January 28, “Fairness” – Government Bodyguard Will Eventually Become Master

SOPA and PIPA: Protection of Intellectual Property vs. Freedom of Speech on the Internet Frontier

Key Questions:

1) At the present moment, many believe that trust and honesty are questionable. Is freedom on the internet more important than the theft of intellectual or creative property?

2) Does anyone other than the government have the power to determine what is and is not theft of intellectual property?

3) If the internet stays free and unmonitored, how do companies that display intellectual property adapt to theft and hijacking from people who want to take advantage of what they have on display?

Key Quotes:

The New York Times, Sunday, January 22nd, Amy Chozick- “A Clash of Media Worlds (and Generations)”

“It‘s ultimately about disruptive and disintermediating technologies versus incumbent industry,” said Michael H. Rubin, a lawyer who has represented several large Internet companies in copyright cases.

“Incumbent industries…chose ‘litigation and legislation’ over innovation.”

“David Bank, an equity research analyst at RBC Capital Markets says, ‘They can live with the guys on the subway selling bootlegged DVDs,…What they can’t live with is a giant player that arguably could cause market forces that lead to value destruction.”

 

Former Obama Staffer Injects Economic Common Sense Into Health Care Debate

Key Questions:

1) How strong is the desire for those who receive revenue from the government in the form of health care services, welfare, or Food Stamps to rise above their present state or condition, and no longer require it?

2) Is there a free market solution which assures that an overwhelming majority of Americans can attain health insurance at drastically lower rates than they do at present?

3) What incentive is there for Americans to earn higher wages if they know that they will end up covering at least some the costs of healthcare and other government programs that those earning lower wages either can not, or are promised by the government not to pay? How likely, and to what extent will people take advantage of the tax code, and find ways to remain in a tax bracket which pays for less of the costs of government programs?

Key Quotes:

The New York Times, Sunday, January 22nd, Ezekiel J. Emanuel- “What We Give Up for Health Care”

“The more we spend on health care, the less we spend on things we value.”

“Last year, Medicaid spending was estimated to account for nearly a quarter of total state spending -the largest portion of their budgets- and it’s getting only more expensive.”

“The corresponding rise in the national debt will weaken America and financially diminish our voice on the global stage, allowing other countries less friendly to human rights and democracy to become more powerful.”

 

 

 

 

Saturday January 21, World Under Current is Brewing, and South Carolina Voters Attend Historic Primary

Keystone Pipeline:

Obama Slapping Down The Cash Cow Of Domestic Energy Production vs. Guaranteeing Key Alliances Regardless of The Financial Pinch-

Opinion Editorial Written By Terence Rosenthal

Key Questions:

1) Obama‘s decision regarding the Keystone Pipeline baffles many people who are members of unions as well as the private sector. Is it possible that he is doing this to protect key potential alliances, like Brazil?

1) Does President Obama believe that upsetting the balance in the co-dependant relationship of Opec and the West surpasses the benefits of American energy independence?

WASHINGTON | Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:40pm EST

(Reuters) – The Obama administration on Wednesday rejected the Keystone crude oil pipeline project, a decision welcomed by environmental groups but blasted by the domestic energy industry. “This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people,” Obama said in a statement.

What is ironic about this statement is the fact that Obama cites that it is for “America’s protection” that he is not approving the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. Speaker of the House, John Boehner’s statement in anticipation of the decision was, “This is not good for our country. The president wants to put this off until it’s convenient for him to make a decision. That means after the next election. The fact is the American people are asking the question right now, ‘Where are the jobs?’”

Bloomberg reports that the pipeline, which would carry 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Canada’s Alberta oil sands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico will create jobs and help the nation become more energy independent. With America still at a reported 8.5% unemployment rate (before those who have given up applying for employment), this pipeline will provide Americans with much-needed, high-paying jobs, as well as tax revenue. Transcanada has warned  United States that if it  continues to waver on the subject, it will reroute the pipeline to the West Coast of Canada to sell the transported oil to China.

In regards to the Keystone Pipeline, American engineers and workers from the private and public sectors need to ask themselves how Obama is “protecting” American interests. By agreeing to proceed with the Keystone Pipeline while citing environmental provisions, President Obama could have shown strength and decisiveness regarding American Energy Independence. Instead, he chose to sit on his hands and hope that the project will be re-introduced after the 2012 elections.

The fact is, Americans can not afford to have a president that sits on his hands. The average price of gasoline this year is the most it has ever been in the history of the United States. It has been confirmed by IAEA that Iran, one of the major players in Opec, has violated U.N. regulations regarding enrichment of uranium. And it is obvious, given the military operations in the Straight of Hormuz, that the world is entering a period of instability regarding the price of oil.

