Saturday, June 4, 2011

'Actual US unemployment stands at 17%'

Now about those jobs the left claim Americans won't do.......

The actual unemployment rate in the US is nearly 17 percent, much higher than the nine-point-one percent recently released by the government, an economist says.

“If you include people who are long-term unemployed and those who are discouraged workers, the number actually adds up to about 17 percent of the US labor forces,” Fadhel Kaboub said in an interview with Press TV on Saturday.

The Labor Department announced on Friday that the number of jobless people in the country hit 14 million in May, showing an unemployment rate of 9.1.

“About the 25 to 30 million people are actually unemployed in the US labor workforce today. So, the statements coming out of the White House are overly optimistic, to say the least,” added Kaboub, a professor of Economist at the Denver University, Ohio.

The economist argued that the figures released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics only has to do with people who have been actively seeking work within the last four weeks, saying this number is “actually misleading.”

Kaboub criticized the US government over its spending policies, saying Washington is spending on Wall Street bailout as opposed to spending to create jobs.

“The only thing that can boost economic growth is government spending,” the analyst pointed out.

Kaboub made a reference to the loss of nearly eight million jobs during the recent economic recession in the US and argued that to make up for that loss the country would need to “create at least 500,000 jobs every month and we're not even close to that number.”

Additionally, the US is already struggling with a weak housing market, with house prices now falling to their 2002 level.

More Obama Doctrine in Action

More Obama Doctrine in Action
Fatah PA Islamists praise Obama for not moving U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel-Aviv:


["Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA, said that Obama’s decision affirms that the world and the US don’t recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."]

On the contrary, the U.S. and "we the people" do recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

It only affirms what we already knew about Obama:

When he says he supports our ally Israel, he lies and does not speak the truth.

It also affirms what we know the Obama agenda and doctrine to be:

Embolden America's enemies.
Undermine our allies.
Diminish, make America weaker.

The good news is that members of the U.S. Congress took the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem to introduce the "Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act 0f 2011". This legislation will "remove" that immoral waiver.

Another Obamanomics success story: Proud of losing $14B

It's a sign of grim times indeed when the Obama administra tion is touting a potential $14 billion loss to the taxpayers as a great economic success.

The White House is running on its auto bailouts as courageous acts that saved the industrial Midwest. It's a telling point of pride. In bragging about the bailouts of GM and Chrysler, the administration is boasting of a process shot through with lawlessness and political favoritism -- not to mention reckless disregard for taxpayer dollars.

The administration believes it trumps all criticism with one data point: GM and Chrysler are still with us. GM has even been making money, and had the biggest IPO in American history last November.

Yet, as The Atlantic's Megan McArdle tartly observes, it shouldn't have been in doubt that if government threw $80 billion at two companies, not expecting to get all of it back, it could save them. She points out that the loss from the bailouts (the administration's estimate is $14 billion) will be close to the entire market capitalization of GM in 2007. It will be several times as big as the company's 2008 market capitalization.

McArdle figures that, at a cost of roughly $10 billion to $20 billion, we might as well have given GM's pre-bankruptcy workforce of 75,000 hourly workers $250,000 each and called it a day.

The government has also given GM a special tax break that will save it $14 billion on its US tax bill, and is trying to induce consumers to buy GM's signature new product, the absurdly expensive electric Chevy Volt, by giving them a $7,500 tax credit on its $41,000 sticker price.

With all this support, GM should be the world's greatest industrial concern. It's hardly that, although it's much improved. We can thank Chapter 11, the tried-and-true method for turning around bankrupt companies that still have value.

Writing in the journal National Affairs, Todd Zywicki makes a distinction between "economically failed" companies that disappear when they go bankrupt and "financially distressed" companies that can still work. With a skilled workforce, advanced factories and prized brands, GM was clearly the latter. "Virtually every major airline has been through bankruptcy at least once, as have K-Mart, Macy's and a host of other familiar brands that are still very much in business," Zywicki writes.

Somewhere in GM there was a viable car company trying to get out. Through Chapter 11, GM pared down wages and benefits, shed uneconomical dealerships and ditched unnecessary brands. This was a classic restructuring. If anything, without government intervention, it would have been more thorough-going and effective.

As an exercise in what Zywicki calls "state capitalism," the bailout was a procedural horror show:

* It was probably illegal to funnel TARP funds into the companies -- they may not have been car companies worthy of the name any longer, but they certainly weren't "financial institutions."

* Chrysler's creditors, who held secured bonds and were guaranteed repayment first, got forced into taking 29 cents on the dollar. In contrast, the United Auto Workers' pension plan got 40 cents on the dollar.

* The creditors of both Chrysler and GM were denied their usual right to have a say in the reorganizations. The government was in a strong position to bully some of these creditors, because they themselves received TARP funds.

* Once they had their hooks in them, the Obama administration and Congress made the companies do their bidding, insisting they build politically correct hybrid cars and keep open politically favored dealerships.

Ultimately, the moral stature of capitalism depends on a structure of rules that applies to firms large and small, politically connected and not. By this standard, the auto bailouts fail miserably, and so perfectly distill Obamanomics.

CHART OF THE DAY: The Scariest Jobs Chart Ever Looks HORRIBLE

The classic Calculated Risk jobs chart looks horrible after today's big whiff. The "recovery" has clearly flattened out.

End Medicare

Preserving a scam in the vain hope of making it less offensive may be well-meaning, but it’s not right, and it’s not courageous.

Would you vote to save the Bernie Madoff scheme? Me neither. And when you get down to it, that’s why you can mark me down as a failure when it comes to the latest Beltway-conservative litmus test for commentary deemed worthy of adults. No, I won’t be gushing praise for the Ryan plan to save Medicare, nor reserving a seat at the coronation of its author as the most courageous, fiscally responsible Washington politician ever — or, at least, ever to vote for the prescription-drug entitlement, TARP, Keynesian “stimulus” spending, and the auto-company bailout.

Concededly, as creatures of Washington go, Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) is among the most admirable. I daresay that of all the Beltway pols who want to add trillions to the already unfathomable national debt, Mr. Ryan is among the best — his proposal is a veritable bargain at “only” $5.1 trillion more over the next decade. (And, putting aside the funny Washington math that discounts tens of trillions in unfunded liabilities, would someone please explain to me how House Republicans rationalize their admirable opposition to raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling with their votes in favor of the Ryan plan, which would increase the debt to over $15 trillion next year and nearly $20 trillion by 2021?)

We’re all sinners, and Congressman Ryan’s past walks on the wild side do not render hollow his earnest plea that we deal with the entitlement cancer metastasizing in our body politic. But his prescription is not a cure. It’s an aggressive treatment of symptoms that leaves the cancer in place, under the delusion that Dr. Government can be trusted to manage it.

Representative Ryan buys the foundational premise of Medicare: to wit, health care is a corporate asset — not a commodity subject to the assumptions of ordinary commerce (i.e., individual choice, controlled by one’s personal resources and priorities), but a fundamental right to which the central government must ensure access. This is the plinth of the entitlement edifice — the “second Bill of Rights” — that began construction in the New Deal, under the direction of designers who knew full well that it was financially unsustainable.

Sadly, this is the standard Beltway conservative position, too, as evidenced by the ablest of Ryan’s defenders, James Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Writing in the May 2 issue of National Review, Jim explains, “The government plays an important oversight role in Ryan’s Medicare-reform plan, as it should.” That is to say, rest assured that we would never suggest scrapping Medicare, or that the government doesn’t have an essential supervisory role to play in the market for medical services — a role we somehow managed to do without for the first century and a half of the nation’s existence. And what is that role? Ensuring that “participating insurance companies must offer transparent pricing and meet minimum-benefit and -quality standards.”

Says who? If by “transparent pricing” Jim means insurers must be discouraged from engaging in fraud, there are already civil and criminal laws against that, and, as an additional prophylaxis, the states heavily regulate insurers. But why should the government be involved in setting standards for coverage, and what on earth does government know about quality when it comes to medical care? In a free society, those are matters for the market. At most, government’s job is to keep the market clean, not to dictate the inputs in the dreamy hope of controlling the outputs.

Medicare was a scam from the start. It had to be a scam because its ostensible purpose — providing health insurance for the elderly — was never the objective of its proponents. Instead, Medicare was a stepping stone to a utopia its champions dared not acknowledge: A compulsory universal-health-care system administered by government experts. FDR’s Committee on Economic Security initially intended to issue a health-care plan in conjunction with its universal, compulsory Social Security proposal in 1934. As Cato’s Charlotte Twight recounts, the former was dropped due to fear that pervasive opposition among the public and the medical profession would jeopardize passage of the latter. But Roosevelt got right back to it the day after he signed the 1935 Social Security Act, empowering the new Social Security Board to study the “related” area of health insurance.

There followed three decades of progressive proposals, each shot down by lawmakers animated by fierce public dissent. The Left realized the dream of socializing the health-care sector was not attainable in one fell swoop, so an incremental strategy was adopted: Get a foot in the door with less ambitious proposals; establish the precedent of government control while avoiding debate over the principle of government control. “Incremental change,” said Medicare scholar Martha Derthick, “has less potential for generating conflict than change that involves innovation in principle.”

