Australian Law Enforcement Pushes Against Encryption, Advocates Data Retention
Of-course we need end to end encryption, but that will not stop the governments from attempting to legislate against such encrypted traffic and will not attempt the governments from regulating ISPs, forcing them maybe to drop traffic that is encrypted in a way that cannot be circumvented entirely.
The only thing that will stop governments from doing so is adherence to the Constitutional principles and limited government authority, but if you read /. stories and replies, you will realise that it is not a goal for most people, most people want government authority above and beyond any Constitutional principles and limits. Yes, this story is about Australia, not the USA, but the logic is exactly the same. Either you have a small government with very limited authority and you make sure that it stays that way, or you allow the mob to vote for freebies offered by the politicians in exchange for votes and you eventually end up with a totalitarian regime and no individual freedoms at all.
Administration Ordered To Divulge Legal Basis For Killing Americans With Drones
But the question was already answered long ago. Don't you remember?
YES WE CAN!
Obama Delays Decision On Keystone Pipeline Yet Again
Oil used to be 13 dollars a barrel in the late nineties (circa 1999). The inflation (money creation) is 800 percent since that time, now that the price of oil is over 104 dollars a barrel.
Inflation is expansion of the money supply, nothing else. This is how much money has devalued over this short period of time.
Obama Delays Decision On Keystone Pipeline Yet Again
Wrong, wrong and once again: wrong. You can't adjust for inflation based on the mainstream definition of inflation, which is completely off the rocker. Real inflation is a number of times higher than the numbers that are being propagandised for the popular consumption. Quite the opposite, if you want to understand inflation, look at the prices of oil.
As to supply and demand, the world is producing much more oil and gas today than it produced previously and even with growth of demand, the supply is still able to cover the demand. What the supply cannot do is fight inflation.
Obama Delays Decision On Keystone Pipeline Yet Again
Cost of oil has nothing to do with Keystone pipeline and such, it is directly related to the value (lack of value) of the dollar.
But you can still thank your federal government with the Federal reserve for that. Just like you can thank them for the prices of food going up (and of-course all other prices, including the stock and bond and housing markets' prices, which is their intention in the first place)
Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon
Don't you worry about increasing prices, your government, the Federal reserve, main stream 'economists' and all the media is telling you that you don't have inflation... all that while the Fed is printing money like crazy, you know it as QE, but that's just an euphemism for inflation.
All of the recent articles that are coming out are trying to justify prices going up with 'bad weather', 'disease' even 'cartels'.
The reality is of-course that the only real reason your prices are going up is because the value of your money is being destroyed and you are being fed propaganda that it is exactly what you need: more inflation.
The ONLY people that would NOT buy something today if they knew that tomorrow the item they are after would fall in price are INVESTORS, who will not buy an asset if they expect the price of an asset to drop.
Normal consumers buy things today because they need them today, they even pay a PREMIUM for these things (since they are buying so much on credit, so the cost of credit should be also counted towards the cost of the items they buy).
The standard arguments for inflation are all nonsense, government propaganda. They are brainwashing all of you, every day, every minute of every day, and so many people end up arguing for this government propaganda, that you can be certain about one thing: people are stupid and advertising works very well.
As to beef and milk prices, again, that's inflation. But ALSO you can blame other government created problems, such as this nonsense that started a couple of decades ago, where large factory beef and milk producers (factory farmers) lobbied the federal government to impose these new taxes on small ranches, that used State lands to allow their livestock to graze there. That is by the way, what you are observing in Nevada. When the feds come to a State land with land taxes, taxes on the land that they are not actually involved with, taxing lands where they are not building any infrastructure, then you know that there are special interests in play.
How many small ranches were shut down because they couldn't afford the millions of dollars that they would have to pay for letting their cows graze on those lands (that nobody else uses for any purpose)? This is lobbying by the factory farms, the type that holds cows in enclosed cages, where the cows never see any grazing lands at all.
Anyway, enjoy your inflation, enjoy your lobbying, all of it is just a reflection of one singular problem: the federal government usurping unauthorised powers to destroy your individual rights. But at least learn what exactly is happening around you.
California Utility May Replace IT Workers with H-1B Workers
I bet the same question was asked by buggy whip makers back in the day (and the same solutions were proposed by them as are getting +5Insightful in this story).
Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy
You are correct in that the Republicans in the USA are not actually free market capitalists, which is what USA is supposed to be - a free market capitalist Republic.
Republicans are not different from Democrats in that they have their own constituents and those are the people that are tightly connected to the government and the Federal reserve is sponsoring them.
Unfortunately for the USA (and really for the world in general) USA Republic has degenerated into a 'democracy', which really only means that the majority of people are kept in the dark of who is truly running the show, but that is the problem with the mob, the collective, you can't have a democracy that does not degenerate into oligarchy, because the people are stupid and will vote against their self interest, however when I say that I do NOT mean what the average /.er means. I do NOT mean that voting for free market capitalism is voting against your own self interest, quite the contrary. An average (not one of the top wealthiest people) person should always vote LIBERTARIAN (or more correctly - free market capitalist, whatever that is. It can be a libertarian or it can be an anarcho capitalist or an objectivist, doesn't really matter much which one of those).
However the mob votes for the short term satisfaction that is promised by any lizard politician and the end result is always the same: the politicians end up with all the power, the individuals end up stripped of their rights and of their property, basically of their right to pursue happiness on their own terms.
The politicians end up gatekeepers for the top most connected people, the government is a mafia that uses threat of violence to destroy individual freedoms and sell them to the top bidders.
Free market capitalist republic (or even a benevolent dictatorship, like Singapore) works to improve the conditions for all people by allowing the true private property rights and self determination, people work to improve their own situation and as a result they increase the overall wealth in the system. The top wealthiest people do NOT need free market capitalism, they are just fine within a system that is corrupt, they can afford to purchase the gate keepers.
It is the middle class and the POOREST of the people that benefit from free market capitalism, they get the lowest prices and the biggest selection of all products and services that the system builds.
19th century USA was a very good example of what free market capitalist system does to improve the standard of living for all people, not for the richest people, but for everybody. The standard of living was rising faster than at any other time in history because of the freedom, private property rights, the rule of law (rule of law means applying laws equally to everybody regardless of their personal circumstance, that is true justice and morality, not what the mob thinks morality and justice are).
Today that example is found in Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland, China, but actually the Scandinavian countries have been on the correct path for the last 20 years, since the time they started moving in the right direction 20 years ago, when they finally destroyed their economies with socialism. Today they are much more capitalistic and responsible (have little to no debt) than the so called 'capitalist' nations like the USA.
Of-course currently the ECONOMIC STUPIDITY is reaching some insane local maximum, with the vast majority of the population believing in nonsense, Keynesianism, socialism, welfare state, other such equally destructive patterns of behaviour, so for example in Switzerland there will be a referendum to attempt and introduce a minimum wage and a welfare system, those are huge mistakes and the only reason the Swiss can even talk about it is the fact that they grew their economy so much in an actual free market capitalist system, so now they just may be ready to start destroying it with the socialist nonsense.
In any case, as I said, people are very very stupid, the majority have no clue about the economics and how it works and what is in fact in their best interest. The special socialist groups that benefit from the dependency state and from poverty (they thrive on the poverty votes and movements) are using so much propaganda on the general population, that at this point average economic intelligence is probably the lowest in history of human kind. The cavemen understood economics much better than the current population, at least the cavemen didn't buy into demand side nonsense, they knew that they had to produce stuff to enjoy higher standard of living.
I don't have any illusions about the people around me, they are stupid, economically illiterate, they act against their long term self interest and they will fight to keep that nonsense going, so from my perspective right now it makes complete sense to try and live outside of any established system of nations and states, to structure affairs in a way that would minimise the damage by the political systems established in the vast majority of the world today. Be smart, don't ground yourself, ensure that your assets are global, not local, ensure that your business is never tied to the place where you are supposed to pay taxes, pay attention to how it is done by the people that know what they are doing, etc. etc.
San Francisco's Housing Crisis Explained
Up until the 1970s we could build like craz
... ask yourself a question, why is it that everything in USA was done "up until the 1970s" and then all of a sudden there was a gigantic decline (from building, to meaningful manufacturing jobs, to wage disparity, to ability to afford anything, etc.etc.etc.)?
