Friday, November 30, 2007

Are graveyard shifts a real hazard?

The latest effort to sell newspapers by creating a false crisis concerns ‘grave yard shifts’ in which workers work overnight. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a section of the United Nations World Health Organization, is expected to add overnight shift work as a ”probable carcinogen”, thus frightening the millions of people doing this kind of work around the world. It is estimated by ‘experts’ that 20% of the working population in developed countries work night shifts.

Overnight shift work will be put in the same category as UV rays, diesel exhaust fumes and asbestos as a cause of cancer, despite a total lack of scientific evidence of any real risk. What is the basis for damning ‘graveyard shifts’; statistical information that higher rates of breast cancer are found among men and women whose workday starts after dark. Some of this same ‘research’ shows men working at night have a comparatively higher rate of prostate cancer too.

Basing conclusions on statistical findings may be permissible with respect to non-health related subjects but to scare people by telling them they are at cancer risk on such flimsy grounds is despicable. Note, I say “are at cancer risk” because that is the reasonable conclusion people working overnight will draw from the research report.

You have to read well down in the news articles, past the scare headlines, to finally learn that the label “probable carcinogen” means that “the link between overnight work and cancer is "merely plausible”. Even the ‘researchers’ acknowledge that higher cancer rates don’t prove overnight work causes cancer, or even that such work ‘can cause cancer'; they say that “There may be other factors common among graveyard shift workers that raise their risk of cancer.” For example, night shift workers often take substances to help them stay awake at night and there may be other additional common denominators that could further explain the statistical findings, but these are not mentioned. Furthermore, The American Cancer Society notes that carcinogens do not always cause cancer. All these things could make the workers involved feel a bit better about their situation but they are not included in the risk assessment articles. No, overnight workers are just left to to a frightening possibility of cancer due to their need to earn a living.

How did this cancer scare start? Well, a professor, Richard Stevens, at the University of Connecticut was trying to find out why breast cancer shot up starting in the 1930’s. Stevens concluded that since nighttime work was considered a hallmark of progress in industrial societies in those years, higher cancer rates must be due to overnight work. It took a while but ultimately the brains at the United Nations concluded that Stevens was right and issued a confirming report, also based on no scientific evidence, which was picked up by the incompetent news media.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

News and Views

Internet buyers threatened again

There is an important case to be heard at the U.S. Supreme court today. The question is whether federal law prevents Maine from imposing “handling requirements on delivery companies”. The primary intention is to affect internet sales; future ‘cyberday Christmas shopping' may be a thing of the past because other states will likely jump on the band wagon if the Maine law is upheld.

Attorneys for the state say Maine “must protect the health of its children” (here goes another - “it’s to save the children” - argument to justify government control). If the law is upheld, delivery companies will have to comply with onerous delivery and labeling instructions. Intricate internet national delivery networks have been able to speed $6 trillion worth of packages to their destinations every year because Congress mandated that cargo carriers not be subject to an inefficient patchwork of state laws.

The lower court ruled against the Maine law; the Judge said “Worthy motives are not enough” to uphold Maine’s law; “If there is to be regulation in this area, it will have to come from the federal government” – makes sense to me.

The case also involves the issue of uncollected state taxes. Just regarding internet tobacco sales, a private research firm found that states 'lose' as much as $1.4 billion annually in uncollected tobacco taxes through internet sales.

Buying on the internet is fast becoming an enshrined right of consumers. If the federal government allows states to tap into this windfall, there will likely be a shoppers rebellion.

College education on your cell phone

How would you like to get your college education on your phone? Well if you’re in Japan (and read Japanese), you can. Japanese already use cell phones to shop, read novels, exchange e-mail, search for restaurants and take and view video clips. Now, they can also use cell phones to take a university course. Unlike the other classes, the one on cell phones will be available to the public for free, although viewers must pay phone fees.

Cyber University, the nation's only university to offer all classes only on the Internet, began offering a class on mobile phones on the mysteries of the pyramids. For classes taken on personal computers, the lecture downloads play on the monitor as text and images in the middle, and a smaller video of the lecturer shows in the corner, complete with sound. The cell phone version, which pops up as streaming video on the handset's tiny screen, plays just the Power Point images.

Sakuji Yoshimura, who heads Cyber University and gives the pyramids course, said the university provides educational opportunities for people who find it hard to attend real-life universities, including those with jobs and those who are sick or have disabilities. "Our duty as educators is to respond to the needs of people who want to learn," Yoshimura said.

He scoffed at those who question the value of Internet and cell-phone classes, noting attendance is relatively high at 86 percent. Whether students play the lecture downloads to the end can be monitored by the university digitally, officials said.

Cyber University, which opened in April with government approval to give bachelor's degrees, has 1,850 students.

Is Bush making way for a Hillary presidency?

Without much public attention, Defense Secretary Robert Gates appointed former President Bill Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of Defense, John Hamre, to head the important Defense Policy Board. Under normal conditions, a Republican would be appointed to this position.

Bill Goetz, a Washington Times reporter, said a Pentagon official told him, “With or without his approval, President Bush’s team has apparently begun the transition to the third Clinton administration … “. In the Clinton administration Hamre led the program to reduce U.S. military availability to protect American interests by deploying troops to extended and excessive ‘global peace-keeping’ operations.

Do immigrants hurt the country?

A new report says immigrants hurt the country, and if you think amnesty for illegal immigrants created a furor, just wait until liberals and illegal immigration supporters get a hold of this one.

At the center of this looming controversy is, appropriately enough, the 'Center for Immigration Studies'. Reasons given for this conclusion are that foreign-born adults have less education than native-born citizens, raise poverty rates and lack medical insurance. The Center's Director of Research, Steven Camarota, said "If you have a legal immigration system that mostly lets people in without regard to education, and you tolerate illegal immigration, you're going to get a very large share of immigrants who will be very low-skilled."

It was estimated that the annual federal cost of unauthorized immigration nationwide in 2002 was $10 billion. An analysis of 2007 Census data concludes there are 37.9 million foreign-born residents in the United States and that at least 11.3 million are here illegally. The study found that 31% of immigrant adults don't have a high school diploma as compared to 8% of U.S.-born residents. Camarota said that is important because it correlates with high rates of welfare and poverty; and 33% households headed by immigrants use at least one major welfare program. "It costs a lot of money", Camarota said.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Oil producers like kids in a candy store

Petrodollars are giving oil producers the chance to buy whatever they wish, and at bargain prices in the United States thanks to a sagging dollar. Money is no object, billions of dollars are available to pay any price and if you have enough money, and they do, almost everything is for sale. Oil-producing countries have embarked on a global shopping spree.

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is about to become one of the largest shareholders in Citigroup by paying $7.5 billion. Citibank had already seen the petrodollar's power this month when another major shareholder, Prince Walid bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, managed to oust its chief executive, Charles O. Prince III.

The Dubai stock exchange is negotiating for 20 percent of a newly merged company that includes the Nasdaq and the operator of stock markets in Northern Europe. Dubai doesn't have much oil but is doing the best job of investing for a future without oil. They also just bought part of Och-Ziff Capital Management, a hedge fund in New York.

Abu Dhabi this month invested in Advanced Micro Devices, the chip maker, and in September bought into the Carlyle Group, a huge private equity company.

Experts estimate that oil-rich nations have a $4 trillion of petrodollar investments around the world. And with oil prices likely to remain very high, that number could increase rapidly. In 2000, the OPEC countries earned $243 billion from oil exports, according to Cambridge Energy Research Associates. For all of 2007 the estimate was more than $688 billion, and that did not include the last two months of price spikes.

"If you look at gulf countries, they have a total common economy that is about the size of the Netherlands," said Edward L. Morse, chief energy economist of Lehman Brothers. "These are tiny countries, but they have to place collectively over $5 billion a week from their oil revenues. It's not an easy thing to do." (Don't you feel sorry for them?)

"The oil-producing countries simply cannot absorb the amount of wealth they are generating," said J. Robinson West, chairman of PFC Energy. "We are seeing a transfer of wealth of historic dimensions. It is not just Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Investment funds are being set up in places like Kazakhstan and Equatorial Guinea."

Many petrodollar investments are made through government-owned corporations, but individuals like Prince Walid are not doing so badly either; Walid recently bought stakes not only in Citigroup but also News Corporation, Procter & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, PepsiCo, Time Warner and Walt Disney.

Analysts say the oil-rich nations are also investing more in real estate, private equity funds and hedge funds, and increasingly they are investing the money on their own, bypassing the major financial institutions of the United States and Europe.

However there is a problem with petrodollar investments because Arab investors don't show any transparency in their business dealings. The lack of transparency is a particular problem to leaders of Western industrial economies. In October, Henry M. Paulson Jr., Treasury secretary of the United States, and the finance ministers of other major industrial democracies, called for an international code of "best practices" by cross-border investors requiring greater disclosure of assets and actions. While western investors must meet governmental requirements of public disclosure, Muslim investors are not obligated to be open about what they do. Lack of transparancy also serves to possibly enable money to go to terrorists for conduct of Jihad against the very customers these investors seek to serve.

Some economists think petrodollar investments have benefited the world economy by increasing liquidity at a time when foreign currency reserves of export countries in Asia are also growing enormously. Recently Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, said that the "global savings glut" has lowered interest rates worldwide and Ms. Farrell, of the McKinsey Institute, estimates that petrodollars may have kept American interest rates three-quarters of a percentage point lower than they would be otherwise, which is a direct benefit to American consumers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who pays taxes?

First of all, the top 50% of wage earners in the United States pay 96.54% of all income taxes, according to 2003 data from the Internal Revenue Service released in 2005. The top 1% of wage earners pays 34.27%.

