Tag Archives: Gray Davis

The reality that wasn’t one

Until we all realise that the edge of the abyss is on the Americans, we all need to realise that what will topple the Americans, will have a massive effect on us all. Partly because we are linked, partially because the events that are in effect there are also in effect in the Commonwealth and both are not willing to change their ways.

The issues all start with an article in the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/19/barack-obama-address-shutdown-debt-ceiling).

The first quote is: “There’s been a lot of discussion lately of the politics of this shutdown. But the truth is, there were no winners in this.

Actually, there are. The banks! They are making a bundle and as things go, the US will be (pardon my French) the Bank’s Bitch for a long time to come. $17,000 Billion has that effect on them. The article by the LA Times, which I personally call laughable, can be found at http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-77819148/

The four points should be looked at.

1. The U.S. debt burden is starting to decline. That’s right – it’s going down, not up.

Really? $17,000 Billion remains that. The economy is not even close to being on par, and as long as the government is spending over a trillion a year more than they earn, the debt is not going anywhere. If we go from the T-Bill path, then the payable cost of T-bills (basically the discount value), for the entire amount would be $453 billion. This is of course not realistic; the number that is closer is based upon the annual deficit increase. These numbers were discussed in my blog ‘A new third World continent‘. So, when they do start to mature, an annual amount no less than $1,000 billion a year for no less ten 5 years would be needed. So, that debt burden is going nowhere, it will be there waiting for the people and it will come with additional bills.

2. China holds only a relatively small fraction of U.S. debt.

That is actually true, yet roughly 14% of $17,000 billion is still a massive amount, it just seems little. By the way, if they suddenly cash in, the chances of the US being able to pay it becomes smaller and smaller by the day. The debt ceiling is there and it would be instantly crossed.

3. The U.S. has had a national debt for almost its entire history.

Again that is also true for the most, yet in 2000 it was only 5 trillion (roughly), so in 13 years it grew by 12 trillion dollars, it grew from 5 to 9 trillion up to 2007 and the rest grew in the last 6 years.

4. Debt crises have marked American politics from the beginning.

Well, that is not entirely incorrect. The article starts with General George Washington. The guy who ran the American defence forces before Patton, roughly about 140 years before Patton. The debt remained under 1 trillion until the 80’s, so basically the US went through Independence Day 1 (1776, not the one with the aliens), WW1, WW2, the Cold War and the Vietnam war. All these elements involving massive amounts of politics, (except the Cold war, which was a contemporary event where Ivan Aleksandrovich Serov and Allen Dulles had a bit of fun, as well as their successors (boys will be boys).

The moral here is not about the marking of American politics, it is about Politics not doing what they were supposed to be doing. From my point of view, the right questions were not asked, hence the actions proceeded were of a game where open and clear communications were not in play (or this deficit would be a lot smaller).
There is plenty of blame to go around! Initial there was former President Clinton, even though the coffers actually had real cash in his era, the Silicon Valley crash started to leave its mark. It drove Gray Davis (former Governor of California) out of office and it was the beginning of a massive shift. After that the USA had former President Bush. He did a good job, but then 9/11 struck. The consequences had a major influence, it also changed the premise of many, instead of a true revamping of intelligence, 4 agencies were suddenly spending like there was no tomorrow. The military costs went up, which would really hurt the treasury coffers and lastly the financial crash of 2008 was one that had a long term consequence, especially as a building named America got prepped in the years 2003-2005, by the time the 2008 financial fire hit the house, there were no fire hydrants and there was no one able to actually fight that fire. The rest is the now and many are still reeling from those hits.

This takes us back to the article in the Guardian, where President Obama is quoted saying “First, we should sit down and pursue a balanced approach to a responsible budget, one that grows our economy faster and shrinks our long-term deficits further.

That is a simple answer, stop spending too much. I understand that spending $5 to make $50 is perfectly sensible, but America has become a nation of entitlements and costs, not profits. When you as a nation allow for tax evasion and keep on postponing putting a stop to these acrobatics (the Tax evasion rule is not expected to become active until 2014). So the US is in an extremely fragile situation. It is basically what you hear of Fox News (people like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and John Stossel), is that view wrong? Well the Nanny state is an overprotective government. I am all for protection. We should protect the weak, the sick and so on. But when you are broke, you cannot pay the beggar with coins you do not have, you cannot feed the hungry with food you cannot pay for. When your money runs out, it runs out. So until the government gets their horses back on track, entitlements will (not should) suffer. Perhaps doing something about Corporations and their tax evasion? For Example, Google paid the UK $12M in taxation, whilst their UK revenue was $3,000M. That is less than 1/2% in taxation. They avoided $2B in taxation in the US, according to the Bloomberg article (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-10/google-revenues-sheltered-in-no-tax-bermuda-soar-to-10-billion.html)

So how much taxation is NOT going into the US coffers? That list of corporations using tax havens is long and they are all prosperous. So, when entitlements fall away, look at those places on why support is gone.