Peace, Love and Sanctions vs. Peace Through Show Of Strength

Key Questions:

1) Is the Obama administration, and the next administration to follow going to avoid the threats which a nuclear Iran poses?

2) Is Iran just another banana republic gone wild, or do Western nations including Israel need to recognize how world fuels, and cities around the world trying to deal with Sharia Law will be affected by the most rogue Muslim nation attaining nukes?

3) As demonstrated below, Iranian backed Hezbollah is creating terror in the South-East Asian city of Bangkok. It is known that Iran funds the Taliban, Hamas, and Al Quaeda, as well as Hezbollah. It is obvious when one studies all of the places that Iranian backed terrorist groups have attacked, that their strategy for inflicting terror expands far beyond Israel and the United States? At a world level, is Iran worthy of being labeled a rogue regime that deserves to be attacked?

4) The United States has already spent valuable time and resources extending patient guidance to Pakistan, one of the most dangerous, unpredictable nations with nuclear weapons in the world. What will happen if Iran attains nukes, and then Saudi Arabia becomes nuclear with the help of Pakistan out of self-defense?

Key Quotes:

The Wall Street Journal, Saturday January 14th, Adam Entous, Julian E. Barnes, and Jay Solomon – “U.S. Warns Israel on Strike” “Officials Lobby Against Attack on Iran as Military Leaders Bolster Defenses”

“The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons.”

“Israel believes that heightened sanctions combined with a credible military threat may dissuade the Iranian regime from developing military nuclear capabilities,” stated Michael Oren.

The Wall Street Journal, Saturday January 14th, James Hookway – “Thai Police Probe Hezbollah Plot ”

“Police in Bangkok were questioning a Lebanese man with alleged links to Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah on Friday after the after the U.S. warning was issued.”

Euro Growing pains vs. Unaffordable Government driving Globalization of Currency

Key Questions:

1) This past week nine European countries had their credit ratings downgraded. Many accounts linked to American credit and debt are tied to the European Union. How likely will the United States be able to insulate its economy from the economic credit woes of Europe?

2) The United States has been downgraded by the S&P. Various states in America have similar credit struggles to Greece and Portugal. With all of the different pitfalls of credit occurring around the world, will global organizations try to establish one set of rules regarding currency for the world? If so, would it advantageous for America to have to adjust its own laws to fit under one global set of laws regarding currency?

3) If there ever was one set of laws applied to currency around the world, who or how would people be entrusted in guiding those laws? 

Key Quotes:

New York Times, Sunday January 15th, Jack Ewing – “European Leaders Use Debt Downgrades To Argue for Austerity, and for Simulus”

“Germany‘s chancellor, Angela Merkel, said Saturday that the downgrade by Standard and Poor’s meant the euro area must speed up measures to create a more centralized currency union.”

“The drifting off course of our public finances in the last 30 years is a major handicap for growth and employment, as well as for our national sovereignty,” stated French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

 

 

 

 

Saturday January 14th- Military, Fuels, and Unemployment Numbers

 

U.S. Military: Leaner and Meaner vs. Leading From a Point of Weakness

Key Questions:

1) There is no doubt that the Federal Government is going to have to cut spending. The question is, how much should be cut from the United States Military budget? If we reduce the military down to a size where the United States can not handle operating in two wars simultaneously, how likely is it for other countries that are against American interests to try to force us into conflict by holding key economic resources that are important to America hostage?

2) In the Constitution, it is clearly stated that one of the major functions of the U.S. Government is to protect its citizens via the Armed Forces. When conducting what should be cut from the U.S. budget, should the Military be given special consideration as a department that is cut less severely than other government departments?

Key Quotes:

The Wall Street Journal, Friday January 6th, Julain E. Barnes, Nathan Hodge – “Military Faces Historic Shift”- “Obama Plan Would slash Army, Limit Ability to Endure Long-Term Conflicts”

“Under the proposal, the Army would face a 14% reduction in troops- leaving it with too few to conduct two grueling ground wars at once… the plan envisions shrinking military spending by $487 billion over 10 years, a cut of about 8% in coming years, according to Pentagon figures.”

“I understand the need for reductions in defense spending, but we must also address the broader cultural problem plaguing our defense establishment: the waste, inefficiency and ineffective programs.” (Senator John McCain)

“The Army, currently at 570,000, likely will shrink to about 490,000.”