Are the top half millionaires? Not really, the top 50% were those individuals or couples filing jointly who earned $29,019 and up in 2003. (The top 1% earned $295,495-plus.) Here are the wage earners in each category and the percentages they pay:

The top 1% pays over a third, 34.27% of all income taxes. The top 5% pay 54.36% of all income taxes. The top 10% pay 65.84%. The top 25% pay 83.88%. The top 50% pay 96.54%.

Since the bottom 50% is paying only a small portion of the taxes, they can't get much of a tax cut when taxes are reduced for everyone. Nonetheless, these are the people to whom the Democrats claim to want to give tax cuts.

It should also be noted that when there is talk of a tax increase, the bottom 50% are not worried and will likely support the increase. After all, its taxes paid by ‘other people’ that keep the government hand outs coming in to them.

The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) was created to make sure the ‘rich’ did not avoid paying taxes. AMT was "designed in 1969 to ensure 155 wealthy people paid some tax”. Now, however, the AMT will apply to about 26 million tax payers this year and 36 million by 2010.

Getting rid of AMT is a good idea but Democrat plans so far, like the Charlie Rangel plan, are loaded with other unfair ‘readjustments’ to the tax code. Basically, Democrats don’t want to reduce the amount of money coming into the government, they just want to make it appear that they are giving the ‘middle class’ a tax break – but what is the middle class? Check the blog archive for a discussion about who are the ‘middle class’, you may be surprised to learn there is no recognized definition and the so-called middle class income range is very broad.

In any case, as you can see a comparatively small percentage of wage earners are paying most of the taxes, and that’s the way Democrats like it so they can get elected by playing the ‘soak it to the rich’ card; the majority of the electorate will agree with them since they pay little or no taxes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

How much our country has changed in less than 50 years!

John Kennedy said, famously, – “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”; what a long way Democrats and liberals have come from this idea in less than 50 years. Kennedy might have said - ‘Look not to government to make your life better, look to yourself to take advantage of what this great country provides’.

The federal government did not create the states, the federal government was created by the states – that’s why we are called the “United States of America”. Nonetheless the federal government has evolved in a way that it controls the states by offering tax money to states who comply with government mandated rules and laws. When you take money from the piper, you must play the tune he requires.

If Democrats succeed, they will take so much money from all of us for more and more government programs that a growing majority will become dependent on government for even the most basic things in our lives. If Democrats have their way, we become victims of government and then we may ask “what will happen to us when government can no longer take care of us?” Is there an end to this Democrat hoax; yes when the government finally bankrupts itself with excessive spending and collapses.

It is questionable whether the economy can continue as it is with excessive spending there is now and, even less so, under a future Democrat controlled government in which spending will likely increase beyond the equivalent of a ‘critical mass’. Even now 44% of our national debt is owned by foreign countries; half of that by China and Japan. The dollar has been devalued to just about 60% of what it was before ‘9/11’ and another devastating attack like that will start a chain of events that will cause the national debt to increase beyond our imagination. The world is worried more than we are; otherwise why are foreign traders choosing to trade in Euros instead of dollars and oil producing countries are also contemplating a change to Euros. What does this mean? It means that there is a growing loss of confidence in the ability of the United States make good on its debts.

Democrats mislead the country attributing our financial condition to the Iraq war but in reality it is our inability to control our desire to ‘do good’ that will be responsible for any future financial calamity. Unfortunately Democrats are aided in this lack of discipline by Republicans eager to portray themselves as ‘good guys’ too. In reality history has shown war is good for the economy, as long as we win. It creates jobs and new technology. More importantly, fighting wars (along with securing our borders) is one thing for which the Constitution authorizes Congress to spend our money. The Constitution does not authorize spending tax money on an ever-growing list of social programs such as universal health care, false 'global warming' measures, welfare ‘give-aways’, low-cost housing, largesse to special interest groups and their causes and benefits to illegal aliens.

A reading of the Constitution makes clear that Congress and the Executive branch are not constitutionally empowered to expand the federal role into the many areas of our lives that government has usurped. Congress is only authorized to make all laws necessary to carry out the powers enumerated in the constitution and that is the limit of congressional powers; the 10th Amendment states that all other powers are reserved to the states and to the people.

In another commentary we will take a look at the “enumerated powers” actually granted to the federal government.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

News and Views, and a correction

First a correction. In my last blog I said the Civic Honda Hybrid would save $237 per year under the conditions described and that it would take over 30 years to recover the additional cost of the hybrid as compared the standard Honda Civic. I was wrong; it seems my Log Log Duplex Deci Trig Slide rule was out of alignment. The correct calculation is that at a gasoline cost of $3.50 per gallon the annual saving would be $380 and it would only take 21 years to recover the additional cost of the Honda Civic Hybrid; mea culpa. If this makes buying the hybrid OK, go for it.

Now, on with the News and Views

News and Views

To my surprise, California residents pay for distributing purported ‘energy-saving’ light bulbs. It seems that utility companies in California are supposed to sell to California residents special fluorescent bulbs subsidized with money received from electric bills paid every month by you and me. Utilities were paid by consumers through their electric bills in order to distribute 25 million to 30 million bulbs. The expectation is that the bulbs will be used in the state and then less electricity would be needed. However, the ‘energy-saving’ light bulbs have been sold on e-Bay and the buyers can be anywhere. California utilities can receive hundreds of millions of dollars paid by their customers if they meet energy saving goals and these bulbs are relied upon to meet the goals. If the energy-saving bulbs are sold in the online market, the state may not save all the power expected and consumers will have paid for nothing.

For over 12 years wolves were introduced into Yellowstone National Park to satisfy the requirements of the endangered species law. The program started with 66 wolves and now it is estimated that 1,545 wolves roam Wyoming, Idaho and Montana and the number of cattle, sheep and domestic animals killed by wolves have increased from 123 in 2000 to 330 this year so far. Now the people that brought you wolf regeneration want to do the same with foxes. Santa Cruz, San Miguel and Santa Rosa islands will receive 300 foxes. However, it’s interesting to trace the ecological history of the situation. The population of bald eagles on the islands declined. In their place golden eagles took over and dined on piglets born of wild pigs on the islands. Ecologists added more bald eagles to compete with the golden eagles; now foxes are being introduced to compete with the eagles. If this isn’t confusing enough, a New Zealand firm was hired in 2005 to kill of the wild pigs; the last pig was killed in 2006. For eons Mother Nature took care of things but now we have a step-mother Nature that tries to outdo the original; when will they leave well enough alone.

A recent Scripps Howard News service article reported the results of a poll they conducted in association with Ohio University and the results are scary. A survey in 2006 found that more than 33% of Americans think federal officials assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action so the United States could go to war in the Middle East. With oil at record prices, 81% of Americans say it is “somewhat likely” or “very likely” that oil companies conspire to keep the price of gasoline high. Presidential candidate Kucinich can take heart with the survey results showing that 37% of Americans think it is “somewhat likely or “very likely” that the government is covering up UFO visits and 37% think the government “has proof there is intelligent life on other worlds”. The results of what Americans think about the Kennedy assassination are a little mixed but 42% think the federal government knew about the assassination in advance (17% “don’t know”). Who says our public education system is failing us?

There is good news for Chicagoans and anyone wanting to put their name on a Chicago landmark. Chicago is joining Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Winnipeg in offering to sell municipal naming rights for city features. The Mayor Daley administration has a $250,000 contract with Octagon Inc. to see what the city has to offer and produce a marketing plan to attract corporate and other sponsors and advertisers. Visitors to Chicago may one day ride on 'Macy’s Chicago El', shop on the 'Budweiser Magnificent Mile' or tour the 'Home Depot Pier'.

How many times have you seen the end of an adulterous relationship make headline news? If you live in the Los Angeles, California area, you now know from news headlines that the affair between Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a Spanish-language newscaster Mirthala Salinas has ended. It must have been a faux slow news day.

Does Absinthe make the heart grow fonder? We will now be able to find out. After a century of being banned, the high-proof liquor made from the herb, worm wood, (doesn't that sound tasty) that fed inspiration and insanity to Toulouse LeTrec and Degas is now once again available on the U.S. market. "After the first glass", said Oscar Wilde, you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world". Perhaps Absinthe has been responsible for Democrat actions and policies; lay off the stuff will you guys?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Democrats will thank George Bush for the Iraq war, but not for the reason you think

A Gallup poll reports the majority of Americans who oppose the Iraq war are Democrats. A majority of Americans who believe global warming to be a major problem are also Democrats. Therefore, we can assume that the same people who oppose the war are the ones asking us to change our lifestyle when it comes to global warming.

Many people are looking for alternative forms of energy that are supposedly cleaner and more environmentally friendly than oil to reduce global warming. We have technology for alternative fuels or making current fuels go farther but the solutions are just way too expensive.

Take hybrid cars, for example. Right now, the Honda Civic sedan price starts at about $15,000. The car is represented to get 36 miles per gallon. The hybrid version of the Civic starts at about $23,000. The hybrid is said to get 45 miles per gallon. Obviously, owning a hybrid will require refueling fewer times a year and should be better for the environment. But the question is whether the savings in gasoline consumption and the alleged beneficial environmental effects are worth paying $8,000 more for the "green" vehicle. Based on driving an average of 12,000 miles per year and paying $3.50 for every gallon of gasoline, the savings you get by choosing the hybrid car are only $237 per year. It would take over 30 years to make up for that extra cost. That hardly sounds worth it to me.