So what is it that happened in the 70s that changed the USA economy so much? 1971 - Nixon defaults on the gold US dollar. The reason? Inflation that was caused by the Fed, all the massive government that could never be paid for with any amount of taxes (never mind the insane tax rates before that time).
It's the government, my dear, USA government has destroyed USA economy.
How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?
What if this was not 'OpenSSL' but instead it was some form of 'ClosedSSL' library that had this problem in it?
NSA would still have access to THAT code, you can bet your ass they would, they wouldn't leave a project like that alone. However nobody else would know (unless stumbling upon it by chance or being able to access the source OR if some insider SOLD that information to somebody on the outside and now you'd have a vulnerability that is exploited by the gov't and by shadiest of the organisations/people out there).
This does not change the discussion in terms of open source code being safer, this changes the discussion around certain practices of development / testing and also this may attract more attention of people towards the SECURITY of our information on the Internet and hopefully we'll move in the direction of working out the details of actually much more SECURE methods of communications.
I certainly have a few ideas of my own that I would like to implement now, but never mind that. The point is that this is good stuff, it finally shed a light on this topic, that should have had much more light on it for a much longer period of time in the first place.
We need better methods around building security within our systems and I think this raises the bar.
Paper Microscope Magnifies Objects 2100 Times and Costs Less Than $1
by "whining" are you implying that I do not vote in firehose? Is that your professional opinion, I mean, are you paid to believe that or is this just a result of being an ass, your statement here?
Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?
By the way, if we are already on the topic of taxes, anybody who is interested should listen to this show, not only does it discuss the illegality of taxes, but also it provides some insight on what the USA citizens doing today to reduce their taxes (offshore accounts, etc.etc.)
Americans, you need to listen to this of-course, you should eliminate your federal government, a good step towards that (before you end up shooting the bastards) is to stop paying your taxes.
Paper Microscope Magnifies Objects 2100 Times and Costs Less Than $1
this is of-course a dupe, but hey, what else is new.
Ted talk on this device.
Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?
You are wrong, but that's your right to be wrong.
USA government is unconstitutional, it has abandoned the principles upon which the Republic was established. There are no private property rights anymore. This started with the Sherman's act and continued into everything, from income taxes themselves, IRS, the Fed destroying the value of the people's savings, all of the departments, SS, Medicare, Medicaid, ACA, payroll taxes, every type of income related tax of-course.
The correct thing to do is to remove USA federal government from power, which it usurped illegally and unconstitutionally and it must be removed from power immediately, by force and with extreme prejudice. Of-course this means that people must not give up any of its earnings to the central mafia that is known as the federal government.
Why the IETF Isn't Working
The point is you are an ignoramus of enormous proportions. The rise in wealth in USA was due to the so called 'robber barons', which created entire new industries and allowed the economy to flourish around them. The 'trust busting' was the beginning of the DESTRUCTION of the economy, as it started destroying the principles of private property rights. Government destroys the economy, it doesn't create it, the economy has to be created first for it to be destroyed by the government, and the private sector in the USA built a mighty economy that it took the growing USA government this long to destroy it.
The Comcast/TWC Merger Is About Controlling Information
Internet is critical infrastructure, which is precisely why it must NOT be in the hands of any government (and no other infrastructure should either, because it is illegal, immoral but also really stupid - if you want something to work, you don't give it to government).
Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code
So once again, if you want a 'socially responsible' company that you think will survive being exactly what you want it to be, set one up and do with it as you wish. You want OTHER people to do something for you, well, tough, other people shouldn't be forced to hire you or do anything for you that you believe you are entitled to and you believe they are obligated.
I run a company, I hire people the way I want to hire people, I fire people the way I want to fire people. I provide my employees with this information upfront, it's their choice to take or not to take the job. I tell them exactly what I will pay them and if they don't like it, they are 100% free to find some other guy to work for. I have no interest in anything you call 'social responsibility', in fact I do not believe in such nonsense in the first place. I only have responsibility to myself and I have responsibility to be HONEST with people I hire, that's all.
You think there should be some other responsibility: take your own money and start your own company to provide that. That's not why I run my company, YMMV.
Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code
we have a major problem with companies not being socially responsible. they don't care that an aging population is being wholesale REJECTED by corporate america and worse than that, local US born and raised citizens are second class, now; with imported labor or outsourced labor being first class.
- so, TheGratefulNet, start your own company and hire whoever you like. Once you do that, you'll quickly figure out that you can't survive as a company, hiring unskilled labor at minimum wage labor prices, having to deal with payroll taxes, medicare (ACA now), income taxes and all the other taxes and that's AFTER you having to figure out what exactly you will be using your savings (or borrowed capital) to build as a software company.
Nat Geo Writer: Science Is Running Out of "Great" Things To Discover
Level of public science funding should be precisely 0 (that would be zero, as in nothing at all). The Internet would have existed regardless, individual people must not be forced to become slaves to the collective even to publicly fund science or health or education or food or anything, not even little cute orphans should be publicly funded, there is 0 authorisation for any of this and there should be 0 authorisation for any of this and if YOU want to fund something, that's what you have YOUR OWN bank account and you can set up a charity to donate to your particular cause.
Hewlett-Packard Admits To International Bribery and Money Laundering Schemes
Lock them up for what?
In Russia big business does NOT happen without involvement of government officials, who all EXPECT bribes and will NOT allow you to build your business if you do not pay them what they want.
So HP or whoever it is, if they want to deal in Russia they will be paying bribes to the politicians, there is no way around it at all. You can either do big business in Russia and as an ABSOLUTE requirement you will pay bribes, or you can forget about that market completely.
But hey, if you are talking about locking up the POLITICIANS that expect bribes, then I am 100% with you.
Tapering..... in China.
and so it starts. The Chinese government decided to stop buying up US Treasuries and they are likely not going to roll over the US bonds that they already own, that would be Trillions of dollars that the Fed will have to print to buy up this incoming flood of the old Treasuries and without the Chinese in the US bond market, the Fed will have to buy up all of the new issued debt as well.
In this case what is good for the Chinese is bad for the Americans, Chinese are going to see a long needed deflation finally, while the Americans will see massive amounts of inflation, so much of which was exported to China previously, coming back.
Ho Hos are back, no word on the Ding Dongs
On November 21, 2012, Hostess Brands was shut down and went through a bankruptcy procedure to restructure its debts. On June 7, 2013, Hostess is open for business again under the new management.
This is an example of what free market based restructuring looks like after a company goes through normal bankruptcy due to no longer being able to operate and carry on with its fiscal responsibilities to the lenders, bond and share holders. Obviously the restructuring made the company profitable again, the plants and equipment were bought at auctions, the unions and various obligations to those unions written off as they should be.
The socialist/fascist/collectivist media is complaining full force that many people lost their jobs, of-course that was the point - restructuring debts, restructuring operations, streamlining operations, ensuring that the business can continue without impossible liabilities.
If it were up to the socialists/fascists/collectivists, the government would have stepped in (right into it) and bailed out the unions as it did in case of GM and some others. Of-course GM is going to fail again because it is still structurally unsound, even more so than before.
Had GM been allowed to go through the same bankruptcy procedures, the plants would have been bought up in auctions by more responsible owners at large discounts and made profitable again, plants and equipment don't go to waste, capitalism reclaims discarded pieces of business to rebuild them specifically because they have no liability baggage attached to them after restructuring.
Instead when the government steps in, it ensures that the business continues as usual, the only way governments know how - by stealing from actual owners and loading business with more liability and debt ensured by the tax payers.
It is a good thing that Hostess was allowed to go bankrupt, GM and all the banks should have also been allowed to go bankrupt, they would have re-emerged, clean slate, made profitable again in a sustainable manner.
This time capitalism won, the brand is back in business and people can enjoy their wonder breads and whatever other products named with plenty of sexual innuendo.
Interpreting the Constitution = breaking the law.
I think it is funny what is happening on /. in terms of comment moderation, it seems like a very dedicated and coordinated approach. So I think that comment should get its own journal entry, here it is.
I make the argument that the Constitution is not in fact a "living, breathing, malleable document", that it is to the government what criminal code is to an individual.
The Constitution is the law and when the government officials say that the law needs to be interpreted rather than clarified and amended if it is unclear on something, what they are saying and doing is they are breaking it.
