One of the Boston Marathon Bombers spent 6 Months in the Epicenter of an Islamist Insurgency

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 28th, 2013

Week in Review

After the Boston marathon bombing all we’re hearing from those on the left and in the mainstream media is that it was a terrorist attack.  And probably not related to the bombers’ religion.  Islam.  Even though the bombers were ethnic Chechens.  Who lived for a time in Dagestan.  Where Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother, lived for 6 months last year.  But what does that mean?  It’s not like Dagestan is a hotbed of Islamist extremism (see Two militants shot dead in Russia’s Dagestan by Alexei Anishchuk posted 4/24/2013 on Reuters).

Security officers shot dead two suspected militants in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, the epicenter of an Islamist insurgency, the National Anti-Terrorist Committee said on Wednesday.

Moscow is struggling to quell the persistent attacks by Islamist militants more than a decade after it fought two separatist wars in the adjacent republic of Chechnya.

Well, I guess that’s exactly what Dagestan is.  A hotbed of Islamist extremism.  Nay, the epicenter of an Islamist insurgency.  Where Tamerlan lived for 6 months.  And from some accounts wanted to stay in Dagestan.  The epicenter of an Islamist insurgency.  Just so he could spend time with his mom and dad.  Apparently.

At least this was what those on the left and in the mainstream media would have you believe.  Because they can’t say things like ‘Islamist extremism’.  ‘Muslim terrorist’.  ‘Islamist militants’.  Or ‘radical Islam’.  For one it doesn’t fit the narrative.  President Obama killed Osama bin Laden.  Winning the War on Terror.  And when you won that war you can’t refer to your vanquished enemy as if they still exist.  So that’s one reason.  Another reason is that the American left just hates Christianity so much that they want to show nothing but tolerance to Islam.  Because Islam hates Christianity, too.

And then there’s that other reason.  President Obama was going to kill them with kindness.  Sort of like FDR with Joseph Stalin.  Who was going to make Stalin like him.  And once he did FDR was going to turn on that FDR charm to get whatever he wanted from him.  (Ironically, it was Stalin who got everything he wanted from FDR).  Which was what President Obama was going to do.  For he was sure the only reason why radical Islam was attacking America was because of George W. Bush.  Bush made the Islamists hate America by acting so tough and mean to them.  So President Obama was going to show them the softer side America.  (The side that didn’t have drones raining down death on the occasional innocent bystander).  A George W. Bush-free side of America.  And turn on the Obama charm.  It just couldn’t fail.  And it would have worked, too, if only it hadn’t failed.

Islamists hate us.  And want to kill us.  Case in point the Boston Marathon bombing.  This despite Osama bin Laden being dead.  And President Obama’s charm.   In fact, they don’t respect President Obama.  They respect George W. Bush.  But not president Obama.  Because tough and mean they respect.  But displays of weakness?  They look at that with contempt.  Which is why terrorist activity increased during the Obama presidency.  Because they just don’t respect a man dripping with weakness.  And you just can’t drip more weakness than when you go out of your way so as not to offend the people trying to kill you.

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President Obama’s Bad Economic Policies are Pushing the Economy Underground

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 28th, 2013

Week in Review

Proponents of cuts in tax rates and less costly regulatory policies say it will encourage rich people to keep their money in the country.  Investing in plant and equipment.  Instead of investing it overseas.  Giving business the capital they need.  And the profits investors seek.  And history has proven this theory.  Proving that tax and regulatory policies drive the decision making process.  For investors.  Employers.  And workers (see $2 Trillion Underground Economy May Be Recovery’s Savior by Mark Koba posted 4/24/2013 on CNBC).

The shadow economy is a system composed of those who can’t find a full-time or regular job. Workers turn to anything that pays them under the table, with no income reported and no taxes paid — especially with an uneven job picture.

