GLEANINGS FROM THE PASSING SCENE … (Politically Uncorrected)

Alfred_E__NeumannYour news snacks for the past week; select as pleases you:

The Obama Administration ordered that goods originating in Gaza or the West Bank cannot be labeled as made in Israel. (We say nothing made in Washington D.C. should be labeled as American …)

A woman’s body and 2 live monkeys were found in a Florida hotel room.

The California legislature is considering mandating that public restrooms cannot be labeled for single gender use. (Public restrooms about to become more interesting?)

Chicago Report: 80% of police dash cams lack audio as a result of officer tampering. (Uh huh …)

“California’s New Feudalism” details the unexpected direction that the Golden State is leading us all.

Uber drivers are planning a New York strike after a fare cut.

Hillary supporters endorsed Karl Marx for Vice President? (Probably public school grads , such might do the same for Trump.)

Poll: 91% of Americans aren’t worried about global warming. (Maybe they should worry about their money spent on it?)

A company is developing tech ink tattoos that will track and report your health and finances for up to a year. (If it work out, they’ll replace birth certificates, betcha.)

Chicago: 51 homicides in January.

An Iowa town’s meatpackers replaced Americans with foreign labor. (Thing to do these days ..)

A civilian pulled over a Miami cop for speeding. The police union was unhappy …

Wall Street is spending on Republicans and Democrats. Top Donors split between Cruz and Rubio. (No Trump?)

British Scientists have ok to modify human embryos. (People as lab rats?)

A genetic discrimination suit followed a child’s expulsion from school over his DNA. (Really!)

New tech  (TVs with microphones, cars connected to the internet) give government ample tracking of everybody.)

Thomas Sowell making simple, timely economic sense in few words. If such appeals to you.)

Fluorescent lighting is being dropped from GE’s line; new halogen incandescents and LED’s will remain. (Hmnn … What’ll we do about all our old fluorescent lighting fixtures?)

Repercussions of cheap oil. If you’re interested)

Homeland Security plans to cut border monitoring by 50%. Sanctuary cities top 300 with Dallas and Philadelphia added. (Y’all Come)

UBS stock is dropping as rich investors/depositors withdraw money from banks.

Japan, having switched to negative interest rates, canceled its pending 10 year bond sale. (Who buys bonds that require indefinite payments from you?)

The world‘s next decade, predicted by a leading research firm. (If you’re interested)

An employer must pay an employee $115,000 for refusing to allow him to use the ladies’ room after he said that he felt like a woman and came to work in female garb. (We have no suitable comment)

Raising kids, then and now: 4 Graphs that explain a lot! Men/(Women compared in graphs. (Shining light on our hanging society.)

U.S. Food Waste continues to be extraordinary. U.S. cars: 845/1,000 people, a waste of resources? . “Sell by” Dates produce waste too.

St. Cloud homeowners are finding catfish in their mailboxes …

The Border Patrol lets illegals free.  (The Prez swore to enforce some laws?)

Citibank economists said that the “world is trapped in an economic death spiral.” (Duh!)

U.S. exports declined in December for the first time since the 2008 recession.

U.S. employment reporting seems increasingly to refer to somewhere else, maybe Mars? Reaction by the Washington Examiner.

Carnival proceeds in Brazil, as celebrants shed their worries along with their clothes.

An 8 year old Florida boy  tried to rob a grocery cashier with his mothers’ loaded gun. (This calls for gun control – by mom!)

American citizenship was renounced by record numbers of taxpayers in 2015. (You guess why)

The E.U.’s highest court is deciding whether hyperlinks to copyrighted material are legal. Trying to shut down internet news sources that inform too many people …)

Ethanol ‘s failure to deliver promised improvements as a gasoline additive are being recognized? (We’ll wait for Congress to notice.)

The  natural gas leak flooding the Los Angeles Porter Ranch area and well beyond, reportedly carries radioactive gases at potentially lethal levels, though newsfolk haven’t shown interest. (Well, Democrats run the White House and Los Angeles, don’t they? Like disclosing classified info put General Petraeus in trouble, but not Hillary?)

Megabank J.P. Morgan Chase seems preparing to advance the governmental war on cash. (No cash, no spending the government can’t control.)

Report: “Huge speaking fees paid to Clintons are normal.” (You don’t have to treat speaking fees as political contributions, got it?)

Nude photo sharing at a middle school is under police investigation. (Schools teach sex and call police when kids show they’ve learned, right?)

And that is all, for now.