She was talking about disability coverage, which was added to Social Security in 1956. The one-way government ratchet implanted by Social Security two decades earlier had made such narrowly tailored additions inevitable. As an insightful incrementalist, Ms. Derthwick realized that disability coverage was, as she put it, a “necessary prelude” to the enactment of Medicare. She would have understood, better than Representative Ryan I’d wager, how even an anti-debt crusader who now wants to reform Medicare could be seduced into voting for the Bush prescription-drug entitlement — the so-called Medicare Part D that was added by Representative Ryan and the Republican-controlled Congress just a few years ago, even though it was already well known that Medicare Parts A through C were driving the country to insolvency.

Everything about Medicare was fraudulent, beginning with the name “Medicare.” As Professor Twight notes, it was appropriated from “a term coined by a reporter to describe a previously established comprehensive health care program” that had won support because it was tailored to military dependents. Although Medicare’s architects were knowingly laying the groundwork for fully socialized medicine, they narrowly proposed to underwrite only care for the elderly — who, after all, were already benefiting from Social Security. Proponents pretended to be removing the aged from “dependency” when they were merely shifting the burden of dependency from its traditional obligors (personal responsibility, the family, and private charity) onto taxpayers. They claimed to be relieving the young of responsibility for their aging parents when they were actually burdening the young — and the young of future generations — with an ever-increasing tab for an ever-ballooning population of elderly dependents.

Of course, if Medicare had been on the up and up, proponents could have sculpted a welfare plan for the 15 percent of seniors who arguably needed assistance. But that would have disserved the goal of fully socialized medicine. So proponents instead followed their successful (and equally unsustainable) Social Security model and gave us what David Hyman has tartly called a “reverse Robin Hood” scheme that “robs from the poor and the working class and gives to the middle class and the rich.” They pulled it off by caricaturing the elderly as uniformly destitute, even though, factoring in assets rather than just income, the elderly as a class were (and are) better off than many of those paying the freight.

More shrewdly, proponents misrepresented Medicare as an “insurance” program, with a “trust fund” into which working people paid “contributions” and beneficiaries paid “premiums” that would “entitle” them to claim “benefits.” In reality, there is no “trust fund.” Workers pay taxes — at levels that can no longer satisfy the pay-outs for current beneficiaries. This state of affairs was entirely predictable when Medicare was enacted in 1965 with the Baby Boom well underway. Back in the early days, when the program was flush, the surplus of taxes passed from the “trust fund” into the federal treasury, which redistributed the money to whatever chicanery Washington happened to be heaping money on. In return, the “trust fund” got an IOU, which would ultimately have to be satisfied by future taxes (or by borrowing from creditors who’d have to be repaid by taxpayers with interest). And the “premiums” largely turned out to be nonsense, too: The pols endeared themselves to elderly voters by arranging for Uncle Sam pick up more and more of the tab, or by using the government’s newfound market power to demand that providers accept lower payments.

When Medicare was enacted in 1965, the inevitability of its many adverse consequences was crystal clear. The system was grossly underfunded. The fee-for-service structure (expertly described by Capretta) was certain to increase costs exorbitantly with no commensurate increase in quality of care (indeed, care is mediocre, or worse). But most palpably, the fact that government was at the wheel made Medicare instantly ripe for political gaming and demagoguery. The ensuing 46 years have not only made the obvious explicit; Medicare and its tens of trillions in unfunded liabilities are actually worse than even its most fearful early critics predicted it would be.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich steered the break-out of his presidential campaign into a ditch a couple of weeks ago by suggesting that the Ryan Medicare reform was “right-wing social engineering.” He was wrong, but not for the reason cited by his critics. To be more precise, Representative Ryan’s plan is a surrender to left-wing social engineering on terms the right wing naïvely believes it can accept. Ryan is the darling of a Washington breed of conservative wonk convinced that we can make the welfare state work if we just incorporate a few free-market, family-friendly tweaks. It is a futile political strategy for two reasons.

First, the pathology to which all Medicare’s ills trace their origin is the involvement of government. If you don’t get government out of the mix, transient politics will eventually undo any reforms you put in place. Look at welfare reform, which took Republicans years to achieve but took the Obama Democrats a relative nanosecond to dismantle with their stimulus spending. In Medicare, the pattern is seen again and again. It was no less a stalwart opponent of socialized medicine than Pres. Ronald Reagan who signed off on an “administered pricing” scheme that allowed the government, rather than private health-care providers, to dictate the price of hospital services — in a well-meaning effort to address a Medicare payment system design that drove prices ever higher. Part of President Clinton’s pound of flesh for agreeing to balance the federal budget was the creation of Medicare Part C, extending the already over-extended program to managed care. The creation of Part D, the reckless prescription-drug benefit, was driven by the Bush GOP’s election-calendar craving to be seen as just as compassionate as Democrats have always been with other people’s money.

Reformers such as Representative Ryan always ignore this inevitable trajectory of entitlement politics. They rationalize that they can make a government-sanctioned bribery system run better, or at least preempt Democrats from making it run worse. Hoping to stave off Medicare, congressional moderates in 1960 passed a bill to provide means-tested medical assistance to the elderly. It only greased the wheels for not only Medicare but Medicaid. In Massachusetts, Romneycare was another well-meaning attempt to install a compulsory statewide health-insurance system that would be less autocratic and costly than the one the Left would have imposed. It is, predictably, a disaster that tends toward ever-more-suffocating government control.

The second and perhaps more obvious political flaw is manifested by the new commercial that depicts a Ryan lookalike pushing granny (in a wheelchair, of course) off a cliff. It does not matter how modestly conservative reformers would modify Medicare, “bend the cost-curve,” or whatever unthreatening descriptor is applied to their good-government proposals. It does not matter that Paul Ryan actually tries to save Medicare, which will soon implode if nothing is done. Conservatives will still be demagogued. They will still be accused of trying to destroy Medicare and kill old people.

Medicare deserves to be destroyed, and destroying it would be better for current and future generations, young and old. So why not make that case? Other than a committed socialist ideologue, no one in his right mind would vote to implement Medicare today — not if we were on a clean slate and knew what we know now about its ruinous operation. Ryan’s essential point is that health care is increasingly expensive because it is not permitted to function as a regular market commodity — one with sentient consumers shopping carefully, spurring competition, driving down prices, and encouraging innovation. That kind of market can never happen with the government as a central player. And we can provide some sensible measure of assistance to the truly needy without giving everyone an unsustainable “entitlement” that will destroy the economy.

Medicare is a scam. The people who designed and perpetuated it would be serving more jail time than Bernie Madoff if they pulled a fraud like it in the private sector. As it is for the victims Madoff swindled, so it is for we who’ve been swindled by Washington: The money is gone. We can make provisions for the needy elderly who are about to hit eligibility and have relied on Medicare in their assumptions. But the party is over — and the sooner we grasp that, the fewer victims there will be.

Preserving a scam in the vain hope of making it less offensive may be well-meaning, but it’s not right, and it’s not courageous.

—Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.

Gunfight At DC Corral: Palin vs Obama

I’m sorry guys. Every time you flood me with emails attempting to convince me Palin can not win; is too toxic, not smart enough, a hypocrite and is only in it for the money, the courageous woman boldly does another extraordinary interview that makes me stand up and cheer, “Sarah Palin, you go girl! I love you!”

On the Hannity show, Palin launched another “in your face” attack on Obama, the GOP and the liberal media. I LOVE IT! See Here-->

Nothing frustrates me more than GOP candidates walking on eggs cautious not to offend or anger the despicable, lying, agenda driven and evil liberal media. Why should we show respect for characterless people who are committed to lying and putting a negative spin on everything we say and do? The liberal media’s mission is to politically “kill” the tea party. Get it?

Sarah Palin gets it. Palin does not give a rat’s behind about what the liberal media thinks of her.

On numerous occasions, without the slightest hint of reservation or FEAR, Palin has attacked Obama “the man”; his lies, his anti-American associations, his socialist agenda, his assault on our freedom, liberty and culture and his horrific record, thus far. Thank You Sarah Palin! God bless you!

I realize I sound like a broken record, but I can not express the following point strongly enough. To beat Obama and “his media” in 2012, our candidate MUST embrace Palin’s aggressive fearless battle plan.

It has been said, only a fool brings a knife to a gunfight. Without restraint or mercy, Obama, the democrats and Obama’s liberal media gang will show up at the 2012 DC fight for the White House with mega guns firing at the tea party and the republican presidential candidate.

Any republican presidential candidate who is timid due to the historical context of Obama’s presidency saying, “God bless Obama’s heart. He meant well, but his policies have failed” is like entering this crucial battle for our country with a butter knife. Such a restrained effort would insure political death to our side and the end of America as we know it.

Patriots, we need a fearless political gunslinging hero. And so far, our heroic pistol packin’ mama is Sarah Palin.

Lloyd Marcus, Proud Unhyphenated American

List of Social Security Numbers for Each State

About Social Security Numbers

In the United States, a Social Security number (or SSN) is a number issued to citizens, permanent residents, and temporary working residents. The number is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, an agency of the federal government. Its primary purpose is tracking working individuals for taxation purposes and to track Social Security benefits. In recent years, the SSN has become a de facto national identification number, even though it is not supposed to be used as a form of identification.

There is no law directly requiring a natural born United States citizen to apply for a Social Security number, or SSN, to live or work in the United States. Although some people still live without a Social Security number, it is becoming ever increasingly difficult to engage in normal acts of commerce or banking activities without providing an SSN. Such prohibitions against persons that refuse to enter into what amounts to a voluntary government program, raises a variety of constitutional concerns.

