapons indiscriminately in places like the south side of Chicago.  A place with some of the most restrictive gun laws.  And some of the worse gun violence.  But since a lot of it is black-on-black crime in a Democrat-controlled city the Left doesn’t like to talk about it.  So they don’t.  And instead propose legislation that won’t address the true problem.  Societal decay.

You can see it on television.  You can see it in the movies.  You can hear it in the music.  You can see or hear something that was shocking and scandalous in the Eighties and kids will scratch their head today and ask why?  And then go back to their videogame in the basement where they will kill people indiscriminately while snacking on a bag of Cheetos.  And washing those cheesy snacks down with some ice cold Mountain Dew.  When kids in the Eighties went to the arcade with other kids and tried to get a frog across a busy street.  Or tried to get an Italian plumber to hop over things a gorilla threw at him to save a damsel in distress.  While chowing down pizza slices.  And drinking ice cold Mountain Dew.  With their in-the-flesh friends.

Kids were still innocent in the Eighties.  Today television, movies, music and videogames have desensitized them to some of the most graphic violence.  And our electronic world has turned them away from human interaction.  Creating a lack of empathy for real people as their world consists of impersonal videogames and social media.  Throw in a breakdown of the family and a turning away from God and religion and it gets worse.  In short, societal decay.  Which is a far greater problem than guns in the home of law-abiding citizens.

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Aging Populations cause Falling Revenue and Greater Spending Obligations in Japan and the United States

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 5th, 2013

Week in Review

President Obama added $5.3 trillion in new debt in his first term.  Approximately the sum total of all debt added from George Washington to George H.W. Bush (in real dollars).  It took about 200 years to accumulate that massive amount of debt.  It only took President Obama 4 years.  Yet according to the Left we have a revenue problem.  Not a spending problem.  But when you add about 200 years of debt into only 4 years you have a spending problem.

In the recent fiscal cliff theatre the Democrats got a bipartisan compromise.  They got the higher tax rates they wanted.  And the Republicans gave them those higher tax rates.  The very meaning of bipartisan to the Democrats.  Unconditional surrender so they can get their way.  And now the total debt is around 103% of GDP.  Which means we owe as much as the nation produces in economic activity.  Meaning that we ain’t paying it down anytime soon.  And with our aging population things are only getting worse.  More workers are leaving the workforce consuming retirement and health care benefits than are entering the workforce to pay for them.  Which means the problem is only going to get a lot worse.

Eternal Keynesian optimists on the Left, though, like to point to Japan.  Whose total debt is about 230% of their GDP.  They say if Japan can get along with a debt of 230% of GDP then we have nothing to worry about.  Well, the Japanese are starting to worry (see Japan’s population logs record drop by AFP/fa posted 1/1/2013 on Channel News Asia).

Japan’s population logged a record drop in 2012, health ministry estimates showed on Tuesday, highlighting concerns that an ever-dwindling pool of workers is having to pay for a growing number of pensioners…

Japan is rapidly greying, with more than 20 percent of the population aged 65 or over — one of the highest proportions of elderly people in the world.

The country has very little immigration and any suggestion of opening its borders to young workers who could help plug the population gap provokes strong reactions among the public.

Japan has a lot to worry about.  And the last thing we want is to have their problem.  The Left understands this.  Which is one of the reasons they want to grant immunity to all those in the country illegally.  So they can tax them.  But when you’re buying votes by giving away free stuff you’re still going to have a spending problem no matter how much you increase revenue.  Especially when your spending has pushed the national debt past 100% of GDP.

As the population continues to age revenues will shrink.  This is the reality we have here (as well as what the Japanese are facing).  Adding a new entitlement, Obamacare, was the height of fiscal irresponsibility.  It will quickly push our debt up to Japanese levels.  Who will have a very painful day of reckoning in the not so distant future.  Higher spending obligations and falling revenues can only lead to one place.  And it isn’t a good place.  Just ask the Greeks.

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