The Financial Advice of Experts, Then and Now

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By Alan Caruba

“I see nothing in the present situation that is either menacing or warrants pessimism…I have every confidence that there will be a revival of activity in the spring, and that during the coming year, the country will make steady progress.” That’s what William Mellon, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, had to say on December 31, 1929. The Great Depression would last until 1941 when the U.S. entered World War Two.

“Could we have a crash a la 1929? The flat answer is no.” So said Dr. Pierre A. Rinfret, a noted economist, writing in Time magazine on October 5, 1987 and, on October 19, 1987—instantly dubbed “Black Monday”—the Dow Jones average plunged 508 points.

Despite the pronouncements of Presidents and pundits, it was the December 30, 1929 edition of Variety, a newspaper for the entertainment industry, that got it right. The day after the crash its headline read, “Wall Street Lays an Egg.”

All through history, the opinions of “experts” have been subject to revision and derision. The Internet has simply multiplied our access to a multitude of opinions. It behooves us all to pick our experts very carefully. A good track record is always a good sign, along with a healthy measure of common sense.

As the economies of the U.S. and several European nations totter on default it is essential to draw on lessons from the past. The most obvious lesson is that the governments of the U.S. and the Europeans have been spending far more than they can tax or borrow.

All have spent decades since the 1980s wasting billions on “alternative” sources of energy in the name of global warming or climate change. All have stayed busy before and since the end of World War Two consolidating power in the U.S. federal government and more recently in the European Union.

Herbert Hoover on whose watch Wall Street crashed in 1929 generally gets the blame, but five years earlier in an address to the annual meeting of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hoover said, “The test of our whole economic and social system is its capacity to cure its own abuses,” warning that, “If we are to be wholly dependent upon government to cure these abuses, we shall by this very method have created an enlarged and deadening abuse through the extension of bureaucracy and the clumsy and incapable handling of delicate economic forces.”

“The clumsy and incapable handling of delicate economic forces.” Spoken nearly 90 years ago!

What a perfect phrase to describe what the nation has been passing through as Congress during the last days of the Bush administration and the passed two and a half years of the Obama administration has demonstrated.

The financial crisis of late 2008 was the result of government “entities”, Fannie Mae, created in 1938, and Freddie Mac, created in 1970, both intended to stimulate the housing market by securing the loans made by banks for the purpose of giving everyone, including those who could least afford it, the opportunity to own a house. By the time the crisis hit, they jointly owned more than 50% of all U.S. mortgages.

The failure of communism in the former Soviet Union (1922-1991) should be proof enough that government ownership of property and the means of production is one of the all-time bad ideas of the last century. A modified version exists in China with other versions existing from North Korea to Cuba. All depend on oppression and coercion.

The irony, of course, is that the Great Depression was extended by Hoover’s successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who believed that expanding the role of government was the best way to bring the Depression to an end. Instead, the Depression, experienced as well by European nations in the wake of World War One, gave rise to totalitarian governments and World War Two.

There is a reason that President Obama’s approval ratings, along with those of Congress, are at record lows. Most astonishing is the fact that, when Obama took office, the Democrats controlled both houses of the legislature, the Senate and the House. Even more astonishing, Obama pursued the same failed programs of FDR, most famously sponsoring a multi-billion dollar “stimulus” bill, along with taking over General Motors and Chrysler, ginning up a Cash-4-Clunkers program, and discovering belatedly that there were few “shovel ready” infrastructure projects.

By 2010, the voters returned political power in the House of Representatives to the Republican Party, largely on the basis on newly minted “Tea Party” candidates. Obama’s Congress had rejected his proposed budget and the nation has been operating with “continuing resolutions” to fund its activities and a massive battle over raising the debt ceiling for the same purpose. A farcical congressional “super committee” has been told to cut a trillion and a half dollars out of government spending.

The economic advisers that Obama brought into the White House have all departed with the exception of the Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner. The various government departments continue to spend millions authorized by the Congress every week or engage in dubious “loan guarantees” which give every indication of being a series of Solyndra scandals.

Despite the increasingly absurd assertions of the President, it’s not just corporations, large and small, making decisions about the current and near-term future of the economy. It is the vast body of Americans who are deciding what to purchase, whether to expand their business by hiring or not, whether to invest in stocks or gold, and thousands of individual decisions by which the real economy is shaped.

It is their decisions that determine how long the recession lasts, not the official pronouncements about when the last one “ended” or a new one begins. Economists of a conservative point of view know what must be done and should be listened to, but they are not advising this President, nor guiding the government’s decisions.

In the midst of this latest of many financial crisises at home and abroad, the campaign for the next presidential election has begun. Much depends on who John Q. Public elects to the office. Much depends on the long, hard slog to reduce the size and grasp of the federal government.

Will the wisdom of “the crowd” prevail over the present “experts” affecting the economy?

Stay tuned.

© Alan Caruba, 2011
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Pictures Can Tell a Better Story

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This one incident had an enormous impact in your minds and you had started to think over and over again about the same thing. That is the time when you had almost decided you too would opt for a similar item. But your dream appeared to be a short-lived one the moment you realized you didn't have sufficient information about it. You had started to have a re-think about it whether or not you should go ahead and give shape to your dreams. That is the moment when you had come across this article.












































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How To Get A Cheap Auto Insurance Quote

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Tips Business and Insurance Arifain - How To Get A Cheap Auto Insurance Quote
If you are looking for a car insurance policy then your first step will be to gather quotes. Gathering quotes will allow you to conduct a comparison based on the coverage that you are offered, the provider, and the price. If you want to save money on your next policy then there may be certain things you can do. Here are some tips, therefore, on how to get a cheap auto insurance quote.

The price of your policy is determined by your risk. If you are considered to be a risky driver, therefore, it will be more difficult for you to find affordable quotes. Your risk will be determined by such things as your vehicle, your age, your driving record, your gender, and many others.

In order to reduce the price of any quotes that you generate, try to reduce your perceived risk. One way of doing this would be by making sure you buy the right vehicle. Vehicles that are high risk will always lead to higher rates of insurance. You should be able to find out which sorts of vehicles will be cheaper to insure by getting in touch with some providers and conducting your own research.