“I think the underground economy is quite big in the U.S.,” said Alexandre Padilla, associate professor of economics at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Whether it’s using undocumented workers or those here legally, it’s pretty large.”

“You normally see underground economies in places like Brazil or in southern Europe,” said Laura Gonzalez, professor of personal finance at Fordham University. “But with the job situation and the uncertainty in the economy, it’s not all that surprising to have it growing here in the United States.”

Estimates are that underground activity last year totaled as much as $2 trillion, according to a study by Edgar Feige, an economist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

That’s double the amount in 2009, according to a study by Friedrich Schneider, a professor at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria. The study said the shadow economy amounts to nearly 8 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

Some workers in the construction industry prefer doing side-work rather than going into business themselves.  Because they don’t want to deal with all the taxes and regulatory costs.  So they do work through word of mouth.  At discount prices.  Because they aren’t paying union wages, health care, payroll taxes, insurances, etc.  They get their buddies to work for them under the table at discount wages.  Which they don’t mind.  Because they keep every cent they earn.  Paying no payroll taxes.  Or income taxes.  Money under the table is pure profit.  Gross pay that remains gross pay.  Allowing them a lot of purchasing power at a reduced wage.

Working under the table means people earn little compared to other jobs.  But because it’s tax-free and regulatory-cost-free employer and employee can both earn less and still have enough purchasing power to make it worth their time.  And during bad economic times everyone is trying to get by on less.  Which they can do if they cut out the taxman.

“The jobs are in service industries from small food establishments to landscaping.” said David Fiorenza, an economy professor at Villanova University. “Even the arts and culture industry is not immune to working off the books in areas of music and entertainment.”

It also includes firms that hire hourly or day construction labor, information technology specialists and Web designers. Many who have a job that doesn’t pay enough take another one that pays under the table…

A report from ADP Research Institute states that many employers, especially in low-wage businesses such as retail and food service, plan to reduce workers’ hours to less than 30 a week to avoid having to offer health benefits through Obamacare (or pay a fine).

“This type of regulation could put more people out of work and into an underground economy,” McHenry said…

“Those working and not paying the taxes puts the burden on those who pay the tax,” added Fiorenza. “Taxes could be lower if the government where able to capture the underground economy instead of raising taxes on those currently paying the various income and payroll taxes…”

“People are running out of patience when it comes to finding a job and losing income,” Gonzalez said. “So it’s not that surprising to have workers take jobs that are in the shadow economy. But it’s a sign of how bad things are and how we have to get the real economy moving again.”

It was the high taxes and regulatory costs that pushed these people into the underground economy.  If the Obama administration would cut taxes and reduce costly regulations—especially Obamacare—people would move back into the regular economy.  For the regular economy will have pay and benefit packages that workers can’t get working under the table.  And if they can get that working a normal 40-hour week they’re not going to want to spend their nights and weekends doing side work.  For life is too short.  And all work and no play isn’t good for our wellbeing.

People don’t like paying high taxes.  They don’t like having to work a second job under the table because of the tax bite out of their primary paycheck.  Or because that’s the only work they can find because of bad economic policy.  That makes hiring people bad business because of the costs.  This is why we have an underground economy.  Because of the redistributive policies of the Obama administration.  That President Obama is using to change America into a European-style social democracy.

Europe is rife with shadow economies.  As employers and employees try to escape confiscatory tax rates.  And brutal workplace rules.  That have pushed the economy underground in many areas.  So it is no surprise that when we adopt European policies that we should get European results.  The whole point of the European Union and the Eurozone was to replicate the American economy.  A large free-trade zone that fostered great economic activity.   Making the United States the number one economic power in the world.  And here we are.  Adopting the worst Europe has to offer.  The same policies that have plunged the Eurozone into a sovereign debt crisis.

