Monetary Warfare

What are the threats that could make the U.S. economy look less like America and more like Zimbabwe? He sees them everywhere – in the Chinese ownership of vast amounts of American debt, in Russia’s increased centralization of its economy, in Al Qaeda’s long-established fascination with damaging the U.S. economy.

Four of the scenarios keep him up at night Continue reading “Monetary Warfare”

From the left, a call to end the current Dutch notion of tolerance

Labor’s line seems to stand on its head the old equation of jobs-plus-education equals integration. Conforming to Dutch society’s social standards now comes first. Strikingly, it turns its back on cultural relativism and uses the word emancipation in discussing the process of outsiders’ becoming Dutch.

Not clear enough? Ploumen insists, “The success of the integration process is hindered by the disproportionate number of non-natives involved in criminality and trouble-making, by men who refuse to shake hands with women, by burqas and separate courses for women on citizenship.

“We have to stop the existence of parallel societies within our society.”

via From the left, a call to end the current Dutch notion of tolerance – International Herald Tribune.

Social Security and Madoff – Both Pyramid Schemes

madof121820081. Legitimate investment vehicles take investor funds and invest them in businesses, real estate, and other assets. These investments are intend to generate returns for shareholders. Madoff didn’t do this. He paid off early investors with cash from subsequent investors. Investment assets were never purchased.

Similarly, Social Security has no investments. It pays retirees benefits with cash deposited by younger workers. What’s worse is that Social Security has taken in a surplus of funds over the years. Instead of investing the extra funds legitimately, the government spent it on other programs. Now Social Security is completely unfunded — something that’s illegal for companies to do but not the government.

2. Madoff’s early investors received excellent returns, which averaged 12 percent to 14 percent a year. Similarly, Social Security provided excellent returns to its early participants. The first person to receive monthly Social Security benefits was a woman named Ida May Fuller. She paid $24.75 total into the Social Security system over a three year period, and received $22,889 during her lifetime. Even Madoff was not so egregious to provide such a large return to his early investors. Continue reading “Social Security and Madoff – Both Pyramid Schemes”

Petro-Dictators Reeling

The depression — let’s call it what it is — leaves us, well, depressed. But there is very good news from around the world. Our enemies are collapsing under the strain of dropping oil and gas prices.

What we had all hoped conservation and offshore drilling would achieve, the global economic collapse is accomplishing: the defeat of OPEC, Iran, Chavez, Putin and the weakening of the financial underpinnings of Islamist terrorism. In each of these nations, the hold of the dictator is weakening as, one after the other, they face the consequences of dropping oil prices.

The pressure to stay in power will be so intense that these leaders will force production as high as they can to offset the shortfall. The result is that there will be constant deflationary pressure on oil prices, a vicious cycle that will impoverish all the right people.

via – Suppliers Feeling the Sting of Oil Prices.

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God

The answer given by Sir Edmund Hillary to the question: Why climb the mountain? “Because it’s there,” he said.

To the rural African mind, this is an explanation of why one would not climb the mountain. It’s… well, there. Just there. Why interfere? Nothing to be done about it, or with it. Hillary’s further explanation – that nobody else had climbed it – would stand as a second reason for passivity.

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I’ve just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe. This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.

via As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God | Matthew Parris – Times Online.

The Future of Fish

one_dollar_koi__new_version_by_orudorumagi11With monitoring systems that reduce bycatch by as much as 60 percent and regulations providing fishermen with a stake in protecting the wild resource, it is happening. One regulatory scheme, known as “catch shares,” allows fishermen to own shares in a fishery — that is, the right to catch a certain percentage of a scientifically determined sustainable harvest. Fishermen can buy or sell shares, but the number of fish caught in a given year is fixed.

This method has been a success in a number of places including Alaska, the source of more than half of the nation’s seafood. A study published in the journal Science recently estimated that if catch shares had been in place globally in 1970, only about 9 percent of the world’s fisheries would have collapsed by 2003, rather than 27 percent.

via On the Farm – A Seafood Snob Ponders the Future of Fish –

Megayacht “Legacy” Stuck Again

S/Y Legacy, the 158-foot Perini Navi sailing yacht shipwrecked by Hurricane Wilma in October 2005 and freed from the shallows of a marine sanctuary off Key West in early 2008, remains anchored in Key West Harbor, and for an unusual reason.

legacy_839911411Having been able to get her engines and generators running again, along with the air conditioner and thrusters, owner Peter Halmos thought she would be out of there by now.

But at some point – it isn’t clear when or how – Legacy’s retractable keel slipped down and workers can’t get it raised.

via The Triton – News for the megayacht and superyacht industry – Halmos: Legacy ‘doesn’t want to leave’


France’s Obama

Born in France to poor Muslim immigrant parents, French Justice Minister Rachida Dati is a powerful symbol of a society that is changing rapidly, if reluctantly. Intelligent, young, ambitious, attractive, she is a fighter driven by outsize ambition and cheekiness in a country where immigrants rarely attain stellar heights in business, academia, the media, or government. Her ascendance is the French version of “Yes We Can.”

via The Storm Around France’s First Muslim Cabinet Minister, Rachida Dati – US News and World Report.

Extreme Waves Getting Bigger

The largest waves in the Pacific Northwest are getting higher by seven centimeters a year, posing an increasing threat to property close to the shore. And the strange part is: Scientists aren’t sure why.

Oregon State researchers found that the danger to property from these larger extreme waves will outweigh the impacts of rising sea levels caused by global warming over the next several decades.

via Surfers, Rejoice: Some Extreme Waves Getting Bigger | Wired Science from

The New Millionaire Psychology

Our culture has changed from buying books on “How To Be A Millionaire” to watching a TV Game- Show with an entitlement angle – “Make Me A Millionaire”.

“California, sales are down 10% since the beginning of fiscal year 2009, which began on July 1” says Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the California lottery. Traverso says he hopes sales will revive with larger jackpots and with the January launch of a new televised game show called Make Me a Millionaire.

via Losing Faith in Gambling’s Allure – BusinessWeek.

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