Probably the only way hybrid cars will become worth the cost is if oil prices increase even more. The higher oil prices get, the more economical alternative fuels and use of 'green' cars will become by comparison. Not only will higher prices balance the differences between oil and alternative fuel, but the more expensive oil gets, the greater a national emergency energy becomes and the more incentives to make use of alternate fuel technology, use hybrid cars or biofuels there will be.

The incentives will also increase when political pressure on the government causes subsidies for alternative fuels to increase because alternative fuels such as biofuels, e.g. ethanol, are not as economical to produce or use as gasoline and diesel. If political unrest continues in the Middle East and the countries that control OPEC refuse or are unable to step up production, we will have no choice but to curb use of oil in some way.

Already the issue of government subsidies for alternative fuel is having an effect. Companies in the energy business are pushing for subsidies and recently the world’s most famous environmentalist, Al Gore, became a partner in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm that backs many eco-friendly startup companies. Kleiner Perkins claims that Gore will be an integral part of the running of the firm, but many believe his ‘use’ will be for his many connections in Washington. If Gore can help get more subsidies from the government, the money that a firm like KPCB stands to make could be huge. If the price of oil becomes a major problem facing the United States, we can be sure that Congress will attempt to do something to appease the voting public.

This scenario shows that by creating an oil crisis, Democrat environmentalists may finally be successful in cutting down on use of oil and may actually have to thank George W. Bush and the Iraq war for doing that.

Friday, November 23, 2007

“Some things I think I think”

I think Wal-Mart is the greatest. Despite criticism from many quarters, the company continues to excel and grow. Why - because they give consumers a break. I shopped for my ‘winter’ wardrobe today and I’m convinced I saved $200 over what I would have spent elsewhere. Not only that, everything I wanted was in one store.

San Francisco Board of supervisors chose not to approve a law that would have prevented managers at City Hall from having a sexual relationship with subordinates. Of course, no law can actually prevent a relationship but the City could have disapproved of that sort of thing and provided penalties for violations (like firing for example). Naturally, being San Francisco the law was not based on moral grounds, it was an effort to reduce awards paid by San Francisco for sexual harassment claims. Since the Mayor would have been a violator due to his affair with his campaign manager’s wife, obviously the proposed law didn’t stand a chance of getting approved.

I think it’s just peachy that the revamp of the way California’s electoral votes are determined may get on the ballot. The group pushing for getting this on the ballot raised $1 million and feels confident they will make the June ballot. To get on the ballot 700,000 signatures must be obtained to make sure there are at least the 434,000 required. If it does qualify for the ballot, Democrats would have to spend millions of dollars to defeat it; money they won’t be spending elsewhere to defeat Republicans running for office.

You know it is Thanksgiving when newspapers and TV news feature celebrities serving food to the homeless. I wonder what these multi-millionaire entertainers do the rest of the year to salve their conscience for the huge pay they get for entertaining us.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I think it’s the best holiday of the year (unless you’re alone). It usually provides a four-day weekend for most workers (store clerks excepted), there are no pressures, and it comes at a good time of the year when most people need a break.

Illegal immigration has spawned highly paid enterprises. It appears that immigrant smuggling is a $1.7 billion-a-year business in Arizona alone. Smugglers are helped by legitimate businesses that provide air fare, vehicles and other services, even though they know what is going on. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard says "At every step of the way, the process has been taken over by corrupt businesses to facilitate transportation of illegal immigrants." Some have been prosecuted: used car lot operators, motel owners, travel agencies, taxi drivers, etc.

I find it hard to believe that after all these years have passed and billions of dollars spent, there are still homeless in New Orleans from the Katrina hurricane. The homeless live in tents but have been offered proper housing. It’s reported that there are 12,000 people still homeless; but only 61 have accepted offers of housing. I guess homeless prefer to camp out.

I think January 8th is too early for a presidential primary but that’s when you have to have it if you want to be one of the first states to vote in the presidential selection orgy. New Hampshire is trying very hard to be first but Iowa has its primary January 3rd. However there’s talk that New Hampshire will move its primary from January to December. Christmas shoppers will be able to vote on their way to the mall.

Jesse Jackson once described abortion as "black genocide"; he was not far from wrong. Between 1882 and 1968, 3,446 Blacks were lynched in the United States. That number is surpassed in less than three days by abortion. Each day 1,452 African-American children are killed by abortion. Surveys report three out of five pregnant Black women will abort their child. Since 1973 there have been over 13 million Black children killed by abortion. I wonder how long abortion would be legal if Blacks actually thought about the long-term consequences of legalized abortion.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Is there a really 'free lunch'?

We have all heard – “there is no such thing as a free lunch” - but do we really believe it?

Some things may appear to be free but there is always a cost to someone. For example, you may think education or healthcare is ‘free’ if you don’t pay for it but the reality is your taxes and your neighbor's taxes pay for this ‘free lunch’. Universal health care is supposed to be another ‘free lunch’ but when all is said and done it will cost us all dearly and it will ruin the health care we have now; then where will those living under universal health care systems in other countries go for their health care?

Social Security is another good example. When Social Security started the maximum anyone paid into the system was $60 a year; that was the combined total of two percent from an employee and employer up to a maximum of $3,000 per year. The percentage today is 12.4% up to $97,500 per year. Many receiving Social Security benefits today probably don’t care because someone else is paying for them.

The Social Security Administration says that those born in 1877 and who retired in 1942 got an average of 36.5% real rate of return on what they paid into the system. Those born in 1950 will receive an average of 2.2% return and those born in 1975 will get 1.8%. It will be worse for future workers.

In 1935 (the year I was born), there were 45 people paying into Social Security for every one person receiving benefits. Today the ratio is about three to one. The reality is that Social security is a big ‘Ponzi scheme and the government is the ‘con man’. If a private business operated like that, the directors would be sent to prison.

Who are paying to keep the Ponzi scheme going; the productive members of society are footing the tab. The Democrats call these people “the rich”; but who are the rich? It’s not Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or George Soros that keep the Social Security scam alive; it’s the wage earners that support the Ponzi scheme, people like you and I who pay most of the taxes that bear the cost.

The Social Security idea is a good one but politicians have perverted the concept into just another source of funds for the ballooning government. Payments into the system are used to support the expanding budget while paper chits, IOUs, are put into the ledger for benefit payments, which in turn increases the budget and the need for higher taxes. If we are down to three workers needed to pay for the benefits of one recipient now, what happens down the road when only one worker has to carry the load? If the real rate of reurn is 1.8% now, how long will it be before we will be lucky just to get our own payments back?

Are you one of those that think there is such a thing as a ‘free lunch’ or who doesn’t care where your Ponzi payment is coming from?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

News and Views

Scientists have found a way to bypass embryos to make stem cells. This is good news for those troubled by using human embryos to harvest stem cells which they believe is ‘taking human life’. Nonetheless, some businesses and researchers will ignore the new technology and continue using human embryos but now they cannot say there is no alternative. By the way, it still hasn’t been shown that other stem cell sources are not equally effective for the intended purposes.

Help is on the way for borrowers who took advantage of low interest adjustable rate mortgages when rates were low but cried foul when interests rates when up. Once again prudent borrowers are at a disadvantage because they paid higher initial mortgage rates and no one wants to help them with their mortgage payments. It looks like it pays to be dollar foolish instead of penny wise.

Claiming bias and racism is the answer to anything if the facts are against you. The latest use of this accusation is the basis for the ACLU suit to strike down the workers compensation law that California enacted a short while ago to give businesses a slight break over the prior workers compensation law that drove many out of business. Under the current law benefits calculations are to take into consideration the health and physical condition of claimants at the time an incident occurs for which benefits are claimed. The ACLU says the law is biased because it leads to discrimination against older workers and women. However, the law is only trying to make sure employers are only charged for the percentage of disability the employment actually caused.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney just can’t catch a break. Despite the fact that the ‘leaker’ in the Valerie Plane case was well known, it was Richard Armitage, the liberal media is having a field day with a new book written by Scott McClellan that says he was made to lie to defend the administration. I must be missing something; if the real leaker was not part of the administration and press secretary McClellan was told the administration had nothing to do with leaking the name of alleged CIA agent Valerie Plane, exactly how was McClellan lied to?

News reports proclaim that the coming Cuban election (January 20th) will give us a clue as to Castro’s future. Now let’s see; Fidel is supposed to be near death (something he richly deserves for what he has done to his country) but the election is somehow considered important? After winning prior elections by huge margins as is common in communist countries where there is only one candidate, we are now expected to care whether Castro wins again? This is reminiscent of Chicagoans that want to be buried in Chicago so they can continue to be politically active.

Women should be happy they don’t live in Saudi Arabia. If a woman is raped in Saudi Arabia, they will be punished with jail and 200 lashes. Obviously the symbol of justice in Arabia is not a blindfolded woman with a scale.

If U.S. Secretary of State Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert have their way, Israel will self destruct at Annapolis this month. There can be no other outcome when Israel cedes more land to Palestinian Arabs and agrees in advance to virtually all conditions Palestinian representative Abbas has insisted upon as necessary for him to show up at he useless ‘peace’ meeting. There is something wrong with a system that enables a political leader to enter into destructive settlements without his countrymen having a chance to vote on the ‘peace in our time’ agreement that will be the end of their country.

Olmert is not the only government leader that doesn’t want the citizens to have a say in what the government wants to do. In California Governor Schwarzenegger doesn’t want Californians to be able to vote on the Indian gaming compacts he and the legislature approved for selected Indian Tribes in the state. The governor sent a letter to the court that will decide whether the issue can be put on the ballot as a referendum; the governor believes the people shouldn’t be able to vote on this because the state needs the money the compacts will generate. If the governor succeeds, then why would any future referendum be put on the ballot because the state will always ‘need the money’ to fund more give away programs and unnecessary spending.

