Wall Street doing Very Well under President Obama while Main Street Continues to Suffer

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 18th, 2013

Week in Review

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at a record high.  The unemployment rate fell one tenth of a percentage point in April.  Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April.  And interest rates are still so low that they are almost negative.  Good news for Wall Street.  And rich investors (see Revised Wall Street Forecast: We’re All Going to Be Rich by Kyle Stock posted 5/13/2013 on BloombergBusinessweek).

Whether, the country’s 500 biggest companies are collectively worth that much is another question. Goldman says most of its own valuation engines show the market is currently at or above where it should be trading. In other words, eager buyers are keeping it high. Low interest rates are spurring things along, as investors borrow increasingly large sums to place bigger bets.

That’s not to say some people aren’t nervous about the recent gains. “It’s one big carry trade, and all it’s doing is setting us up for a bigger correction,” says Joseph Saluzzi, partner and co-founder of Themis Trading, an institutional brokerage firm that specializes in equities. “Whether it’s going to be a week from now or a year from now, I don’t know; but it’s going to be ugly.”

President Obama has been saying for years now that the economy has turned around and things are getting better.  But better for who?  Wall Street.  Not Main Street.  The 1%.  Not the 99%.   Things are still pretty horrible for the 99%.  The unemployment rate may have fallen in April but the labor force participation rate hasn’t budged from March.  It’s still at record lows.  You have to go all the way back to President Carter’s Seventies to find so many people unable to find full time work.  That’s right, even George W. Bush had better economic numbers throughout his presidency.  And he suffered through a couple of recessions.  And the greatest terrorist attack on American soil.  So things aren’t getting better.  They’re only getting better for the 1%.  Who are borrowing that cheap money the government is printing to make more money.  While the general economy languishes in the worst recovery since that following the Great Depression.

And it gets worse.  Once the markets correct all of that irrational exuberance the economy is going to crash.  Hard.  Just as it always does after artificially low interest rates push stock prices into the stratosphere.  And “it’s going to be ugly.”  As it always is.  And the longer they keep those interest rates artificially low the uglier the inevitable correction will be.  When the correction comes it will be the 99% that will suffer the most.  As they always do.  As even more people will be unable to find a full time job.  Pushing the labor force participation rate even lower than it ever was in the Seventies.  This is what President Obama is doing to the 99%.  While he and his 1% friends are living large.  And will continue to live large after the crash.  Just as Hugo Chavez was able to live large in a country that couldn’t even make enough toilet paper for its people.  Because rich people and those in government always do well.  No matter what they do to the people.

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Venezuela may put People before Profits but they have no Toilet Paper

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 18th, 2013

Week in Review

The American left wants to have the economic system they have in Venezuela.  Where they put people before profits.  To prevent evil corporations from getting rich.  While exploiting their workers.  And overcharging their customers.  You see, that kind of thing just doesn’t happen in Venezuela.  Because they put people before profits (see So, Venezuela Has a Toilet-Paper Shortage (Don’t Laugh. Seriously.) by Jordan Weissmann posted 5/16/2013 on The Atlantic).

Venezuela is now suffering from a government-induced toilet paper shortage. The situation has become politically dire enough that the government has promised to import 50 million rolls to calm shoppers.

For those familiar with the Bolivarian Republic’s less-than-sterling economic record of late, this won’t come as a surprise. The country, while relatively wealthy by developing-world standards, has been suffering through a chronic shortfall of everything from groceries to asthma inhalers, resulting in desperate lines of shoppers and a healthy black market trade in kitchen staples like flour.

In the United States about the only toilet paper shortage people are familiar with is when they drop trou in a public restroom without looking to see if there was toilet paper first.  Why do people do this in the United States?  Because we take toilet paper for granted.  And always expect it to be there.  Because we are not socialists.  We’re capitalists.  And being a capitalist means you never have to see an empty shelf when buying toilet paper.

So why do socialists have such a difficult time buying toilet paper?  Because they put people before profits.  Which sounds good but is only code for dictatorship.  Where the dictator lives well.  As there is always enough for the privileged few.  But to sustain this privileged position a dictator has to steal from his people.

