Archive for December, 2011

High-deductible health plans on rise

Posted on December 30th, 2011

High-deductible health plans on rise

This is what Obama’s health reforms are leading to — more expensive health insurance with higher deductibles that people are forced to buy.  This will lead to more bankruptcies and foreclosures caused by health crisis suffered by people with insurance.

KZ

THE TENNESSEAN: Corporate employers, small businesses and nonprofit organizations are increasingly requiring their workers to spend between $1,200 and $5,000 before filing a health insurance claim.

Nearly three in four employers will offer at least one of these plans next year, according to a survey by the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit association that represents large employers.

Helen Darling, its president, predicts that by 2016 the majority of all health plans will have high deductibles…  (more)

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Corporate Government Taking Hold in Europe, Threatening Social Safety Net and Euro Democracy

Posted on December 30th, 2011

Corporate Government Taking Hold in Europe, Threatening Social Safety Net and Euro Democracy

From IT’S OUR ECONOMY:

An American style corporate-government is taking hold in Europe, revolving doors between corporations and government, policies that support big business interests and polices that undermine the social safety net.  Below is a report from a watchdog website, the Corporate Europe Observatory on how it threatens European democracy — as it has done in the United …

The year 2011 may mark a wa­ter­shed in the his­tory of the Eu­ro­pean Union. Using the pre­text of the “euro cri­sis”, the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion and the Coun­cil have put for­ward pro­pos­als to give the EU new pow­ers to deal with core wel­fare is­sues, in­clud­ing so­cial ben­e­fits and wages, under a new tech­no­cratic pro­ce­dure – hard (if not im­pos­si­ble) to track, let alone in­flu­ence by those who stand to lose out.

The pro­pos­als em­body a cor­po­rate so­cial and eco­nomic agenda which, if en­acted, will con­sti­tute a “silent rev­o­lu­tion” im­posed from above, with no real de­mo­c­ra­tic de­bate or pop­u­lar participation.​The pro­posed changes – which in­volve a se­ries of pro­posed rules on ‘eco­nomic gov­er­nance’ – have been wel­comed by the EU’s key big busi­ness lobby groups, which see some of their tra­di­tional key lobby de­mands re­flected in the changes.  There is an ur­gent need for a de­mo­c­ra­tic de­bate through­out the EU, in par­tic­u­lar on al­ter­na­tives to the aus­tere ne­olib­eral model of ‘eco­nomic gov­er­nance’ that is now being pushed by the Com­mis­sion and the Coun­cil. And it will re­quire a broad-based so­cial strug­gle to make the al­ter­na­tives a re­al­ity…

Click here to read the full article.

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Legislators would be wise to start over with Marcellus Shale bills

Posted on December 30th, 2011

Legislators would be wise to start over with Marcellus Shale bills

From the HARRISBURG PATRIOT-NEWS Op Ed:

…Both Senate and House bills (SB 1100 and HB 1950) essentially strip local governments of their authority to adopt ordinances to protect their communities. The bills do this by expansively defining all efforts to regulate oil and gas operations as beyond the power of local government. “Oil and gas operations” is broadly defined, and appears to include all aspects of the natural gas drilling and production process, such as seismic testing, well site preparation, well drilling and fracturing, impoundments, compressor stations and processing plants.

A municipality routinely regulates industrial operations with requirements for fencing, lighting, noise and hours of operation, but will not be able to do so for oil and gas operations….

The Senate and House bills provide different formulas for assessing an impact fee. The impact fee is not based on any calculation of the real costs to our commonwealth from gas drilling. Other states impose a tax or fee on natural gas equivalent to 5 percent of the value. HB 1950 authorizes counties to impose a fee, but caps it at 1 percent. And counties are free to establish no tax or a much lower fee…

Click here to read the full article.

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INTELL / NEW ERA: Two tears and one belly laugh

Posted on December 30th, 2011

INTELL / NEW ERA:  Two tears and one belly laugh

An AP article “Telecom immunity OK for eavesdroppingreports:   “A federal appeals court on Thursday said a 2008 law that granted telecommunications companies legal immunity for helping the National lSecurity Agency with an email and telephone eavesdropping program is constitutional.” George Orwell’s “1984”  takes another step closer to reality.

A report from the New York Times states:  “U S. to sell Saudis F-15 jets” “Fortifying one of its key allies in the Persian Gulf, the Obama administration announced a weapons deal with Saudi Arabia on Thursday saying it had agreed to sell F15 fighter jets valued at nearly $30 billion to the Royal Saudi Air Force.” Another triumph for the Military Industrial complex!  What possible good can these planes do  for Saudi Arabia other than  to influence US foreign policy and provide a means for kick backs to corrupt government officials?

Now for the belly laugh.  The New Era editors in “Hefty pay hikes for privileged few” criticize the City for increasing the  Administrative Service Director’s salary from $84,000 a year to $92,000.  Let’s set aside the fact that Patrick Hopkins would earn at least half again more in private industry.  Instead, let’s focus on the editors’ reasoning:  “When employers ask or demand sacrifices, they should not exempt any employee.”

In other words:  From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.”  Author:  Karl Marx.   Are the New Era apparently ‘pinko’ editors trying to stake out a position further to the left than the Intell’s?

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Birth rate plummets in Brazil

Posted on December 30th, 2011

Birth rate plummets in Brazil

From the WASHINGTON POST:

Fertility rates have dropped in many parts of the world in recent decades, but something particularly remarkable happened to the once-prolific family across Latin America. From sprawling Mexico to tiny Ecuador to economically buoyant Chile, fertility rates plummeted, even though abortion is illegal, the Catholic Church opposes birth control and government-run family planning is rare.