A murder trial involves figuring out whether murder was committed and whether the individual in front of the judge and jury did it and what the punishment should be. Of-course jury can nullify the law, but so far I hear that nobody tried doing that during a murder trial. So the trial does not include figuring out whether murdering people is bad, whether the legislature that set the law meant for people to be murdered under certain circumstances, if the person murdering them was doing it while pursuing criminals (or terrorists) as a government official for example.
Same thing must be done in case of the Constitutional law, same thing exactly - if something is unclear in the Constitution it needs to be clarified IN the Constitution.
However the Constitution must be followed, it is the chains around the hands and the legs of the government. It is supposed to be the chains that hold government within its limits. But what happened to that idea? The politicians figured out that amending the Constitution is too damn hard, they would rather break the law and call that "an interpretation".
The fake 'Fiscal Cliff', the fake 'Debt Ceiling' and the fake SS refined
Tina Turner is getting her Swiss citizenship after spending the last 20 years living in Switzerland, in itself this is not news, what is interesting is the fact that she is renouncing her USA citizenship. USA is one of very few countries in the world that taxes foreign incomes of its citizens, even if they are not actually residents in America. For the singer this means millions in saved taxes obviously, good for her.
Gerard Depardieu renounced his French citizenship and moved to Belgium (though now he also has his new Russian passport, that's an weird turn of events given that in Russia the real taxes on individual entrepreneurs are ridiculously high, one needs to be connected to government to be able to keep his gains, the rest are living under constant threat of government violence against them, there are really no property rights in that country).
Bernard Arnault, probably the wealthiest businessman in France, owner of Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy applied for Belgian citizenship, he is probably worried about his income but also wealth and death taxes in France.
There is a theme there, and that theme is: for people who hate the rich so much, they certainly like to rely on them for productivity and tax money. Another thing that comes to mind has something to do with geese and golden eggs, but I am not sure socialists are quite verse in such esoteric matters.
Funny enough, Bill Maher said something a couple of days ago that was actually mildly correct. Of-course he doesn't understand that he is part of the problem, when he talks about the 'dirtbags', he is enabling people to be 'dirtbags' by promoting socialist, collectivist, fascist ideas. He is correctly noticing that the number of people 'pulling the wagon' is shrinking and the number of people 'riding in the wagon' is growing. Well, Bill, you are part of the reason that so many people decided they will not pull the wagon, that it is much more comfortable sitting in the wagon, and worse yet, yapping from the wagon at the people that are pulling it to pull harder.
The people in the wagon are yelling that the ones pulling the wagon are 'not doing their fair share'.
The fake 'Fiscal Cliff', the fake 'Debt Ceiling' and the fake SS
In this journal entry I will explain that the so called 'Fiscal Cliff' is actually something positive for USA economy and that avoiding it is part of the problem and that the solution that the government is looking for is fake. I will explain that the real cliff that USA has to be worried about is not the 'Fiscal Cliff', which in fact should be much bigger, it's not a cliff, it's a tiny bump in the road, but the real cliff that USA is moving towards is the debt and currency crisis. 'Fiscal Cliff' is part of a solution, it's not a problem itself. I will also show that 'Debt Ceiling' is fake (everybody knows that part), but also that the rhetoric surrounding 'Debt Ceiling' is completely misleading and the words that come out of mouths of politicians, such as Obama and supposed 'mainstream economists' are the exact opposite of the truth.
Just like the 'Fiscal Cliff' thing that isn't going anywhere, the 'Debt Ceiling' is also a topic for discussion. What is 'Fiscal Cliff'? It is a deal that the US government supposedly brokered with the rating agencies to prevent them from lowering USA credit rating. The deal is to cut some spending and to raise some revenue in order to reduce overall deficit and debt. Of-course a real rating agency (Egan Jones) wasn't swayed by that nonsense and lowered US credit rating a number of times and is sued by SEC.
What is the problem? The problem is that at some point any credit rating agency has to lower credit standing of an individual or a company or a country that cannot pay its bills and lives on perpetual credit. Your credit risk is measured and presented to potential debt buyers (creditors), that's the point of a credit agency. The credit agencies that did not yet lower USA credit are in bed with the USA government, they are in fact licensed by USA government, the moment they don't play ball they will feel the entire wrath of USA government upon them.
Playing ball in this case means keeping the score artificially high. USA credit score is in reality junk. USA is a deadbeat debtor, it is a terrible credit risk, it cannot repay its debts. That's precisely the words that come out of USA politician and so called economist collective mouths, they are all repeating this same nonsense:
If USA cannot get into more debt, it will default on its payments.
That is pure nonsense. Today USA only has to shell out 360 Billion USD in interest payments per year to not default on its interest payment obligations. This is not about repaying the creditors at all, this has nothing to do with the principal, the USA government promises to default on the minimal interest payments to its creditors if it can't raise more debt. But these words by USA politicians are extremely dangerous, they are the proof that USA has no intention of ever repaying that debt, not even making the minimum yearly payment that it can absolutely pay out of its tax revenues.
USA is a deadbeat debtor and every politician in USA and every so called 'mainstream economist' says exactly that every time they open their mouth to tell the world that if USA cannot raise more debt it won't make the 360 Billion USD interest payment for the year!
But I want to show you that the fact is that USA can make its yearly interest payment with just the revenues that it collects from taxes, that the real reason people like Obama talk about default has nothing at all to do with the minimum yearly interest payment, it has everything to do with the fact that US of A is completely broke, it's bankrupt, its Treasury is bare and its financial obligations cannot be met.
Consider these numbers for the year 2013:
1. The total tax revenues for USA Federal government are 2.46 Trillion USD.
2. The total expenses for USA Federal government are 3.8 Trillion USD.
3. The interest payment on the outstanding public debt that is on the books is at least 360 Billion USD for the year based on the interest rate (which is manipulated by Federal reserve and other banks, but that's a separate subject matter).
4. Social Security benefit payouts are budgeted as 882.7 Billion USD.
5. Medicare for the year is budgeted at 523 Billion USD.
6. Medicaid for the year is budgeted at 283 Billion USD.
7. Other mandatory programs for the year is budgeted at 654 Billion USD.
8. War will cost 525.4 Billion USD.
Add it up, that's 2.868 Trillion USD
That is not even everything, there is other spending, discretionary spending, etc., which is another 932 Billion USD (difference between 3.8 Trillion and 2.868 Trillion).
So the total revenues are 2.46 Trillion USD, total expenses are 3.8 Trillion USD, the interes payment is 360 Billion USD. If you get rid of the interest payment from both sides, that leaves about 2.1 Billion in revenues and 3.4 Billion in spending. This already means that there is a gap of 1.3 Trillion USD between revenues and expenses.
That gap of 1.3 Trillion USD is what the entire fake 'Debt Ceiling' crisis is about. Why is it fake? Because it will be raised, there is no question about it, the government will raise its own debt ceiling. The government will not be stopped by artificial lending limits imposed by itself upon itself (the debt ceiling idea was introduced in 1917, at the same time as the Federal reserve was given the green light to monetise US Treasury debt, the debt ceiling was there to prevent overspending by government, but USA government never failed to raise it every time it hit it).
To expect government to impose its own debt ceiling upon its spending is precisely like expecting an alcoholic to impose his own drinking limit upon himself or a drug addict to impose a drug limit for himself. It can't happen, it won't happen, just like in cases of the alcoholic and the drug addict, the debt ceiling will be a hard one, imposed by the reality, by the creditors. Once Chinese stop subsidising USA consumption with its production and absorption of USA created inflation, then USA will no longer be able to get into more debt, nobody will give USA the opportunity. That's when the real CRISIS will hit, when USA has nothing to consume. Americans believe they have a new type of economy, they call it 'consumption based economy', well there is no such thing.
There no consumption based economy, there is no service economy, there is no difference between the pre-industrial and post-industrial economies. The only thing that keeps such a thing going is the wealth that was accrued over the productive years and the inertia of the world that can't actually come to terms with the fact that its debts will never be repaid, USA cannot repay them.