The New York Times, Friday January 6th, New York Times Editorial – “Mr. Obama‘s new strategy reflects a changing world, and the country’s fiscal problems”

“Congress has already mandated nearly $500 billion cuts in Pentagon spending over the next decade, and this strategy takes those into consideration.”

“Still, the United States must be ready to face multiple contingencies. Our own chilling list includes a collapsing Pakistan, another state hijacked by Al Quaeda, Iran bliocking oil shipments as it pursues its nuclear ambitions or a weak or unbalanced North Korean leader making a suicidal run across the South Korean border.”

A Cleaner, Brighter Future vs. Massive Re-tooling Costs, Unemployed American Workers, and Manufacturing and Fuels Leaving the United States 

Key Questions:

1) There have been times in the last hundred years where the Earth has naturally cooled or warmed by a few degrees. Should America pattern its decision on energy choices based on climate? How likely is it that major economies like China, India, and Russia will abide by United Nations industrial regulations?

2) America has possibly the largest supply of both Coal, and Natural Gas in the world. Should we become less dependent on other countries fuels, and take advantage of our own natural resources, or should we concentrate more on making our environment more pristine while depending on other countries for their energy supplies? What can America do to have its cake and eat it too? In other words, how can America take advantage of its massive supplies of natural gas and coal while keeping the environment pristine?

Key Quotes:

The New York Times, Friday January 6th, Stephanie Clifford – “A Coal-Fired Plant That Is Eager for U.S. Rules ”

“Constellation Energy… Completed an $885 million installation that has vastly reduced emissions from two giant coal-burning units at its Brandon Shores plant here, within view of the city’s downtown office towers.”

 

“But last Friday, a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a stay of the regulations, ceding to challenges made by several coal burning utilities, the State of Texas National Mining Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. They argued that the deadline was draconian, among other objections.”

“…the state’s nurse’s association commissioned a study that found that in 2006, emissions from the plants caused 700 deaths per year nationwide, including 100 in Maryland.”

“But with a variety of rule’s in the works, like an E.P.A. rule on mercury emissions announced last month, three units built in the 1950s at the company’s Tanners Creek plant in Lawrenceburg, Ind., will close within two years, he noted. If not for the new rules, they would have run until the end of the decade, he said.”

The New York Times, Friday January 6th, Floyd Harris – “Making More Things In the U.S.A. ”

“…the United States remains a manufacturing power, albeit one that has been forced to specialize in higher-value items because its labor costs are far above those in Asia.”

“The United States is particularly strong in machinery, chemicals, and transportation equipment…”

U.S. Employment: A Steady Stream of Improvement vs. Seasonal Spinning of Numbers Reflecting an Economy On The Brink of Double-Dip Recession 

Key Questions:

1) It is great to hear that American unemployment is the lowest its been since President Obama took office. The question is, how real are the unemployment numbers? How much of a factor, and what is the percentage of people who have given up looking for work, or who have decided upon early retirement? What was the percentage of employment of people who found temporary work during the holidays, who will be laid off with the closing of the holiday season?

2) Is quality of life, and the value of the U.S. Dollar, and the Housing sector improving with the recent good news regarding unemployment?

Key Quotes:

Financial Times, Saturday January 7th, Robin Harding, Shannon Bond, Alice Ross – “US jobs growth eases recession fears”

“Jobs growth was strong enough to drive the headline unemployment rate down from 8.7 percent to 8.5 percent, the lowest since February 2009, shortly after Mr. Obama was inaugurated.”

“Economists said that the December payroll numbers were strong but that job creation was still too slow to heal the woes of the US labor market and bring about a sustainable fall in unemployment.”

“The numbers were good, the trend is in the right direction but with today‘s report, the hype is exceeding the reality.”

“…much of the recent fall in the unemployment rate was driven by people who gave up their search for work and left the labor force.”

 

 

 

politicaltraders.com-1/6/12

WORLD POLITICAL ISSUES WHICH AFFECT THE INDIVIDUAL IN THE FIRST WEEK OF 2012, AND KEY QUESTIONS THEY PRESENT:

Balanced Budgets vs. Maintaining Life in America

Key Questions:

1) Would it help regain the trust of financial markets for American businesses to guarantee that present staff stays employed, while work hours or pay is made more fluid so that existing staff can keep present jobs? Should American companies work with unemployment services to create training programs that are free to taxpayers and businesses which allow the unemployed to receive training while collecting unemployment benefits?