A frenzied migration to the cities, the expansion of the female workforce, better health care and the example of the small, affluent families portrayed on the region’s wildly popular soap operas have contributed to a demographic shift that happened so fast it caught social scientists by surprise.

In 1960, women in Latin America had almost six children on average. By 2010, the rate had fallen to 2.3 children

Click here to read the full article.

EDITOR:   The rate required to maintain a stable population, all other things being equal, is 2.1 children per family.

The Brazilian trend comes as no surprise to the Watchdog who, as an assignment in a graduate course in Economics, spent many hours over half a century ago in the lower depths of the Cal-Berkeley library rooting through the World Book of Statistics for a century to determine the annual birth and death rates in several ‘undeveloped countries’.

The results clearly indicated a population explosion as modern health care became available followed a generation or two afterwards with a rapid drop in the number of children per family.

Among other reasons, parents were more confident that their children would survive to help support them in their old age and population shifted to the urban areas so children were not required for farm work..   This ‘explosion’ followed by a continuing drop in birth rates over time has resulted in a birth rate level far below 2.1 in most modern countries, as low as 1.4 in some European countries.

My professor, Carlos Cipolla, was so delighted with the information that substantiated what he had theorized that he gave me an “A” without my having to write a paper on the findings.  (It was the final days of my senior year.)  He later published an important book concerning what became known as the ‘Demographic Gap.”

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Rick Santorum Surges In Iowa Caucus 2012

Posted on December 30th, 2011

Rick Santorum Surges In Iowa Caucus 2012

From REUTERS:

…[Mitt] Romney came in first place in the poll, ahead of Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who came in second.

Santorum earned the support of 16 percent of Iowa voters surveyed by the news organizations, compared to 25 percent for Romney.

Santorum has virtually moved to Iowa, concentrating his hopes on the state’s social conservatives who share his strict opposition to abortion and gay marriage…

Click here to read the full article.

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US Job Market Ends Year in Better Shape

Posted on December 30th, 2011

US Job Market Ends Year in Better Shape

From NEWSMAX / AP:

…The number of people applying for unemployment benefits each week has dropped by 10 percent since January. The unemployment rate, 8.6 percent in November, is at its lowest level in nearly three years.

Factory output is rising, business owners say they’re more optimistic about hiring and consumer confidence has jumped to its highest level since April. Even the beleaguered housing market is looking slightly better….

Still, 25 million Americans remain out of work or unable to find full-time jobs. Most analysts forecast a stronger economy and job growth in 2012 — and rule out a second recession — but they caution that could change if Europe’s debt crisis worsens or consumers pull back on spending…

Click here to read the full article.

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Presidents should help legislative branch to find common ground

Posted on December 30th, 2011

Presidents should help legislative branch to find common ground

The greatest attribute that any President could have would be the ability to get the members of the Senate and House to meet halfway and find common ground. Unfortunately, precious few of our Presidents have seen that as a virtue of their office.

BOTH sides of the aisle are guilty of strong partisanship, and most of our past Presidents have towed the line of the party they represented; rather than representing the citizens of this country that they were elected to serve. 2012 shapes up to be a continuation of the ’same old, same old’; regardless of who eventually sits in the White House.

The originators of the Constitution, the founders of freedom, and the earliest advocates of our citizenry must be rollling in their graves, Unfortunately, this ‘atmosphere’ trickles down through the states, the counties, and all municipalities.

We should ALL shed a tear for America.

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China push to put astronaut on the moon

Posted on December 30th, 2011

China push to put astronaut on the moon

From the FINANCIAL TIMES:

…Although a manned moon mission is still some time off – Chinese experts say after 2020 – the statement highlights Beijing’s soaring ambitions just five months after the US retired its space shuttle programme . “Chinese people are the same as people around the world,” Zhang Wei, an official with China’s National Space Administration, said at a briefing. “When looking up at the starry sky, we are full of longing and yearning for the vast universe.” …

According to the white paper, which serves as a blueprint for the next five years, China will develop new satellites, accelerate efforts to build a space station and strengthen its research in space. Laying the foundation for a mission to the moon, the government also plans to launch unmanned lunar probes and make “new technological breakthroughs” in human space flights by 2016….

The last time an astronaut set foot on the moon was in December 1972 as part of the US Apollo 17 mission…

Click here to read the full article.

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Occupy Lancaster and FEMA aid for Katrina victims

Posted on December 29th, 2011

Occupy Lancaster and FEMA aid for Katrina victims

Intelligence Journal Lancaster New Era article “After strong camp, group plans exit” reports that the ‘Occupy’ campers will leave on or before January 1st when their permit expires.  Hearty congratulations to protesters for their  public spirited, courageous and self sacrificing efforts.   And praise to the City administrators for their understanding and proper handling of the situation.  It is reassuring to see democracy in action!

“Six years later, Katrina victims fight FEMA debts” reports that FEMA estimates that “5% of the roughly $8 billion that FEMA distributed after the storms” had been erroneously  remitted due to various types of errors.   If no more, FEMA can be proud if its efficiency, having to walk the narrow path of providing expeditious emergency aid yet avoiding improper payments.

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Credo

"....I have never made it a consideration whether the subject was popular or unpopular, but whether it was right or wrong; for that which is right will become popular, and that which is wrong, though by mistake it may obtain the cry or fashion of the day, will soon lose the power of delusion, and sink into disesteem." Thomas Paine, Common Sense, on "Financing the War", March 5, 1782

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