Now, why can't USA repay the debts? Are the people wrong when they say that what is needed is economic recovery and then things will get better? Yes, they are wrong. There is no recovery, there can be no recovery, there will be no recovery. The reason for that is that to have a recovery USA has to experience deleveraging first. The bad debts have to be written off, the companies must go bankrupt, banks must fail (and they will, they are part of the money laundering operation in USA, which pumps fake money in form of new credit from the Fed to the commercial banks to the Treasury and the commercial banks make the arbitrage between the fake 0% interest rate on the Fed's loans and the fake 2-3% Treasury interest rates for 10, 20, 30 year bonds).
Until the bad debts are written off, until the failed companies fail and release the scarce resources that they are still occupying, until the government stops pumping liquidity into the market to try and inflate the credit bubble out of the recession again (this time it's the bond and the dollar bubble), there can be no economic recovery. That's why we know that there will be a real crisis, the sovereign debt crisis in USA and the dollar crisis that will come with it, because US Treasury bonds are the same thing as US dollars. They are a promise to be paid USD in the future, there is no difference between dollars and bonds.
I hope it is now clear to the readers that what is actually happening with the fake 'Fiscal Cliff' and the fake 'Debt Ceiling' crises is actually a political game that will be played until there is a real monetary collapse in USA. USA is already in an economic collapse, but it does not have to go through the monetary collapse, it chooses to go through it. Why do I say that? Because of the fake 'solutions' that the government and the people apparently want to implement to these fake 'crises'. Their solutions are not solutions, their solutions are equivalent to a person driving a run away car on a road to an actual cliff and instead of trying to break, instead of turning, even instead of jumping out of the car, the driver just closes his eyes and pushes the pedal to the metal while keeping the same direction!
I think the road that USA is taking is economic and societal suicide. USA just cannot admit that SS, Medicare, Medicaid, War, other 'mandatory' and 'discretionary' spending that it wants to keep should be cut drastically in order just to slow down the real collapse that is coming. Actually what really has to be done is shutting down most of the government offices, abandoning the ideas of SS, Medicare, Medicaid, Wars and most other government practices and activities, getting rid of most of business regulations, getting rid of the income related taxes, payroll taxes, Medicare taxes, all labour related laws, etc., and allowing the failed businesses to fail, allowing the failed government structures to fail, allowing the failed people to fail.
That's the only way to stop that car and actually turn back going away from the edge of the cliff.
Notice that the cliff I am talking about is the debt and currency crises, not the fake 'Fiscal Cliff' and 'Debt Ceiling' crises.
When Obama says:
"We must pay our debts, we must borrow more money to do it", what he actually says is this:
We cannot pay out obligations, not the 360 Billion, but SS, Medicare, Medicaid, Wars, etc.
In reality getting more debt means not paying obligations.
Not getting more debt means actually paying obligations (but of-course I am talking about obligations to the bond holders, not the SS, Medicare, Wars, etc., that stuff cannot be paid without more debt).
When I say that 'Fiscal Cliff' is fake, I am addressing the actual topic of debt that USA collects, and I am showing that USA will vote to raise its fake debt ceiling and that whatever measures that POTUS and the government were supposed to take in the deal with the credit rating agencies will not be taken. There will be no measures, the spending will increase, the debt ceiling will grow and the so called 'Fiscal Cliff' will be averted. When I say: 'Fiscal Cliff' is fake, I am saying that the government (and the public) already know that they will avert it.
The truth is that USA needs to hit the 'Fiscal Cliff', hitting it actually means starting to slow down that car that is moving towards the edge of the real cliff, of the debt and currency crises cliff.
The 'Fiscal Cliff' as it stands is nowhere near enough to stop the car, but it would cause a slight slowdown of the car moving towards the real cliff. Unfortunately for USA the fiscal cliff is not a cliff at all, it's a slight bump in the road, it's not going stop the car falling off the edge of the real cliff that is coming (the bond and dollar collapse, the currency crisis to go with the economic crisis that USA is in now and which will become much worse than anybody can even imagine today).
USA needs the fiscal cliff, it has to be a much bigger fiscal cliff, but USA will not hit it, it will 'solve' it, and that solution is the problem, that solution coupled with raising the fake 'Debt Ceiling' means closing your eyes while pushing the pedal to the metal and keeping the direction towards the edge of the real cliff.
The remaining idea I would like to address is the idea that USA spending is not a problem that USA federal government is not getting enough revenue. If you believe that it is the case then realise that effective taxes have to go up to cover the 1.3Trillion dollar difference between the current revenues and expenses, and since the current revenues are about 2.4Trillion and expenses are 3.7Trillion, the 1.3Trillion means an effective raise of about 54% in taxes on every person.
Does anybody think that it is possible to raise effective taxes in USA by 54%? An attempt to raise effective taxes upon everybody by 54% will cause a complete shutdown of most (if not all) economic activity in the country. Obviously the wealthy are already bearing a disproportionate tax load and they are moving their productivity elsewhere and the middle class and the poor would be crashed if their taxes went up that way.
So in reality it is the spending that needs to be cut minimum by that much in order actually to stop the car from falling off the edge of the real cliff.
Privately maintained and restored infrastructure.
Here you all can see something on youtube that shows how private enterprise deals with infrastructure when it has to do it.
On this youtube channel you can see videos reporting progress and a final opening of a bridge that was fixed privately by some entrepreneurs, who put together money, resources, machinery (one of them, Sergei Zaharov owns a metal shop).
The bridge was going to be fixed by the local government for 13.5 Million rubles, which is about 445000 USD, however the private businessmen spent their own time (3 months altogether), a total of 40 people were involved in the project and they fixed the bridge for only 300,000 rubles, which is only about 10,000 USD.
You can see the video of the opening of the bridge once it was fixed here.
Here is what the problem looked like originally.
This was 1 month into the renovation.
2 months into the renovation.
Here is an example of the work that had to be done.
Private individuals can and do in fact restore and maintain infrastructure and they do it at a fraction of the cost of what government spends (or wants to spend).
Despite all the naysayers out there.
-1 Insightful, -1 Informative, -1 Interesting, etc.
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3350403&cid=42441223 - investment vs government spending.
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3350403&cid=42440107 - debt, deficit, trade.
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3350403&cid=42440039 - 'budget crisis', bond bubble.
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3350403&cid=42440905 - SS theft, minimum 50% spending cut to balance the budget.
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3350403&cid=42441005 - non-gov't functions.
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3350403&cid=42444115 - Clinton's debt growth, no balance.
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3350403&cid=42444653 - on gold.
This is not a review, the movie had enough of those, this is just a thought. Apparently what people expect from their superheros nowadays is ability to sacrifice millions 'for the sake of saving billions' and the superheros who refuse to go alone with that scheme must be killed (and they are in the movie). I think the director is counting on securing support of an average movie-goer, selling him on the idea that sacrificing a small number of people is just fine as long as the majority supposedly gains from it.
Of-course the entire concept is nonsense, there can be no beneficial murder. Sacrificing a minority for the benefit of a majority is not a virtue, it is a crime against individuals and their rights. Also while believing that world's super-powers (the countries with nuclear potential to destroy the planet) would cooperate against a common enemy is somewhat sound, believing that such a truce would be long lived or would lead to a more stable situation is nonsense. Power will not be shared and it only takes a little time before the old enemies are at each other's throats again. Of-course there is an added level of 'benefit' that their major cities are destroyed, which cannot make political or economic situation more stable, it would however achieve the exact opposite result.
If the Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt) wanted to increase stability in the world and achieve some for of higher cooperation among enemies, given his insight into limitless power he could have fairly easily achieved this goal by supplying the world with huge amount of very cheap energy. He could set up multiple corporations around the world selling the energy so cheaply, first he would put many 'old world' energy companies out of business but then he would provide enough energy for many new forms of businesses to be created. Cheaper food production and manufacturing, cheaper shipping, cheaper communications. Everything that he could do with the power and he chooses to pursue his idea of playing out the dreams of another murderer from history - Alexander the Great.
If after watching this movie an average person is left with an impression that it is an acceptable thing to do, to sacrifice minority for the benefit of majority (even if it means ideas based around grandiose totalitarian utopia and even when it is masked with a supposed formula for survival) then the director has done his job in cementing more of this collectivist ideology of central planning, the anti-humanist idea that anything goes as long as the technocrat can sell it as if it is done "for the greater good".
The greatest crimes on this planet were committed by people promising to ensure "the greater good". The future of such crimes is not behind single individuals, it is behind the mob, voting completely democratically to bring about yet another totalitarian regime. A regime that would take care of the mob by making a beneficial sacrifice of a small number of people (and small number of people would always lose in a democratic elections, thus the definition of mobocracy).