2) Obviously, creative corporate and government number crunching exists regarding tax breaks and corporate loopholes. Many variables come into play, and lobbyists, “Occupiers,” and “The Tea Party” should focus on two questions: How does America establish tax rates that are inviting to the creation of new business, and what should those tax rates be? And, of the companies receiving major tax breaks or the ability to take advantage of sweet financial loopholes, which ones need to keep their current arrangements to assure that the cost of certain necessary goods and services do not drastically rise in price?

Key Quotes:

The Wall Street Journal, Friday December 30th, Gabriele Parussini – “Sarkozy Outlines Jobs Plan”- Program Modeled on Germany, Trades Pay Cuts for Employment Guarantees

“The unemployment rate (in France)- rose to 9.7% of the active population in the third quarter” and “The trade deficit is projected to widen to a record high of 75 billion euros this year.”

“The French government’s idea to increase work-time and pay flexibility is likely to meet much more resistance.”

The American Spectator, December 2011 – January 2012, Grover G. Norquist- “A Balanced Budget Consensus”

“For at least 30 years now, conservatives have been working to enact a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Federal Constitution to prohibit or limit Congress’ ability to borrow money.”

The American Spectator, December 2011 – January 2012, Benjamin J. Stein- “Searching for a Way Out”

“We are in a classic ‘Keynesian Liquidity Trap.’ That means the Fed pumps more money into the system, it doesn’t get used for new plants or expansion, but just stays in the most liquid form, like the shortest term Treasury instruments.”

“We spend about $40 billion each day more than we take in at the federal level. We still have 9% unemployment, and a prostrate housing sector.”

The Atlantic, December 2011, Orville Schell- “How WallMart is changing China”

“With some 30,000 Chinese factories making things for WallMart, the companies’ future is tied to China.”

Think Progress, January 5th 2012, Pat Garofolo- “Corporate Profits have Rebounded to Pre-Recession Levels, But Corporate Tax revenue Hasn’t ”

“Corporate tax revenue has plummeted for several reasons, but one of the big ones is the growth of deductions, loopholes, and outright tax evasion that helps companies limit, or entirely eliminate, their income tax liability. 30 major corporations, in fact paid no corporate income tax over the last three years, while making $160 billion in profits.”

Domestic Fuel Production and Independence vs. Inevitability of World Conflict

Key Questions:

1) While there is a strong push via world governing bodies such as the United Nations toward cleaner energy and a lower carbon footprint, how can America more easily take advantage of abundant resources it has such as coal, oil, and natural gas? Obviously, if needed economically, other countries, large and small use carbon based fuel sources without fear of penalty (Cap and Trade, Agenda 21), why can’t the United States?

2) The United States has the potential of being self-sufficient given the amount of fuel resources it has. How long would it take to organize those resources into a dependable infrastructure so that, more or less, America could be completely energy independent?

3) One can argue that the reason America allows itself to depend on foreign oil is because the transfer of American capital to oil rich nations keeps those nations dependant on American consumerism. It can be argued that this is beneficial because relationships are formed in places where militant radicalism can be tamped down. The question is, of these countries in which a consumer relationship has  been formed, which countries should America remain friends with, and which countries should America point to as a reason for moving to become completely energy independent?

Key Quotes:

Financial Times, Friday December 30th, Friday December 30th, Samantha Pearson and William McNamara – “Africa competition increases for Brazilian company as rivals start to dig in”

“Over the past two years Vale has built positions in two of the most promising mineral areas in Africa: Mozambique and New Guinea.”

“However, the state-backed Chinese miners may well prove to be Vale’s most formidable competitors in Africa.”

New York Times, Friday December 30th, Editorial Staff – “Iran and the Straight” “The threat to block oil shipping is a sign of desperation and a reminder of Tehran’s recklessness”

“According to the latest report from United Nations inspectors, Iran has created computer models of nuclear explosions, conducted experiments on Nuclear triggers and completed advanced research on a warhead that could be delivered by a medium range missile.”

“Eighteen months have passed since the last round of Security Council sanctions.”

“We strongly support applying maximum economic pressure to constrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But we think Washington penalizing foreign companies for engaging in otherwise lawful commerce with Iran  is not the right way to go about it and could backfire, alienating European allies at a time when they are preparing to impose their own stronger sanctions. President Obama can limit the damage by making full use of a waiver, which allows him to block the penalties if they would threaten national security or cause oil prices to soar.”

New York Times, Friday December 30th, Mark Landler and Steven Lee Myers- “Healing a Rift, U.S. Agrees to $30 Billion Fighter Jet Sale to Saudi Arabia”

“The Obama administration announced a weapons deal with Saudi Arabia on Thursday, saying it had agreed to sell F-15 fighter jets valued at nearly $30 billion to the Royal Saudi Air Force.”