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Presidents, Pinocchios And Boy Scouts …

Obama Pinocchio“Honest politician” these days serves to illustrate the meaning of “oxynoron.”  Recalling that the ancient Greek Diogenes was said to carry a lantern around to aid his search for an honest man, we suppose that condition will not surprise. Noting further that the level of national wealth in the world appears to coincide with the degree of political corruption shouldn’t surprise either.

Jews and Christians consider lying sinful; such folk are shamed at being caught in such acts. And the United States was founded as a Christian country, if one with a nondenominational government. And its wealth has been manifest. Generations of its children were raised with the story of a young George Washington and his cherry tree.  Our first President was honored for his probity.

Our current President Obama, not so much. “You can keep your doctor” has become nearly as well known as the cherry tree, but with an opposite meaning. That seems a significant difference in the qualities demonstrated by an American chief executive. But considering that America is now post Christian, the difference seems unsurprising enough.

It also seems indicative: The gaggle of wanna-be’s now chasing the Presidency for themselves are all regularly accused of lying, by each other as well as observers. The job George Washingtonof “fact checker” has sprung up among the media and on the internet, a place or person who functions only to confirm or deny the assertions of candidates. The need is so great that it has resulted in job creation.

The flexibility of the truth is not limited to political candidates; media news sources are replete with similar displays. And a philosophy of moral relativism has sprung up to ‘justify’ the practice. If you abandon your original Christian morality, you must expect to see its accompanying probity, a result of that morality, vanishing too.

One of the characteristics of such changes is a sort of compartmentalization; we mostly realize that the politicians who run government are dishonest, but we stop at that point, going forward with a retained belief in the honesty of say, government statistics and reports. We accept politically sensitive unemployment, inflation and cost of living data as honest, when in fact, they no longer resemble their original products.

Shoppers and those who pay bills see the ever rising costs of familiar items without thinking too much about it, so long as the rise in prices is slow enough. The increasing insufficiency of their earnings is periodically offset by raises in the minimum wage, pushing up the wage level. (The pattern that has created Chinese, Indian and other competitors for U.S. jobs in the newly world wide economy.) We have been frogs in a slowly heating cookpot …

Once, we revered the truth and we revered human life. Now, neither has much value unless it is our own, and then the value is more perceived by us than by others. That has been the normal human condition outside of Judeo-Christian times and places; we are returning to the historic norm. Another part of that norm is mass poverty and little individual freedom; those too are obvious on the horizon, if one looks.

The curse of the liar is of course, that he can trust no one else. And when that becomes general in a society, that society becomes dysfunctional and thereby, impoverished. Such are the Hope and Change toward which our present leaders, that we have selected, are conducting us.  Or so it seems to us. If we are missing something, feel free to point to it. We recall a time when Boy Scouts were respected, not a joke. Perhaps we are past our “sell by” date?



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Democracy, Government, Food and a Wine Theory …

Food Waste Chipotle restaurants sickened a number of people, giving them e.coli infections or more colloquially, food poisoning. The delighted media provided exemplary reports, assuring that the literate world knew of this. Never mind that this occurs regularly everywhere that there are restaurants. Chipotle is a newish, large, visible chain: that is news.

We stopped to think about this a bit. Restaurants are heavily regulated and regularly inspected by governments. Why? That costs taxpayers a bundle. The theory is, that the regulation will prevent what just occurred at Chipotle. To protect restaurant customers. What other reason could there be?

Say for a moment that there was no government regulation of restaurants; would the numbers of food poisoning cases skyrocket? Given today’s news and communications, we doubt that. We rather expect that restaurants that poisoned many customers would swiftly vanish. And any leftovers would pay through the nose in court.

If that is correct, the huge tax burden now paid to regulate restaurants is mostly wasted. Of course, we may be missing something that will occur to you; you are welcome to point such things out in helpful comments. We are opinionated, not authoritative. But we hasten to note that restaurant inspection is subject to corruption.  That should be added to any governmental inefficiency.

There is more waste in the food service industry than regulation costs, however. Restaurant food waste is astronomical. Again, much of it is a result of government regulations and it is necessarily included in menu prices.

Gong beyond restaurants, U.S. Food Waste generally is massive; never mind all the hungry folk we hear about from politicians in search of more of our declining funds. Once more, much of this is a result of government regulation; “Sell by” Dates being an indicator.

Our democratic system seems to have a built-in problem: Elected politicians have to promise things that benefit donors and voters to be elected. Their opponents tend to outpromis each other. Come next election, they must promise still more. It is endless.

After election, they must “do something” to show the voters at the next election. And that too, is endless. As endless as the lineup of prospective donors requesting favors. So government does something more every cycle, leading ultimately toward total government overreach, which too often represents excess costs and galloping inefficiency as bureaucracy becomes stifling. Does this seem recognizable?