Since 1972, social security numbers have been issued by the central office of the Social Security Administration. The first three (3) digits of a person's social security number are determined by the ZIP Code of the mailing address shown on the application for a social security number.

Prior to 1972, social security numbers were assigned by field offices. The number merely established that his/her card was issued by one of our offices in that State.

Social Security Number - Area Group Serial

The Social Security number consists of nine (9) digits - 1 2 3 - 4 5 - 6 7 8 9. The first three digits of a social security number denote the area (or State) where the application for an original Social Security number was filed.

Within each area, the group number (middle two (2) digits) range from 01 to 99 but are not assigned in consecutive order. For administrative reasons, group numbers issued first consist of the ODD numbers from 01 through 09 and then EVEN numbers from 10 through 98, within each area number allocated to a State. After all numbers in group 98 of a particular area have been issued, the EVEN Groups 02 through 08 are used, followed by ODD Groups 11 through 99.

Within each group, the serial numbers (last four (4) digits) run consecutively from 0001 through 9999.

This chart below shows how Group numbers are assigned:
ODD - 01, 03, 05, 07, 09------EVEN - 10 to 98
EVEN - 02, 04, 06, 08------ODD - 11 to 99

List of Social Security Numbers for Each State

Follow is a list of social security numbers for each state. The listing is organized in ascending order based on the SSN prefix, with the corresponding issuing state listed.

SSN Prefix
Issuing State
SSN Prefix
Issuing State

New Hampshire


North Dakota

South Dakota

Rhode Island


New York

New Jersey



New Mexico


North Carolina
New Mexico

West Virginia

West Virginia

North Carolina

South Carolina


Florida (Also 589-595)



District of Columbia

Virgin Islands

Puerto Rico

New Mexico

Guam & American Samoa

All Other Pacific Territories


Florida (also 261-267)

Arizona (designated)

California (designated)

Railroad Retirement

Currently not in use

Death Index Database (SSN) - Online searchable database of deaths within the U.S. by name or Social Security Number (SSN)

Find your local Social Security Office - If you live in the United States and you want information and directions to the Social Security office that serves your area, just enter your U.S. Postal Service five-digit ZIP code below and select Locate. You’ll get information about your local Social Security office and other agencies in your area that may be able to help you.

How Social Security Numbers work

Social Security Administration Homepage - Provides employers with information on the administration of social security.

Social Security Number Validator

SSN Background Checks - Search using social security number

To hire a private investigator that specializes in social security number searches, please visit our Private Investigator Directory. Also, you may wish to post a message in our Private Investigation Discussion Forum.

Return to the top of Social Security Numbers.

Iowa Primary: Palin Highest Favorables; Romney, Gingrich least Favorable

There’s a whole lot of Tea going on in Iowa. Sarah Palin (15%), Herman Cain (15%), and Michele Bachmann (11%) combine for a strong 41% of the primary vote in Iowa, according to PPP. Mitt Romney led those three with 21%. Tim Pawlenty (10%), and Huntsman (0%) rounded out the Estab Fave trifecta with 31% total. So, to keep track here: Unserious candidates, 41%. “Serious” candidates: 31%. Just checking… Ron Paul (8%) and Gingrich (12%) came in for the will-they-ever-go-away crowd at 20%.

The question is, will one of the Tea candidates break away and be able to surpass Romney in a state he shouldn’t win?

The numbers:

Palin: Almost double her last showing in Iowa, Palin has continued the recent trend of finishing second to Romney, who is benefiting from being the only establishment candidate with much traction, as the tea party has continued it’s 2009/2010 strong trend. She has the highest favorable rating of any candidate at 59%, and her unfavorable ratings are all lower than those of Gingrich and Romney. The real good news for Palin, though, is that the most active part of the GOP right now (self described Tea-Party members) give Palin a very high 71% favorable. This can come in very handy in a state like Iowa where they use a caucus system. Among tea Party members, Palin would lead Romney 21%-14%

Cain: The great news for Cain is he is tied with Palin for 2nd place. The bad news is, if Palin does not run, he only picks up 1 point from her absence while Romney gains 5 points, and Bachmann, Paul, and Gingrich take in 3 apiece. Without Palin, Cain’s 2nd place finish is 10 points back. You would think Cain might be a natural 2nd choice for Palin supporters, but he only bests Pawlenty’s gain of her share, which is 0%. Cain also seems to have a love-hate thing going on right now, as he stands at only +14 net favorable with 38%F and 24%U.

Romney: Almost by default, Romney leads the pack with a handful of Tea Party candidates trailing closely behind. His favorable rating is a low +17 with 51% saying Aye, and 34% saying Nay.But he stands at just 45% fav, 41% unfav with Tea-Party folks, who make upo 1/3 of Iowa voters. Could hurt in Caucus system.

Bachmann: The girl from Iowa is strong in polling here, and her net favorability is sky-high at +37. But even with Palin out, she falls double digits behind Romney. Conservatives will need to figure all of this out. But she ties Palin with a GOP high 71% fav among Tea Party folks.

Iowa Poll Recalculated: Palin Needs Just 5% Swing to Close Gap

PPP Sample: 37% Democrat, 34% Republican, 28% Independent

PollInsider Adjustment: 36% Republican, 34% Democrat, 30% Independent + Undecided voter Allotment (For Full methodology, see here)

The PPP Poll still oversample Democrats, but not as bad as in other polls they have done where oversapling has reached double digits. Iowa is a small swing state that Gore won in 2000 by less than 1%, followed by a similarly small victory by Bush in 2004, and a larger 10% victory by Obama in 2008. As the pendulum turns once again, the Republicans saw a shift back in their favor in 2010 and expect it to continue into 2012. However, this does not mean I am predicting a GOP Iowa win, only that it won’t be the big margin that was obtained 3 years ago.

Palin 45%, Obama 55% Obama +10

Romney 49%, Obama 51% Obama +2%

Pawlenty 48%, Obama 52% Obama +4%

The PPP poll shows a much more dramatic 20% victory for Obama over Palin, 9% over Romney, and 12% over Pawlenty. Plus 21% over Gingrich. When the poll numbers are recalculated, you see those leads diminish. While Palin sees a 10% deficit, the reality is she really only needs a swing of about 5% to pull even at 50-50.

Only Sarah Palin can Derail Mitt Romney

So, I may be about to get Dick Morris on you, but my official prediction is that Obama will be facing either Romney or Palin in 2012. If Palin does not end up running, Mitt Romney wins the nomination.

First, if Sarah Palin does not run, Mitt Romney will be the nominee. I believe she will but, but of course many in the establishment see “no signs” that she is interested in such a race. Polling suggest that, surprisingly, Mitt Romney has the most to gain by Palin sitting out. Conventional wisdom suggests otherwise as Romney and Palin do not share the same power base. But polling tells a different story. A Public Policy Poll released yesterday shows the race tied at 16% for both Palin and Romney. Pawlenty and Cain follow close behind at 13% and 12%. But with a Palin exit, Romney goes from a tie with Palin and a 3% and 4% edge over the next two contenders and jumps to a 7 point lead over his closest 3 challengers (Bachmann, Pawlenty, Gingrich).

The big issue is, Palin voters have no clear second choice and split evenly among the field. Cain, who you might think would benefit most, fails to pick up a single point. Pawlenty also fails to pick up any of her support. Yet Romney, Gingrich, and Bachmann each pick up a tidy 4% a piece. Romney’s 4% helps him distance himself from Pawleny and Cain, while Bachmann and Gingrich’s 4% leaves them at the same 7% deficit they were at with Palin in the race. A CNN poll done at the same time showed similar results. Romney (19%) and Palin (15%) led the field with Paul back 6 points behinf Romney, and Gingrich and Cain back 8 points. With palin out, Romney’s lead grew 2% against the nearest competitor, Paul, who picked up nothing by a Palin exit. Cain still trailed by 8 points, and Gingrich slapped back to a 9 point defecit. And since I mentioned Dick Morris, I’ll throw in his numbers. He had Romney at 25%, Palin at 16%, and Gingrich at 11%. Without Palin, Romney grew to 30%, Gingrich to 15%, and everyone else less than 7%. So even here, a 9 Point race with palin in, became a 15-point race with her out.

When Huckabee left the race, Sarah Palin became the logical choice for most of his supporters. But Palin voters do not have a logical second home. There is Bachmann, who is basically a poor-man’s Palin. Cain is a tough one because they like what he says and his passion, but lacks the experience and where was he in 2010? Then there’s Gingrich who has been equally villified as Palin, but more deservedly so. And then there’s Romney, the guy “who can win.”

If Palin Runs as expected, it will be a close race to the finish between the two of them. So, why is Palin the only one who can derail Romney? First, see the above portion. When voters do not vote for Palin (so even is she runs but loses steam) her support drifts to Romney more than anybody else. With Palin in the race, voters will be forced to decide whether to coalesce around one conservative candidate and win, or break apart into multiple factions and hand the nomination to Romney.

Sarah Palin voters do not have a clear second candidate, and it is difficult for any of the candidates to sufficiently distinguish themselves from the others in a big enough fashion. For instance, if a Palin voter decides to go for another candidate, there is no real reason to choose a Cain over a Bachmann, Pawlenty, or Gingrich. Does one have significantly more ground support than the other? Can one raise more money than the other? All are clearly playing to the same base, but how can they separate themselves in enough of a fashion to catch up to Romney?