You may have eaten your last California Coho salmon. A Court of Appeal has approved the Coho as an endangered specie. We know what that means; the Coho you eat may put you in jail where you can be sure the menu does not include endangered species.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Future energy demand will impact our lives

"The increase in China's energy demand between 2002 and 2005 was equivalent to Japan's current annual energy use."; so writes Martin Wolf in an article in the Financial Times. Wolf says this nugget is buried in the International Energy Agency's latest 'World Energy Outlook'.

Here are some other highlights of the IEA report:

First, if countries stay with current practices the world's energy needs will be more than 50 per cent higher in 2030 than today; developing countries accounting for 74 per cent, and China and India alone for 45 per cent, of the growth in demand.

Second, fossil fuels are forecast to account for 84 per cent of the increase in global energy consumption between 2005 and 2030.

Third, coal's share in global energy production is forecast to rise from 25 per cent to 28 per cent between 2005 and 2030, because of its use in power generation. China and India already account for 45 per cent of world coal use.

Fourth, China will become the world's largest energy consumer, ahead of the US, after 2010.

Fifth, emissions of carbon dioxide will jump by 57 per cent between 2005 and 2030. The US, China, Russia and India alone contribute two-thirds of this increase. China becomes the world's biggest emitter this year and India the third largest by 2015.

Sixth, even under the "alternative energy policy scenario" CO2 emissions stabilize by 2025 and remain almost 30 per cent above 2005 levels.

Energy security and the likely shift in the balance of power towards countries that are no friends of the United States such as Russia, Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia, are serious problems for our country. A growing proportion of the fuels come from these few suppliers and these countries are becoming richer. Revenues of OPEC alone are forecast to triple between 2002 and this year. Increased income will enable enemies of the United States to cause more harm to us and threaten the country on many fronts. The problem of security results in part from difficulty in replacing oil as a fuel and the concentration of the world supply in the troubled Middle East, and from Europe's growing reliance on Russia's natural resources.

The global warming alarmists' wrong-headed view of the cause of global warming is another source of future energy problems. Political global warming-believers will require big changes by developed countries, particularly the United States, not least of which are dramatic changes in power generation. The most important change will be the drive to eliminate coal as an energy source because of the erroneous belief that coal-fired power plants producing CO2 are at least partially responsible for global warming.

The bottom line is that energy is our 'staff of life'. As demand for energy rises nothing is more important than assuring increased supply by reining in environmentalists and global warming fanatics. Unless the energy problem is solved soon, our quality of life will be sacrificed on the alter of environmentalism.

Oh My God, The United States Owes A Lot Of Money!

I don’t like to borrow money but, alas, I did so I could buy the house I live in. If I don’t make the mortgage payment, the bank I borrowed from will likely take the house and kick me and my family out onto the street. To buy my 1997 Chevy, I again had to borrow money. I would be walking if I didn’t continue to make the payments; good bye Chevy. Too bad I couldn’t just borrow more money, or legally print some, so I wouldn’t have to worry about paying back the money I borrowed. Too bad I can't do what our government does.

There is a saying, “if you borrow money from the bank, the bank owns you but if you borrow enough money from the bank, you own the bank”. Unfortunately, I could never borrow enough money from the bank to own the bank. Now, if I were the U.S. government I wouldn’t have to worry about paying back my loans, all I would have to do would be print more money or “borrow from Peter to pay Peter”, that is, borrow more money from those that lent me the money in the first place.

By all accounts, our government owes trillions of dollars to China, for example. This concerns many experts, but since I am not an ‘expert’, it doesn’t bother me. It is true that China could call in its debts, which might really mess up our economy (because we don’t have the money to pay them back). If they did, would they, like the farmer’s bank, own us? I don’t think so. On the other hand, since we owe China so much money, do we, like the overextended borrower own China? Well, theoretically, but why would we want to. Just think of all the money we would have to print to pay the welfare costs.

China could theoretically ruin our economy by demanding we pay them what we owe to China, but why would they?

Firstly, it would be economic suicide for China to call in their US debt. Bringing down the US economically does not help China at this time and, indeed, would have an adverse impact on their economy since we are likely their biggest customer (who would buy all the stuff they produce if we couldn’t?). Furthermore, what would China do with all the excess dollars they accumulate from trade? There isn’t any place else for China to invest their money that has even the semblance of stability of the United States.

Secondly, an interesting thing about “paper” is that it burns. What would happen to all our “investors”, China included, if the US developed the cajones in time of crisis to simply declare a bank holiday or nullify all foreign debt by law or decree? Sure, we would be disliked and more on the world stage, but so what? After all, business is business. Can the world bear to have the largest and strongest consumer based economy fail? I think not.

So what is the answer to the question ‘Should we worry about the national deficit’? Well, I don’t like the national debt anymore than anyone else; but I dislike the cause of our national debt even more. It’s one thing to incur debt for basic necessities, like a home, medical care sometimes, and a 1997 Chevy. But creating debt because money is spent on things like studying the mating habits of insects, $500 toilet seats, and pork projects for legislatures to brag about, is something else.

Using our national income for the reasonable benefit of American citizens, like defense of our country and borders, is acceptable; and any resulting national deficit will not bring our creditors down on us.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Should the right to keep and bear arms be infringed by the courts?

In 1975 Washington D. C. enacted The ‘Firearms Control Regulation Act’ prohibiting residents from owning handguns for the purpose of deterring “gun violence”; but did it do so?

The number of violent crimes in Washington D. C. has gone from 554/100,000 in 1960 to 1,512 in 2006. In the same period the murder rate went from 10/100,000 to 29/100,000. The police department reports that violent crime is up 12% just this year so far.

Clearly restricting gun ownership only affects law-abiding people. Thomas Jefferson noted in his Commonplace Book (quoting Cesare Beccaria), "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."

Is it any surprise that criminals prefer as victims people who have no means of self defense?

Does the Second Amendment prohibit the government from infringing on the individual rights of citizens to keep and bear arms, or does it restrict the central government from infringing on the rights of the several states to maintain well-armed militias?

The intent of the Second Amendment, however, was abundantly clear to our Founders.

The principal author of the Constitution was James Madison. Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers – "The advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation... forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any..."

James Madison appointed Justice Joseph Story to the U.S. Supreme Court, he wrote - "The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."

Justice Story was echoing the words of Alexander Hamilton - "If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense..."

Only those unfamiliar with or wishing to ignore the historical foundation of gun ownership ignore the right of the people to bear arms is the most essential of the rights enumerated in our Constitution, because it ensures the preservation of all other rights.

Earlier this year The Court of Appeals for the U.S. District of Columbia by 2 to 1 held that the Washington D.C. Firearms Control and Regulation Act was an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment’s prohibition against infringement of “the right to of the people to keep and bear arms”. In making its decision, the court said –

"The Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government... The individual right facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth for militia duty."

The majority opinion also notes, "The activities [the amendment] protects are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia."

The dissenting judge's conclusion did not dispute the plain language of the Second Amendment's prohibition on government, but he insists that the District is not a state, and thus is not subject to the prohibition. This is ridiculous since such a conclusion means that District residents are not subject to any protection under the Constitution. Are the rights to free exercise of religion or freedom of the press not available to residents of Washington D.C.?

The case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The issue is simple – Does the Second Amendment prohibit government from infringing on the individual rights of citizens to keep and bear arms, or does it restrict the rights of the states to maintain a well-regulated militia?

The appealed case is not about crime prevention, or whether the District is subject to prohibitions in the Bill of Rights; it is about whether the Constitution's provision that citizens have the right to defend themselves against both criminals and tyrannical governments have the meaning clearly intended by the country’s founders who wrote it or those judges who would amend the Constitution by judicial decree rather than by amendment and judges who properly interpret the Constitution based on the Constitution's "original intent."

Of Constitution’s Second amendment and "important principles," Thomas Jefferson wrote, "It is [the peoples'] right and duty to be at all times armed."; let us not allow the courts to take away this Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

News and Commentary

Among the perks of some government jobs is the free use of a car. These government-issued vehicles are supposed to be used for purposes related to jobs but many employees use the vehicles for private purposes. To keep track of the proper use of the vehicles, GPS devices are sometimes installed to track the vehicle’s movement. This policy may seem reasonable to tax payers but to employees and unions GPS devices are considered “intrusive Big Brother technology”. Teamsters are negotiating contracts to “protect” workers from “being spied upon”. Is it “sneaky” and improper “spying” to use GPS devices to learn that some government employees used vehicles to visit gyms, restaurants, friends, go out on dates, etc. all on government time and at tax payer expense? These are actual examples of discovered abuses.

Long ago California adopted the California Protective Act doctrine which enables prosecutors to charge criminals with murder if someone is killed in the commission of a crime, whether it is robbery, assault or something else. Recently one of three people was killed during a home break-in and the other two were indicted for murder under this doctrine. Since all three were black, the police and prosecutor are being charged with racism for bringing charges in this case. The Rev. Amos Brown, head of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP, said the case “demonstrates the legal system is racist”.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals demonstrates once again why it is the court most reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for setting national fuel economy and pollution standards in vehicles and recently did so for sport utility vehicles, pick-up trucks and vans. However the court believes it knows better than the EPA and said the standards were not strict enough; the 9th Ciruit Court ordered the agency to develop new standards because the issued standards did not address “greenhouse gas emissions” in setting the new standards. Attorney General ‘Moonbeam’ said this was a “rebuke for the administration and its failed energy policy”.