Until the whole thing becomes so top heavy that it falls over and the cycle starts again or a plainly totalitarian state assume control, not having to worry about keeping promises.

Well, that’s how it seems to us; perhaps we should have had another glass of wine with our dinner?

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Our Stake In The War On Cash …

NIRPThree events in 1913 set the U.S. irrevocably on the path to our present. All three were amendments that significantly weakened the Founders’ version of the U.S. Constitution in the direction that we were assured, was “Progress.” In fact, according to our Founders’ views, they were, every one, regress.

The Founders wanted a weak national government; they limited its ability to extract large sums from citizens for that reason. Their Constitution specifically forbade indirect taxes. But in 1913, we removed that tether in favor of allowing a national income tax.

The Founders wanted strong states and a weak central government; the states were closer to the people. In 1913, we amended the Constitution to replace state selection of U.S. Senators with popular election, reducing influence of state governments.

Finally, 1913 was the year in which the Federal Reserve was created, providing a cartel of bankers and the Federal government total control over the U.S. finances. A perfect trifectas for the “Progressive” folk who wanted central government control of America.

Fast forward to: 1. The “Internet of Finance” that puts financial transactions onto the internet, converting what once needed cash or checks into electrons open to anyone with the needed facilities or authority. Once the NSA began snooping into such data, government knew all with respect to finance and banking. Privacy became a historical idea.

2. Governments dumped the old gold standard because it prevented them from controlling the value of currency; that was set by a free market that government was helpless to manage. So the free exchange of paper money for gold was abolished. Paper was worth whatever government decided, or go to jail. Much better, if you were the government.

Still, people  like those in today’s Venezuela could use cash to get around government imposed f currency values via a black market when the government’s values were too far from reality. So now, 3. Governments are trying to abolish cash.  Scandinavia is almost there. Consider: No cash, no black markets, every transaction is available to be taxed or prevented and all transactions are an open book to the government. Great, right? If you’re the government, anyway.

It’s noticeable that central bands are moving toward negative interest rates. (NIRP). That means, you pay others to take your money. Yes, it sounds insane, but it is occurring in Europe, Japan and elsewhere. Banks are charging for savings accounts instead of paying interest on them. See, governments want you to spend your money, not save it. They say it speeds up the economy (Hokum) and there is no doubt that it gives governments control of your money and ultimately, of you. If for example, you can’t save, you will depend upon government to retire, right?

A Video: “Central Banks new world of negative interest rates and investors seeking cash” provides a scenario of this current scene. In the U.S, the Federal Reserve is asking banks for  reactions toward negative rates, suggesting that it may move in that direction, reversing its present trend of increasing rates.

You may wish to give some thought toward whether you want total dependence upon government. Once you have no cash and money loses value the longer you hold it, that’s about all that will remain after you stop earning. If history is any indicator, once you are in such a position, government no longer sees any need to be generous, either.

It’s the sort of progress one should expect from political Progressives., after all.


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How Many Drowning Swimmers Can You Save Before You Are Pulled Under?

InvasionWe are not into conspiracy theories; our tinfoil hat sits firmly. We are more devotees of statistics. For example, when scads of Central American juveniles suddenly journey en masse’ through the length of Mexico to illegally invade the United States, we note the unlikilihood of such mass behavior. When scads of Moslem Middle Eastern refugees from civil war decide to leave or bypass previously used U.N. refugee camps in Turkey and other places on the periphery, we take note.

We note for one thing, that Central American newspapers and media held out the open U.S. borders and available government welfare. We cannot say that the following hordes streaming north were a result of that, but nor can we rule it out. We do assume that such campaigns aren’t cheap, even in Central America. We do not know why hordes of Middle Easterners, Afghans and other Moslems bypassed or left the relatively local refugee facilities for Europe after years of seeking the U,N. camps. We can read a bit of Spanish in Central American newspapers; we have zero Arabic. But we can see parallels.

We suppose that money is being spent to push these refugee peoples into Western countries in large numbers. We have read that U.S. government advertising has been employed; that seems questionable. But it is unarguable that the masses have been moving into the U.S. and Europe. Also that these masses are largely unequipped to make their own ways in their destinations.

They are fleeing poor, restricted and unsustainable societies. But as humans do, they bring those societies with them and expect to live in their new surroundings much as they did at home, a home that they had to flee. Irrational, no doubt, but very human. It is why they cluster together in their new places.

The politicians presently supporting these efforts are satisfying the needs of their political donors fort pliable voters and cheap labor; they do not consider the ultimate effect upon their present societies. When the bills arrive to be paid, someone else will be in charge.