However, Palin has a much easier and, possibly only, road to victory. For starters, Palin is already tied with or within the Margin of Error of Mitt Romney. My guess is that she will probably even surpass him in some polls that take place after her current and well-received Road Trip. So she doesn’t have as much work to do as the other candidates. She is also the natural beneficiary of conservative voters deciding to get behind one candidate. She is easily the most popular among Very Conservative voters, who are typically the most active at this stage, and Tea Party activists. Because Palin has the largest grassroots capabilities, the best ability to raise funds, and has been the leading vocal opponent to Obama for the past 3 years, she is an easy, natural choice. It is more likely that a Cain supporter would fall towards Palin than Bachmann, and a Bachmann supporter to fall towards palin than Gingrich.

The irony is by running, Palin helps the entire non-Romney field by keeping Romney in the mid-teens in support and within a close distance to all of the candidates. By not running, she actually hurts the other candidates, and Romney benefits.

Can this change if Palin does not run? Can another candidate step up?

I don’t think so. The clear fact is that none of the candidates will be able to raise enough money to take on Romney and will not be able to generate enough ground support to take him on. At this stage, you are down 15 points if Palin is not in. How can you catch up? Huckabbe was unable to overcome the same problem in 2008. Other problems arise: Herman Cain has yet to be vetted, and has had little negative mention in the news. This will change if he continues to generate decent support. Remember, Cain had a daily radio show and there are hundreds of hours of tape just waiting to be sifted through. He has said (but walked back) a few controversial things on the campaign trail, and who knows what he has said on air? Bachmann gets unfairly compared to Sarah Palin based simply on gender. But in many ways, Bachmann actually is what the media has said Palin is. Whereas the media turns harmless Palin statements into controversies, Bachmann actually says controversial things. Her “Tea Party” state of the union address was over the top and stepped on the feet of Paul Ryan unneccesarily. And whereas Sarah Palin actually has a lot of experience, Bachmann has a resume that is less impressive than Obama’s. Finally, none of the candidates have been put through the ringer the way Palin, and yes, even Romney has. Palin has been searched every which way possible, so there is little new information that can be uncovered about her. Romney has been and is being seriously vetted by conservatives. But bachmann, Cain, and Gingrich are just a treasure trove of possible surprises waiting to happen. There may be nothing, but there is always something.

PA praises Obama decision not to move embassy to J'lem

Abu Rudaineh: Notification that embassy to remain in TA "affirms that the world and the US don’t recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday welcomed as “encouraging” US President Barack Obama’s decision not to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Obama on Friday invoked US national security interests to notify Congress that he will not move the embassy to Jerusalem.

Obama’s notification did not include a commitment to moving the embassy at some point in the future, unlike his predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who did suggest that this may be a possibility.

Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA, said that Obama’s decision affirms that the world and the US don’t recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Abu Rudaineh added that the decision indicates that the world recognizes that east Jerusalem has been occupied since 1967 and that the city would be the capital of Palestine “in the context of a two-state solution.”

A letter to Obama from Benjamin Netanyahu

Dear President Obama,

I am writing today with a somewhat unusual request. First and foremost, I will be asking that you return America to its August 20th, 1959 borders so that Hawaii is no longer a state and you are no longer a citizen.


Benjamin Netanyahu

NAACP vs. Black Parents

Here's something you don't see everyday. Thousands of American blacks held a rally in Harlem last week to protest . . . the NAACP.

The New York state chapter of the civil rights organization and the United Federation of Teachers, the local teachers union, have filed a lawsuit to stop the city from closing 22 of Gotham's worst schools. The lawsuit also aims to block the city from giving charter schools space to operate in buildings occupied by traditional public schools.

Protesters at the rally, which included parents and charter school operators like Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone, urged the NAACP to withdraw from the suit. But Hazel Dukes, president of the state NAACP chapter, is unpersuaded. Using the kind of language more readily associated with past opponents of black civil rights, Ms. Dukes said that critics of the lawsuit "can march and have rallies all day long. . . . We will not respond."

What schoolhouses is Ms. Dukes standing in the doorway to protect? Well, at the Academy for Collaborative Education, one of the Harlem schools that the city wants to close, only 3% of students were performing at grade level in English last year, and only 9% in math. At Columbus High School in the Bronx, another school slated for closure, the four-year graduation rate in 2009 was 40%, versus a citywide average of 63%, and less than 10% of special education students graduated on time.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Artic Oil Drilling Halted Because of Protesters

A Scottish oil company was forced to suspend operations on an offshore oil rig near Greenland Saturday after 18 activists climbed aboard the rig.

The activists from the group Greenpeace said they want to force Cairn Energy to publish its oil spill response plan.

The activists say Arctic oil drilling is dangerous because the freezing temperatures and remote location would make it difficult to contain an oil spill.

Earlier this week, police arrested two Greenpeace activists on the same rig, the Leiv Eiriksson, because they had attached themselves to the rig in a plastic pod. Their actions forced a four-day delay to the start of the drilling.

Cairn recently won permission from Greenland to expand its drilling project in the region from three wells to seven. Last month it announced plans to drill four wells this year at a cost of $600 million.

The company says it has filed a legal action against Greenpeace in the Netherlands, asking for compensation of nearly $3 million for every day it must suspend operations due to Greenpeace actions.

Bilderberg 2011: All aboard the Bilderbus

As the Bilderberg conference heads towards Switzerland there's still time to book your seat on a minibus to St Moritz

As Europe groans, and austerity bites, as defaulting looms, and once proud nations fall to their knees in debt, there's only one annual conference of bankers and industrialists that can step in and save us all…


Next week, in Switzerland, Henry Kissinger and his brave band of corporate CEOs, high-wealth individuals and heavyweight thinktankers will lock arms with Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and David Rockefeller, and stand their ground against the economic contagion.

The last thing a bunch of bank bosses and multinational executives wants is for the nation-states of Europe to collapse, allowing their assets to be bought up on the cheap. Right?

Besides, if anyone can lay claim to fathering the EU, it's Bilderberg. Sixty years ago, Europe was a mere Bilderbaby, conceived in a solemn ceremony on Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands' mattress. It grew into a fine young Bilderboy, but the years have caught up with it, and now it seems its knees are creaking and its heart is weak.

Perhaps the clear mountain air of St Moritz will prove just the tonic. The Bilderberg Group is gathering there between 9-12 June, at the Hotel Suvretta House, described on its website thus: "Like a beautiful fairytale castle, our hotel is embedded in the fantastic alpine landscape of the Upper Engadine." No mention of the magical rooftop snipers or the fairytale ring of armed riot police, but maybe they'll be updating their website in time for the conference.

The hotel promises that the Privatsphäre of the guests will be utterly respektiert, which goes for the conference, as well: the press will be lucky to get a whiff of Kissinger's toast in the morning. It's a shame the attendees are still so phobic of attention, seeing as how this year there's shaping up to be more press interest than ever. People and the media have finally started noticing this quiet little conference at the centre of the storm. The last two countries to play host to the meeting were Greece and Spain, both of whom waved goodbye to Bilderberg and said hello to austerity and unrest. Happy Christmas, Switzerland.

This year, a bunch of less-than-happy Brits are heading out to St Moritz by minibus, to voice their concern at the policies being thrashed out at the conference. They've dubbed their fifteen-seater the Bilderbus, and it leaves Nottingham on Tuesday after work. There are still ten seats to fill: it's £95 return, and camping's cheap when you get there. And I can't stress this enough: it really is a sight to behold. (The conference, not the minibus).

There are two seats free on the bus, since Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Ken Clarke have both been forced to cancel. Which is good news for the chamber maids at the Suvretta House (because Ken is so very untidy – cigar stubs and Ornette Coleman CDs everywhere …)

If you'd like to book a place on the minibus, you can email the organisers at this address: And if you're interested to see what crops up on the official Bilderberg agenda, then keep an eye on their website. Jockeying for position are the crisis in the eurozone, the Arab Spring, the Fukushima fallout (with Germany backing away from nuclear), and of course, what to do about the internet. That old chestnut.

Maybe this year they'll hold a press conference like, I don't know, grown-ups might. I won't be holding my breath. But I will be sniffing the air of St Moritz. If I find out one thing this year, it's going to be what Kissinger has for breakfast. Live eels snatched from a bucket? Or ducklings? Suddenly I'm imagining ducklings. And a mallet.

Congress takes aim at 401(k)s to pay for mounting Federal deficit

Have no fear... who more to trust with your money, than government?

Congress takes aim at 401(k)s
By Jennie L. Phipps ·

Should Congress put limits or even completely do away with the tax incentives that make saving within a 401(k) or some other tax-advantaged retirement plan attractive in order to cut the deficit?

The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation and the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Analysis conclude that these retirement planning programs will cost the federal government about $600 billion in lost revenue over the next five years.

Here's what they suggest instead:
Bipartisan Policy Center Debt Reduction Task Force -- Maintain existing accounts but cap tax-preferred contributions to the lower of $20,000 or 20 percent of income.
National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform -- Consolidate the various retirement accounts and cap tax-preferred contributions to the lower of $20,000 or 20 percent of income.