The only part remaining is an article that came to view as I was reading up on a few parts. It is at http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/25/economics-professor-smacks-down-bill-oreilly-he-has-no-idea-what-a-nanny-state-is/

And the story is about Professor Richard Wolff having a go at Bill O’Reilly. It was on ‘Democracy Now‘ so the idea that this is about a democrat having a go at a Republican should be clear.

The first part was in regards to “a clip of O’Reilly talking about the latest round of European bailouts, which O’Reilly said is happening ‘because they’re all nanny states’ that do not have enough workers to support ‘entitlements’.

So what are the numbers? According to the site, http://apografi.yap.gov.gr/ where the Greek state currently employs 614,053 people, 15,000 jobs got axed in the first half of 2013. The Greek population is around 11 million; this gives us that just over 5.5% of the ENTIRE Greek population works for the state. There are reports that this used to be over 20% (in 2011), so how is that not a nanny state? According to the Oxford press it is stated as “a view that a government or its policies are overprotective or interfering unduly with personal choice.” when 1 in 5 works for the government, overprotective seems to be the case. The only part I do not agree with, in this case, with Mr O’Reilly is that Greece seems more and more the consequence of short sightedness and utter stupidity. In reflection, when a government asks Goldman Sachs to hide the size of their debt, I personally want to sail towards words like stupidity and irresponsibility.

Professor Wolff sees Germany and Sweden as Nanny States. That is not incorrect, however the next part “they’re the winners of the current situation. The unemployment rate in Germany is now below 5 percent.” is misrepresentation. First of all, when changes were needed (around 2009) Germany tightened the belt by A LOT! This is why it seems that they got off lighter, because they decided against borrowing (a lesson that the USA still has not learned). The second part is that Sweden has a different system. Yes, they do have a protective nanny state, but taxation is also higher. It is 57% at the highest tier; whereas the rich and playful in the US seem to pay only 29%. In addition, most Swedes are ‘proud’ (slightly overstated, I admit) to pay taxation. The more they pay, the higher their status. (Inwards they’ll sulk like nothing you’ll ever see).

So, Professor Wolff is missing his shares of facts too. In addition, Sweden had to deal with its own issues in 2003 as Ericsson dismissed thousands of people. They went from 85,200 staff members in 2001, to 51,600 in 2003. That is over 33000 in just 2 years. Try finding a job in IT in 2003. So as Sweden got itself back on its feet, they had moved themselves into a position to remain cautious. There is a good PDF file to read, it is called ‘Growth and renewal in the Swedish economy‘ It is by McKinsey and Company and worth reading. I wanted to add the link, but like Google’s ability to avoid taxation; they are getting better and better in avoiding clean links (just huge links full of Google statistics garbage). Although Sweden got through it all not too harmed, their current projections are not too good. Their deficit is likely to rise to 3% this year. One of the more noticeable incomes Sweden had was from Vattenfal and their nuclear power plant, the issues in the UK showed that Vattenfal has issues, some of their sites (outside of Sweden) were not panning out the way they were. www.vattenfall.com/en/file/Q2-report-2013_35251329.pdf has some interesting materials. So as they reported an operating profit of MINUS 25 billion (in Swedish kronor), they are still there, but that is an amount that hurts, and of course as they depreciated that much, it will affect the Swedish deficit. Let us not forget, they only have a population of 9.5 million and unlike Greece they are doing decently well. As for health care? The numbers from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) show us two interesting facts, percentage of government revenue spend on health gives us USA 18.5% (highest), whilst Sweden spend 13.6% (lowest), then look at the percentage of health costs paid by government which gives us USA with 45.1% (lowest) and Sweden with 81.4% (2nd highest). So, either the Swedes get a much better bang for their buck, or in comparison the American system is extremely flawed. There are ways to find out which, but compared to the UK, which is almost identical to Sweden in covered health costs, yet the slightly higher spending by the UK government leaves me with the thought that an overhaul of US healthcare was essential, but until I see the actual numbers on the new system, I will remain doubtful whether Obamacare would ever be a solution (but I refuse to judge until better numbers are known).