We hear of the desperate need of these innocent refugees from violence. That is a scam. Some are refugees indeed; many are not, but rather economic migrants seeking a better life. What is not stated is, that life must come from the resources of folk whose once higher living standards are declining, folk who already have too many in need at home.

The other part of this is the increasing clash between the social mores of the locals and the new arrivals. Neither group is anxious to adopt the patterns of the other. In the long run, taking large numbers into your country resembles taking a smaller number into your house. How many can you afford and tolerate before your family is destroyed? Particularly when the intruders cling to a hostile behavior system. That reality is the last concern that politicians, themselves insulated from what they bring about, wish to consider.

Refugees — real ones — are pitiful. And to a degree, usually innocent. So too are chickens and lambs but we eat them. Illegal migrants only migrate because they have failed at home.  They only seek the West because the West has succeeded. That success has come at great cost. How can anyone honestly maintain that Americans and Europeans owe the rest of the world a free ride at the expense of their own decline?

An honest politician, the one that Diogenes famously failed to find, will want to measure how many can be rescued without destroying the rescuers. That satisfies both reality and charity. Somehow, no current Presidential candidate seems to have thought of it …


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Overspending Figure Skaters And Congressfolk Compared

Nicole Bobek


National  governments and the sport of figure skating share management by elected politicians; that provides some interesting comparisons. Enlightening, even.

Let us consider for a moment: The United States is spending much more than it collects from its citizens. It does so by borrowing the money to fund its deficits. That is the national debt, presently more than $57,000 for every living citizen. That is occurring because the social welfare program presently consumes much more than the available U.S. government cash flow. Reducing this deficit will require reductions in spending for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare to mention just a few. No present politician is willing to attempt that, so the deficits persist and the debt only grows.  At least, until it is so monstrous that none will lend anymore.

The International Skating Union that holds international events and the United States Figure Skating Association that governs U.S. events are also spending more than they receive in income, for similar reasons. But rather than borrowing , these organizations are diminishing substantial savings accumulated in past years when large TV audiences provided them significantly more income than they currently enjoy. The spending in this case is necessary to continue a level of operations that can not be funded by the now reduced income from a much shrunken TV audience. But like the U.S. government, the elected politicians are afraid to reduce operations because they use them to generate the votes they require to maintain office.

Thus the growth of the U.S. national debt and the shrinkage of figure skating endowments reflect the same phenomenon. They will end the same way, in insolvency. The math is simple and inarguable and the program can continue only because everyone is presently having a good time and can hope that the bill collector will hold off until some future sucker is holding the empty bag. Channeling King Louis XIV: “Apres moi, le deluge.”

We find this interesting because it so perfectly expresses the reasoning of the 18th Century Liberals whose thinking produced the United States. They knew that elected politicians would behave in this way, given the chance. It’s so very human, right? So they set up a small, weak, underfunded national government that simply lacked the resources to produce this sort of trouble. At the time, there were some who wanted a more powerful government and such interests have remained, working ever since to enlarge government power and scope. That “Progressive Movement” was to be held at bay by the creation of the Constitution. Well, that was what it was for. We can only guess how many of the Founders believed that it would work for long. We know that Benjamin Franklin had doubts.

Actually, the Founders’ Constitutional protections endured from September, 1787 when the document was adopted and signed, until 1803, when in Marbury vs. Madison, the Supreme Court awarded itself the power to decide what the written document intended. That shifted Constitutional protections from a piece of paper to the handful of Supreme Justices whose decisions reflect their politics.  From that view, the American Constitution fulfilled its makers’ desires for six years.

That failure, it seems to us, was inevitable; the past cannot control  the future for long. Human nature does not allow that. And so far, human nature has not changed, Which is the explanation for the impending insolvency of the International Skating Union, the United States Figure Skating Association and the United States Government, Plus much of the rest of the world, since we now live in a world wide community, financially.

People can see the dwindling of an endowment as spending consumes it. It matches their own experience. The growth of sovereign debt is often less obvious. Just consider this: What happens if all the holders of U.S. Treasury bonds were told that their holdings were worthless as of that morning? Individuals, banks, businesses would lose the money invested in those bonds. What would result? Or perhaps the government would repay say, half the money. Or it might say that all would be repaid, but not until ten more years.

Remember that any money that the government uses to repay bonds and of course, interest, has to first come from taxpayers when it cannot be borrowed.  If the government just defaults on the payment, we’re back to all the bondholders being stiffed, leaving a lot of them broke. Yes, including some of the banks.

So, it takes longer for a government than for a sports body to go bust, but it’s no better and no less inevitable when spending runs amuck. As in democrtic organizations, it seems sooner or later, often to do. After reading recently that 68% of Americans destroy their credit before age 30,we can understand, sort of.