The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries, or ASPPA, says the government's math is fuzzy because it doesn't accurately figure deferred revenue -- savers eventually take the money out and pay taxes on it. Based on its calculations, the government would only gain about 25 percent more in taxes and the price would be reduced income and security for people living in retirement.

A separate study by the Stanford University Graduate School of Business says that the introduction of 401(k)s has had an enormous impact on how people invest in stocks and bonds. At the end of World War II, individual citizens owned 90 percent of the stock market; by 2006, they owned only 30 percent. The other 70 percent was held by institutions, including mutual funds, insurance companies and pension funds.

Ilya Strebulaev, associate professor of finance and primary author of the study, recommends that tax reformers consider making the tax rate on capital gains equal to the tax rate on equities held in tax-advantaged accounts. Now, of course, the capital gains rate is 15 percent for most people -- less for low-income people, while the rate son equities in tax-advantaged accounts are the same as for ordinary income. This would level the playing field and potentially make it less attractive to hold stocks in a tax-advantaged accounts. He believes that among other things, holding stocks outside of institutional accounts would encourage individual investors to pay more attention to how their money is invested. "Institutional investors are very passive. They delegate their vote. It's not the best social outcome," Strebulaev says.

Strebulaev dismisses the idea of limiting the tax advantages of retirement accounts to increase revenue. "What I think what our research delivers is that all these small twists in taxation are very unlikely to work."

Sarah Palin: A Third Party Is Possible

Sarah Palin: A Third Party Is Possible

Yesterday, I posted that Sarah Palin criticizing Mitt Romney made her sound more like a candidate. Her interview with Sean Hannity has given me pause on this matter. It struck me as I watched the interview what she had to say about a possible third party. You can watch the clip and decide for yourself.

Sarah Palin's warning to the Republican establishment coupled with her comments about RomneyCare yesterday are painting a picture, her vision. Palin gets it. She feels the angst and is trying to get the message to the Beltway Establishment/I don't think they are listening. Whatever one's opinion of her prospects in politics the fact remains she has a better grasp for the mood of the country than her critics.

Palin is right about the mood of the country and the future of the Republican Party. They can't blow the opportunity.If the G.O.P. loses this next election to Obama, then all bets are off regarding its future. Millions of Americans,conservatives,tea partiers etc were not enamored with Republican spending and won't tolerate a return.

In her comments she made reference to the rise of the Republican Party and the demise of the Whig Party. We shall see, but whether Sarah Palin runs for President is not nearly as relevant as her clear understanding of the stakes for the party of Lincoln if it betrays tried and true conservative principles in favor of power at all costs. The people of the country across the political and ideological spectrum have a sense of where things are headed and are all the more aware that the "in crowd" doesn't get it. The video is below.


US jobs figures cast fresh fears about global recovery

Fears rose for the strength of the global recovery, after jobs figures from the US capped off a week of alarming data.

The unemployment rate in the world's biggest economy climbed 0.1pc to 9.1 pc in May, while the number of jobs showed its smallest rise in eight months. Just 54,000 were added to payrolls for non-agricultural work - some 100,000 fewer than forecast.

The Dow Jones, the US benchmark share index, fell more than 140 points to just over 12,100 at one point as Wall Street digested the latest disappointment, while the dollar hit a record low against the Swiss franc, seen as a "safe haven" currency. However, the Dow recovered in late trading to 12,205.19 , down 43.36.

Investors had already seen a leading US manufacturing survey this week fall to its lowest level since September 2009 and a second credit rating agency threaten to put the country on review for a possible downgrade of its rating, unless politicians agree to raise its legal debt limit.

"The greater surprise is not the US slowdown was unexpected, but rather that it was so pervasive - reflected in housing, labour, manufacturing and consumer spending data," said Michael Woolfolk, managing director at BNY Mellon Global Markets.

Analysts have blamed the softness in the US economy on high energy prices, supply chain disruptions following the Japanese earthquake and tornadoes and flooding in some states.

Austan Goolsbee, US president Barack Obama's chief economist, told Bloomberg the jobs report marked a "little bump" in the road to recovery and warned against reading too much into one month's figures.

"Markets have been jittery for some weeks now amidst concerns about global growth, and the shortfalls seen in today's release are likely to exacerbate this - especially when looked at in conjunction with weak indicators elsewhere in the developed world," said Scott Corfe at the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR). "The West looks set for a difficult year."

In line with this warning, analysts said data also out on Friday for the massive British services sector suggested that the UK's growth may have slowed in the second quarter of this year.

Activity in the sector grew at its slowest pace in three months in May, according to the closely-watched Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index (PMI) which eased from 54.3 in April to 53.8 last month - the lowest reading since February and below forecasts of 54.1.

The slowdown was blamed on the sector's exposure to hard-pressed British consumers, who are seeing their incomes squeezed by higher transport and energy bills and are unwilling to finance their spending by increasing their debt.

With the full set of PMIs – for services, manufacturing and construction – now out for the first two months of the current quarter, the CEBR predicted the UK economy's growth rate from April to June will be lower than the 0.5pc seen in the previous quarter.

Economists again pushed back expectations of when interest rates will rise, judging that the recovery's fragility rules out a move any time soon.

However, the pound rose against a weak dollar, closing just over a quarter of a cent higher in London at $1.6362.

Why 2012 election looks a lot like 1860

Why 2012 election looks a lot like 1860
By Star Parker on June 4th, 2011

As the season of presidential politics 2012 unfolds, I’m struck by similarities between today and the tumultuous period in our history that led up to the election of Abraham Lincoln and then on to the Civil War.

So much so that I’m finding it a little eerie that this year we are observing the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War.

No, I am certainly not predicting, God forbid, that today’s divisions and tensions will lead to brother taking up arms against brother.

But profound differences divide us today, as was the case in the 1850′s.

The difference in presidential approval rates between Democrats and Republicans over the course of the Obama presidency and the last few years of the Bush presidency has been in the neighborhood of 70 points. This is the most polarized the nation has been in modern times.

This deep division is driven, as was the case in the 1850′s, by fundamental differences in world-view regarding what this country is about.

Then, of course, the question was can a country “conceived in liberty’, in Lincoln’s words, tolerate slavery.

Today the question is can a country “conceived in liberty” tolerate almost half its economy consumed by government, its citizens increasingly submitting to the dictates of bureaucrats, and wanton destruction of its unborn children.

We wrestle today, as they did then, with the basic question of what defines a free society.

It’s common to hear that “democracy” is synonymous with freedom. We also commonly hear that questions regarding economic growth are separate and apart from issues tied to morality — so called “social issues.”

But Stephen Douglas, who famously debated Abraham Lincoln in 1858, argued both these points. In championing the idea of “popular sovereignty” and the Kansas Nebraska Act, he argued that it made sense for new states to determine by popular vote whether they would permit slavery.

By so doing, argued Douglas, the question of slavery would submit to what he saw as the core American institution — democracy — and, by handling the issue in this fashion, slavery could be removed as an impediment to growth of the union.

Lincoln rejected submitting slavery to the vote, arguing that there are first and inviolable principles of right and wrong on which this nation stands and which cannot be separated from any issue, including considerations of growth and expansion.

The years of the 1850′s saw the demise of a major political party — the Whigs — and the birth of another — the Republican Party. And the Democratic Party, in the election of 1860, splintered into two.

In a Gallup poll of several weeks ago, 52 percent said that neither political party adequately represents the American people and that we need a third party. Of the 52 percent, 68 percent were Independents, 52 percent Republicans, and 33 percent Democrats.

So it’s not surprising that the field of Republicans emerging as possible presidential candidates is wide, diverse, and unconventional.

But another lesson to be learned from 1860 is that conventional wisdom of establishment pundits is not necessarily reliable.

These pundits will explain why the more unconventional stated and potential candidates in the Republican field — Cain, Palin, or Bachmann — don’t have a chance and why we should expect Romney, Pawlenty, or Huntsman.

But going into the Republican Convention in Chicago in 1860, the expected candidate to grab the nomination was former governor and Senator from New York, William H. Seward.

But emerging victorious on the third ballot at the convention was a gangly country lawyer, whose only previous experience in national office was one term in the US congress, to which he was elected fourteen years earlier.

A year or two earlier, no one, except Abraham Lincoln himself, would have expected that he would become president of the United States.

Star Parker is president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal & Education and author of the new book White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay. Prior to her involvement in social activism, Star Parker was a single welfare mother in Los Angeles, California. After receiving Christ, Star returned to college, received a BS degree in marketing and launched an urban Christian magazine

Here comes Obamacare's Big Brother: Accountable Care Organizations

The fundamental flaw with ACOs is the Big Brother approach of controlling costs by dictating how physicians may practice. Doctors may decide they'd rather be 'accountable' to their ACO paymasters rather than patients.

Sedalia, Colo.

Suppose President Obama declared he would tackle rising food prices by forcing everyone to eat at government-supervised restaurant chains. Small restaurants would be nudged to merge with national ones. Bureaucrats would monitor menu items and prices. Restaurants would record orders in a central database to ensure meals adhered to federal nutrition guidelines.