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Fisker Automotive may be going the way of Solyndra

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 28th, 2013

Week in Review

The Obama administration bet big on Fisker.  Sure that they could make the green car the Obama administration envisioned.  An upscale sportier version of Government Motors’ (GM) Chevrolet Volt.  Which isn’t selling well.  But it is selling better than the Fisker Karma.  But that isn’t saying much (see Floundering Fisker faces grilling over U.S. government loan by Deepa Seetharaman and Ayesha Rascoe posted 4/24/2013 on Reuters).

Fisker Automotive Inc, which has not built a vehicle since July, has the potential to succeed and repay nearly $200 million in government loans if the “green” car maker is able to find the right “financial and strategic resources,” according to former CEO Henrik Fisker.

Problems with the parts suppliers, delays in regulatory approval and recalls of its flagship Karma plug-in hybrid sports car were among the issues that dogged the automaker over the last few years, Fisker plans to tell lawmakers during a congressional committee hearing later on Wednesday…

The hearing comes as the automaker verges on collapse. Among the key questions is whether Fisker’s prospects were strong enough at the start to warrant the DOE’s backing, which helped trigger a flood of private financing for Fisker.

Fisker’s failure to make a payment on the DOE loan on Monday is the latest of its troubles. In recent weeks, Fisker has fired 75 percent of its workforce and hired bankruptcy advisers…

The DOE’s early public support helped open doors for Fisker, which sells the $100,000-plus Karma plug-in hybrid sports car. Fisker has raised $1.2 billion in private funds to date, according to SEC filings…

Fisker never received the full $529 million loan. It tapped $192 million before the DOE quietly decided to freeze Fisker’s credit line in June 2011 when it became clear that Fisker would not meet performance milestones as part of the loan agreement…

In the confidential “information statement” sent to shareholders in December 2011 and obtained by Reuters, Fisker said it “will not meet certain financial covenants and project milestones” required in the DOE agreement, including earnings, net worth and certain financial ratio targets.

Fisker’s troubles come after a string of green technology flops, including last year’s bankruptcy of Fisker’s lithium-ion battery supplier, A123 Systems.

Forecasts in 2009 for the sale of hybrid and electric vehicles far outstripped subsequent demand.

Forecasts outstripped subsequent demand?  Hmmm.  Let’s see if we can figure out why demand is weak for the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid sports car.

The Fisker Karma is a luxury sports sedan.  A 4-door.  With room for 4.  Because of the large battery that runs down the middle of the car providing room only for 4 bucket seats.  Making this a subcompact.  And what range does that massive battery give you?  About 32 miles.  After that you’re running on gasoline.  Which can take you to a top speed of 125 mph.  And can go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds.  This is what you get for $100,000-plus.

Now compare that with a Chevrolet Corvette.  A 2-door, 2-seat sports car.  With a top speed of 190 mph.  And can go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds.  So if you’re going through a mid-life crisis and want something to impress the ladies with you can get all of this for about $50,000.  And they can’t understand why actual demand outstripped their forecasts.  Here’s a guess.  You can get a lot more car for less elsewhere.  If driving electric is more important you’ll probably buy one of the tinier hybrids and save yourself about $50,000.  If speed and power is more important to you you’ll probably buy something like a Chevrolet Corvette.  And save yourself about $50,000.

This is the problem with electric cars.  You get so little car for what you have to pay that only the most wealthy and diehard environmentalists are going to shell out that kind of money.  And there just aren’t a lot of those out there.  Which is why private investors didn’t invest.  Until, that, is, the federal government invested.

Once the government chose to subsidize Fisker then private investors found their courage to invest, too.  Figuring that with the government assuming some of the risk their investment was now less risky.  As they probably saw the future where a bunch of rich Hollywood types would have a Fisker in the garage.  To take out on special occasions.  To show that they cared.  But there were so many problems bringing this car to market that even the government bailed on it.  And for them to do that you know that there must be problems at Fisker.  Making these private investors rue the day they followed the government into this company.  Instead of staying out of it based on their original analysis.