From murder of millions to "save billions" in the super-hero movies to taxing the few wealthy 1-2% apparently to ensure economic prosperity of everybody else. It doesn't work in the movie and it doesn't work in real life. It's not good morality and it's not good economics, but it makes a great show and sounds good in politics.
Another day on /.
Another day on /., another batch of troll moderators perpetrating a coordinated (or an uncoordinated) moderation attack as has been the case for a few months now. One thing is for sure, they don't forget to go back to comments made days ago and moderate them down religiously, whatever they are. It is especially effective in case when the story is no longer on the front page (but also it doesn't matter much I suppose either, nobody is really reading any longer at that moment in time) The comments that are moderated somewhat above the -1 score will be moderated down by subsequent moderators, who will also come over to the page to get rid of any positive scores. Often the moderations happen in batches, which is easy to see, since moderations of multiple comments happen within a span of a couple of minutes. Very often the comments are left with moderation: '-1 Insightful' or '-1 Informative' or '-1 Interesting'.
The comments are mostly moderated Troll, sometimes Flamebait, sometimes Offtopic and sometimes simply Overrated.
including comments in my journal
Clearly the intent behind the moderation is to silence the opinion, not for any other purpose, since moderating past commentary this way does not have any role in any current discussion, so the reason to moderate comments in stories that nobody is reading for a few days is to ensure that in the future only a limited number of comments can be made from the account (2 comments per 24 hours is the maximum that can be made when the 'karma' score is minimal.)
The attack is obviously personal in nature, since the same exact thing is happening in my second account and the responses that are left on my comments after the moderation by various ACs imply that this is done to ensure that the voice of the opposition to their ideology is silenced.
Of-course not every comment there is at the bottom of the score pyramid, however the moderations that push the comments down come after the discussions are over, a couple of days after nobody else is reading the threads, which simply shows the indiscriminate nature of the attack.
Clearly there are people who cannot argue against my type of message but they surely do not want to have my message around to create an echo chamber that prevents any sort of a real discussion.
Given the modern time attitudes on class warfare with comments like these insisting that the class war is waged by the rich on the middle class and the poor, and generally the media and politicians insisting that the 'rich are not paying the fair share', I decided to take a look at historic income tax data that can still be found on IRS site
Individual income tax returns starting from 1954
Business tax returns starting from 1959
The current tax returns up to 2010
It is a surprise to look at those records, since the currently accepted message is that the rich are paying much less than before and that they were paying much more in the fifties when the tax rates were up to 70 and even 91%.
Happy to report that this is pure nonsensical propaganda.
An example of individual income returns from 1958 and 2012 shows that only 236 people paid some money at the silly 91% rate that is out of 45.6 Million tax returns that were filed.
Another interesting finding is that 0.178% of all returns filed paid 35% or higher, which means only 8549 people paid 35% in taxes or more. 3.5% of all income taxes in 1958 were paid by these top earners, who paid 35% or more in taxes.
Compare that to the current situation, there are 2.5Million taxpayers (which is almost 2% of all tax payers) that paid 35% or more.
Interestingly enough today 3.5% of top earners pay 41.5% of all income taxes.
So how can this be that the populist message is that in 1950s the tax code was so much more progressive and the rich paid so much more in taxes (and that's apparently why the economy was so strong, or so the liberals and progressives tell us today), yet today 2.5 Million people pay 35% or more in taxes and pay 41.5% of all income taxes while in 1958 only 8549 people (0.178 of all filers) paid 35% or more in taxes, which constituted only 3.5% of all income taxes.
Clearly the propaganda machine is well and running.
Review of The Campaign (the film)
Finally I got to watch a movie I heard of some time ago, it's called The Campaign with Will Ferrel, Zach Galifianakis, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox and others. It has some memorable moments and it is definitely funny. Unfortunately the message that it is sending is horrendous, to explain what I mean by this I will have to give out many spoilers, so if you don't want to see any of that stop reading right here.
The movie is about a 4 term Democratic Congressman, Cam Brady (Ferrel), running for the 14th district in North Carolina, who is behaving like a clown mostly because he has no positions of his own and he is quite silly in real life. As he says (paraphrasing): America, Jesus, Freedom, I don't know why they like when I say it but they do and so I say it. He is such a clown though, that eventually it costs him his political capital and a powerful business interest, represented by "Motch Brothers" (Aykroyd, Lithgow) (an obvious jab towards the Koch brothers), who are interested in increasing efficiency of their production facility in China, and to do this they want to open factories in America and bring Chinese labour to those factories. The reason in the movie is that the Chinese work for 50 cents an hour and work in unsafe conditions. In order to achieve this, the Motch brothers went on buying large pieces of land in the 14th district and now they need their own Congressman to pass legislation that would abolish the minimum wage and the EPA rules, which would not normally allow operation of that type of a factory because of some form of pollution that it would produce. The factories in America would increase profits of the operation by cutting down shipping costs but they would be manned by the 'insourced' Chinese labour, not by American workers.
Normally the Motch brothers would just buy Cam Brady, but Brady is having political problems and so they came up with a simpleton Republican candidate, Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), son of Raymond Huggins (Cox) to run against Cam Brady. A number of hilarious scenes are then shown, with various comical situations where Huggins is running against Brady. However somewhere alone the line, Brady finds out about Motch brothers intentions and decides to go against them because he finds their actions immoral. The Motch brothers then turn the game around, approach Brady and eventually rig the elections and ensure that Brady wins. However after the elections, Brady talks to Huggins and changes his mind, declares that he is not a good Congressman but a good Politician and resigns, asking Brady to become the Congressman instead. At the end everybody is happy that the Motch brothers lost the money on their land deals and that the factories will not be opened in the 14th district.
Ok, so that's the story. If you are like most other people who watch this movie, you are led towards the conclusion that is imposed upon you by the makers of the film, you probably think that this is a great win for America (Jesus and Freedom), and the People, who are standing strong against the powerful evil, profiteering business interests and that the politicians, while misguided, are actually good guys and they are together with the people and they just need to be shown what is the right thing in order to do it.
There are a number of serious problems with this movie, starting with the fact that this is a great piece of pro-collectivist, pro-central planning, anti-competitive, anti-capitalist, anti-humanist, anti-Constitutional propaganda. Of-course there is an attempt to hide it behind the veil of being non-partisan, since it is the Democrat, who is shown to be the politician that is in the wrong (for the most of the movie) and it is a Republican candidate that is shown to be in the right (once he gets the situation), however what is actually shown is that the Republican candidate is not actually a Republican, or put more correctly, he is not actually a conservative candidate.
A conservative candidate should understand that bringing production facilities to America is a good development. This means brining investment capital into the country, allowing tools, machinery, supply chain, management to be established to produce the goods that people apparently want to buy. After all, the Motch brothers said they were making double profits by moving production to China already and they would make double profits on top of double profits by moving production facilities back to America as long as they could produce in the same conditions as they did in China. This means that the product (kids toys, dolls and such), are a well selling product in America, so Americans are happy to buy the cheaper product that is produced in China (there wouldn't be any doubling of the profits if the Americans didn't buy more of the product, and by moving production to China, the Motch brothers lowered their production costs, allowing them to lower the sale prices and thus capturing more of the market share).
A conservative candidate should understand that government regulations surrounding minimum wage and EPA laws are actually hurting the economy and preventing businesses from bringing in capital into the country, preventing new production facilities to start manufacturing again. In fact any number of insourced Chinese labourers would still be better for the Americans, if the product was manufactured within the borders, the cost of the final product would be lower, the pollution and energy expense due to shipping would be lower, the trade deficit would be lower (those goods don't have to be imported if they are produced domestically), the Chinese workers would be spending their earned salaries in USA, there are all the income taxes that would be paid, the 14th district would rebuild some of the supply chain links, there would be more jobs eventually surrounding the factories. If the operation proved successful, more factories could be open in USA eventually, and Americans would start working in them again, even though without the minimum wage and EPA laws, but they would have jobs that would further reduce economic dependency on the rest of the manufacturing world. Eventually the Americans would decrease the trade deficit and would start working out the debt problem, and as more of the capital would be saved, the factories could be made more and more efficient, but this nearly always means less and less polluting without any EPA rules, that's just how technology works. The minimum wage laws are a problem in America and the rest of the Western world, with tens of millions unemployed people it should be obvious that minimum wage and the welfare state is the wrong path for economic growth and prosperity.