Most Americans would be outraged at such infringements of their basic freedoms. Yet this is precisely the approach the Obama administration is taking by pushing doctors and hospitals into government-supervised Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

An attempt to control costs

A product of last year's massive health-care reform law, ACOs represent the latest government attempt to control escalating health costs. Set to take effect next January, they will use financial carrots and sticks to "encourage" doctors and hospitals to merge into large Accountable Care groups, where they'll give care to Medicare patients according to government "cost effectiveness" guidelines. These ACOs would be rewarded for spending less than government budget targets (or penalized for exceeding them). Government would monitor ACO performance with mandatory electronic medical record systems.

ANOTHER VIEW: A must for health care reform: End fee-for-service medicine

ACO proponents argue that this would give doctors an incentive to deliver efficient "integrated" care, while avoiding unnecessary tests and treatments. However, it would also create a powerful incentive to skimp on necessary care. Suppose you saw your doctor for a severe headache and he said, "You don't need an MRI scan. Just take two aspirin and call me in the morning." Could you be sure he was giving you his best medical advice – without being biased by the recent memo from the ACO administrator warning that he might lose his "efficiency bonus" for ordering too many tests?

Even worse, patients could be "invisibly assigned" to ACOs for inclusion in their doctor's practice statistics without their knowledge or consent. Patients might naively trust their doctor to be working for their best medical interest, without realizing that he was simultaneously also trying to please an unseen ACO administrator demanding greater cost control. At best, ACOs create conflicts of interest for physicians. At worst, doctors may decide they'd rather be "accountable" to their ACO paymasters rather than patients.

The fundamental flaw with ACOs is the "Big Brother" approach of controlling costs by dictating how physicians may practice. Not only does this corrupt the doctor-patient relationship, it is unnecessary. Other care models have successfully controlled costs without compromising a physician's ethical obligation to practice in his patients' best interest.
A better model

For example, Dr. Brian Forrest of Apex, N.C., uses "direct pay" and price transparency to bypass the traditional insurance system. By eliminating insurance middlemen and other administrative overhead, he can charge patients less than their Medicare out-of-pocket expenses, yet spend more time with them. He has been so successful in managing patients' complex hypertension, diabetes, and cholesterol problems that in 2009 his small clinic was named one of 26 "Cardiovascular Centers of Excellence" in the United States.

Dr. Forrest's direct-pay model also means that he is accountable only to his patients, not third parties. Similar innovations allow the GeneralCare Medical Clinic in Fort Collins, Colo., and the One Medical Group in San Francisco to also offer quality care at affordable prices. They can do this only because doctors can freely structure their practices without government interference.

ALSO BY THIS WRITER: Universal healthcare and the waistline police

Instead of herding providers into ACOs, the government should allow doctors and hospitals to offer their services in a free market. In the least regulated sectors of medicine, such as LASIK eye surgery, patients can freely see whoever offers them the best value for their medical dollar. The result over time has been rising quality and falling costs. Freedom – not government – creates genuine "accountable care."

Paul Hsieh, MD, is cofounder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM).

The Palin pile-on

Media loathe spotlight they themselves place upon prominent figure

A book some years ago called The Dance of Anger was an exploration of dysfunctional intimate relationships.

The so-called "mainstream" media ought to read it, with Sarah Palin in mind.

It's comical to watch them stalk Palin and then blame her for it all. CNN's John King recently staked out the Gettysburg battlefield at night and complained that Palin wasn't there. MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell noted that a Palin appearance in a biker event proved she was "once again showing that she sure knows how to seize the political spotlight."

Irony of ironies, Mitchell, of course, chose to shine that spotlight on Palin herself. Oh, and by the way, she did it with the express intent to cast aspersions on Palin for being an uninvited "distraction" at the Rolling Thunder biker event. She found a biker to say so, too. Problem was, the biker organization confirms that Palin was, indeed, invited to participate.

Talk about going out of your way -- to the point of getting the whole story wrong -- to shine the spotlight on someone! Oh well, you know Andrea Mitchell's point, even if it's an unfair, inaccurate one.

CNN's Jessica Yellin oddly bemoaned the coverage of Palin's bus tour -- which her network featured just about every hour of the broadcast day for several days -- as "a media low point."

Some of us think the media's low point might have been when a network personality confessed to having a thrill run up his leg at the sound of a certain politician. But OK.

Just a thought: If it pains Mitchell and Yellin so much to give Palin the spotlight -- in Mitchell's case, for the express purpose of ginning up complaints about her that have no basis in truth -- why don't they stop? If John King doesn't like being a victim of Palin's schedule -- which he made sure viewers knew wasn't shared with him -- why doesn't he just stop?

Tuesday, when reports of out-of-control Memorial Day weekend behavior and a worse-than-expected double-dip in the housing market were making headlines, the top story at was Sarah Palin's "cat and mouse" game.

These people are positively obsessed with her.

Sorry, but it's certainly not mutual.

The media also questioned Palin's self-styled "founding document" bus trip, wondering out loud if the country really needs to revisit the Constitution, et al.

Um, well, yeah.

"It was a surreal situation," a New York Times blog moaned of the media's stalking in Gettysburg, "given the fact that Ms. Palin and her advisers had shown an almost complete contempt for the press corps and its usual rituals."

Gee, why would she show contempt for the media, especially when they've been so good to her -- and since that's really more of Barack Obama's modus operandi ? Remember how the administration has tried to bar certain reporters and de-legitimize whole news organizations and -- oh, wait. Those were "conservative" news media being mistreated. No big deal. Never mind.

But if any of our political luminaries have contempt for today's whiny, hypocritical, take-sides national media, they're in good company; most of the public does too: A 2009 Pew Research Center survey shows less than one-third of Americans believe news media get the facts straight; 63 percent said the media's stories are often inaccurate.

Maybe the media ought to read Dance of Anger with the public in mind, too.

Top 10 reasons Palin should run for president

1.) Our country has yet to elect a woman president — A national embarrassment! Almost every country in Europe and Latin America, along with India, Israel, New Zealand, Canada, China, Pakistan, Rwanda and many other countries have been led by a woman. The UN ranks the U.S. 75th for women’s representation in government (great news: we’re tied with Turkmenistan). It is time we move forward as a country and elect a woman president!

2.) Left to their own devices, neither party will run a woman — In 2008, Hillary Clinton was not only betrayed by the “Senate Boys Club,” but the DNC allowed overt sexism to hurt her chances (which Howard Dean acknowledged after she dropped out). The GOP establishment continually discourages Palin (and Bachmann) from running. For a woman of either party to become president, she’ll need to take a non-traditional, circuitous route. Since women are brought up to be “good girls,” few women have the moxie and bravery to buck the system. Palin does.

3.) A generation of girls will see politics as a possibility — Over the past decade, an alarming trend has developed on campus: college women are less likely to seek out positions of power. They’re avoiding not only politics but also corporate America. One Ivy League woman told me her take-away freshman year on career paths for women was: “social work or medicine — you know, women need to help people.”

4.) Women’s representation in leadership is moving backwards – From Congress to Fortune 500 management, the percentage of women in leadership roles is decreasing. We’re moving backwards! The best way to move forwards again is to get women who support other women into positions of power.

5.) Palin “walks the walk” on supporting and mentoring women — No one has done more to dismantle the GOP’s white-male construct than Palin. Her 2010 efforts helped deliver the country’s first Latina governor (Susana Martinez), first Indian-American woman governor (Nikki Haley) and many new and returning women candidates.

6.) Standing up to sexism – Palin has faced a steady barrage of sexism since 2008, including yesterday when a sign was posted on her bus referring to her as a media “whore.” In fact, women in power are frequently referred to as “sluts, bitches and whores.” Unambiguously, sexism hurts female candidates. That’s why it is so important for Palin to continue to stand up against and smack down the low-lives who perpetrate sexism and misogyny — by running despite them!

7.) Women’s voices (and faces) are evaporating – Increasingly, the decisions that determine the future of our country are made predominantly or exclusively by men. Although women make the bulk of consuming decisions, there is not a single woman in the federal budget negotiations or leading a major economic agency in the Obama administration. Geez, NASA couldn’t put one female astronaut on Shuttle Endeavor’s final mission?

8.) Teaching girls to take risks (and pick themselves up and try again) — Our culture pressures girls not to take risks. It teaches them that they must be perfect and not make mistakes. As a result, women are under-represented in high-paying jobs and top-level management positions. Palin running for office again would send women a powerful message to take risks, keep trying and never give up. It would be truly empowering.

9.) Like so many of us, Palin is a working mom — She understands the quandary facing today’s women, and how we are put in a no-win situation. She’s been a victim of gender stereotyping from the moment she stepped into the national spotlight: How dare she be a working mother?! (here, here and here). She’ll bring that understanding to office.

10.) Palin made her own way — She was not the beneficiary of her father and his cronies, her fraternity, or the boys’ network. She worked hard and did well based on her own abilities, and never forgot where she came from. This gives her an implicit understanding of the battles that the marginalized and underrepresented (including women and girls) must wage to advance.

Amy Siskind is the President and Co-Founder of The New Agenda, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls.

Palin turns reporters into shills

Of course The Donald would invite The Sarah up to his New York penthouse. She is, after all, taking her Clampett bus expedition to American shrines, and that's what Donald Trump considers himself.

Sarah Palin and Trump also share two interests: presidential politics and sham reality shows. Actually, that's just one.

"What do we have in common?" she responded after the get-together. "Our love for this country, a desire to see our economy put back on the right track."

They both also have a remarkable ability to turn reporters into shills who chase after them to snap up whatever crumbs they toss.