Of course, it is not possible for you to change your age, but if you are young driver you can reduce your perceived risk associated with your age by demonstrating your responsibility. You can do this by maintaining good grades at school or by signing up to a safety driving course. This will help insurance companies to realise that you are more responsible than your peers which will, in turn, reduce your premiums.

Your driving record is going to play a significant role as well. By maintaining a good driving record you will maintain cheaper rates of insurance. Needless to say, therefore, your focus should be on driving carefully insensibly and always within the law. At the same time, try to maintain a more favourable credit rating as well. Showing irresponsible financial management will also have a negative impact upon your premiums.

Take time to look into discounts that you could qualify for as well. If you are young driver then you may be able to get a student discount. If you consolidate your insurance requirements then a multi-policy discount may be an option. You may have to get a discount for installing safety and antitheft devices into your vehicle. Take advantage of these discounts and you will find that your insurance quote is reduced.

How To Get A Cheap Auto Insurance Quote
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Cartoon Round Up

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Why Is Auto Insurance Important?

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Tips Business and Insurance Arifain - Why Is Auto Insurance Important?
Why does we need Auto Insurance? Auto insurance protects you from being financially responsible for an accident, but you're required to pay monthly premiums to keep the insurance. By law you must have car insurance if you want to drive on the road and without it you can be fined, lose your license, go to jail and also be sued depending on the seriousness of the accident you caused. Even if you're pulled over without car insurance you can be fined though which means you must have and maintain auto insurance.

There are lots of companies that offer auto insurance and you'll need to research which is the best option for your specific needs. Auto insurance has many different types of policies and coverage so you need to make sure when you buy your car insurance that the policy makes sense for you. 

One thing you want to make sure of is that the monthly premium will fit into your budget and also that you're getting the right amount of coverage for your vehicle. Don't get to much coverage but also don't get too little coverage, there is a very fine line between the two and you'll need to determine which is suitable for your vehicles.

Typically if you get into a car accident and you're at fault then you need to put the claim through your insurance. This will mean that your insurance company will pay the damages to the vehicles and also any medical expenses that anyone faces, if any. Without car insurance it makes you liable for the damages and medical bills and this is where it gets very serious. You can be sent to jail for injuring someone in an accident without any insurance and you will most definitely be sued by the family. This will often result in you losing everything you own.

Car insurance isn't a joking matter and is one of the most important insurance policies you need. It's also one of the insurance policies that are mandatory to have while driving. Having car insurance is also necessary to have in case somebody hits your vehicle. If someone hits your vehicle and you don't have insurance then they won't be liable for paying any damages to you.

As you can tell having car insurance benefits you in a lot of ways and also gives you a feeling of safeness while out on the road. It's always better to drive focused and not sub-cautiously have to be thinking about the fact you're driving without insurance. 

Car insurance can be bought for very affordable monthly premiums and offer great coverage, you just need to do a bit research beforehand so that you can find the best deal. There ms highly competitive competition in this industry and there are many companies fighting for your business. 

Decide on a budget savvy auto insurance policy and I guarantee you'll be saved a lot of hassles and unnecessary fines. You'll also be ensured that you won't be financially accountable for any damages to people or vehicles as your insurance will cover you. By: Brenda Williams

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President Cliche

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By Alan Caruba

“Peace is more than just the absence of war.”

“So let there be no doubt…”

“We stand at a crossroads of history.”

“There is no excuse for inaction.”

Fewer people at home and around the world are paying any attention when Barack Obama speaks. He has become President Cliché. We were all told what a great speech-maker he was and now nobody wants to listen anymore.

Ironically, in his speech to the United Nations on Wednesday, September 21, he actually said some interesting things. Too bad none of the other leaders of nations care what he has to say. At home, his popularity and approval ratings in the polls continue to plummet to new depths and to set new records for the lack thereof.

In truth, this is not good for the world or the nation. The job of President is all about leadership coupled to effective policies that address problems. In fairness, Obama arrived in the Oval Office with some of the worst problems any president has faced in the modern era. Like his predecessor, on whom he blamed everything, he continued to throw money at the financial crisis, managing to run up the nation’s debt to a historic level. Obama's economic advisors dusted off the failed policies of the New Deal and tried again. They have not worked.

The problems not only did not go away, they got worse.

The Middle East has seen the “Arab spring” in which a number of dictators were overthrown and that seems hopeful except for the fact that radical Islam is the solution that many of those same nations are likely to embrace. It doesn’t help that the U.S. President has famously demonstrated a “tilt” toward Islam as it continues to foment conflict.

The United Nations speech was a long wish list, pasted together with a lot of platitudes about how the UN has played a role in warding off World War Three. That was largely avoided because the U.S. has a couple of warehouses full of nuclear weapons and had maintained the greatest military the world had ever seen. We’re still here. The Soviet Union isn’t. Most U.S. presidents since the end of World War Two wanted to see the world abandon nuclear weapons. It didn’t. The club just kept getting bigger with China, North Korea, Pakistan, and India. Now Iran wants them as well.

The Soviet leaders weren't crazy. The Iranian ayatollahs and mullahs are.

Obama cited the UN founding Charter that called on nations to “unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.” In reality, it has always been the United States who did the heavy lifting. We fought the North Koreans and Chinese to protect South Korea. We sent arms to Israel when it was repeatedly attacked. We detoured into Vietnam and took a shellacking. After 9/11 we drove the Taliban and al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and we organized allies to remove Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein. Most recently, we got NATO to put an end to Gaddaffi’s reign of terror.

The problem Obama has discovered is that the United Nations is composed of many of the worst dictatorships and oppressive regimes on Earth. It is an utterly corrupt institution. It will not prevent World War Three if the U.S. leaves and a large number of Americans want us to leave.

“Peace is hard. Peace is hard. Progress can be reversed. Prosperity comes slowly. Societies can split apart.” Aside from the yawning banality of this pronouncement, the President’s learning curve about the reality of life on planet Earth has been a tough one. Still, he did condemn Syria’s dictator who has been killing that nation’s people, but could not resist showing off his Islamic credentials by saying many of the victims occurred "during the holy time of Ramadan.”