Of-course there are other problems with the movie, as I mentioned already, the politicians are shown as almost noble people, who are truly there for the 'common good' and for 'the people' and anything that they do wrong only is a consequence of the greedy, evil business interest. The politicians are shown in a positive light and the business people are shown to be evil. However it were the business people that tried brining the capital and production back into USA and it were the politicians that stopped it in this movie. It were the Motch brothers that wanted to open the factories, nobody else did. The business people are shown to be immoral, evil, greasy profiteers, who do not think about anything else but themselves.
Of-course what is omitted is the fact that these very 'greedy, evil' businessmen brought the goods to the Americans, that the Americans were willing to buy voluntarily, without any forceful coercion. This is exactly what makes businessmen and profits a much more moral enterprise than any politician, because politicians are pushing laws on people that people would normally not want to comply with voluntarily and this is done through threat of government violence. Also while businessmen are thinking profits first of all, that does not change the reality that profits made out of voluntary exchange of products and services allow for actual economic growth, that is because obviously the consumption of the wealthy individuals is limited to some amount per year, but their investments are limited only by their ability to earn. And so by limiting wealthy people's ability to earn with laws, regulations, taxes, inflation, what is actually limited is not their consumption but their savings and thus their investments, which means production.
The point is that the makers of this movie rely on people's lack of understanding of all things: economics, politics, history. It is unfortunate that most people will likely simply follow the path that is laid before them by the producers, take the bait and leave having a stronger belief that the government is the actual answer to the economic and societal problems, while business and free market is the wrong approach. Of-course the reality is that it is only business within the context of competitive free market capitalism that allows growth of economic wealth and thus improving quality of life for everybody in the society.
In this case the 'trickle down' part of the economics was the cheap, abundant products created by the capitalists and the new investments available to the society via the savings and investments that come out of profits made on the sale of those products. The efficiencies that are gained by the Motch brothers, which allow them to make more profits by running factories closer to where the sale occurs, also allows bringing the price for the final product down, which allows the consumer to have more purchasing power, because he now has to spend less money buying that very product.
The politicians of-course are not fighting to get elected to stand for any real economic growth or the people, if they were, they would be on the side of all people, not just the majority, who wants to impose various confiscatory policies upon those, who are much more productive and thus have more earning power themselves. Quite the opposite is true, the politicians know very well that they can always pander to the public and use that as leverage to pass various legislation, that forces the businesses to shell out more money to those very politicians, so that the businesses could get around the legislation. Of-course this has many effects, first of all it fills the coffers of the politicians, but it also limits competition only to those companies, who get access to the political power. Coincidentally this reduces competition in the market and causes prices for the end consumers to rise, which reduces efficiency and steal purchasing power from the people, while simultaneously reducing the economic activity that would otherwise take place.
So this movie, while being hilarious in places, is extremely damaging if taken on its face value, but that is the most likely outcome for the most of the public that will end up watching this great piece of anti-capitalist, pro-collectivist and thus pro-government and anti-individual rights propaganda.
Bernanke votes for Obama
Federal Reserve came out with an open ended QE, the sequence number does not matter (it's officially 3, but really it's much more than that, Federal Reserve has been buying up bonds and generally creating fake money and propping up the financial sector for a very long time now).
Of-course the economy is as always the victim of this type of behaviour, the savers are further punished, anybody living off of fixed income is further punished, everybody living pay check to pay check is further punished, because all new money that the government creates either prevents deflation (which is a normal situation for a productive market) or it even forces the prices to increase (which is what the majority of people think of when they think about inflation).
Of-course rising prices are not a meaningful measure of economy at all, actually falling prices is a better measure, because it means there is more competition, there are more efficiencies, better technology, more automation, all of which allows the businesses (corporation and other types of businesses) to lower their prices to compete for the customer base. That was a normal course of events for USA before the Federal Reserve was set up, almost 100 years ago. Prices were falling and the money was growing in value.
The increase in prices in the markets will be blamed by the politicians upon the speculators, but of-course speculators are not to blame for the increase of prices, as far as the market is concerned, the speculators have really under-appreciated real assets. The prices of commodities and equities are being held down relative to the promise of open-ended Federal Reserve action. When somebody says: gold is too expensive at 1700 per ounce, they don't realise that they are measuring the value of gold is a currency that has no value at all given the promise of the Federal Reserve and all other central banks in the world to buy up debt with fake money. This is monetisation of debt, this is the reason for the equity prices going up as well as commodity prices.
Equity prices are prices of companies in the market and since the Fed promises to wipe out debt with inflation, the companies also 'gain' from this action, because they are holders of debt as well. However the real rise in equity prices is simply a function of the open-ended fiat currency supply in the market.
This action does show that the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke is voting for Obama in these coming elections. Obviously Bernanke doesn't want to go back to a teaching position some place nowhere in Princeton, he wants to stay in power, he enjoys it, and thus he is helping the sitting president (as every Fed chairman has done before) to get re-elected by providing a short term fix to the long term problem and thus making the long term problem much graver, the consequences of an open-ended monetary expansion is inflation and potential hyper inflation and destruction of the currency. For obvious reason a destroyed currency does not help the economy.
Most of the so called 'economists' that are really government mouth pieces, are calling for more of this type of action, some are even saying that the Fed is doing today what it should have done back in the thirties 'to prevent depression'. Of-course these are witch doctors, in the late twenties and all the way through the thirties (except a short period of time) and through the forties and so on, the Federal reserve has been in the market, propping up bond prices, forcing interest rates lower.
The politicians and 'economists' and various pundits are talking about the coming 'Fiscal Cliff' as if that is the actual problem that the USA economy is facing. It's not a problem, it's part of a solution, which will be avoided. They are all very conveniently forgetting that this so called 'Fiscal Cliff' situation was a response by the government promising to cut spending, a response to a rating agency promising not to lower the rating of the USA sovereign debt.
The real problem for USA is not cutting spending it's the opposite. The real problem for the US (and other countries) economy is to continue spending, to continue government programs that cannot be paid for, to continue printing currencies, to continue expanding government powers, to continue destroying savings, to continue trying to push interest rates down.
Of-course the bond market today has responded in a logical manner, surprisingly enough, given how it responded previously. The prices for bonds are falling, so the interest rates on bonds are going up. Eventually this process will become unstoppable, just like the resolve of the Fed and US government (and all other governments and central banks in the world) to destroy the value of their money.
The solution for the people is not to follow their governments off this real cliff, the fake money cliff, which ends up being the economic cliff. The solution is to avoid fiat currencies of the world altogether. In fact anything except for currencies and various debt instruments is a valid way to avoid inflation, some things are better than others (precious metals, other commodities, farming), some are not as good (various non-farming and non-mining and non-financial equities, properties), but these are completely the wrong way to go: currencies, government bonds, financial equities.
Obama is going to be re-elected, so people like this are going to continue setting the policies and for those who don't have much in terms of savings it is going to become a serious problem. Maybe investing in a small piece of farming land is not such a bad idea, for those who can't do it on their own, maybe it makes sense to stock up on various non-perishable goods. The prices are going up and will go up further, again, not because of any speculation or even bad weather and droughts, it's very specifically tied to the inflation that all the governments are involved in at this point.
Comments that are worth making
Comments that are moderated positively on /. are not worth making.
ACA ruling by the SCOTUS
The SCOTUS passed its ruling on the ACA and a large number of people are confused about parts of it, what is really in it substantively one way or another?
Is the ACA mandate really Constitutional? Well, 5 out of 4 justices said that it is, of-course it would be a bad outcome if such a close call was made upon a case deciding whether it is Constitutional for the government to execute people without a trial on a hunch of a president, but that can never happen, or ?
There are many interesting questions raised about ACA, but one is particularly intriguing, how is the mandate to buy insurance from a private company or face a penalty (tax under the SCOTUS ruling) Constitutional?
Also how is ACA Constitutional at all, given that this is a Senate bill and it did not originate in Congress as all bills are supposed to? Well, let's just leave that for later.
