Friday, October 7, 2011

Do Drone aircraft pass their time downloading porn?

It's disturbing that highly classified military control systems have a key logger Trojan virus, more disturbing that they don't know where it came from, a harbinger of doom that they can't get rid of it.
Simple answer: too many contractors only care about profits and stupid Republicans that thought out-sourcing to China wasn't a National Security issue.

Read more: Military Drones Infected


The official jobs created number for September is 103,000. The right wing media jumped right in and pointed out that 45,000 of these jobs were Verizon workers having ended their strike. I'm not sure they would count as new hires in this number as this number comes from a sample of employers polled and is not a hard and fast number. The right didn't attribute the weak number in August to the strike because... well they were out of work, and now they're not, but "that" doesn't count. Hard numbers won't be available for several months. The March number was recently increased by over 200,000. The jobs situation probably isn't as bad as it seems in the press. Unless you're unemployed, then you're screwed.

The Republican contribution to the jobs number was to cut 34,000 public sector jobs or the total would have been 137,000 new jobs. Who needs cops, firefighters or those greedy teachers? And people who repair the roads, potholes cost Americans $85,000,000,000 (85b) every year. Obama's Jobs bill would put money toward that, but no vote will be held in the House.

Get used to it, or fight back.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Retail sales up

Most retailers aimed at the frugal shopper experienced solid gains in September of around 5% of sales. High end retailers, where the 1% shop had a 10% increase in sales.

Initial unemployment claims were back up over 401,000 as opposed to 376,000 this week last year. There are indications that September had around 100,000 new jobs created. Not enough to keep up with the population increase by about half. That should make another 100,000 youth available for the Occupy movement that turned 18 last month. Clearly most American youth are willing to accept their situation instead of fighting back, at least so far.

Mitt Romney's campaign disclosure form indicates he made between 10 and 40 million last year. He paid 14% income tax. That doesn't take into account any corporate perks or travel billed as a campaign appearances that weren't treated as income.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The 5% solution?

Top Senate Democrats want to pay for Obama's Jobs Bill by tacking on another 5 points to the tax rate on income in excess of one million dollars (say it in the Dr Evil voice). With loopholes and deductions we are probably talking about going from an effective rate of 28% to 33% which is still one of the lowest rates in the developed world. Compare that to the 48% effective rate people in that income bracket paid in 1961 (adjusted for inflation).

JFK ran on the idea of raising taxes by cutting the rate from 91% down to 72% and closing all the loopholes thus raising taxes. This is how Republicans get away with the lie that cutting tax rates increases revenue. It only works if you close some loopholes. The Republicans don't believe in closing loopholes, just creating new ones. But only for the rich.

Most of the Republican candidates seriously propose cutting capital gains taxes to zero, and they say with a straight face that this too will increase revenue. When Bush cut the rate to 15% what he wanted was zero. Why should the rich pay taxes? Taxes are what you levy on the peasants.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Those pennies add up

Ben Bernanke went in front of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress today and painted a pretty bleak picture for them, or rather for the country, Republicans were hearted by the impending collapse of civilization. The Fed Chairman told them flat out that the economy is close to faltering, and that the Fed is considering taking more direct action besides its current bond swap scheme. He told Congress that without more consumer spending things will start getting worse and consumer spending will only happen if they have jobs, he also said flatly that Congress must not make any sharp cuts to spending.

To listen to the corporate media you would think he encouraged the Congress to balance the budget by making big cuts to spending, though the clips they run don’t show that. Bernanke has been laying the blame for the lack of jobs at the feet of Congress in recent speeches (when he says Congress, he means Republicans). The Republicans in turn renewed their demand that the Fed stop doing anything to stimulate the economy.

There aren’t a lot of things the Fed can do except do another round of bond buying or QE3. They could pressure the banks to start loaning money by cutting the interest rate that they are paying the banks for depositing money with the Fed. Ever since the banks collapsed in 08 the Fed has been loaning money to the banks at nearly zero interest and at the same time paying them to deposit money with the Fed. A really great investment if you can get in on it.