Obama has discovered what presidents since the days of Harry Truman have discovered. That Palestine is not a nation and the Palestinians are a horrid group of people who refuse to live in peace with Israel. “The Palestinian people deserve a state of their own,” said the President. Guess what? The Israelis agree, but cannot get their Mamoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to actually agree that Israel has a right to exist. Or Hamas to stop lobbing rockets into southern Israel.

In case anyone was actually listening, Obama repeated what every prior President has said, “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring”. After spending the last two and a half years demonstrating his contempt for Israel, this comes as a real surprise and further proof that Obama will say anything to get reelected.

And then he ruined it all by saying, “To preserve our planet, we must not put off action that climate change demands. We have to tap the power of science to save those resources that are scarce. And together we must continue our work to build on the progress made in Copenhagen and Cancun.”

The major fuels of the modern world are not scarce. We live above an ocean of oil. There is enough coal in America alone to keep the lights on here for centuries. Tapping the sun and wind has proved to be a huge waste of money for two of the least productive ways to provide energy. Copenhagen and Cancun, the site of two UN climate change conferences were total failures.

President Cliché closed out saying—again—“Peace is hard, but we know it is possible. So, together, let us be resolved to see that it is defined by our hopes and not our fears.”

Our fears are what sustain peace. It is why every nation is armed to the teeth.

Obama is a national embarrassment. And he wants four more years in office.

© Alan Caruba, 2011
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How to buy Car Insurance?

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Tips Business and Insurance Arifain - How to buy Car Insurance?
Many articles, news, information gives shown us how really important having insurance policy. Now, the question is how to buy car insurance?

When it comes time to buy car insurance in Texas, you will need to decide whether to buy car insurance direct from the insurer, or to buy car insurance online. Both methods can have benefits, and what you choose to do will depend largely on what you’re looking for and also how you like to conduct your search. In consideration with you convenient. 

One unique situation you may find yourself in is the need to buy auto insurance without a car. If you’re in this position, you will definitely want to hunt for bargains, as you shouldn’t be charged as much if you only rent or drive a vehicle occasionally.

Buying Car Insurance Directly - When you buy car insurance directly from the insurer, you usually either visit the office in person or call over the phone. This method to buy car insurance is more personal, and may help you to form a better understanding of how the insurance company deals with its customers. In a way, when you call for a quote, you are testing out the customer service the company offers. If you get bad service during your first call, you’ll know to go elsewhere. What are the drawbacks of purchasing insurance directly? For one thing, it takes a lot more time and work to compare companies in person or on the phone. It is also harder to get a good visual idea of the benefits and drawbacks of each company.

Why Buy Car Insurance Online? - There are two main benefits when you buy car insurance online. Buying Auto insurance online or auto insurance quotes give you easy queries in just a few minute. There are some car insurance companies which are completely online-based; these companies can save you money when you buy car insurance because they save enough on overhead to drop their rates. 

The other main reason to buy car insurance online is that researching online is fast compared to researching in person and over the phone. The internet gives you access to reviews which you can cross reference, and there are sites which let you compare quotes with no obligation while you search for the cheapest rates and the best coverage.

How to buy Car Insurance?
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The Pakistan Conundrum

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By Alan Caruba

The answer to whether Pakistan is our friend is “It depends.”

That’s an apt description of U.S.-Pakistani relations over the years, but one thing is sure, Pakistan believes it is surrounded by enemies in general and fears India in particular. With a mindset like that, friendship is not a priority, but survival—even if it just means muddling through another day—most surely is.

I have read several books about Pakistan in order to understand this odd nation that was peeled off from India in 1947 when the British left. Divided between eastern and western sections, even Bangladesh, formerly East Bengal, separated from its western cousin, declaring its independence in 1971. In the ensuing civil war, a million died and ten million fled to India.

In “The Unraveling: Pakistan in the Age of Jihad” by John R. Schmidt, a former State Department diplomat for three decades, reflects on his years in Islamabad in the years leading up to 9/11. He is a sharp observer of Pakistan and provides a lively history while unraveling the complexities of its various tribal groups, who the Taliban were and are, and how Al Qaeda established itself there.

To understand Pakistan is to understand how very different it is from America. It is a feudal society from top to bottom and it came about because its founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, a Bombay lawyer, envisioned a nation separate from India because he feared that Muslims would become a political underclass in a unified India dominated by Hindus.

Fully one-third of India’s Muslim population numbering 35 million people remained behind in India. In Pakistan, it took until 1956 to come up with a constitution, a decade after independence.

A feudal society relies on patronage to function. Thus, whoever holds power at any level in Pakistan is focused on looking out for his own patronage network and not for the general welfare of the nation.

As Schmidt explains, “It requires little imagination to see where such policies lead. They lead to the poorhouse. Nations whose economics are uncompetitive in the global marketplace yet dependent on imported fuel and other vital commodities, and whose governments pay out more than they take in, are bound to be chronically broke.” As a result, a third of the Pakistani federal budget is consumed by servicing its international debt.

Typical of the Muslim outlook, if you are not a Muslim you are simply the enemy. It doesn’t matter if you are Hindu, Christian, Jewish, or any other faith. The problem is exacerbated because of the divisions within Islam, primarily Sunni and Shiite, have little love for one another.

Based on its fear and loathing for India, Pakistan’s various leaders concluded they needed to be a nuclear power as a deterrent. That makes Pakistan a major concern for everyone around them, the world in general, and the U.S. in particular. “If jihadists succeed in seizing power in Islamabad,” notes Schmidt, “they will inherit an arsenal that today numbers approximately one hundred nuclear warheads.”

Pinioned between India on the south and Afghanistan to the north, Pakistan’s leaders, as often as not its army generals who seized control, have only their grievances and themselves to blame for troubles with India and the rise of the Taliban who threaten the government. This explains in part why its military has always been the most stable factor throughout its relatively brief history. Based on merit, it is also represents the best leaders the nation can produce.