Palin can even keep a straight face when she tells her Fox News BFF Greta Van Susteren that her bus jaunt isn't "a publicity seeking tour." All the while she's getting disproportionate publicity from the very news people she disparages.

"I don't owe anything to the mainstream media," she gloats.

Actually, she might feel she owes us a measure of sweet revenge for making her squirm in the 2008 election, when she ran as the Republican vice presidential nominee. According to her disenchanted former top aide Frank Bailey in his new book "Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin," the former governor of Alaska is someone who would "routinely set out to destroy those who criticized her or her loved ones."

If that's what she wants to do to news coverage of political campaigns, more power to her. Her relentless attacks on the news media could result in some reforms that are long overdue.

It's high time that the usual candidate-journalist symbiosis is ripped apart. For too long some of us have been the lazy "Boys (and girls) on the Bus." Sarah Palin would be doing a great service if she continued to keep reporters off her bus and disrupted the inevitable Stockholm Syndrome that results from such extended captivity.

Less dependence on spoon feeding would allow us to look more aggressively past the superficiality of her compelling personality, get beyond her lowest common denominator bromides while we sift through her background, policies and, dare I say it, comprehension of the compelling issues of our times.

Right now, she's playing us a like a fiddle. Call it Reverse PR. By disdaining the media, she creates more media interest. Imagine the frustration a Tim Pawlenty must feel when at every stop he's met with questions about Palin.

In fact, you don't have to imagine it. On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" he complained: "We need to quit worrying about polls and bus tours and get onto the issue of how we're going to fix the country and get the country back on track."

The latest Gallup Poll of Republican and leaning Republican respondents show that newly announced old shoe candidate Mitt Romney is leading the GOP presidential pack at 17 percent. Unannounced Palin is breathing down his neck at 15 percent. Pawlenty is at 6 percent. By the way, that's the same poll that Trump led in April, before he folded his tent.

If Sarah Palin bails, we would still have Michele Bachmann waiting in the right wings, denying that she's simply Palin-lite. Newt Gingrich is also out there firing away, but Newt's not new and definitely not the extremist novelties that Palin and Bachmann are.

Palin has managed to stay fresh partly because she looks like she's not traveling the traditional path of presidential politics. Those of us who cover elections shouldn't get stuck in that rut, either. Instead, we should be keeping the players at arm's length while we carefully examine whether they're worthy participants.

We shouldn't care at all whether she or other candidates are vindictive, because we should not be beholden to anyone of them for anything. Including their bus schedule.

3 Ways Your Social Security Payments Are Already Being Cut

Policy experts have focused on alternative ways of eliminating Social Security's 75-year financing gap, but lost in the debate is the fact that even under current law Social Security will provide less retirement income relative to previous earnings than it does today. Combine the already legislated reductions with potential cuts to close the financing gap, and Social Security may no longer be the mainstay of the retirement system for many people.

In 2002, the frequently quoted replacement rate for the "medium earner" who earned about $42,000 in today's dollars and retired at age 65 was 41%; that is, Social Security benefits were equal to 41% of the individual's previous earnings. Under current law, three factors will reduce this replacement rate: 1) the extension of the full retirement age; 2) the increase in Medicare premiums; and 3) the taxation of Social Security benefits.

1. The Extension of the Full Retirement Age

Under current law, the full retirement age is scheduled to increase from 65 for those reaching 62 in 2000 to 67 for people reaching age 62 in 2022. This increase is equivalent to an across-the-board benefit cut. For those who continue to retire at age 65, this cut takes the form of lower monthly benefits; for those who extend their work lives, it takes the form of fewer years of benefits. Thus, as reported in the Social Security Trustees Report, the replacement rate for the medium earner will drop from 41% to 36% for people who retire at age 65 in 2030.

2. The Increase in Medicare Premiums

The rising cost of Medicare will also affect future replacement rates. For the medium earner, Medicare premiums, which are automatically deducted from Social Security benefits, are scheduled to increase from 5% of benefits for someone retiring in 2002 to 12% for someone retiring in 2030.

3. The Taxation of Social Security Benefits

The third factor that will reduce Social Security benefits is the extent to which they are taxed under the personal income tax. Under current law, individuals with less than $25,000 and married couples with less than $32,000 of "combined income" do not have to pay taxes on their Social Security benefits. (Combined income is adjusted gross income as reported on tax forms in addition to nontaxable interest income and half of your Social Security benefits.) Above those thresholds, recipients must pay taxes on either 50% or 85% of their benefits. In 2002, only 20% of people receiving Social Security had to pay taxes on their benefits, so median earners typically did not pay any taxes. But the thresholds are not indexed for growth in average wages or even for inflation so, by 2030, as real benefits and other income increases, many medium earners will pay tax on half of their benefits.

The bottom line is that the net Social Security replacement rate for the medium earner will decline from 39% in 2002 to 29% in 2030 under current law. Policymakers need to be aware of this fact when they consider how much of the 75-year financing gap should be closed by benefit cuts and how much by tax increases.

Obama Inspired Ship to Join IHH Gaza Flotilla

A ship flying US colors and carrying 34 passengers is set to joint this year's Gaza-bound, IHH-sponsored “Freedom Flotilla 2” in June, the New York Times reported.

So-called “peace activists” on the first IHH flotilla in May 2010 ambushed Israeli naval commandos who boarded the ship in accordance with international law, attempted to take them captive, and seriously injuring several. The commandos were forced to kill nine aggressors in order to rescue their imperiled comrades.

This year's American vessel, named The Audacity of Hope after US President Barack Obama’s best-selling book, is being organized by an American group called “US Boat to Gaza.”

Obama links to the Audacity do not end there, however. Prof. Rashid Khalidi, director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a friend from Obama’s time in Chicago, is among the supporters of an appeal launched by the group last week.

“We must raise at least $370,000 in the next month,” a statement on US Boat to Gaza’s Web site read indicating it doesn't have the money needed to sail yet.

“These funds will be used to purchase a boat large enough for 40-60 people, secure a crew, and cover the licensing and registering of the boat. Together we will contribute to the great effort to end the blockade of Gaza and the illegal occupation of Palestine.”

Khalidi, an outspoken critic of Israel, garnered attention in 2008 when his friendship with Obama became a point of controversy during the US presidential campaign.

Sen. John McCain, Obama’s opponent during the campaign, portrayed Khalidi as a Hamas sympathizer.

Khalidi’s involvement in organizing a US boat for the flotilla project has gained significant attention from conservative bloggers and media personalities in America.

While Khalidi will help raise money for the initiative, he said he does not plan to sail on the ship.

Khalidi wrote in an e-mail over the weekend that while he had not known that Obama’s book would be the inspiration for the ship’s name when he signed on as a sponsor, he does not view it as a potential embarrassment for Obama.

“If the name is a problem for the administration it can simply insist publicly that Israel lift the siege: end of problem, end of embarrassment,” Khalidi wrote in the e-mail .

“That of course would require it to respond to the systematic mendacity of those in Congress and elsewhere who support the siege, and indeed whatever else the Israeli government does,” Khalidi said.


Ship of fools

Flotilla of ‘aid’ boats into Gaza is a redundant gesture

The claim that the people of Gaza are starving is a lie.

Pure and simple, no need for padding or polite posturing.

In fact, you are more likely to see examples of obesity than malnutrition in the place, and those organizations and activists who tell you that children are dying of hunger are motivated by hatred, extremism and sheer lack of objectivity and integrity.

You can, however, visit parts of Israel where there is genuine poverty.

You can also find people in Israel, especially children, suffering from trauma-related illnesses in the towns close to the border with Gaza, where the allegedly starving inhabitants manage to find the money and strength to send thousands of missiles into Israel in the hope of smashing innocent Israelis to pieces.

They sometimes succeed, as when a teenage boy was killed recently. No Canadian “peace” groups have campaigned for him. Good Lord, most of them don’t even know his name!

Which brings us to the publicly funded crazies in this country who are joining a bag of assorted Islamic fanatics, obsessive Jew-haters, Marxist militants and liberal Christian fundamentalists intent on sailing a flotilla of boats into Gaza.

They claim the boats will contain food and supplies — if so, it is a redundant gesture and, if you doubt me, please Google some of the pictures of Gaza’s markets and stores. I have been there — I say again, the boast that the people of Gaza are starving is a lie.

These boats will contain food, but if they are anything like the last fleet they will also contain arms.

There is ample evidence of this, even admitted by some of the less hysterical on board. The major purpose of the flotilla, though, is to challenge the authority of the Jewish state and to delegitimize it. This is what anti-Zionists have been trying to do for years and they have scored victories within the hard left and elements of the labour movement.

Which is exactly why our postal union and various “aid” groups have supported this latest project. They are not sending boats to Syria, where a 13-year-old protester has just been knee-capped, castrated and then murdered by security forces, or to the Kurds who are so persecuted in Turkey, or to Christians in Pakistan who are regularly slaughtered. No, much more fun to attack the Jews, the Americans and the West.

The Israelis will doubtless intercept the boats and it may well be that some of the useful idiots and professional demonstrators on board will be hurt or even killed. So be it. It is regrettable, but the simple way to avoid such suffering is to get a real job, work with the homeless, raise a family, or something boring like that.

Last year a Christian woman not wearing Islamic covering had acid thrown in her face in Gaza.