Law suits have been filed against a northern California City and police department by current and former employees who accused the department of creating a “hostile work environment for women and lesbians” because “male workers considered policing ‘men’s work’. This is interesting on two levels; not only should people be careful to not differentiate verbally about gender, but the plaintiffs evidently distinguish between ‘women’ and ‘lesbians’; is this not itself discrimination?

By all liberal news media accounts, Hillary Clinton redeemed herself in the last Democrat contender debate. She not only did not ‘waffle’ and play the ‘don’t pick on me because I am a woman card’, she regained her famous assertedness. Looking for all the world as a man from the waist down in her black pants (which was the uniform of the day for all the candidates on stage); Hillary went right for - not the ‘jugular’ - but for another part of the male anatomy for which Hillary is famous for breaking.

The new discovery of a previously unknown dinosaur “flabbergasted” paleontologists. Named ‘Nigersaurus tarqueti’, the new creature has a mouth shaped like a “vacuum intake slot” but with hundreds of tiny sharp teeth to grind food. Speculation is rife that this monster may be the ancestor of the first Democrat.

There is a great deal being said about granting driver licenses to illegal immigrants after New York governor Spitzer and Senator Hillary Clinton first came out for and then against driver licenses for illegal immigrants. Therefore it is particularly interesting to note that in Mexico only legal residents can get a driver license. All 31 of Mexico’s states require foreigners to have a valid visa to get a license. Alejandro Ruiz, Director of Education of the Mexican Automobile Association said “When it comes to foreigners, we are a little more strict here.” Why can’t the United States have laws regarding illegal immigrants comparable to those in Mexico?

If you wonder why oil prices are up, the reason is just supply and demand. Countries like China and India are consuming increasing amounts of oil. Subsidies to consumers in these countries, and in Iran as well as other oil-producing countries, have allowed oil usage to increase at a great pace and world demand for this year alone has risen about 500,000 barrels a day. Estimates are that in a few years US consumption, now at 86 million barrels a day, will be about 93 million barrels a day. Until the law of supply and demand is repealed, or America wises up and permits extended oil drilling and coal-to-oil conversion, gasoline prices will continue to rise.

Word ‘on the street’ is that Iran has reduced the number of arms and deadly weapons sent to Iraq. Less commonly mentioned, however, is that shipments are now being diverted by Iran to Afghanistan to bolster the Taliban. So the issue should not be whether Iran supports terrorists in Iraq, it should be that Iran supports terrorists, period.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Oil Industry is Responsible for its Political Predicament

As the oil industry gets pilloried about high gasoline prices, it is interesting to examine how the higher prices come about.

Oil prices jump up and down, (actually, they don’t ’jump’ down so much as trickle down when they do drop), generally in response to events in the middle east, and elsewhere, or anything that affects the middle east or domestic oil suppliers. Although this may be reasonable, such events cause buyers to perceive that suppliers take advantage by raising prices. Obviously, if the raw material price goes up, the price of the products made from these raw materials will have to be increased to cover the higher costs. However, the timing of the increased prices to consumers is the problem.

After hurricane ‘Katrina’ hit the south eastern coast of the United States, gasoline prices increased immediately, not after a week or two, immediately! It is likely that such a devastating storm would cause a great deal of damage to commercial structures as well as private homes, and it did. A good number of oil processing plants and refineries are located in the hurricane-affected area and gasoline output could be expected to be adversely affected. But why would oil prices increase immediately; surely gasoline in the system at the time did not cost as much?

In the mid east, Iran, an oil supplier, is constantly pounding its chest (her chest?) threatening everyone, especially the United States and Israel. Iraq oil, which should be significant on the world market, is also constantly disrupted by terrorists who, from time-to-time, take their attention away from murdering innocents to blowing up oil pipe lines. Russia once a reasonably dependable supplier of oil to western markets, is taking advantage of their superior position with gas and oil deposits by incorporating political objectives into their marketing practices. Similarly, Venezuela, once our friendly oil 'pumper', has waived its red banners in our face and adopts an Anti-American oil policy under its screwball President Chavez in order to damage America by reducing oil sales to the United States (to the great delight of their new customer, communist China). Each such incident, and others, causes a vacillation, usually upward, of oil prices.

Critics of oil companies for raising gasoline prices are only partially wrong. It is not likely there is any overt, concerted effort by oil companies to increase gasoline prices in unison (the FTC has indeed concluded there was no ‘price fixing’); however they all use a similar but independent approach to gasoline pricing that results in premature immediate elevation of the cost of gasoline at the pump for consumers.

Oil industry spokesman have admitted that the pump price of gasoline is related to increasing costs of oil at the source. In other words, as the price of oil is increased, the companies calculate the replacement cost of gasoline produced from the higher priced oil. The gasoline at the pump is then changed to reflect the higher replacement cost. Now this may make sense from an accounting standpoint, but it makes no sense to the consumer in the driver's seat of his or her car. This pricing practice revalues gasoline already in the gas station reservoir at a higher price than originally purchased by the gasoline station even though no higher cost of production was experienced by virtue of higher oil prices. Thus, the gas station automatically posts higher prices for the same gasoline at the station that was sold at a lower price the day before.

When you buy gasoline, you will encounter a price higher than you saw earlier that day, or yesterday, at the same gas station. This is infuriating; particularly when the price increase is great. The upward revaluation of the price of gasoline ‘already in the pipeline’, which was produced from the previous lower-priced oil, contributes significantly to the increased profits reported by the oil companies. To many of us, this pricing practice is unreasonable, and unfair. Sure, a seller has the right to set any price deemed business-appropriate, but by using the same pricing practice of revaluing the gasoline in inventory, and charging essentially the same price as calculated for ‘replacement’ gasoline, the oil industry, de facto, act in concert to offer uniformly higher gasoline prices to the public, and in the same time table.

The higher gasoline prices do not justify public panic or pandering by politicians, including the president, but the oil industry would be better served by taking into account the public’s reaction to unnecessarily high, and premature, gasoline price increases. To do otherwise will cause the industry to be continually scrutinized and will encourage punitive governmental measures.

Facts about the number of ‘uninsured’

President Bush, Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), presidential candidates former Sen. John Edwards and Gov. Mike Huckabee and The Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, People magazine and Time magazine, as well as CNN, CBS and ABC, are all wrong about the number of people without health insurance.

Each of the above incorrectly claimed the number of uninsured to be 40 to 50 million Americans. Although the actual total is open to debate, there are millions of people who should be excluded from that number, including: those who aren’t American citizens, people who can afford their own insurance, and people who already qualify for government coverage but haven’t signed up. Government statistics also show 45 percent of those without insurance will have insurance again within four months after job transitions.

After accounting for all those factors, one prominent study places the total for the long-term uninsured as low as 8.2 million – which is very different than the media, national health care advocates and politicians claim.

Just the number of the uninsured who aren’t citizens is nearly 10 million. “It’s really indefensible that we now have more than 45 million uninsured Americans, 9 million of whom are children, and the vast majority of whom are from working families,” said Senator Hillary Clinton in a May 31 speech. This was typical spin and easy to find. ABC medical expert Dr. Tim Johnson cited the incorrect data as he praised the "bold" and "politically brilliant" Hillary Clinton universal coverage plan on the April 26 “Good Morning America.”

“It’s bold because it does propose to cover all Americans, including the 47 million now who are uninsured, within five years,” said Johnson.

The Census Bureau report “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005,” puts the initial number of uninsured people living in the country at 46.577 million. But a closer look at that report shows the Census data include 9.487 million people who are “not a citizen.” Subtracting the 10 million non-Americans, the number of uninsured Americans falls to roughly 37 million. However, that isn’t the only problem with the numbers currently being used.

Cheryl Hill Lee, a co-author of the Census Bureau study being cited, told the Business & Media Institute that the data showed the exact opposite of universal health care advocates have said. The Census “underreported” the number of people covered by health insurance which means that more people have insurance than the report suggests. The Census also underreported the number of people covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Many of the same people pushing the incorrect numbers of uninsured Americans also claim that these people cannot “afford” insurance.

According to the same Census report, there are 8.3 million uninsured people who make between $50,000 and $74,999 per year and 8.74 million who make more than $75,000 a year. That’s roughly 17 million people who ought to be able to “afford” health insurance because they make substantially more than the median household income of $46,326.

Subtracting non-citizens and those who can afford their own insurance but choose not to purchase it, about 20 million people are left – less than 7 percent of the population.

Dr. David Gratzer wrote in his book “The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care.” 'Many Americans are uninsured by choice'. Gratzer cited a study of the “nonpoor uninsured” from the California Healthcare Foundation. “Why the lack of insurance among people who own homes and computers? One explanation is that 60 percent reported being in excellent health or very good health,” explained Gratzer.

“Proponents of universal health care often use the 46-million figure -- without context or qualification. It creates the false impression that a huge percentage of the population has fallen through the cracks,” Gratzer told BMI. “Again, that’s not to suggest that there is no problem, but it's very different than the universal-care crowd describes.”

Dr. Grace-Marie Turner, a BMI adviser and president of the Galen Institute, agreed that “the number [of uninsured] is inflated and affects the debate.” Turner also pointed out that “45 percent of the uninsured are going to have insurance within four months [according to the Congressional Budget Office],” because many are transitioning between jobs and most people get health insurance through their employers.

So what is the true extent of the uninsured “crisis?” The Kaiser Family Foundation, a liberal non-profit frequently quoted by the media, puts the number of uninsured Americans who do not qualify for current government programs and make less than $50,000 a year between 13.9 million and 8.2 million. That is a much smaller figure than the media report.