Even so, the decision to use proxy jihadist fighters to influence who controlled Afghanistan turned out to be a very bad one. Schmidt believes that “Pakistan seems ill-equipped to deal with this rapidly metastasizing radical Islamic threat.” Can there be a more ironic fate for a nation founded to provide a home to Muslims? The threat the Islamic radicals represent is particularly painful in a nation, the majority of whose population, are more tolerant and moderate followers of Sufi Islam.

The U.S. was none too happy to discover that Pakistan had become a nuclear power. When 9/11 occurred, its leaders were told that their cooperation was required to facilitate the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan. It was told to break off relations with the Taliban and close its borders to Al Qaeda.

This explains why Pakistan has cooperated with the U.S. in the capture of top Al Qaeda leaders such Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but professed to be ignorant of the fact that Osama bin Laden was living in Abbotabad, a short drive from Islamabad. Indeed, for the Pakistanis, the news came as a shock and his assassination a cause for much chagrin.

In a similar fashion, the attack on Mumbai, India, by a radical Islamic group ended promising peace talks with India over Kashmir and left Pakistan’s international reputation in tatters.

As is the case in one Muslim nation after another, the central problem to their governance and international relations is radical Islam. Some nations like Indonesia have cracked down on it. Others like Yemen have been over-run by it.

Radical Islam, unless addressed by Muslims will remain a threat. It explains why U.S. troops will likely migrate in and out of Middle Eastern nations for years to come, shooting as many jihadists as possible, taking casualties, angering the local population, and confounding the public at home trying to understand why we’re there.

© Alan Caruba, 2011
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Cheap Car Insurance in Canada

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Tips on how to pay less for car insurance in Canada:
Let's face the reality, car insurance in Canada is the most expensive insurance in the world and there are several reasons why it might be but it doesn't have to be that way. The following will give you some tips on how you can pay less for your car insurance premiums.

Higher Deductible = Lower Premiums
One of the easiest ways to save money on car insurance is to have a higher deductible. If you don't know what "deductible" means, in a nutshell, it's the amount of money you are willing to pay, to your insurance supplier, if you get into an accident to cover for your part of the damages. As an example, let's say you get into an accident and the damages are evaluated at $3000.00, if you have a deductible of $250, you will pay the Insurance company that amount and they will pay $2750.00 to the body shop to have your car fixed. 

It might be tempting to go for a lower deductible but the truth is the lower the deductible the higher your premiums will be. The common deductible for the average person is $250 but if you can increase your deductible to $500 or even to $1000 you will save a lot. To have an exact idea of how much less you would pay, always call your insurance agent as there is no Online solution that can provide an accurate estimate.

Drive Safely - Another way to save on car insurance is to have a clean driver record. The main reason why young drivers pay more for auto insurance is because they are not experienced therefore represent a higher risk to have an accident than older experienced driver. In addition, the gender will influence how much you will pay for car insurance in Canada, actually it's also the same case in the U.S.A. 

Young women will pay less than young men because, statistically young women drive more safely than young men. It goes without saying that if you drive carelessly and get speeding tickets one after another or get into accidents your insurance premiums will sky rocket, whether you are a man or a woman. In some cases, insurers might refuse to insure you because of that.

Sport car VS Regular - Another tip on how you will save on car insurance cost is whether you will drive a sport car or a regular car. Bigger engines means faster cars which translate to higher risk of having speeding tickets and accidents. If you are tempted to go for that sporty new car you might want to call your insurer first and see how much more it will cost you. Especially if your driver record is not clean you're in for a "bad" surprise. Just to be clear, driving a Sport car doesn't necessarily mean driving a Ferrari it means that most regular cars has a sport version so be advised of that when buying or leasing a new or used car.

Cheap or Luxurious Cars - The total value of your vehicle will also determine the price of your car insurance premium. For example: if you purchase a $50,000 car you will pay more for insurance than a $25,000 car. If you wonder why this might be, the reason is simple; In case of an accident, it will cost more for replacement parts to your insurance supplier if you own the $50k car than the $25K car. In a nutshell, do your due diligence and call for a quote to your insurance agent before committing, the difference in pricing might in thousand's of dollars per year so be careful.

To conclude, Car Insurance in Canada is mandatory whether you own a business or as an individual. As we saw in the above article: gender, age, price and type of vehicle will influence the cost of car insurance. Also, the deductible amount will greatly change the price whether you choose a higher or a lower deductible. Car Insurance might be confusing but it doesn't have to be, always consult with your insurance agent, to get a clear picture of your options.
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What Debt? Obama's Insane Spending Binge!

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By Alan Caruba

There’s a reason that President Obama wants to increase taxes. His administration cannot spend your money fast enough.

A visit on Tuesday morning to the websites of various federal departments reveals that this administration can find an excuse to spend millions on anything. Here’s a quick tour.

In the wake of the Solyndra scandal in which taxpayers were, in the words of Investor Business Daily, “put on the hook for at least the first $75 million if the company should default and with “a minimum of five green firms going bankrupt” the U.S. Department of Energy, on September 13, announced a $1.2 billion loan guarantee to Mojave Solar LLC for the development of the Mojave Solar Project.

On the same day, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a $32.5 million grant “to finalize expansion plan of Boston’s South Station” for the purpose of expanding and enhancing the historic station on the grounds that it estimates a “50 percent increase in high-speed intercity passenger rail travel in the coming years.” And we all know how accurate estimates are, eh?

Three days later, the DOT provided $22 million to the Maryland Department of Transportation for a study of replacement options for the Susquehanna River Bridge on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington, D.C. Why not spend the money on actually replacing the bridge? On September 19, DOT awarded $25 million to the city of Charlotte, N.C. for a streetcar line “to improve access to jobs, housing, and schools.” Why money from other States should gift Charlotte with a streetcar line when the nation has a $14 trillion debt might have something to do with the fact that the Democratic Party National Convention will be held there in 2012.

In the midst of a recession that officially does not exist, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUD), on September 15, announced $93 million in grants to 39 local projects “to conduct a wide range of activities intended to protect children and families from potentially dangerous lead-based paint and other home health and safety hazards.” HUD estimates there are “nearly 7,000 high-risk homes” because “providing healthy and safe homes for families and children is a priority.” Keep in mind that lead-based paint was banned for residential use in 1978, more than three decades ago.