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Alfred_E__NeumannIt’s been another week; here we go again:

Norway’s largest bank has demanded elimination of cash. (Financial transactions under government control and taxation.) The Bank of Japan joined European financial thinking by imposing negative interest rates.  Will the U.S. follow? (Everyone’s money visible to the NSA? Congress must be drooling!)

68% of Americans ruin their credit rating before age 30. (100% of Congressfolk can do it for an entire country.) (Another triumph of public education …)

Type 1 diabetes was halted by a new treatment, leading to hopes for a cure. (No daily injections?)

A woman beat her husband for declining sex. (Maybe he had a headache …)

In –vitro fertilization for older women is under test in the U.K. (Is grandma up to raising them?)

Brazils’ finances are so overwhelmed that Carnival has been canceled. (They’re going to put on the Olympics, right?)

The GOP-led Congress  is writing the President a blank check for war powers … (We don’t need no damn Constitution anyway, right?)

Zikavirus continues to expand in Brazil; it is expected to infect the Americas. Presently untreatable, Zika virus has also been conformed in an Arkansas resident. The mosquito borne new disease is expected to spread through the Americas. (God, or somebody, has a sense of humor)

Is Alzheimer’s transmittable?  Evidence suggests, yes. (Sort of)

An IoT search engine lets users spy over strangers’ webcams. (Sounds great for peeping Toms, exhibitionists … and governments.)

A tidal wave of corporate migrants are emigrating toward lower tax countries. (President Coolidge is passe’; the business of America is no longer business, right?)

OPEC’s boss is pleading for Russia and others to work out a production cut so that oil prices rise. Russia agreed to talk. (Production cuts to bring the price up?) (And restore fracking?)

 California’s dream, a bankroll-busting high speed rail system from LA to San Francisco, is stalling. (Reality  Sucks!)

A British engineers’ group warned of impending power crisis as green policies shut coal fired electricity sources, forcing increased importation of costly power. (Duh!)

A U.S. airbase has been launched in Syria.  (Why not, everybody’s doing it!) (Guess who’s paying?)

$681 million mystery money found in the Malaysian Prime Ministers’ possession turned out to be a ‘personal donation’ by the Saudis.  (Hmn … wonder how much a Putin or Obama costs?)

A Benghazi-related email has pointed to the White House as responsible for the inadequate protection of the Ambassador and three others in the e Islamist attack. (When a politician “has your back” it takes on a whole new meaning!)

Maybe movie Oscars should be eliminated? (Racial quotas for movies and actors the Academy’s Next Big Thing?)

Students nationwide will attend a four day ‘White Privilege” bash. (Ain’t public education great?)

The Israeli electrical grid was cyberattacked massively, but the Israelis were prepared so no significant damage was done. (Well, the rockets and tunnels haven’t worked …)

A Schizophrenia breakthrough has elicited understanding of its cause and may lead to effective treatments.

In Turkey, prosecutors are seeking life terms for anti-Erdogan (Turkey’s Islamist President) journalists. (Obama can only envy …)

Hillary has lost Hollywood’s power women? (Who’s gonna be the ‘unknown Democrat to step up to replace her?) (Sit down, Biden …)

U.S, Britain and France are preparing military action in Libya as ISIS moves on Libyan oil. (If they don’t someone else will we suppose, but it’s unaffordable.)

The U.N. chief blasted Israel’s “stifling occupation” of Palestinians. (Never mind the Palestinians stabbing and rocketing?)

A Detroit homeless man accepts credit card donations on his cellphone. He’ll be ready when cash is banned.)

Mexican cops have again appeared at the center of a group disappearance, this time of 5 young people.

Politicians both right and left are seeing voter revolt. Political  parties may be dying out? (Well, Democrats and Republicans are now funded by the same donors to a large extent. So we know who they’re working for, and it isn’t us.)

Drug shortages, usually traceable to government intervention, are forcing rationing onto U.S. medical practice, normally without notice to patients. (SNAFU comes to mind. If that’s unfamiliar, ask an old guy.)

A study: College students spend 20% of their class time using cell phones. (With that work ethic, no wonder grads can’t repay their student loans.)

Dock workers closed the ports of New York and New Jersey without notice in a wildcat strike.  (The  economy isn’t slow enough?)

A Danish girl who stopped a rapist with pepper spray faces a fine for using a banned defense.

A vulture has been arrested in Lebanon on suspicion of spying for Israel.

A fully dressed man was arrested after forcing his girlfriend to walk a New York street naked.

Ain’t love grand? With that, we sign off …

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