We do not know her views on the flotilla, but we can confidently assume that she is not a fan of Islamic fundamentalism or of the Hamas government that recently praised Osama bin Laden as a holy warrior and a martyr.

Still, if we say the kids are starving long enough, the Jews are bound to be blamed.

Socialism's Army of Occupation

The Postal Service doesn't exist to deliver mail. 80 percent of its budget goes to the salaries and benefits of its 500,000+ union members.

The most pervasive myth of the welfare state is the altruism of the public sector. In this mythology, the private sector is run by a bunch of greedy businessmen who get rich by making money off people's misery. While the public sector is run by altruists who want nothing except to help those left behind by the private sector. Capitalists meet the Anti-Capitalists.

But actually it's the public sector that does a much better job of making money off people's misery. Some parts of the private sector do deliberately seek out ways to feed off poverty and keep their victims poor, most notably in the lending and financial services industry, but for the most part the private sector makes money off willing customers. How do you sell products and services to people who can't afford them? Unless you trap them into a cycle of obligation, you can't. And such cycles are finite. Eventually the people you're feeding off have nothing more to give you. That's not an ideal business model for corporations who generally look for ways to build life-long relationships. To make money selling products and services, you need repeat customers who can afford what you're offering.

For the private sector to succeed, it needs a prosperous customer base. The public sector doesn't. It just needs a collective 'Them' to pay the bills. The public sector makes its money from failure. Human suffering creates more demand for its services. The more people are out of work, can't pay their bills and need help-- the more the public sector grows.

The PayDay loan industry and Fannie Mae both preyed on minorities and the poor. But the latter's business model was completely unsustainable and its greed was completely irresponsible. Yet all this was concealed under the veneer of altruism.

The public sector altruism myth is just that, a myth. It's a destructive myth because of the basic conflict between its inner and outer goals.

The outer goal of a car company might be to sell more cars. Its inner goal is to sell enough cars that it can hire more workers and its executives can go to the Bahamas next month. There's no major conflict between these two goals. Not unless everyone there decides to make bad cars and misrepresent them, and then use the money to expand the assembly line and go to the Bahamas anyway. There are businesses that work that way, but they don't have much of a future. Sell people bad cars and you'll lose customers. And then the only way you can stay in business is if the public sector begins subsidizing your company. A bad company is either a rolling scam that depends on luring in gullible new customers or a public sector charity case.

The outer goal of a welfare program might be to help its clients. But its inner goal is to get more funding so as to add jobs and so whoever is at the top can go to the Bahamas next month for a conference on global poverty. If a client stops needing its services, then the program loses funding. The welfare state needs more 'clients' signing up for more services so that they can get more funding. The best clients are the neediest. A client who is upwardly mobile is a bad risk, because losing their name on the rolls means a net loss for the program which endangers its funding. People in a state of failure make the best clients. Welfare programs maintain outer goals of helping their clients be more independent, these conflict with their inner goals, which is to maintain their client lists.

The myth of public sector altruism rarely takes stock of the conflict between inner and outer goals. Even when teachers' and nurses' unions hold angry protests over benefits during an economic depression, this conflict rarely gets addressed. The myth that they are public servants who want nothing more than what's best for their charges lives on. But like everyone else they are human beings. Their interests are their own. Some are idealistic enough to make sacrifices or to want what is best for the people under their care, even when it's to their own detriment. But this is not the case for the majority in any field. Moments of heroism aside.

The public sector's inner goal is to bring in more funding and create more jobs. Not out of any altruistic impulse, but because it expands the power and wealth of its own administrators and bosses, whether in an agency or a union. A bigger agency has more sway in funding battles. Its incestuous relationships with unions and clients means that it is better positioned to demand more money and hold off any cuts. The agencies and unions boast their own private armies which bring in money. The money is given by politicians in exchange for support and used as currency to expand the ranks of that army. The army is there to support the politicians during elections. And to combat any attempts to cut the money coming into its coffers.

The Public Sector has become an army of occupation. The battles in Wisconsin, the crisis in California and the ObamaCare clashes with SEIU goons are a wake up call to what that army really is. It's not armed, but it doesn't need to be. It's the vanguard of an alternative economy that depends on extracting as much public money as possible. And that alternative economy is in a basic conflict with the people paying for it. When the economy is good, the army can skim off the cream without anyone noticing. But in a bad economy, a conflict explodes over limited resources.

The occupation means that huge amounts of money are being funneled into a public sector to provide services. But these services are not the goal of that sector.

The Postal Service doesn't exist to deliver mail. 80 percent of its budget goes to the salaries and benefits of its 500,000+ union members. It is a union employment plan subsidized by the public through a stream of pension and benefits bailouts. Its business model is based on delivering junk mail. Not on providing useful public services. The Postal Service does not exist so you can buy stamps and mail letters. It exists so some of the country's largest unions can retire at 55.

Public schools don't exist to teach kids, they exist to create jobs for teacher's unions, positions for administrators, contractors for school construction programs, and a thousand ways to get federal, state and local funding. That's why we spend more money on education than most of the world, with less to show for it. The spending is not pupil driven. The children are mostly irrelevant except as mannequins for new educational gimmicks.

Keeping students below average turns them into a 'profit center' for new solutions. If we actually had a successful education system, a huge chunk of the consultants and other feeder fish would be out of business. The educational bureaucracy does not profit from teaching kids. It profits from kids who are not learning. Who need special education, more programs and a crisis mode of new approaches. "Are our kids learning?" No?" "That's because we aren't spending enough money." "Why do we pay our schoolteachers less than NBA players?" "Why does the military get more money than the educational bureaucracy?"

It's all the same down the line. Hospitals don't add nurses to treat patients. They add nurses because union regulations require them to. Mortgages are approved that can't be paid off, because that way the agency can boast how many new minority home buyers it has created. And when foreclosure comes, then another agency takes over providing for them. Job training is given for jobs that don't exist. Then job creation programs for those jobs are funded-- and still the jobs don't exist. And then the cycle begins all over again. Nothing in this cynical trillion dollar farce has anything to do with helping people. If any people get helped, it's an unintentional side effect of a system that exists to feed on human misery..

The public sector thrives on anxiety. It feeds on failure. The public sector is in freefall, but the private sector is adding jobs like crazy.

The crazy quilt marriage of political machines, radical unions and liberal sociologists has created an unstoppable monster intent on devouring everything. Some inside the beast understand that this is the goal. They want private enterprise to vanish and the state to be the provider of all services. Most however don't realize this. They have just been taught to protect their privileges.

The public sector is ruthlessly competitive in its own way. Not on merit, but on position. Maintaining your position in the system is crucial. Doing your job well is absolutely meaningless. In some cases it's even dangerous. Staying in line is what counts. Having the right background and the right opinions. Inertia through seniority is the biggest signifier of success. And inter-departmental and inter-agency rivalries are routine. It's a Darwinian economic ecosystem and everyone is trying to grab funding for your programs. Exploiting a crisis, knowing the right political buzzwords and being able to summon a mob of clients or union members to agitate for your program are the keys to success.

Such a system does not encourage the long view. Nothing exists except your program, your crisis and your department. The ability to recite "Without funding for ____________ we all are doomed" on cue is the only thing that matters. Your real assets are your benefits. To protect them, you have to protect your programs. And lash out at anything that threatens funding for them, whether it's charter schools or the taxpayers running out of money. Reform is dangerous. Protect the status quo at all costs. Violent tunnel vision is the only kind the system breeds. The few visionaries are left wing radicals who think that everything would work if only they had complete control of the economy. And to make that happen, they have to destroy the conventional economy first.

Here's where we are now. Trapped funding the ever-expanding fiefdoms of the public sector, its office warrens, its ghettos and housing projects, its consultations and studies and research projects, its tidal flood of gimmicks and appropriations.

All the money being spent vanishes into the recesses of those fiefdoms. It doesn't remotely provide value per dollar spent, because most of that dollar doesn't go to providing services. It goes to the vast infrastructure of employees, office buildings, consultants and overseers of the entire mess. The services are a side project of a vast bureaucracy which is concerned with its own power and prestige.

The welfare state can't solve any of the problems that those liberal sociologists thought it could. But the political machines who authorized the spending never wanted the problems solved. It wanted them perpetuated. It wanted plantation voters with no hopes or dreams beyond the next state lottery ticket, who would vote for them to protect their benefits. And that's what they got. The unions can't see beyond their next paycheck. And don't want to. The money has to keep coming because it's theirs. The details don't matter. They often despise the members of the public they interact with. And why shouldn't they. Most of the people they interact with don't want to be where they are. It's a mutually hostile relationship. And that mutually hostile relationship is the paradigm for the larger one they have with the taxpayer.

As the economy declines and the public sector grows, an inevitable showdown is coming. A public sector that grows faster than the private sector is unsustainable. But that just means the public sector will start tossing their clients overboard faster. Classroom sizes will double along with education spending. Welfare rolls will be cut, and more workers will be hired to oversee them. Doctors will get paid less and patients will wait longer to see doctors, but there will be more nurses hired on. Death panels will come disguised in patient friendly language. There will be less of everything, but more public sector employees for all of it.

These measures will make the system seem more sustainable. But all they will really do is maintain the position of socialism's occupying army. And as the public sector begins cannibalizing the people it claims to be serving, we will have a choice between continuing down the same disastrous road as Europe or taking a stand to reclaim the economy from the public sector.