On September 15, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced awards totaling $10 million “to aid 129 organizations across the country that would like to become community health centers. The funds came from the Affordable Care Act, but at the same time Obamacare cuts billions from Medicare, reducing payments to hospitals and to individual physicians providing care to America’s growing population of the elderly. Go figure.

At the Department of Commerce, on August 30, they were celebrating a $2.9 million “investment to expand access to capital for area small businesses and entrepreneurs.” One of them was a new $75.6 million Convention Complex in Cedar Rapids, Iowa that broke ground that day and we all know how many conventions Cedar Rapids hosts.

On September 14, the Department of Agriculture announced that taxpayers are now on the hook for loans to 27 rural electric cooperative utilities. DOA made $603 million in loans to help electric utilities "upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America’s electric infrastructure."

This is the same administration whose Environmental Protection Agency is waging war on coal-fired utilities and mining (coal provides 50% of all electricity in America). On September 16, USDA announced funding for more than 500 projects to boost renewable energy production (wind and solar) despite the fact that this represents just over 2% of all the electricity produced and companies producing solar panels are declaring bankruptcy on a weekly basis these days.

Secretary Tom Vilsack also noted that USDA Rural Development “is providing $35 million to finance smart grid technologies such as advanced metering infrastructure.” The problem with smart grids is that, if the utility thinks you’re using too much electricity to cool your home or business in the heat of summer, it can reduce the amount you receive. Same goes for warming it in the winter.

Not to be outdone, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced in late August that it was making more than $53 million in grants to 17 states “to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife, and plants.” The Endangered Species Act has been one of the greatest failures in U.S. history and responsible for thwarting billions in development. This money is intended to remove yet more landmass from development, all in the name of obscure species and plants.

On September 14 the Department of Justice announced grants totaling $118.4 million to “enhance public safety in Indian Country.” The money went to tribal governments. Apparently the Apaches are on the warpath again. Over the last two years, DOJ spent $121 million on conferences.

This doesn’t even take into consideration the money flowing from the Departments of Defense, Education, Veteran Affairs, and Homeland Security. It is in fact just a quick overview of the funding the Obama administration is spending while 14 million Americans are trying to find a job and others struggle to pay their mortgage or put their children through college.

It is a look at a government grown so large and so profligate that its credit rating was recently reduced and our President is on the campaign trail telling Americans they must pay more taxes despite the fact that 40% pay no taxes and “millionaires and billionaires” pay 70% of taxes collected. It’s the same government that wants to impose a 1% tax on all banking transactions, the deposits and withdrawals of your money!

Tea Party, anyone?

© Alan Caruba, 2011
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Professional Photographer Style is Engaging

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A highly regarded professional photographer, teacher and author, Peterson's writing style is engaging and his book is highly readable and easy to digest without being too wordy. While seemingly elementary, budding photographers and more advanced ones alike will likely find Peterson's book a great source of reference. I did find this book highly readable and a worthy investment in helping me improve my own photography skills. I do habitually try to visualise a powerful image in my mind's eye first before I release the shutter these days.

















































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China is Blocking America's Economic Recovery

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By Alan Caruba

Americans of the generation that fought World War II and lived through the next fifty years of the Cold War never lost sight of the fact that the Soviet Union was Communist and therefore lacking anything resembling the moral values of our nation or the West. Why then do a more recent generations ignore the fact that Red China is Communist and operates in the same predatory fashion?

One of the major reasons why there is no new job creation in America is tied directly to its policies toward Red China. Both the Bush and Obama administrations were reluctant to challenge China’s deliberate strategy of not just destroying America’s manufacturing base, but all other nations, making itself the center for manufacturing.

A new book, “Death by China: Confronting the Dragon—A Global Call to Action”, by Peter Navarro and Greg Autry spells out the threat and explains why letting China be America’s biggest lender, while luring more and more corporations to set up shop there is destroying the nation’s ability to recover.

There are, of course, other factors affecting recovery, not the least of which is Big Government with its massive regulatory stranglehold and the need to reform America’s tax policies, but beyond that is the growing threat of a China that is deliberately breaking all the international rules of trade and getting away with it.

China’s “industrial policy (is) aimed at nothing shore of the total domination of world manufacturing, the total penetration of global markets, and the economic subjection of the Western World.” That may sound like hyperbole, but the authors back it up in a book filled with frightening details and data.

One area that remains largely a mystery to most Americans is addressed in its chapter, “Death by Currency Manipulation.” The authors say “If money is the root of all evil, then China’s manipulation of its currency, the yuan, is the tap root of everything wrong with the U.S.-China trade relationship. China has dramatically slowed America’s economic growth rate and spiked our unemployment rate.”

“China manipulates its currency by artificially ‘pegging’ the Chinese yuan to the U.S. dollar at a grossly undervalued fixed exchange rate.”

The U.S. trade deficit with China is appalling. “In terms of absolute size, America imports almost $1 billion a day more than it exports from China every business day of the year. That’s not a typo: it’s billion, not million.”

“America’s trade imbalance,” the authors point out, “could never persist in a world of free trade where China allowed its currency to float freely alongside other floating currencies around the world like the euro, Japanese yen, Swiss France, Brazilian real, Indian rupee, and the U.S. dollar.”

“It is precisely China’s massive accumulation of dollar-denominated foreign reserves that now allows the Chinese Communist Party to credibly threaten to nuke our financial system.” Beyond the U.S. it threatens “the entire global economic fabric and free trade framework.”

American corporations have been lured to China with the illusion of 1.3 billion consumers there, but the vast bulk of China’s population has yet to have achieved a middle class status with the money to spend on our goods. In the meantime, companies like General Electric are transferring entire elements of their assets to China in order to have them manufactured there for less. With those assets, however, go the technological and intellectual property they possess.

This is a violation of World Trade Organization rules, but there is ample evidence that WTO rules are routinely violated by China and only the most desultory efforts are made by WTO member nations to protest.