“Timing is laden with significance, as tensions with Iran have deepened and the United States has withdrawn its last soldiers from Iraq.”

“Saudi Arabia will get 84 new F-15SA jets.”

National Revue, December 31st , John Yoo- “An Unavoidable Challenge”

“Iran will soon join the ranks of the world’s nuclear powers . Because of the Obama administration’s reluctance to confront this looming threat, others- such as the Republican presidential candidates- must begin preparing the case for a military strike to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. Iran might respond by attacking Israel, Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia, and oil shipments in the Persian Gulf.”

“Containment…would involve constant, significant conventional and nuclear presence on Iran’s perimeter.”

“The…craving for international approval may lead the administration to put off military action against Iran before it is too late.”

The Atlantic, December 2011, Jeffrey Goldberg and Mark Ambinder- “The Ally from Hell”

“Pakistan makes its nuclear weapons more vulnerable to theft by jihadists in order to hide them from the United States.”

Business Insider, January 5th 2012, Robert Johnson- “IRAN: The US Is Sending Thousands Of Troops And Missiles to Israel To Start A War”

“PressTV says the drill will begin in January, but the Israeli announcement claims the ‘largest ever’ missile defense exercise will commence this spring, largely in response to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

Big Government- “Must versus Trust”

Key Questions:

1) While the U.S. Government has many bold ideas regarding American safety (National Defense Authorization Act 2012), health (Affordable Care Act),  financial clarity and transparency (Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley), and increasing revenue from the housing market, when does the size and power of government defy the trust of the individual citizen?

2) If the U.S. government were to take over foreclosed houses and market them to individuals, and groups of people, there is no doubt that it could translate into greatly needed revenue to pay off debts and deficits. However, is it not possible that lack of ownership and independence could be threatened as well? If the government is allowed to own and rent foreclosed housing, what is to stop them from defining their own rules, and unreasonably demanding higher rates in the future? Where will the checks and balances come from if the government is allowed to create its own rules in regards to housing, drastically undercut the present market, and raise rates and terms in the future? Is this not the same argument America is quarreling over in regards to healthcare?

3) Americans need to get up to speed regarding the National Defense Authorization Act, 2012. The Patriot Act, and other functions regarding the functions of Homeland Security can be debated. After all, freedom and security do come at a price. NDAA however, gives arresting officers military power, and the ability for authorities to apprehend individuals who they think are a threat to United States. The qualifications warranting such arrests are not clearly defined. Couldn’t this mean that whoever raises protests against the current government be detained in a military court? What are the chances that this provision is abused? Doesn’t this amount of undefined power eclipse any notion of privacy and free speech in the Constitution? “Hey left wing socialists, NDAA looks great now, but what are you going to say if Donald Trump or Rick Santorum is elected president?”

Key Quotes:

Business Insider, January 5th 2012, David Seaman- “National defense Authorization Outrage Continues To Grow Online”

“The NDAA is a radical and dangerous bill — which Barack Hussein Obama quietly signed into law on New Year’s Eve…”

Author Naomi Wolf, with a warning for Congress: “I never thought I would have to write this: but- incredibly- Congress has now passed the National Defense Appropriations Act, with Amendment 1031, which allows for the military detention of American citizens. The amendment is so loosely worded that any American citizen could be held without due process.”

Business Insider, January 4th 2012, Simone Foxman- “Ben Bernanke Offers A Game-Changing Recommendation To The Housing Industry”

“In the release, the Fed suggests that the government find a way to convert a significant segment of the stock of real estate owned properties (REOs)-essentially, properties held by banks or other institutions after foreclosure-into rentals.”

The Fed sates: “The challenge for policymakers is to find ways to help reconcile the existing size and mix of the housing stock and the current environment for housing finance. Fundamentally, such measures involve adapting the existing housing stock to the prevailing tight mortgage lending conditions–for example, devising policies that could help facilitate the conversion of foreclosed properties to rental properties–or supporting a housing finance regime that is less restrictive than today’s, while steering clear of the lax standards that emerged during the last decade. Looking forward, continued weakness in the housing market poses a significant barrier to a more vigorous economic recovery… Absent any policies to help bridge this gap, the adjustment process will take longer and incur more dead-weight losses, pushing house prices lower and thereby prolonging the downward pressure on the wealth of current homeowners and the resultant drag on the economy at large.”

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