In 2003, then President Hugo Chavez slammed currency controls into place to prevent money from fleeing the country while government seized land and corporate assets. Those rules have made it harder to buy imports. Meanwhile, price caps meant to make basic staples affordable to the poor are so low that, for many products, they don’t pay for the cost of production.

Nobody’s going to make toilet paper if they’ll lose money selling it.

Price caps make things cost less than the prevailing market price.  Which encourages people to over consume.  Just as Nixon’s price controls led to gas shortages in the United States.  While at the same time the price caps force suppliers to sell below the prevailing market price.  Which is often below their costs.  So while people are clearing shelves off suppliers are not replenishing those shelves.  Leading to shortages.

To buy imports you have to first exchange your currency for the currency of the country you’re buying from.  For U.S. companies accept the U.S. dollar for its exports.  Not the bolívar fuerte.  Venezuela’s currency controls prevent Venezuelan businesses from exchanging their currency.  Making it impossible for them to buy the imports they need.  So they have to throttle back production.  Making it more difficult to restock those empty shelves.  Forcing the people to go without toilet paper.  While Hugo Chavez died a billionaire.

This is what happens when you put people before profits.  You make it possible for a charismatic dictator to impoverish the people he champions.  Which is impossible under laissez-faire capitalism.  For businesses can buy the imports they need.  And they can sell at a price that covers their costs.  Which keeps the shelves in capitalist countries overflowing with the goods people want to buy.  While wannabe dictators can’t seize land and corporate assets.  But have to work for a living.  Like everyone else.

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The NHS is Rationing Health Care to give Everyone the Same Quality of Health Care

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 18th, 2013

Week in Review

We have Obamacare because there was a crisis in American health care.  Or so said the proponents of national health care.  Not everyone had equal access to the same high-quality care some people had.  The opponents of Obamacare said a quasi-national health care system wouldn’t change that.  All it would do is stretch limited resources over more people.  Ultimately reducing the quality of care for everyone.  Like in the NHS.  Where they are closing emergency departments in south Wales because they don’t have the resources to staff them all at the same level (see Wales NHS: Abandon south Wales A&E shake-up, say Conservatives posted 5/14/2013 on BBC News Wales).

The NHS is due to announce a cut in number of specialist A&E departments in south Wales from seven to four or five.

Officials say the current range of services can no longer be provided safely at all hospitals.

They say the planned changes, due to be unveiled this month, will result in the most seriously ill patients seeing consultants more quickly, although they may have to travel further.

Hospitals across Wales have said they have faced “unprecedented” levels of admissions this spring, with A&E consultants warning their departments are at “meltdown” due to overcrowding and a bed shortage…

Speaking on behalf of the health boards involved in the South Wales Programme, Dr Grant Robinson, medical director of Aneurin Bevan Health Board, said: “We cannot continue to provide all these services in every location across south Wales.

“We need to concentrate these services to ensure all patients receive safe and sustainable care.

The NHS is national health care.  Where they provide free health care to all of their people.  But to do that some people will have to travel farther than others.  Because they just don’t have the resources to have the same specialties at all hospitals.  Not when their aging population is consuming so much of the NHS budget.  Just as an aging population will consume the majority of the Obamacare budget.

National health care works better when you have a population growing younger.  When there are more people entering the workforce than leaving it.  So there are always more people to pay the high costs of retiree benefits.  But thanks to birth control and abortion populations are aging everywhere.  Making the national health care model simply unsustainable.

These nations set up their entitlement states before birth control and abortion shrank future generations.  Not really a problem in a nation with a limited government.  But a big one in a social democracy.  For that falling birthrate not only undermines the sustainability of national health care.  It also undermines state pensions.  And public sector union benefits.  Which include generous health care and pension benefits.  None of this will survive as the consumers of these benefits grow at a greater rate than those paying for these benefits.  Which will lead to higher tax rates on a shrinking workforce.  Or anarchy.  As people take to the streets as the government simply can no longer give them their benefits.