Kaiser’s 8.2 million figure for the chronically uninsured only includes those uninsured for two years or more. It is also worth noting, that, 45 percent of uninsured people will be uninsured for less than four months according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

News Highlights

Gun control advocates win a round in California

There are some things that that a reasonable person would find difficult to believe but they are real nonetheless. For example, the California state legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger believe that requiring micro stamping semi-automatic pistols in two places with the make, model and serial number and on each cartridge fired will somehow reduce crime. No matter that handguns already contain the information, enacting a new law to do that which is being done now is not seen as superfluous. What is new is placing that information on a bullet fired from the gun, a good trick if you can do it.

There are millions of firearms in circulation without the required micro stamping. Will criminals use guns with micro stamping that will identify bullets fired from it, or will they choose an older but equally effective gun without this capability?

Gun control advocates reach for any straw to pursue their agenda, no matter how ridiculous. Even if the technology existed, and I’m not sure it does, placing this information on cartridges still will not assure that the culprit firing the gun is the person that bought it.

Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, said his bill “will crack down on violent crime”. Schwarzenegger either believed him or thought it was good politics to sign the bill into law; in any case there is now another useless law that does nothing more than burden gun manufacturers and lawful buyers, certainly not criminals.

Get in line to claim your share of the ocean

Perhaps you also didn’t know but plans are in the works to enable you to stake a claim to stretches of ocean near a coastline. Yes indeed, newspapers are heralding a “Gold rush is on where prospectors hope to harness wave energy”. If the Sonoma County Water Agency is successful in its quest for exclusive rights to develop wave-energy along the county’s coastline, it will grant exclusive rights to applicants for a portion of the adjacent ocean along the county’s coast. Surprisingly, Sonoma County would become the seventh wave-energy application for a portion of the California coastline, so far the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has not granted any California permits but four such permits have been granted in Oregon.

Global warming deniers may risk criminal prosecution

It won’t be long now; the U.N. will soon be issuing the ‘Final Climate Change Report’. This will be the fourth and last report. It’s easy to take this event lightly but U.N. officials are warning that ignoring the urgency of global warming would be “criminally irresponsible”. What is the significance of the “warning”; well, global warming deniers could then be subject to criminal penalties at the ‘World Court’. The court functions like the Courts of Inquisitions during the Middle Ages; I’m not sure they will burn us at the stake but they will inflict some sort of unpleasant punishment. It’s not clear at this time if Nobel Prize winner Al Gore will sit on the court.

Ego may cost Bhutto her head

In Pakistan the leader of the opposition to President/General Musharraf is a woman, Benazir Bhutto. Surveys indicate that 70% of Pakistanis favor Sharia law. Of course, Sharia law diminishes women and places men over them in all respects. It is curious, therefore, that there are so many Muslims in Pakistan that seem to want Bhutto, a woman, to lead the country. A while ago Bhutto was elected president but times are different now. Taliban is in ascendance and strict Sharia law follows their takeover of a country (remember Afghanistan before the war to remove al Qaeda?). Bhutto must have an enormous ego to risk her life at the hands of her Muslim countrymen.

Monday, November 12, 2007

High oil prices change the world

One of the consequences of high oil prices is a worldwide transfer of wealth. Buyers of crude oil have to pay $4 billion to $5 billion more each day than they did only five years ago. The result is that in just this year alone over $2 trillion will go to oil–producing countries. What this means is that countries like Russia, Iran and Venezuela will have more money to foment trouble for the world. In the case of Iran and Venezuela, they can buy more armaments and war-making toys to plague the United States; Venezuela in particular can use increased oil revenue to spread its influence throughout South America. For Russia, it means that they can flex their muscle around the world with the confidence that increased wealth brings to the regime.

Naturally most Arab countries will continue to misuse their newly acquired additional wealth; for example, Saudi Arabia is planning to build a megalopolis for $27 billion that will be three times the size of Manhattan. Dubai is a better investor of oil profits on the world scene but even they feel an extraordinary indoor ski facility is a must for their desert residents.

Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia in 2000 shortly after the ruble tanked on the world market and Russia owed $17 billion that year, chump change by today’s standards. The increasing price of oil not only allowed Russia to pay off their debt and increase their annual national budget 1,000%, they now have the third largest gold and hard currency reserves in the world. Is there any doubt that the increased oil and gas revenue is responsible for Russia’s increased influence in Europe and their mischief-making for the United States?

Like the unwise Arabs, Nigeria has failed to capitalize on their increased oil revenue to improve the lives of Nigerians. For reasons known only to them, gasoline prices for Nigerians have also increased. However, cities in Malaysia and Sudan are booming with construction of high-rise buildings and luxury hotels.

China is a different story as far as higher oil prices is concerned. Since China is a buyer, not an oil producer, gasoline and diesel fuel have been rising and shortages are increasing in the growing economy. China consumes about 9% of the world’s oil production. Cars are a status symbol in China, and even in South Africa. The greater number of cars in these countries also impacts the demand for oil.

Japan is an interesting case. Even though Japan imports about 100% of its oil requirements, the country has made strides in reducing oil imports by investing in conversion of electric power plants to natural gas, coal, nuclear energy and solar power. Japan is responsible for 48% of the worlds’ solar-power generation compared to 15% by the United States.

Despite Britain’s North Sea oil production (which is actually declining), cost of petrol is $8 a gallon even though Britain produces all the oil the country needs. A lesson for the U.S. is that 80% of the fuel price at the pump is for taxes (are we heading there?).

The ‘middle class’, what is it?

In the interests of full disclosure, statistical information in this post is from an article by Alan Reynolds in a local newspaper.

The definition of ‘middle class’ is very muddled but nevertheless politicians of all stripes use the term; it means different things to different people but has appeal to many because most voters believe they are a member of this class of income earners.

For example, Hillary Clinton’s campaign bus is called “The Middle Class Express” and she promises tax cuts to the ‘middle class’ by lowering their tax rates. Of course, lowering tax rates is exactly what President Bush did in 2003 but it is the Democrats that now want to eliminate many of these tax reductions which they proclaim are “tax cuts for the rich”.

One poll by CBS applied a definition of middle class as those earning $30,000 to $75,000. However, only 44% of those in this group describe themselves as ‘middle class’. Other polls say that earners of incomes from $30,000 to $200,000 consider they are in the ‘middle class’, and this group of wage earners comprise 75% of all families. Less than 5% of wage earners earn more than $200,000. The median household income was $48,000 in 2006 but it isn’t clear if this applies to a typical family. A “progressive think tank” says the median household income of adults in the 26 to 59 age group is about $63,000.

A Washington Post article in 2004 claimed that the percentage of households earning between $35,000 and $50,000 was decreasing (from 22% to 15% in 2003) but the same article reported that the percentage earning more than $50,000 increased from 25% to 44%. The Washington Post failed to note that the numbers in their definition of middle class decreased because the income of millions of households rose above $50,000.

Everyone can claim difficulty ‘making ends meet’ because it is true. The desire for better living conditions affects spending, we all wish we had more money; but that doesn’t mean the ‘middle class’ (whatever that is) has a special burden, it just means many of us are spending beyond our means. Politicians know that so they pander to the ‘middle class’ as a bid for more votes. This has become a part of the Democrat creed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Some things I think I think

If there is a capital of environmentalism, it has to be the state of Oregon. There are more tree-huggers per square mile of Oregon real estate than anywhere else on Earth, though California is a close second. That’s why I am bowled over by the unabashed promotion of Oregon trees for Christmas. Does each tree come with its own hugger?

The ‘sub-prime’ mortgage crisis is bewildering. When borrowers had a chance to buy homes with adjustable rate mortgages at low rates and save gobs of money over more prudent borrowers with fixed mortgages, they jumped at the chance and laughed all the way to the bank. When interest rates changed and adjustable rate mortgages became more expensive, laughs became tears. So what do many in government and congress want to do, naturally they want to bail out the short-sighted borrowers. I say why stop there, why not indemnify those unfortunate enough to have to sell their homes in a declining market; after all the declining market is largely due to the ‘sub-prime’ mortgage catastrophe.

It looks to me that President General Pervez Musharraf is the present day version of the Shah of Iran and President George Bush is the present day equivalent to Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately for the world Musharraf is the guardian of atomic bombs and the Shah only had his secret police. Demanding Musharraf hold ‘democratic’ elections in an Islamic country is like asking the wolf to dine in the hen house out of courtesy to visitors. The outcome of ‘democratic’ elections is Gaza should be a lesson to us all but not apparently to do-gooder instincts of our president.

Another perplexing thing is Russia’s apparent indifference to the threat from Islam. Putin, a very bright and effective leader, continually places obstacles to the meager efforts by the Bush administration to thwart Islamic takeover of the world even though Islam is a greater threat demographically to Russia and the country sits within short missile range of the worst Islamic countries. With a declining reproduction rate, even after subsidizing time off for ‘afternoon delights’, in not too many years Muslims will be the dominant segment of the Russian population. Why then shouldn’t Russia be aligned with the United States to prevent Islamic world domination?

Going largely unnoticed is the action by a Congressional Committee to preserve a cut in funds for the disastrous Mexican truck fiasco. If enacted, the committee’s decision to pass along to congress a reduction by half of the funds required for the ‘pilot’ project to allow long-haul Mexican trucks access throughout the country will temporarily stall the NAFTA-required right of Mexican trucking companies to have unfettered travel in our country.

Mexico is copying ‘meals on wheels’ to bring consulate services to Mexican immigrants, legal and illegal, to help them get ‘matriculas consulares’ to be used as identification cards. Many banks and other institutions accept this form of identification without asking citizenship status. The ‘consulate on wheels’ will stay in each location up to five days at a time. This seems to be such a good idea Mexico should allow the equivalent to function on behalf of foreigners in Mexico, especially the illegal entrants to their southern border. Sure.