Any company that has something to sell that the people want doesn’t need government money.  For if private investors see a good thing they will invest.  But when they don’t the government does.  Because no wise investor will.

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No Money for White House Tours but Plenty of Money to give Illegal Aliens Food Stamps

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 28th, 2013

Week in Review

The sequester has hit America hard.  A reduction in the growth of future expenditures has caused the White House to stop public tours of the people’s house.  And it caused the furlough of numerous air traffic controllers.  Leading to long lines at airports.  And cancelled flights.  That just shows you how painful a cut in the growth rate of future expenditures can be.  They caused cuts in actual current spending.  Because there is just not an extra dime the government can spare to keep the White House open for tours.  Or to keep air traffic controllers at their jobs.  But there’s tons of spare cash lying around for this apparently (see Shocking US government leaflet tells Mexican immigrants they can collect food stamp benefits without admitting they’re in the country illegally posted 4/26/2013 on the Daily Mail).

A Spanish-language leaflet that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided to the Mexican Embassy in Washington advises border-crossing Mexicans that they can collect taxpayer-funded food stamp benefits for their children without admitting that they’re illegal immigrants.

Underlined and in boldface type, the document tells immigrants who are unlawfully in the United States that, ‘You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children.’

The Agriculture Department says SNAP benefits are only to be distributed to U.S. citizens and other legal residents. On its website, it acknowledges an education ‘partnership’ with the Mexican government, but insists that its aim is to help educate only ‘eligible Mexican nationals living in the United States’ about nutrition benefits for which they might qualify.

Judicial Watch obtained the Spanish language leaflet through a Freedom of Information Act request. An attached email dates the document to March 2009, just months after President Barack Obama took office.

In an email, a spokesperson for the SNAP program told The Daily Caller, which first reported on the leaflet, that “non-citizens who are unlawfully present, are not, nor have they ever been, eligible to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits…

And in a March 2012 communication, Judicial Watch said, the USDA asked the Mexican Embassy to approve a letter addressed to that country’s 50 consulates. That letter encouraged staff at those Mexican diplomatic missions to learn in another webinar how to encourage more of ‘the needy families that the consulates serve’ to enroll in the SNAP program.

Judicial Watch said Thursday that the 2012 document did not discriminate between legal US residents and illegal immigrants.

So Americans can’t visit the White House.  And can’t get on an airplane because the sequester cancelled that flight.  But we can have illegal immigrants who are non-citizens in the country unlawfully sign up for food stamps.  Kind of tells you where the administration is when it comes to immigration reform.  Instead of controlling the border they’re telling them to come on up.  Free food stamps for everyone.  But you may not be able to catch a flight once you’re in the country.  Or visit the White House.  For these costs are too great to include in the current budget.

Is it me?  Or is there something wrong with that?

Why are they doing this?  Simple.  These aren’t illegal aliens waiting for a pathway to citizenship.  These are future Democrat voters.  And President Obama wants them voting in U.S. elections as soon as possible.  For with only about 20% of the population identifying themselves as liberals while some 40% identify themselves as conservative they have to buy as many votes as they can.  And they’re hoping these soon-to-be citizens will remember who their benefactor was when they enter the voting booth.  To tip the balance of power towards the Democrats.  So they can enact their liberal agenda the majority of the people don’t want.  That’s why.

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Employers aren’t hiring College Graduates because of their Worthless Degrees

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 28th, 2013

Week in Review

Going to college is a special time in a young person’s life.  For it marks their entry into the true world of partying.  Where life on campus is nothing but a party.  And these parties are so good that people actually rank colleges by their partying greatness.  To help students choose the right school for their partying needs.  For no student wants to go to the local community college.  And still live at home.  I mean, what fun is that?