This was really not a good time to nationalize health care.  A blind person could have seen this.  But the proponents of national health care pushed for it anyway.  Even while the NHS is struggling under the weight of an aging population.  Proving that Obamacare is more about power politics than health care.  Or that those who gave it to us are just not that bright.  Whichever it is there is one thing for certain.  We would want neither to be in charge of our health care.

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Thanks to Obamacare we may Suffer the Pleasures of an IRS Audit when Caring for our Aging Loved Ones

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 18th, 2013

Week in Review

Thanks to birth control and abortion people stopped having as many babies in the Sixties and Seventies.  While their parents did their job to keep the population growing their selfish baby boomer children did not.  Which has caused populations everywhere to age.  Where fewer and fewer young people are supporting more and more elderly baby boomers in retirement.  Putting a huge burden on our hospitals.  And our nursing homes.  Where it is not uncommon for an elderly patient to suffer a near life-ending malady.  And is rushed to the hospital.  The hospital uses the latest in life-saving drugs and treatment.  Stabilizes the patient.  Who, unable to live on their own anymore, are transferred to a nursing home.  Where drugs keep them alive.  Until they suffer another near life-ending malady.  And the nursing home sends them back to the hospital.  Where doctors stabilize the patient.  And sends them back to the nursing home.  And so on until the patient dies.

This is one of the most heart-wrenching things to have to go through with a loved one.  To see a loved one passed back and forth between the hospital and nursing home.  While the quality of their life diminishes.  And making everything worse are the costs.  Insurance pays for some of it.  When that runs out the government will pay for some.  But if a patient needs custodial care (to help them bathe, dress, eat, etc.) the family will have to begin liquidating their assets.  Unless they have no assets.  If not then the government steps in once again.  After verifying that they have no more assets to take.  But at this stage you’re getting the bare necessities to keep your loved one alive.  Where costs are more times than not driving the decision-making process.  Not the patient’s quality of life.  Even when the government provides free health care for its people little changes in this heart-wrenching process (see Pledge to close health and care gap by Nick Triggle posted 5/13/2013 on BBC News Health).

Ministers are promising an end to the era of vulnerable people being passed around the health and care systems.

The pledge forms part of a shared commitment being set out by NHS and local government leaders to close the gap between the two systems by 2018…

It comes as figures show elderly hospital patients are facing increasing delays for social care help.

The analysis of government figures by Age UK showed that hospital patients were waiting for more than 30 days on average for a care home place – 13% longer than three years ago.

Those needing social care packages at home are waiting 27 days on average – again 13% longer.

As well as being inconvenient for patients, the delays are costly for the NHS.

For example, a hospital bed costs £250 [$379.25] a day compared with just over £500 [$758.50] a week for a care home place.

Age UK released the figures to illustrate the growing disconnect between the health and social care systems…

Michelle Mitchell, of Age UK, said: “Waiting in hospital needlessly not only wastes NHS resources but it can also undermine an older person’s recovery and be profoundly upsetting for them and their families as a result.”

Now imagine inserting the IRS into this process.  Who the government will no doubt use to determine how much a patient’s family can contribute to this process.  The same IRS that fills a person with fear and dread whenever they get a notice from the IRS in the mail.  The government agency that can destroy your life like no other can.  That IRS.  Imagine the care of your loved one dependent on an IRS auditor’s opinion of how much you can afford to pay.  Which may happen.  For Obamacare gives the IRS that power.

Or worse.  Imagine the IRS determining the cost of care for your loved one based on your politics.  Like the IRS has been doing when granting tax-exempt status for certain groups.  Where people who support liberal causes go to the front of the line.  While conservatives go to the back of the line.  Especially if you’re a Tea Party conservative.  Imagine going through the equivalent of a costly IRS audit at the time your loved one is being shuttled between the health and social care systems.  As a conservative.  Where the IRS will seize all of your assets to pay for your loved one’s health care costs.  While liberals won’t go through the same costly IRS audit.  Or give up their assets.