As long as the United States offers illegal immigrants free medical treatment, government benefits, reduced tuition rates and, in some states, driver licenses, in addition to the jobs they came here for, what is the incentive to stay at home and make a better country? Driver licenses are especially a problem because a license is more than a permit to drive, it is a nationally recognized identification card which allows the holder to board an airplane, rent a car and get a bank account; all things helpful to a terrorist.

Friday, November 9, 2007

“Sue and sue again and again”

“We sue again, and sue again and sue again until we get it”; so says Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Showing a determination that won for the governor numerous trophies for body building, Schwarzenegger displayed his determination to place California at the wrong end the global warming totem pole.

California, said Schwarzenegger, demands urgent action on global warming from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “the environmental and health risks are mounting every day that the Bush administration delays action".

Without presenting any scientific evidence to back up their claims, so-called scientists predict “global warming will reduce snow packs in the mountains while rising sea levels will submerge coastal homes and erode beaches. Warmer temperatures will wither crops that can’t survive in longer, hotter summers. Wildfires will char forests.”

Are you properly scared yet? If not, you are a “global warmer denier” and a place in hell is reserved for you; don’t believe it, just ask Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So what is Schwarzenegger’s answer to avoid these calamities – increase standards for auto emissions. The governor says the federal standards for auto emissions are not stringent enough and California must be allowed to set higher standards. To do this, the governor and attorney general Moonbeam have filed law suits against the EPA in federal courts. If at first you don’t succeed, then, in the words of the governor – “sue and sue again”.

Who can argue with what EPA administrator Stephen Johnson said through his spokeswoman, Jennifer Wood, “it is unfortunate that California is more interested in getting a headline than allowing us to make a good decision”.

For automakers the patchwork of different state standards poses a nightmare of regulations if each state can set their own standards. This is the same problem faced by oil refineries where states set different fuel requirements; in California there are literally dozens of different gasoline formulae refineries must meet over the year, causing higher costs at the pump and reduced supplies at various times.

Should California, and each state, control carbon dioxide levels and create a mandatory fuel-economy standard, or should there be a single standard set by the federal government? Keep tuned as the governor “sues and sues again and again”.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My views of the news today

President George Bush is determined to leave office with a Jimmy Carter legacy. Bush is piling on President/General Musharraf in Pakistan insisting on ‘democratic elections’; which really worked well in Gaza and everywhere Muslims dominate. It’s true a version of ‘democracy’ once occurred in Pakistan when Bhutto was elected, but the conditions in that country are different now and are likely to remain as they are for a long time. Al Qaeda and their sympathizers dominate large portions of the country and Islamic militants are threatening to take over the country. Instead of condemning Musharraf, Bush should be supporting his effort to remain in power; just one man stands between atomic bombs and Islamic terrorists.

While Bush and Rice condemn Musharraf, nothing is said about the constant war raged by Chavez against opponents in Venezuela. Chavez is killing and imprisoning anyone that protests his violent anti-freedom regime and not one word from the world community or from the administration.

It’s interesting that columnists have come around to the suggestion I made a long time ago. A guest worker program is essential to meet labor needs of American businesses and for home gardens but the program must be orderly and should not provide a path to citizenship. The new short-sighted guest worker advocates overlook an important corollary to a guest worker program I proposed and that is to secure our borders. Unless the borders are first secured, illegal aliens (notice I do not call them “undocumented” workers”) will continue to swarm into the United States.

If you haven’t seen it, the column by Tom Purcell (in The Desert Sun today) is excellent. Purcell describes very well the Democrat policy of “bribery” for votes.

In keeping with the news media policy of trying to diminish (intentionally or otherwise) good economic news where it finds it, some try to minimize the current low unemployment rate – 4.5%, and call it misleading by pointing out there are areas of the country where unemployment is above the national average. It seems these people do not know what “average” means. Why should it surprise anyone that unemployment is higher in Detroit where cars are made? After all, a very sizable percentage of the car price is due to incredibly high pension, health and other labor benefits not yet extorted by labor unions from foreign manufacturers. By the way did you notice that General Motors announced a third quarter loss of $39 billion? Is giving in continually to union demands worth the price of staying in business and operating at a loss of this magnitude?

The U.S. Office of Immigration Statistics estimates about 11.6 million illegal immigrants in the country as of January 2006, with about 6.6 million of that total being from Mexico. The Census Bureau says there are about 11.5 million Mexican immigrants in the country. I don’t know how these numbers were derived but all seem low and the latter two appear inconsistent.

According to public health records and Census data, 1.5 million children have been born to parents of Mexican ancestry since 2000 but it is not clear how many of those are children of illegal immigrants. Nonetheless there is no doubt that one advantage of illegal immigrants having children born in the United states is to have American citizens in the family that can serve as an ‘anchor’ toward citizenship for the parents and family members. The Federation for American Immigration Reform says there are from 287,000 to 363,000 births to illegal immigrants in the country each year. I believe that unless we control illegal immigration and change the rules about granting citizenship to their children, we will lose control of our country and La Raza will win.

Not many would have predicted France would become a supporter of the United States in their lifetime but that is what happened with the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as President of France. His speech before congress was something to behold; I recommend you find it online and read it.

Iraq war doubters should ask the 46,000 refugees reported today to be returning to Iraq, why they are returning home. Can it be that the country is becoming safer and the America military is doing an effective job despite the Democrat efforts to paint a dark picture and undermine our war effort?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Law of the Sea Treaty Should be Sunk

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Law of the Sea Treaty (‘LOST’) by a vote of 17-4 and sent it to the Senate to vote it up or down. President Bush has said he will sign it. As with all treaties, LOST will become the ‘law of the land’ if approved by the Senate and signed by the President; this means it will supersede all other federal and state laws.

Many thought LOST was lost when Ronald Reagan rejected it; no one thought a Republican president would resurrect it; however it is easy to see why. Although former Secretary of State Ed Meese and Reagan’s Attorney General and National Security Adviser, William Clark, were opposed, former Secretary of State James Baker was in favor of it. Since George Bush is now under the spell of James Baker (as he follows Baker’s recommendations on the mid east), it is likely he is following Baker’s advice regarding approval of this unfortunate treaty.

It has been reported that the U.S. Navy is in favor of the treaty "because it creates a framework for navigational rights". However, the U.S. Navy has been doing quite well using "customary law" that has guaranteed freedom of the seas for over three hundred years. Some argue we should approve the treaty otherwise Russia will claim oil rights at the Arctic seabed but the broad Russian claims are actually a result of the treaty. Also, the fact that as a treaty member the U.S "will have a seat at the table" is not persuasive since there are many other "seats’ occupied by members not friendly to the United States. Do we expect countries the like of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and Zimbabwe will support American interests?

A major problem is that the Law of the Sea Treaty has 320 articles and nine annexes. It is unlikely that Senators, and even the president, have read all 320 articles to know what they are signing the United States on to; no doubt if they actually read it all they would be surprised what they would find.

The administration believes military activities are excluded from the treaty but Article 20 says "In the territorial sea, submarines and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and show their flag." It is difficult to imagine Navy personnel in favor of the treaty are actually aware of this provision that would prevent intelligence gathering or deployment of our forces in hostile shores. Navy sonar equipment would also be prohibited by Article 196 which says countries "shall take all measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment resulting from the use of technologies under their jurisdiction or control".

The government has already been sued by environmentalists over the use of sonar claimed to adversely affect whales and other sea creatures; with the treaty in hand they would surely be able to prevent the Navy from using its vast technologies in the protection of our country.

Many people feel LOST is a "back-door" mechanism for forcing American compliance with the Kyoto Treaty. Although the administration says the treaty does not apply to land-based pollution, Senator David Ritter says "If it is … not covered by the treaty, why is there a section entitled ‘Pollution from Land-Based Sources’? Senator Vitter might also refer to Article 213 which says countries "shall adopt laws and regulations and take other measures necessary to implement applicable international rules and standards established through competent international organizations" to control such pollution". Of course, the UN has jumped on board of the ‘man-is causing-global warming’ bus and LOST would bring the United States along for the ride too.

Should the United Nations have authority to levy taxes? If you don’t think so, read Article 13 of the third Annex of the treaty which gives the treaty-formed ‘International Seabed Authority’ the authority to tax as much as 70% of the net proceeds of enterprises engaged in underwater seabed mining, as well as the ability to levy annual million dollar "administrative fees".

About 154 countries have adopted the treaty; how many of these do you suppose are of the economic and military stature of the United States? The treaty was rejected over twenty years ago by our government that did not want to grant the corrupt United Nations control over 70% of the planet’s surface, the senate should reject it now.

‘Biofuels’ are a scam

What are biofuels?

Biofuels come from plants: bioethanol from sugars and starches like corn, biodiesel mainly from rapeseed and palm oil. They are blended with normal fuels, making up about 5% of the product except in the case of ethanol which is intended to comprise 85% of the fuel (‘E-85’).

Leading scientist on the subject of biofuels, Roland Clift, Professor of Environmental Technology at Surrey University, England, says that use of biofuels is likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions. Clift said: “Biodiesel is a complete scam because in the tropics the growing demand is causing forests to be burnt to make way for palm oil and similar crops. “We calculate that the land will need to grow biodiesel crops for 70-300 years to compensate for the CO2 emitted in forest destruction.” Moreover, biofuel crops take land from growing food crops and create pressure for deforestation. Burning forests generates vast amounts of CO2.

If biofuels sources, like corn, are grown in preference to other crops, the end result is that the cost of other crops increases as supply diminishes and cost of products depending on the other crops, like livestock, also increase. Thus, we have the worst possible result. Expansive use of biofuels does not reduce global warming and the affect on the cost of living increases unnecessarily.