So let's examine the interesting points of the ruling:
1. The majority opinion is that the mandate is only Constitutional as a tax. The reason for this is that as a fine, this is unconstitutional, because it is an admission of an attempt to legislate by punitive taxation. The other reason is that the opinion also states that the government cannot use the commerce clause to force people to buy something that they are not buying otherwise. Now, there is a legal precedent for an opposite ruling actually, AFAIC regardless of what SCOTUS said in Wickard v. Filburn, that ruling was wrong and allowing the government to force a farmer to buy wheat when he is not interested in buying it is unconstitutional. But then again, so many people are excited about the ruling of 4 to 5 justices this way, though it clearly could have gone the opposite direction. The question of-course is: should there be so much room given to the SCOTUS justices to maneuver that they could rule one way or another basically on a whim and also because of public pressure? Does this really defend the Constitution or does it actually do something completely opposite?
2. The majority opinion is that this tax is only Constitutional because it is a small tax and ACA does not give authority to the IRS to enforce it by force (garnishing wages or imprisonment). The reason for this is that if the tax was punitive, then the SCOTUS would have to declare it unconstitutional, because it would mean that the government is trying to legislate by taxation what it cannot legislate directly, and this cannot be done. There are plenty of precedents as to why this is illegal, a simple example is prohibition that required an amendment to be passed to the Constitution. Passing an amendment is much more difficult than raising a tax, but still to stop people from consuming alcohol the government could not simply pass a 1,000,000 dollar tax upon sale of a bottle of booze, because this would clearly be a way to prevent people from drinking, which is a legislative move, but to do it with taxes. Taxing is not supposed to be replacement for legislation, and that is why it is very important to understand, that Roberts wrote that the mandate stands as is because the tax (fine) is very low and doesn't actually force anybody to buy insurance.
This means that in principle if the tax (fine) is raised from its current level (and it will have to be raised, otherwise ACA is completely unworkable, everybody who has to pay for insurance under the ACA will cancel insurance and only 'buy' it when they absolutely need to and then cancel again, once done with the bills) so if the tax is raised, the mandate becomes immediately unconstitutional and ACA has to go back to the supreme court!
Of-course in practice it's not going to happen, the lower courts will misinterpret what this is and will rule that raising the tax is constitutional and the SCOTUS will deny hearing it again, so in practice this doesn't matter anymore, they found a loophole to pass ACA and now they won't bother with what they have to do technically to keep it legal, just like how they implemented the income tax (which is still illegal today, it is only legal as a tax on corporate profits, not an 'income' tax and not a personal tax).
3. Majority opinion stated that the mandate tax (fine) is not a direct tax based on a completely faulty notion that it only applies to a small number of people who are currently uninsured and will not buy insurance in the future. This is wrong on many points. First, direct tax means a tax that is forced upon a person directly and that person pays directly to the government. The direct tax must be apportioned to be legal though, that's why Roberts said that this tax is not direct, which makes it something else - excise tax or a duty or import. It's not a duty or import, so it's an excise. But how can this tax be an excise, like a sales tax, if the person who is forced to pay it, is only forced because he is not participating in commerce, he is not buying something (insurance)?
There is a contradiction in the ruling that is glaring, it is amazing people are not seeing it: the SCOTUS found that the commerce clause doesn't apply to make mandate legal, but simultaneously the majority opinion stated that the mandate tax (fine) is not a direct tax, while stating that the commerce clause doesn't apply. Either the commerce clause applies, and thus the excise tax can apply or the commerce clause does not apply, but that means that no excise tax can be levied.
Either it's commerce or it is not commerce, and if it is not commerce, then commerce tax cannot apply, and excise is a commerce tax - tax on the act of buying (well, in this case not buying) something.
It is likely that there will be a situation at some point, when a person will not buy insurance and will be fined under the ACA and will take this to court. Assuming that the lower court would understand what is written in the SCOTUS decision, and assuming that the lower court would care, would want to go after the truth of the matter, this can in principle end up back before SCOTUS (if SCOTUS decides to hear it again, which is probably unlikely).
But if this happens, then the defence must bring forward this argument as well:
The mandate tax (fine) is unconstitutional because it is not a direct apportioned tax, it is not a uniform excise tax and it is not an income tax (an income tax, which is by the way only Constitutional as an unapportioned excise tax on corporate profits, you can read further for the explanation of that.)
These are taxes that can be levied by the US federal government legally:
1. Direct apportioned taxes, capitation and other direct apportioned taxes tax (a tax that applies to a person directly but is apportioned to the States). This means that if the federal government wants to raise taxes, it has to say by how much and it has to then use census data and depending on the populations of different States, apportion them their share. So if California has 12% of population, it would be responsible for 12% of this tax increase. Direct apportioned taxes were introduced by the founders this way in order to try and prevent 2 things:
a. Fraud in census data, that's because a State could overstate its population to send more Congressmen, Senators to the Washington.
b. US founders did not like direct taxes, they added that direct taxes had to be apportioned specifically so that poorer States would not always vote for tax increases. If the direct tax is not apportioned, then poorer States would always vote to increse taxes upon richer States, creating wealth redistribution and incentives to increase taxes on the rich (exactly the rhetoric by the government nowadays, that is so much supported by the poorer people). Apportioning direct taxes prevents this problem, because then direct taxes would have to be paid by poorer and wealthier states only depending on the size of their population.
2. Uniform excise taxes. These are indirect, so they can be collected from a person not directly, but through a merchant for example, such as sales taxes. Uniformity requirement means that there should not be special dealings when introducing them, people shouldn't be forced to pay different sales tax depending on their location or religion or race or whatever.
3. The 16th amendment allows for an income tax. This is a special situation, probably 99.9999% of people misunderstand what this is.
Initially the tax was introduced as an indirect tax, but SCOTUS saw through that argument and did not buy it. That's because the government made this argument: this is not a direct tax on people, it is a tax on people's income! In case of rental income, putting a tax on it is equivalent to putting a tax on property, so taxing rent is taxing its source - land and then it's a direct tax on the land owner.
In 1913 the new legislation appeared that stated that any income from any source can be taxed without apportionment. The 1916 Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad, 240 U.S. 1 (1916) court case stated that income can be taxed without apportionment. BUT this case does NOT state that income can be taxed directly, so from that case, the income tax is an unapportioned indirect excise tax.
In Brushaber the SCOTUS stated that in order to tax income, the income must be separated from its source, because it cannot be a direct tax, because it is unapportioned. So a rent income is not under this decision, because rent is tied to land and to the owner of the land.
Later SCOTUS decisions explained that separating income from source can be done with a corporate balance sheet, which means that the 16th amendment income tax is in reality a corporate profit tax. There is no legal, Constitutional personal income tax, people do not have profit, only corporations do. Profits are all expenses subtracted from all incomes, that's what can be taxed.
This actually is interesting from another perspective, so many people are upset about so called 'loopholes' that corporations have in order to lower their income taxes, but of-course all these so called 'loopholes' have to do with the fact that corporation has so many expenses, and government tries to reclassify various expenses in a way that would prevent them from being subtracted from incomes for the purposes of tax accounting. There is the entire notion of 'capital depreciation' (and the entire false 'scandal' about the 'corporate jets', which depreciate in 5 years instead of 7 years for commercial airliners). But this is total nonsense, as corporation has to buy the equipment and pay for it right away, but it is prevented from subtracting its expense from its income the year it bought the equipment, which often turns the situation into an impossible one, where a company with no profits is forced to take loans to pay income taxes!
So again, the income tax is not an income tax, it is only Constitutional as an excise tax on corporate profits. But this means that the current practice that IRS is involved in - collecting DIRECT UNAPPORTIONED taxes upon PEOPLE'S INCOME is completely unconstitutional, it is precisely the opposite in every way of what was declared as Constitutional by the Supreme Court of USA.
Given this history of behaviour of US government, it is very obvious that since ACA passed with a very narrow definition of how it is Constitutional, in the future of-course it will be enforced in a completely unconstitutional manner.
The tax (fine) will be raised, because people who do pay for their insurance today will stop paying, because this tax (fine) is so low today compared to the insurance plan payments. There will be some people who will be subsidised under the plan and will not have to pay for insurance, so they will 'buy' their plans with the subsidies. Also the people who actually need insurance to pay them right now, because they are sick, they will obviously 'buy' into insurance, since they cannot be denied due to the pre-existing conditions.