So in the end, the information by Professor Wolff reads less correct when you take another look at certain facts.

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Biased Journalism on USA shutdown?

We have seen reports of all forms. We see information management in what I have called bad news managing. This has happened in the Netherlands. Is it Biased Journalism, or is this journalism based upon the information handed to them?

The second part would be fair enough, because the journalist is dealing with what is handed to them. However, when we look at the canons of Journalism and their codes of ethics some questions come to the front of the lines. Truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity are three of the elements and there are more than just these three. I am not willing to attack truthfulness. It is in my view an empty gesture to do so. This is all based upon information that the Journalist gets handed. Accuracy might be an issue. They might have passed on the exact information they were handed, yet how accurate was it? Was the information tested in any way? Then there is objectivity. I am not sure if that is a valid point. Let us face the fact that objectivity is in the eyes of the beholder and as such there is more than one viewpoint. In all honesty, any article would need to be viewed from more than one side and the news as we usually watch it on TV is actually not that equipped to do just that. Newspapers are!

I have illustrated in earlier blogs that some of the mentioned information seemed inaccurate to me. This happens, I do not claim to be correct, but it seemed too upbeat to me and as such I questioned it. I was not alone, but not too many public contributors were, and in more than one occasion my view was the correct one. So when I saw the NOS news today, more questions rose in my mind and it is time to ask a few more and some other questions.

The most questionable part was the news on the US Shutdown as that danger approaches within the next 24 hours. What I saw as an issue was the way some parties were illustrated. First of all, it is important to know that I am leaning strongly towards the republican view. Not stating so beforehand would be wrong in my mind. The issue I had was with the NOS newscast of the US shutdown. It was not incorrect, but there were issues that have not been mentioned, which were at the centre of it all.

I see this all as the republican move to stop the abundant of irresponsible spending by a democratic party run government. Yes, we know that this is not about the fiscal cliff this time, but the government budget is directly linked to this. The democrats have taken the debt out of acceptable proportions.

Let us not forget that the US has a 17,000 BILLION dollar debt, this comes down to 340 billion dollars per state. In addition, if we look back to the Californian change in 2003, when Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor, former governor Gray Davis was confronted with a recall because the state shortfall was only 10% of the 340 Billion. That was directly due to the dot com boom collapse and a large group of companies were suddenly in a position no longer able to pay taxation, which meant that California, one of the richest states was suddenly without cash. Now the simple logic that follows, if one of the richest states cannot pay 10% of the outstanding debt, how can the others pay at all? This is the big cake that gets layers after layer of icing. With each layer it is presented as something that can be dealt with, but both democrat and republicans have no real solution. This is at the core of it all. So it is not just about the government budget, it is the issue that the budget is not realistic and that it is only adding to the debt. So when I see the part where Democrat Nita Lowey is talking about a compromise, then I end up splitting my guts with laughter. For two administrations there has not been any decent level of compromise. The republican view is that spending MUST go down by a lot. We could view the state by state comparison, especially against the Netherlands. Most states are larger than the Netherlands and none have a realistic approach to dealing with a 340 billion dollar debt. Now compare that to the Netherlands having to cut 6 billion and the view is almost complete. We all have to tighten the belt and within the USA this would last for no less three generations. The view I am proclaiming to be correct does have issues as well. It is however the view I behold. After Detroit, which already has gone bust, almost two dozen cities are facing the same problem in the US. Fresno, Compton and Oakland are three of them and they are all in California (one of the three rich states). If we would take a deeper look at the 50+ largest cities, then we see healthcare and retirement cost issues that make Detroit look like a joke. It is the healthcare part that is at the centre of it all. The Republicans are utterly convinced that Obama Care will not solve it at all. It will just add to the massive debts. What has been propagated as a solution to all, is in the realistic view of many a non-solution that will push forward debts and invoices that cannot be paid for in the end and as such people will face even more hardship down the line. Not to mention the fact that healthcare professionals might end up seeking greener pastures outside of the US.

The budget shortage is not new. This has been going on since 1995 (at least), however, in those days former president Clinton had two advantages. The first was that the government coffers had a cash surplus. Second was that the dot com boom was going nice. Consultancy firms were going strong, the incomes were really nice and consultants were making loads of cash by selling concepts. So, people were buying ideas and not an existing product. No matter what the reason was (like 9/11), it was the spending that the Bush administration started which gave the treasury such a negative jolt. It was nowhere near the spending that President Obama did, but he did not start this, so let us be fair about it. Against the current administration it must be stated that the no true legislation has been passed stopping Wall street the way it should, so there is no evidence that this will not happen again. And we are all aware that the economic thrashing started all with the Wall Street Clam bake ‘lets go hedge funds’ that was a huge part of the predicament we have now.