“Since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 and falsely promised to end its mercantilist and protectionist practices, America’s apparel, textile, and wood furniture industries have shrunk to half their size—with textile jobs alone beaten down by 70%. Other critical industries like chemicals, paper, steel, and tires are under similar siege, while employment in our high-tech computer and electronics manufacturing industries has plummeted by more than 40%.”

These days, I look at the packaging of everything I purchase to determine if it is “Made in China” because, if it is, there is a strong likelihood that it poses a real danger. “Chinese entrepreneurs are flooding world markets with a range of bone-crushing, cancer-causing, flammable, poisonous, and otherwise lethal products, foods, and drugs,” the authors warn.

Eating food produced in China poses a very real threat because of the immense levels of pollution in its environment and the fact that there are ample examples of food producers deliberately adulterating their products.

Thus, America’s economic recovery is directly related to its trade practices with China and its financial system is now mortgaged to China. We must disenthrall and disengage ourselves from China if we are to survive, let along remedy our growing legion of unemployed.

© Alan Caruba, 2011
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Jobs Bill Forces States to Surrender Sovereignty!

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Here's the truth about Obama's "jobs bill".

The Jobs Bill is not about creating jobs, but surrendering States' Sovereignty.

Under Sec.376, States receiving any Federal funding whether Medicaid, Medicare, Tuition, FEMA, etc. will now surrender its Sovereignty under this new Jobs Bill.

Surrendering Sovereign Immunity allows states to be sued by anyone recognized by the Federal Government.

Interesting that Hilda Solis has been advocating the rights of illegals and now this Jobs plan forces states to yield its sovereignty to be sued. It is also likely Labor Unions could invoke this requirement to supersede Right to Work and force unionization of state agencies and businesses.

Is this a Jobs Bill or a bill to expand Federal power via DOJ, DOL, and others members of the Federal Family?

SEC. 376. FEDERAL AND STATE IMMUNITY.

(a) Abrogation of State Immunity- A State shall not be immune under the 11th Amendment to the Constitution from a suit brought in a Federal court of competent jurisdiction for a violation of this Act.

(b) Waiver of State Immunity-

(1) IN GENERAL-

(A) WAIVER- A State's receipt or use of Federal financial assistance for any program or activity of a State shall constitute a waiver of sovereign immunity, under the 11th Amendment to the Constitution or otherwise, to a suit brought by (123) an employee or applicant for employment of that program or activity under this Act for a remedy authorized under Section 375(c) of this Act.

The Jobs Bill pdf can be read here.

Write your Senator and Representative. Remind them that the U.S. is a republic composed of sovereign and independent republics. It's called "United" States for a reason. Send this bill to the shredder.
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Cheating Students of an Education

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By Alan Caruba

It says something about the dreadful state of American education when “bullying” has become the greatest issue of the day.

As millions of American youngsters return to school, they continue to be indoctrinated with programs designed to teach that homosexuality is okay, that sex education is more important than history or math, and that they should care less about individuality than the group.

This is straight out of former Soviet-style education than an educational system that previously turned out generations who fought and won World War Two, contributed to a thriving economy, put men on the Moon, and were focused on achieving competence in reading, writing, and arithmetic. In 2001 I wrote a four-part series noting that the rot in our school system is not new. It dates back to the 1960s and earlier.

I got to thinking about this when I read a September 15th Wall Street Journal article, “SAT Reading, Writing Scores Hit Low” by Stephanie Banchero. “SAT scores for the high-school graduating class of 2011 fell in all three subjects areas, and the average reading and writing scores were the lowest ever recorded, according to data released Wednesday.”

In 2008, a Washington Times commentary by Dan Lips, an education analyst at the Heritage Foundation, noted that “Spending from all levels of government has soared. Today, the average student in American public schools can expect more than $9,200 to be spent on his or her behalf this year by taxpayers—a real increase of 69 percent over 1980 per-pupil spending. Yet this additional spending hasn’t meaningfully changed student outcomes.”

Lips warned that “it has become painfully clear that the federal government can’t solve the problems in America’s public schools”, but it is precisely the federal government’s takeover of the nation’s educational system that is the reason for the continual decline. It is yet another failed legacy of the Carter years, signed into law as a cabinet-level department in 1979, it began operation in 1980.

The statistics all reveal a long period of educational decline and the SAT scores are just one more example, but there are other indices, not the least of which is a huge dropout rate that has left countless Americans ill-prepared for any meaningful employment.

Meanwhile, there has been a relentless effort to infuse textbooks with a national curriculum as the result of the concentration by the “big four” textbook publishers. It has produced a one-size-fits-all approach to education nationwide, mostly geared to the dictates of only three states, California, Texas, and Florida because they represent about 30 percent of the K-12 market.

In 2001 the trend was already noticeable. “The result is an increasing trend toward texts that are long on visual gimmicks, short on factual information, and homogenized in content,” said that president of the Center for Education Reform, Jeanne Allen.

The introduction of “No Child Left Behind” that George W. Bush signed into law on January 8, 2002 has proved to be yet another top-down mandate that relied heavily on testing, testing and testing. Rapidly, teachers began to “teach to the test” in order to avoid the loss of funding to their schools.

Simply put, the federal government should get out of the business of education.

The regressive role of teacher’s unions was spotlighted when the then-new Governor of New Jersey took them on, insisting that teacher’s pay more for their pension and health benefits. The unionizing of teachers is as responsible as the federal takeover of education in America for the decline.

Recently, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said, “I’m tired of giving out fake diplomas” when he introduced a slate of education reforms of his state. The SAT scores underwrite his view that students are graduating from high school without the education they need to move onto colleges and universities.

Gov. Christie wants to focus on individual schools rather than districts as a measurable unit of success or failure. He wants to emphasize “outcomes” such as graduation rates, achievement gains. He wants to measure success by high standards that directly correlate to college and career readiness. He wants considerably less bureaucratic paperwork that requires more administrators than teachers. And he wants a clearly defined schedule for intervention in schools that are experiencing persistent education failure.

Something is amiss when students entering kindergarten are expected to have mastered reading skills that are supposed to be taught in the next grades. When did it become the job of parents to deliver five-year-olds to the local school with skills already in place that are the job of the school to teach? Why do these same children graduate from high school with horrid reading and writing SAT scores?