But this means that huge number of people will drop out of insurance, and the only people in it will be a minority of those who didn't have it until now and those who need insurance to pay for their treatment.
Under this scenario, the insurance companies will cease to operate. But of-course what is likely to happen is that the government will bail out the insurance companies with tax (and borrowed and printed) money. In the short term the government may even have an influx of cash because taxes (fines) will be collected from people who had private insurance prior to ACA but would cancel it now and just pay the tax (fine). But in the long run this means that insurance will become extremely expensive because of lack of payers and the government will be bailing out insurance with tax money at the new expensive rates.
So in conclusion, as always is the case, the name of the bill that came out of the government should be fully reversed by 180 degrees in order to understand the real consequences of this legislation.
This is not an 'Affordable Care Act', this is the exact opposite: the Unaffordable Care Act, because if people thought their premiums were going up quickly before ACA, they will be surprised just how good they used to have it.
note that Robert's decision that the mandate tax (fine) is indirect based on the idea that only a small part of the population will pay it faulty in another manner.
For a direct tax to be direct it is unnecessary that 100% of population pays it! People can be exempt from taxes and this means that no tax is paid by 100% of population (this never happens anyway), and thus the logic that the mandate is not a direct tax is faulty, but it can be understood why Roberts declared that, because if he had to admit that the tax is direct, it would immediately be unconstitutional, because it is unapportioned!
It should be noticed that ACA has various implications to the economy that are not fully appreciated by the businesses yet.
There will be a strong pressure upon the businesses to downsize the workforce, to make sure they do not have over 50 employees. Of-course companies will be dropping insurance coverage, so this is good news if taken out of the context of ACA, because it will provide some boost to people's incomes, as they will have a little more money in their pocket temporarily, that's because as employers will drop coverage, they will have to increase the salaries of their employees by some amount (also this depends if there are any penalties associated with not covering employees under the new ACA plan, because before ACA there were penalties to the employer).
But eventually as companies downsize there will be more unemployment and at the same time the insurance companies will be under pressure because they will lose so many current clients as people and companies cancel their insurance plans plans (it's a 'free ride' with no pre-existing conditions).
Eventually this will lead to a serious problem just because of ACA alone. The large firms that cannot downsize under 50 people quickly will be hit with extremely high insurance premiums all of a sudden, that so many people will cancel insurance and the rates will have to skyrocket.
The large companies will be in a pickle, this WILL mean more outsourcing and more firing and no hiring by large companies at all (and by companies that are at the 50 people threshold).
Past comments, because there are many.
Supreme Court: Affordable Care Act Is Constitutional - insurance is no longer insurance, stop paying for it, suckers, it'll save you money to cancel and get it when you need it - no pre-existing conditions now.
Are Patent Wars Worth the Price Tag? - patents and drug research
Bill Gates Says Tablets Aren't Much Help In Education - on businesses contributing to society
High-Frequency Traders Are the Ultimate Hackers, Says Mark Cuban - free markets, some silly notions of 'gaming the system'.
Silicon Valley Values Shift To Customersploitation - FB IPO
Pirate Bay Founder Fined For 'Continued Involvement' - fuck the copyright and patent laws.
Senator Pushes For Tougher H-1B Enforcement There is no such thing as a 'wage slave'. Everybody is free to attempt their own business or live on charity.
Sweden - more austere than most, more free market than many
It's going to be harder for Keynesians to use Sweden as an example of a country that is a socialist utopia, now that it is more austere than most and more free market oriented than many. Of-course Scandinavia has been moving in the free market, private enterprise direction for about 20 years now, so the arguments were wrong for 20 years at least, which didn't stop some from making them, but now there is even a better way to shut them up.
Of the Special Interests, by the Special Interests, for the Special Interests
"It is often that stories appear on /. about the various machinations of various government agencies and special interests that revolve around them to buy them, we are always on the receiving end of these collusions, be it ACTA, CISPA, the Patriot Act, NDAA, anything really.
If you ever wondered what it may look like when a non-special interest person makes it to one of the Congressional hearings in order to present the other side of the story, in order to give perspective of the tax payers, of a general member of public, then here is an example of what it looks like.
Peter Schiff was invited to this Congressional hearing (this is his second, his first one was a last year). He went to the hearing as a private individual, a person who has predicted the stock market crash of the late nineties, the housing bubble crash of 2008 and now is explaining why the USA is on a path towards the biggest bubble crash â" US dollar and bond crash, and the predictions are made simply by observing the fact that the government always ends up catering to the special interests, including political interests, which can never take the real corrective approach to the economy, which would require ditching the policy of controlling the interest rates on money, counterfeiting money (credit) by the Federal reserve, regulating the industries in a way that helps special interests in the first place.
In the room with him in this Congressional hearing were some of the people, to whom he gave speeches in 2005 and 2006 about the coming housing bubble collapse â" representatives of the mortgage bankers association.
You will notice that during the Congressional hearing, these special interests are treated as if they are impartial witnesses, while Schiff is mostly disregarded, of-course he does not represent a special interest in that room except that of a tax payer, so it is obvious he has no government solution to offer to the Congress.
Regardless of your point of view on the matter of FHA, it is an interesting review of what it looks like when special interests and the government get together and decide how to spend your tax money.
Gov't destroying a possible solution to the problem of dying bees
Interview starts at 1:01:00 - a small time bee keeper figures out that the real reason why his bees are dying is Monsanto's 'Roundup' and gov't destroys the research and a possibly immune bee queen without any court order or any reason rather than probably the most nefarious one.
Free Market Anarchist Entrepreneur Forces USPS to Fail
Ok, so it is not a news story, it is not a new story either, but it is something to consider given all of the claims that USPS is so efficient and provides the cheapest service that free market cannot provide.
USPS did have that challenge and USPS failed in it and it turned to government in order to drive the challenger out of the market with lawsuits and pro-government monopoly laws. The challenge came in a form of an Anarchist, Lysander Spooner, who started his own post mailing business back in January 11, 1844. The name of the business was Lysander Spooner's American Letter Mail Company.
The USPS in fact engaged in behaviour, that many anti-free marketers assign to private businesses.
Hoping to drive Spooner out of business without raising any constitutional questions, the Postmaster General resorted to some extra-legal measures. Transport companies were told that they would lose their government contracts unless they stopped carrying American Letter Mail Company mail.
What is interesting is that the USPS postage prices were set by the Congress, not by market forces, and so it took Congress to cut USPS prices in near half, from 25 cents for a single sheet of paper as one of the responses to Lysander Spooner entering that market and providing the same service at lower prices. By cutting the USPS prices in half, Congress forced Spooner out of the business.
As a consequence of lower prices, USPS business rose significantly and rates were reduced again in 1851, which shows by the way, that an economy of scale makes more profit from higher volume even if this volume increase comes as a consequence of lowering prices.
This is another example of how it is the government, that creates monopolies and private sector that produces better products at cheaper rates. Of-course the government monopolies eventually fail as the entire underlying system becomes corrupt and can no longer sustain the costs associated with running subsidised monopolies.
US Unhappy With Australians Storing Data On Australian Shores - a reply to 'soulless Randian' nonsense.
Russian City Ever Watchful Against Being Sucked Into Earth - profits drive economy, 'public assets' must be sold off.
US Unhappy With Australians Storing Data On Australian Shores - running a real business in USA is now nearly impossible, thanks 'Patriot Act' and all that.
Maryland Bans Employers From Asking For Facebook Passwords - reply to nonsense on employer / employee relationship and gov't meddling.
U.S. Government Hires Company To Hack Into Video Game Consoles - income taxes, stock prices, gov't meddling (long comment)
Innocent Or Not, the NSA Is Watching You - NDAA, NSA
FBI Says American Universities Infiltrated by Spies - divide and conquer recipe by FBI
Amazon Pays No UK Income Tax, Under Investigation - response to idiotic notion that 'taxes buy civilisation'.
UK Bill Again Demands Web Pornography Ban - 'think of the children' gov't power grab.
MIT Institute's Gloomy Prediction: 'Global Economic Collapse' By 2030 - idiotic propaganda story on global economic collapse because of 'exhaustion of resources'.
Healthcare Reform Act Prediction Market - predictions on Obama's health insurance bill. Comment there explains the tax situation.