Speaking of sweet deals, Bank of America says it will plow ahead with a $5/month charge for using your debit card, but they will probably not charge people who have a large balance or a mortgage with them, other big banks have been experimenting with a $3/month charge. BoA says they have no choice but to start charging the excessive fees since the government is restricting them to charging no more than 22 cents to the merchant for swiping your debit card.

The Federal Reserve estimates the cost of a swipe to be no more than 4 cents and banks had been charging 44 cents per swipe. Consumer groups estimate the cost maybe as little as a penny or 98% profit in the old days, now to be reduced to only 95% profit, but that isn‘t enough. Those profit numbers might seem to be too close together to be correct, but we are talking about something that is nearly 100% profit no matter what they charge. BoA claims they will lose 2 billion a year in revenue from being restricted to a 22 cent swipe fee. If only half of their customers pay the $5/month debit card fee they will “earn” 3 billion.

The Senate voted 79-19 to bring the Currency Manipulator bill aimed at China to the floor for a vote. It’s likely that Republicans voted for the bill on the understanding that it will die in House. So called “anti-tax” Congressmen are determined to not let it pass.

China and the usual free trade idiots are screaming about a trade war, as if China buys anything from us now. The usual argument again is being trotted out that everything at Walmart will be too expensive if made in the US. If you don’t have a job or your wages are a third of what they used to be, then everything is already too expensive. The fact is that worker wages on average are half what they used to be, that is before outsourcing started 30 years ago. Increased efficiency should translate into higher wages, much higher wages. The fact that they don’t is not an accident or a natural occurrence. The 99% are being robbed by the 1%, get used to it or fight back.

Monday, October 3, 2011

For the Winners, there are no Rules

The Senate has taken up debate on a bill aimed at forcing China revalue its currency or face higher tariffs. While the bill doesn’t name China, it is the only country that qualifies as a currency manipulator. Beijing spends as much as 200 billion dollars a year to keep its currency pegged at 40% cheaper than it should be.

It seems counter intuitive to spend money to make your own currency cheap. It makes everything exported from China cheap (you would think that would mean less money for China), but more importantly it makes everything coming into China very expensive and that makes all the sense in the world. The thing about economics is the only thing that matters is the total at the end of the equation, and the end of the equation for China is a world that they own.

If China actually needs something like airliners for example, then their government will provide some sort of subsidy, and if it’s something they want to make themselves like Buicks, they don’t provide the subsidy and Chinese Buicks happen as if by magic. It’s a way to have tariffs while pretending you have free trade. Everybody in the world does this in one way or another, except the US.

We don’t do it because we are a conquered people who are having their country strip mined of its wealth. We weren’t conquered by China of course, at least not yet, we were conquered by a relative handful of rich people. It’s doubtful that the people behind this policy realized just how well China would make this “deal with devil” work for them. It has also worked fabulously well for the rich people here as wealth drains away from the 99% and into their pockets, even if China takes a huge cut in the process, and as China homes in on world domination in a race with the one percent here who also plan to dominate the world.

This concept of a rigged system is nothing new of course, Gen. Smedley Butler wrote a book about the practice titled War is a Racket, China is just the first country to play the game with our capitalists and make it work for them, normally the third world player gets taken down in the process.

The same names like Prescott and Bush have been trying for world domination and to do away with democracy in the US for over a century, some names like Koch and Walton are more recent but just as deadly. In reality there have been people like them up to this sort of thing all the way back to the founding of the country. Different Presidents and political movements have pushed back periodically, and the New Deal nearly made democracy permanent, but sadly the people have forgotten.

The in the past 40 years the rich have skillfully used the media to make themselves seem like super-patriots and wise men who can do no wrong and that they are here to protect us. The exact opposite is true of course. Even the tea baggers realize something is wrong, but they are easily distracted.

The new 99% movement has a chance at bringing back democracy but the 1% will stop at nothing to destroy them. The pretense that “Occupy Wall Street” has no leaders makes it difficult to target them but that will only go so far. A class war is like any other war. There are no rules for the winner.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tuesday is the big day

Will the Republicans shutdown the Federal Government? If they can get away without being blamed for the catastrophic damage, and instead blame Democrats, you betcha.