The question from the NOS ‘Is there no talking with the Republicans?‘ is not the only question and the one sided part of it is not correct. The linked question is ‘Can US overspending not be contained?‘ is the side the Republicans are dealing with. That part does not seem to be addressed by anyone. We see that side when we look at all the other places, including the Netherlands, the UK and Australia. They all have their own budget ghosts to deal with.

The Dutch government has its own cross to bear trying to find solutions to a 6 billion cutting spree. Too much talking and for too long no results. If we take all these sides (in all the talked about nations), then perhaps another method should be found. The first part is to cut ALL political incomes by 20% and no overtime payment at all (not sure if they get that to begin with). That should make a decent cut in the cost to the national treasuries and might make for quicker decisions. In my view I see no solution in any way to lower taxation. I think that this approach is an unrealistic one. What might be a solution is to change it all to a two tiered tax system with only 27% and 39%. That might work, but only if ALL tax deductibility’s are removed. This has two benefits. The system becomes simpler, and over all, with no deductibility’s left it becomes a clear approach. In addition there is a need to make all commerce taxable at the point of sale (the location of the purchaser’s keyboard). This must be where the buyer physically is. This is to take a stance on that Google, Amazon, et al approach, where on-line companies seem to be selling it all from an empty office in Ireland at taxation levels which should be regarded as a joke.

The system has to be changed. We have heard so many voices that a solution can be made, whilst ZERO results have been achieved for close to a decade. When we see administrations of entire cities go bust, it is time to just end whining about a solution that remains no more than a concept.

By the way, when we look at spending it all, what has been the end result? The fact that the US, the bulk of the Commonwealth and the Netherlands are spending way too much (compared to what is coming in though taxation) is out of proportions. That is why the republicans are putting their foot down and so far there is no evidence that they are holding the wrong position.

What is the right position? That is the question and I do not know whether the Republican position will be the correct one either. Yet, staying with the Democratic view whilst we have almost a decade of evidence that it is not working seems to be a flawed point of view. That view is reinforced by the Heritage foundation where it was quoted “While federal revenues are recovering from the recent recession, spending is growing sharply, resulting in four consecutive years of deficits exceeding $1 trillion.

So the US government has been spending more than a trillion more then it received. Consider that in 2011 the total revenue was set at 2.3 trillion, spending 43% more then you get each year is not a good idea. Consider that the recession is not done by a long-shot; overspending 40% annually will have long term consequences.

If we accept that a government is not a profit based organisation then we could consider that a government would collect taxation at 105%-110% of what it needs. When you spend money and then only collect 71% you are going to need guarantees that things will go wrong. So when I stated that it will take 3 generations to get rid of the debt I was not kidding. In addition, the 17 trillion was just the national debt. The total debt is set at 60 trillion (roughly). This means that every state in the US would have to come up with 1.2 trillion dollars to deal with it. (I know it is not fair, but I need to show an example).

If we consider the three richest states and considering the 2012 numbers (from http://www.census.gov/govs/statetax) we see the following:

The collected taxation from California was 112.3, New York 71.5 and Texas 48.5, all in billions of dollars. So whether we use either the 340 billion or the larger 1.2 trillion, only 3 of the 50 states have any chance of paying it to any effect. Viewing these numbers, do the math and we see that things must change (by a lot). The Heritage foundation is also showing that current entitlements are double the defence budget. How does this relate to Obama care? Will the info they state gives us that the additional costs by 2019 which was set at 100 billion, which is a little over 12% of all collected annual taxes. So, another 100 billion needed whilst there is no income against that. The slide states “Obama care imposes numerous tax hikes which total more than $500 billion over 10 years. Obama care’s higher tax rates on income and investment will slow economic growth, leaving hardworking American families and businesses worse off.

These are the issues that the republicans are fighting. We have seen enough ‘evidence’ to know that most economic recovery for Europe will not commence until 2015. So, as the GOP (Republican Party) is watching these developments, whilst they are watching the additional entitlement costs go up even further, costs, which are pushing their sense of humour all the way to the basement of Congress. This means that there are additional issues stopping the America from regaining its status of ‘economic superpower’. So these are some of the elements that are not too ‘illuminated’ as the US government squabble goes on. The only bonus I see at present, is that when the government shuts down, they should consider not paying any of the elected Democrats and Republicans for these days either. It might at least save the treasury a few dollars.

 

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