No.  They want to go to another state.  Out from underneath the disapproving eyes of their parents.  Who are more times than not footing the bill.  And no doubt remember what they did while in college.  And sigh.  But they hope and pray that their kids will take some time from their partying to study.  So they can get a good job when they graduate.  Which isn’t easy in a bad economy.  Especially when, it appears, these kids spend more time partying than hitting the books (see Job Picture Looks Bleak for 2013 College Grads by Mark Koba posted 4/26/2013 on CNBC).

NACE [National Association of Colleges and Employers] said employment areas with the greatest demand for this year’s graduates include business, engineering, computer sciences and accounting.

One reason there may not be so many grads hired is that many employers don’t believe college graduates are trained properly.

A survey of 500 hiring managers by recruitment firm Adecco, found that a majority—66 percent— believe new college graduates are not prepared for the workforce after leaving college. Fifty-eight percent said they were not planning to hire entry level graduates this year, and among those managers hiring, 69 percent said they plan to bring on only one or two candidates.

“Too many students are graduating with a weak background in science and math,” said Mauri Ditzler, president of Monmouth College…

A frequent mistake graduates make that keeps them from getting even an interview is spelling…

This is sad.  For you don’t even need to know how to spell to spell well.  For there is a button on all word processors and email editors.  It’s a remarkable button.  If you click on it something magical happens.  It checks your spelling.  Pity our college graduates aren’t learning this in college.  Or that they are just too lazy to click on it.

So what is Mom and Dad getting for all that money they spent sending their kid to college?  Which can be anywhere around $165,000 per kid for a 4-year degree out of state.  In truth few parents can pony up this kind of money.  So students make their way to the financial aid department on campus.  And borrow enough to buy a house.  In exchange for a degree that their college told them will lead to great riches.  And they did that with a straight face.

The reason employers aren’t hiring a lot of college graduates is because of the degrees a lot of them are getting.  And they’re not the hard ones.  For that would get in the way of all their partying.  If you look at the undergraduate degree programs for any college in a warm climate with a good party reputation you will see degrees in academic fields like African-American Studies; American Indian Studies; Anthropology; Art History; Communication; Comparative Literature; French & Francophone Studies; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies; Musicology; Philosophy; Poetry; Women’s Studies.  Etc.  A degree costing a student about $165,000 in student loan debt.  Require little science and math.  And isn’t likely to land you a job interview for someone looking for someone with math and science skills.  Which is who a lot of employers want to hire these days.

These colleges are heaping enormous amounts of debt on our kids.  For a degree that can never earn the kind of money that can pay back that student loan.  And this mounting student loan debt will probably be the last straw that will bankrupt the country.  For it already exceeds a trillion dollars.  And it grows still.  Money that went to these universities and colleges.  Providing generous pay and benefit packages.  And some very nice perks.  Living in the fantasyland of a college campus.  Shielded from the real world.  Some in higher education are acquiring great wealth at the expense of our children.  And the future financial wellbeing of our country.  As our kids will struggle to pay off these loans.  And when they can’t get a job in their field of study they’ll end up taking a job some place they didn’t need that $165,000 degree to get.

This is a tragedy of epic proportions.  Sooner or later government will have to force these colleges to put their money where their mouth is.  To make them accountable.  Before they bankrupt the country.  For anyone paying for college with a student loan they need to enroll only those students who can complete a program with a degree that has true market value.  Who can graduate and get a job with a pay level commensurate with their degree.  If the number of students who can’t falls below, say, 90%, then the college has to start refunding tuition.  For a job poorly done.  It’s only fair.  For they are the only ones who get paid so well for doing such a terrible job.  Giving their graduates degrees with no true market value.

Critics will scream this is not fair.  For we will lose the richness of our culture by not having degree programs in all those other fields that don’t have true market value.  But a degree with no market value is a worthless degree.  And if these worthless degrees are so important to the culture of the country then let the students who want them pay for these degrees with their own money.  And have the college charge less for them if they don’t have true market value.  For if a degree doesn’t have any market value why in the world are they charging $165,000 for them in the first place?

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