It isn’t fair.  But little in Obamacare will be fair.  Not when liberals in government will use the IRS to attack political opponents.  Which they have admitted to doing.  We used to joke that we’d rather have a colonoscopy than go through the ordeal of an IRS audit.  Now we may have to have an IRS audit first before we can enjoy the pleasure of a colonoscopy.  Thanks to Obamacare the IRS will make a dreadful procedure even more horrible.  But on the brighter side if you want birth control or abortion they will be free on demand.  Including the morning-after pill.  Even if you’re a 15-year-old girl.  Funny, really.  As these things caused the very thing that got us into this mess in the first place.  An aging population.

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Britain’s National Health Service is more of a 9-5 Business than is the American Health Care System

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 18th, 2013

Week in Review

People in the IRS used their vast powers to harass people they didn’t like.  People who opposed the Obama administration.  Or the liberal cause.  In general conservatives.  In particular Tea Party conservatives.  People who donated money to the Mitt Romney 2012 election campaign felt the full wrath of the federal government.  Being audited by both the IRS and the Labor Department.  Scary stuff.  Now imagine the IRS being in charge of your health care.  And you’re a political enemy of the liberal cause.  Well, you won’t have to imagine for long.  Because the IRS will soon have that power under Obamacare.  Very soon.

What makes this a frightening prospect is the nature of a more nationalized health care system.  Where limited resources are stretched to cover more patients.  Resulting in shortages.  The need for rationing.  Even the need to deny services to some.  Because the budget just can’t afford it.  Such as being unable to provide health care services after the workweek is done because they don’t have enough doctors available.  So they farm out after-hours work to moonlighting doctors.  Like the NHS is doing in Britain (see Doctors being offered £1,350 per shift for out-of-hours cover by Claire Carter posted 5/14/2013 on The Telegraph).

GPs are being paid £150 an hour for nine-hour shifts to plug holes at times when regular staff are not working.

The firm, Harmoni, is also offering bonuses to doctors for referring a friend in a desperate attempt to staff the service, reports suggest.

The new revelations follow claims that Harmoni is struggling to find doctors to run the service and has resorted to using senior nurses to provide cover. It is claimed that GPs are reluctant to work for the provider because of concerns over care standards.

Despite questions over out-of-hours care, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said GPs should not necessarily be on call at evenings and weekends because they work hard and have lives of their own.

Under Labour’s 2004 renegotiation of their contracts, GPs were allowed to hand responsibility for out-of-hours care to private firms such as Harmoni, which has contracts in London, the south east, the midlands and the west country…

It was also claimed terminally ill cancer patients had to wait eight hours for a doctor to visit them to give them pain relief.

The disclosures come amid concern that an extra four million patients are flooding A&E units each year due to insufficient out-of-hours services.

Flooding the A&E units (i.e., emergency rooms)?  People in pain waiting for 8 hours for pain relief?  This is national health care.  Now imagine a government using their powers to distribute these limited health care resources based on one’s political leanings.  Member of the Tea party?  Come back when we open on Monday for your pain relief.  A member of a public sector union and supporter of the liberal cause?  We’ll see you now.

Don’t think this can happen under Obamacare?  Only a year ago people were saying that the IRS wasn’t targeting conservatives in general.  And Tea Party conservatives in particular.  It turns out that the IRS was targeting these enemies of the liberal cause.  So it is likely we’ll be having the same discussion in a few years.  That it turns out the government was using its authority over the health care system to punish their political enemies.  Just like they used the IRS and the Labor Department years earlier to punish their political enemies.  If these past actions are any indication of future actions of an even more powerful federal government.

And the spirit of Thomas Jefferson weeps.  For he would see little difference between what the federal government became and what the British monarchy was.  Oppressive.  And arbitrary.  Where those connected to the ruling elite did well.  While those who dared to speak up against the ruling elite found their names on a list.  And faced persecution.  This is not Thomas Jefferson’s United States.  But what he feared.  If Thomas Jefferson were alive today he would be a Tea Party conservative.  Only he would be more aggressive in trying to reduce the strength and power of the federal government.  As he was more radical than conservative.  And would be unwilling to be as peaceful in his protests as the Tea Party conservatives are.

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