The education of today’s students has to be returned to the control of local school boards and those boards have to be freed from the demands of teachers’ unions that are interested solely in health and pension benefits, and the salaries of administrators and teachers.

Failing that and America will continue to have another generation of students that, since the 1960s, have literally been cheated of a proper education, no matter how much money is thrown at it.

© Alan Caruba, 2011
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Student Loans Debt Consolidation

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Tips Business and Insurance Arifain - Student Loans Debt Consolidation
Student loans debt consolidation is a channel through which a student can bring all the loans under one single policy and thereby reduce the monthly payments by increasing the duration of the loan. For a student, it is a good way of reducing the costs of borrowing.

A student who is already weighing down under a ton of pressure to complete the assignments, prepare for the exams and face a stiff competition among a herd of students, can get relief at least from the issues related to the loans from his mind, so that it is burden free from the financial worries.

Student loans debt consolidation has loads of benefits. Some of it are – lower rate of interest, locking in loans at a lower interest rate, lower monthly payments, worry about a single loan instead of many, a longer repayment schedule.

Wondering how the whole thing works? The logic behind consolidation is simple, it merges all the loans into one single payment. This reduces the borrower’s monthly bill of payment by a great deal. To be more elaborate, lets consider an example, If a person has to pay an amount of $1000 in 5 years, annually he shells out $200, not considering any interest component, now if the same person is given an opportunity to repay the same amount in 10 years, he gets to pay $100 a year.

This is what consolidation is all about, it reduces the monthly expenditure and gives extra cash in hand. Also, with loan consolidation, one can also have late fees and over-limit charges reduced or eliminated.

One of the worth while advantages of loan consolidation is that, it also protects from falling into any default arrears or landing into bankruptcy.

Nearly 50 percent of all the college graduates leave school with private or federal loans. This can be a cumbersome burden to the recent graduates, which makes the student loan consolidation a smart and sometimes a necessary option. Like any other debt, student loan can influence the credit history. A Student loans debt that exceed 8% of income can be seen negatively when your credit is assessed for future loans.

A few things you should be aware of before you consolidate your loans are to find out answers to few questions like, does origination fee exist, are there prepayment penalties, the maximum interest rate and the period of repayment.

Student loan consolidation, a boon to graduates has the added benefits such as a better money management (consolidation of student debts and other liabilities helps to simplify finances and thereby gives a genuine presence of mind), consistent payments (turning variable debt rates into a fixed rate of interest means the borrower knows precisely the amount of debt to repaid each month), there also exists the flexibility of consolidating one or more loans, not all the loans need to be consolidated.

Student loans debt consolidation provides an excellent opportunity to improve affordability by extending the borrowing time and reducing the amount of debt paid.

Visit Student Loans Debt Consolidation to help improve your debt. And why not visit Best Life Insurance Quote if you require life insurance.


Student Loans Debt Consolidation
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Five Wars, 63 Years of Terrorism, and Israel Survives

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By Alan Caruba

The people who have given us bagels and lox, potato latkes, and chicken soup, in addition to the Old Testament, Albert Einstein, and a list of Nobel Prize winners as long as your arm, are in for yet another interesting week.

Last week, Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced that the Palestinian Authority would not make a bid for statehood at the United Nations. That may have had something to do with massive pressure from the United States, Europe, and Saudi Arabia.

You can always trust a Palestinian’s word, right? Wrong. The next day, September 15, Abbas said the PA had changed its mind and would go to the UN Security Council to ask that it grant statehood to Palestine, admitting it as a full-fledged member.

He must have gotten a call from Turkey’s Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogen, who has been spoiling for a war with Israel and has been urging the Arab League to join in. It might have something to do with Erdogen’s beef with Greece that announced that it will begin drilling for natural gas on Monday, September 19, in Cyprus’s offshore Aphrodite field. The Turkish air force has been watching the rig, owned by Houston-based Noble Energy, move from Israel to Cyprus.

This is probably as good a way to start World War Three as any. It has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with the decades of bad blood between Greece and Turkey that includes a divided Cyprus.

Israel, founded in 1948, has been through five wars with its “neighbors”, endless terrorism and rocketing, and has been openly threatened with nuclear destruction by Iran.

The only thing I can guarantee you is that Israel will be blamed for whatever happens.

This week is also the occasion for the United Nations celebration of “Durban III.” It is an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel hate fest in which every other nation in the world that practices racism is ignored and Israel is identified as the lone offender; largely because the Palestinians have refused every offer of peace and statehood made to them.

To demonstrate what an obscenity the event is, one of the keynote speakers will be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president and longtime Holocaust denier. A number of nations, including U.S., Canada and Great Britain, have already made it known they will not sit through another Ahmadinejad vituperation. Israel’s PM, Bibi Netanyahu, will be on hand to offer a response.

Anyone who still thinks the United Nations is about peace needs to pay closer attention. It is about being a global central power with authority over all the nations of the world.

Durban III is about “racism.” So how does that square with a statement by Maen Arewikat, the PA Ambassador to the United States, who last week said that an independent Palestinian state would take steps to force Jews living in the West Bank to leave. In an interview with USA Today, he said it would be in the best interest of Israelis and Palestinians to “be separated.” The Nazis had a word for this, “Judenrein.”

Elliot Abrams, a former U.S. National Security Council officer, told USA Today that “No civilized country would act like this.”

The United States has already made it clear that it will veto a resolution for Palestinian statehood in the UN Security Council. So far the Palestinians have rejected the Oslo Accords and every other laborious diplomatic effort to get them to settle for peaceful coexistence. They could have had statehood after the UN partitioned the former British mandate that led to Israel’s establishment, but they rejected that option in favor of trying to drive the newly minted Israelis out of their ancestral homeland.

Jordan was among those nations that lost the 1967 war. The Israelis occupied the West Bank, a name Jordan gave to the ancient Israeli provinces of Judea and Samaria. The only reason Israel has not annexed the West Bank is that asserting such a claim would add a million Arabs to its population, none of whom have any love for Israel. Meanwhile, over the years, Israeli “settlements” have grown up on the West Bank.