In addition, production of biodiesel from rapeseed generates large amounts of nitrous oxide – an even more powerful global warming gas than CO2.

The most efficient use of biomass is simply to burn it. Otherwise, we would need to plant an enormous land area to get enough biofuel crops to halve our emissions. Converting crops into fuel is the least efficient way of using them.

The pressure to use biofuels comes from a false belief among politicians that this is the answer to the perceived need to reduce global warming; without recognizing global warming is due to other causes than use of fossil fuels.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Some things I think I think

The last woman I would think could play the ‘I am a woman, leave me alone’ card, is Hillary Clinton. Since Hillary complained about “piling on” by the male Democrat candidates, the furor erupting now causes the least feminine candidate (John Edwards has my vote) to recant.

The truth is out about how Arnold Schwarzenegger got his wife to agree to let him run for governor in the recall of Gray Davis. It seems he did it in a hot tub. Maria is apparently putty in his hands in warm water but this ploy put all California conservatives in hot water.

With all the flak Pakistan leader Musharraf is getting about his crack-down on Islamists, even from Rice-roni who threatens to reduce US aid to Pakistan, one overlooks that reports say al-Qaeda is gaining ground in the country’s northwest region. Islamic-fascists are now in control of vast areas of the mountainous border with Afghanistan, the likely home of Osama bin Laden. Will the short-sightedness of the State Department and President Bush if he supports them, never cease?

The news media inflames the American effort to overcome Islamic-fascists with news articles about every child killed in the war or in the mid east. The latest one is a headline “Two children among dead in gun battle”. At the bottom of the article it says the children were killed in “a compound harboring militants belonging to a suicide bombing network”. Can you imagine this kind of reporting during WW II?

The enforcers of the so-called ‘Endangered Species’ phenomenons have dropped to a new low. A new plan would “protect” species “where they exist”. Under this plan a rodent abundant in one state but declining in another state would be 'protected' from "extinction" there. In other words, protection of species is a zero sum game in which one of the furry little sweeties are not to ever be reduced in numbers, no where, no how.

Ethanol proponents may have come to the end of the string; not because it is ridiculous to replace gasoline with the libation (when not denatured), but because they will likely inflame beer drinkers. Prices for the brew will rise as sharply as the cost of barley and hops due to conversion of acreage to corn to supply the ethanol craze. Keep a man from his brew at a sporting event and you play with fire.

We can all breathe a sigh of relief that Karen Hughes has resigned from her job of cow-towing to Muslims. Karen embarrassed herself and her country by wearing Muslim woman garb as she traveled around the mid east and tried to get the murdering devils to like us.

What has our country come to when as many as 37% of children are kept indoors in some areas because “they live in dangerous neighborhoods”, according to a report by the Census Bureau. The statistics show that 34% of blacks and 37% of Hispanics can’t let their children be children out of doors.

Why are Republican split on the issue of whether Hawaii can be a “new sovereign state” run by descendents of indigenous Hawaiians. There are now about 150 laws giving special federal benefits to native Hawaiians but this was put in jeopardy by one of the few sensible decisions of the Supreme Court in 2000, they struck down a state law restricting to native Hawaiians the right to vote for some state offices. Now Senator Akaka (rhymes wit ‘kaka’) and Democrat Representative Neil Abercrombie will have succeeded in overturning centuries of 14th Amendment equal protection rights (if they get away with it).

Some people are calling Cuba “a tropical gulag”; do you agree?

One of the things China is doing with its vast holding of dollars is investing in world industries in general and American industry in particular. I have no problem with this but China should not be allowed to buy American companies in strategic industries. Recently China sought to buy a $2.2 billion stake in 3Com, which sells hacker-prevention hardware to the Pentagon, by the investment company Bain Capital Partners and China’s Huawei Technology. The administration should block this transaction for security reasons, more significant than the Dubai ports deal.

Texas governor Rick Perry has endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president. It is to be hoped this will increase his chances to be Rudy’s Veep because he is far better than Huckabee.

Opposition to Schwarzenegger’s health plan for California comes from unexpected sources, but for expected reasons. It seems the Mayors of San Francisco and Los Angeles criticized the program in a letter sent to the governator. They think giving free health insurance to people only earning up to $72,000 is too low. Maybe free health insurance should be given to all then the only ones paying will be tax payers.

If nothing else shows the inordinate power a single liberal judge, Charles Breyer, (younger brother of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer) has over us, the decision by this Clinton-appointed federal judge in San Francisco blocking a Social Security Administration effort to crack down on hiring of illegal aliens does. He cited for support of the decision the action would impose hardship on the workers and they “will be irreparably harmed”.

We really need a new lobby group for property owner; “Property Owners of America”. There are some organizations that support property rights, and they do a good job. But most of these organizations I know about have there efforts diluted by concerns for many related issues. An organization devoted only to protecting rights of property owners can focus attention on all attacks by environmental groups, protectors of ‘threatened species’, the ACLU and all those who want to take away the right of owners of property to do anything they want with their own property.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Senate near passage of the Law of the Sea Treaty and Bush will sign it

The Law of the Sea Treaty (‘LOST’) which will grant the U.N. control of the 70 percent of the planet under its oceans; has been approved by a senate committee and is now headed to the full Senate for ratification.

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., has said. "I am absolutely convinced it undermines U.S. sovereignty." A two-thirds vote is required for approval; so we can only hope there are at least 34 senators who will read it and reject the treaty.

LOST first came up in 1982 as an attempt to establish a comprehensive legal system for the UN to control the oceans and their resources. President Ronald Reagan refused to sign LOST because he realized that the treaty was against U.S. interests.

However President Clinton signed a revised version of the treaty in 1994 and sent it to the Senate. The Republican senate was not in favor of the 1994 changes and action on the treaty has been deferred ever since.

The Heritage Foundation warns the treaty would have unintended consequences for U.S. interests – including a threat to sovereignty. The Heritage Foundation also says the treaty is loaded with potential for corruption. The LOST bureaucracy is called the International Seabed Authority Secretariat, “which has a strong incentive to enhance its own authority at the expense of state sovereignty."

"For example, this treaty would impose taxes on U.S. companies engaged in extracting resources from the ocean floor," said Heritage fellows Baker Spring and Brett D. Schaefer. "This would give the UN an independent revenue stream that would remove a key check on its authority. After all, once a bureaucracy has its own source of funding, it needs answer only to itself."

"The United States should be wary of joining sweeping multilateral treaties negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations," say Spring and Schaefer of Heritage. "Specifically, the benefit to U.S. national interests should be indisputable and clearly outweigh the predictable negative consequences of ratification."

In my opinion the treaty clearly does neither. I believe the treaty will be used as a back-door to implement policies against global warming without any accountability to the American people. Furthermore parts of the treaty require international regulation of U.S. economic and industrial activities even on land.

Bush administration representatives at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing recently were repeatedly embarrassed by questioning from Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who also has led opposition to ratification. For instance, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte testified the U.N. body established by the treaty has "no jurisdiction over marine pollution disputes involving land-based sources" yet there is a section entitled pollution from land-based sources. Another issue is who decides what is considered military activity under the treaty. "We will decide that. We consider that within our sovereign prerogative," said Negroponte; but the treaty does not say that, it says an arbitral body decides that question. "We say it is up to us, but nobody else in the world says it is up to us," Vitter said. Negroponte conceded the point.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said the United States has special military and commercial interests as the world’s only superpower, interests that the treaty did not take into account. He said many of the concerns over loss of national sovereignty that surfaced in the recent debate over immigration reform were surfacing once again in the Law of the Sea Treaty debate.

After being shelved by a Republican Senate, President Bush announced his intention to seek reintroduction of LOST for ratification to a small group of Republicans but the announcement was met with anger. Eagle Forum leader Phyllis Schlafly, Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney, Leadership Institute President Morton Blackwell, Free Congress Foundation founder Paul Weyrich and leaders of the Heritage Foundation all denounced the idea forcefully and asked their members to begin lobbying the White House immediately.

LOST would also establish rules governing the uses of the of the world's oceans and considers waters more than 200 nautical miles off coasts as within the purview of a new international U.N.’s International Seabed Authority. The ISA would have the authority to set production controls for ocean mining, drilling and fishing, regulate ocean exploration, issue permits and settle disputes in its own new "court." Companies seeking to mine or fish would be required to apply for a permit and pay a royalty fee. Moreover, the U.N. agency would also have the right to compete directly with private companies. The U.S. would have only one vote of well over 100 and no veto power as it has on the U.N. Security Council.

The Bush administration claims the initiative for reintroduction of the treaty comes from the military, which likes the 12-mile territorial limits it places on national claims to waters. However international law already protects non-aggressive passage, including non-wartime activities of military ships so this makes no sense. Furthermore we have jurisdiction over miles of ocean off our coasts now; we don't need a treaty to establish that.

One of the main authors of LOST, Elizabeth Mann Borgese, not only admired Karl Marx but was an ardent advocate of the Marxist-oriented New International Economic Order. Borgese was praised by her U.N. supporters as the "Mother of the Oceans" or "First Lady of the Oceans." In an article Borgese wrote that LOST stipulates that the oceans "shall be reserved for peaceful purposes" and that "any threat or use of force, inconsistent with the United Nations Charter, is prohibited." Clearly this would limit the United State’s ability to defend itself against enemies. For example, Borgese argued LOST prohibits the ability of nuclear submarines from the U.S. and other nations to rove freely through the world's oceans.

Once again, Bush has been misled into undermining American sovereignty and we all fall victim to Democrat anti-Americanism, with the help of ignorant RINOs.