President Obama has made it clear that he wants Israel to return to its 1967 borders. Netanyahu has made it clear that they are indefensible.

The turmoil of the “Arab spring” has altered the cold peace that had existed between Egypt and Israel. The Israeli embassy in Cairo was attacked last week and the Israelis withdrew its staff. How many times do the Egyptians have to be defeated in war before they conclude it’s a bad idea?

The Palestinian demands have Jordon on alert as well. Jordan doesn’t want to have to absorb more Palestinian refugees into its population, thus making them a majority of the Hashemite kingdom created by the British after World War One. They tried to overthrow the former king once and he drove them into Lebanon.

The Syrian despot is busy crushing a revolution. Lebanon which used to belong to the Lebanese is now controlled by Hezbollah, a Palestinian organization backed by Iran and sworn enemies of Israel.

And how do the Palestinians have a state when the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, an Iranian-backed group located in Gaza, are at each other’s throat? If it is possible, Hamas hates Israel more than the PA.

The Palestinian dilemma is that they cannot get along with each other and no other nation in the region wants to have anything to do with them.

What will happen at the United Nations this week?

What will happen if Turkey decides to attack the oil rig off the Grecian part of Cyprus?

What will happen when the Israelis who have a defense pact with the Greeks respond?

How does NATO deal with two of its member nations going to war? What affect will this have on its role in the liberation of Libya?

It’s tough enough for the Israelis and Jews around the world to deal with the growing anti-Semitism that has been spread and nurtured by Muslims, but this irrational hatred, the well spring of the Holocaust, could set off a series of events initiated by such hatred.

Having destroyed the World Trade Center towers ten years ago, World War Three would be Islam’s gift to the world.

© Alan Caruba, 2011
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Cartoon Round Up

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Jimmy Carter Redux

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By Alan Caruba

I actually remember watching and listening to Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech given 32 years ago on July 15, 1979. It marked a distinct turning point for the president because it addressed the already large loss of confidence in his leadership and judgment. It confirmed most voters judgment.

The address to the nation has since been called his “crisis of confidence” speech. It was, like most of Carter’s policies, a massive failure, and I had the same feeling when I listened to President Obama’s recent speech to the joint session of Congress, an occasion usually reserved for the State of the Union or a declaration of war.

And yet, and yet, we are living with many of former President Carter’s policies that were so wrong then and are so wrong now. If you were around then, I recommend you read the speech and, if you were born since then, it will amaze you how many really bad ideas Carter put forth that you are still hearing today from President Obama.

Jimmy Carter, a largely unknown Democrat former Governor of Georgia was swept into office on a wave of revulsion against the Nixon administration’s Watergate scandal. Had that not occurred it is likely he would not have had much of a chance despite his toothy smile and grab-bag of loony liberal ideas. Four years later, voters voted for a conservative former Governor of California, Ronald Reagan. They kept him around for a second term throughout the 1980s.

On that long ago evening Jimmy Carter thought the best way to address the nation’s mounting economic and energy problems was to blame the voters. It wasn’t his fault. It was ours.

But it was his fault.

As Seldon B. Graham, Jr., the author of “Why Your Gasoline Prices Are High”, an oil industry engineer and lawyer, put it, “Globalist Jimmy Carter harmed the USA with a domestic oil windfall profits tax (in 1980), causing a severe recession, (and) loss of half a million jobs…” The windfall profits tax caused US-based oil companies to look elsewhere for oil and to lay off petroleum industry workers here.

Carter, just as Obama, did not understand that profits are what all businesses require in order to expand and invest in their future. It is the same misguided thinking that has Obama saying that “loopholes” in the tax code that encourage oil exploration and extraction should be closed. They are not “loopholes.” They are the same kind of tax policies that are extended to countless businesses.

If we fast-forward to today, we would understand that oil companies annually pay more than $30 billion per year to federal, state, and local governments in order to produce energy in the U.S. Contrast this with the more than a half-billion dollars taxpayers lost when the Obama administration backed a loan to the now bankrupt “green” energy, solar panel firm, Solyndra.

The fact is that America is home to more than 160 billion barrels of recoverable oil. The US is the third largest producer of oil in the world. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal with several centuries’ worth to be mined. The amount of natural gas that can be accessed by fracking technology is incalculable. And the Obama administration can’t even make up its mind about a new oil pipeline from Canada, an economic partner from whom we import a considerable amount of oil already!

We should be energy independent, but Jimmy Carter in 1979 and Barack Obama in 2011 are still blathering away about solar energy. What did Carter want back then?

“I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of the nation’s first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.” Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House. Reagan removed them. Obama has promised to do the same, but hasn’t.

Carter said, “when this nation critically needs a refinery or a pipeline, we will build it.” We’re still waiting.

In a nation that was the world’s leader in the manufacture of automobiles, Carter proposed “an extra $10 billion over the next decade to strengthen our public transportation systems.” Obama talks about high speed trains that no one wants or needs in the era of airline travel. Created in 1970, Amtrak has never made a profit.

In 1979 Carter said, “For the first time in the history of our country a majority of people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years.”

A September 14th Rasmussen poll asking if the nation was going in the right or wrong direction yielded the following analysis: “Seventy-five percent (75%) of voters say the country is heading down the wrong track, showing little change from last week. Since January 2009, voter pessimism had ranged from a low of 57% to a high of 80%. This time last year, 65% said the U.S. was heading down the wrong path.”

If Obama wasn’t a far-Left liberal, wasn’t getting some extraordinarily bad advice from those he brought into the White House, and wasn’t a raving egomaniac, he might pause and stop playing political games to blame Congress and Republicans for the present economic crisis. If in the name of “social justice” the federal government--Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--wasn’t in the mortgage business, there would not have been a crisis.

The problem for the rest of us is that Obama’s crisis is our crisis too as jobs melt away and businesses large and small wait to see how much more damage his proposals will do to the nation's economy. His solution was to throw a trillion-dollar “stimulus” at the problem in 2009. He has just proposed a half-trillion dollar solution.

Except for the usual percentage of liberals who think Obama will “stop the rise of the seas”, the rest of the nation is left to wait for next year’s elections. That’s our “solution.”

© Alan Caruba, 2011
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