Quotations Between November 26 - December 7, 2009
To Accompany the November 25, 2009 edition of Tidbits
Bob Jensen at Trinity University

U.S. Debt/Deficit Clock --- http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm

Video:  President Obama lectures China on its shortcomings
The Best One Yet from Saturday Night Live --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZorJZ5ixOo


The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn't statistically significant.
Note that the date of this email was July 5, 2005
Dr. Jones never imagined that his admissions would ever be made public in the 2009 Climategate
Phil Jones, Scientist Suspended in the Climategate Scandal for covering up evidence of planet cooling ---

The New Zealand Government’s chief climate advisory unit NIWA is under fire for allegedly massaging raw climate data to show a global warming trend that wasn’t there. The scandal breaks as fears grow worldwide that corruption of climate science is not confined to just Britain’s CRU climate research centre.In New Zealand’s case, the figures published on NIWA’s [the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research] website suggest a strong warming trend in New Zealand over the past century [go to the link to see the graphs; the fraud is astonishing]But analysis of the raw climate data from the same temperature stations has just turned up a very different result [go to link above to see graphs]
"New Zealand Climate Scientists Faked Data, Too," Evolution News and Views, December 3, 2009 ---

How NASA is Fudging Climate Data
:"Example of Climate Work That Needs to be Checked and Replicated," by Warren Meyer, Climate Skeptic, December 5, 2009 ---

Let’s say you had two compasses to help you find north, but the compasses are reading incorrectly. After some investigation, you find that one of the compasses is located next to a strong magnet, which you have good reason to believe is strongly biasing that compass’s readings. In response, would you 1. Average the results of the two compasses and use this mean to guide you, or 2. Ignore the output of the poorly sited compass and rely solely on the other unbiased compass?

Most of us would quite rationally choose #2. However, Steve McIntyre shows us a situation involving two temperature stations in the USHCN network in which government researchers apparently have gone with solution #1.

Continued in article

"The Inconvenient Truth:  Al Gore "brushes aside" evidence of scientific misconduct,"
James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal, .December 5, 2009 --- Click Here

Here is the text of Newsweek’s 1975 story on the trend toward global cooling. It may look foolish today, but in fact world temperatures had been falling since about 1940. It was around 1979 that they reversed direction and resumed the general rise that had begun in the 1880s, bringing us today back to around 1940 levels. A PDF of the original is available here. A fine short history of warming and cooling scares has recently been produced. It is available here.
Newsweek Magazine, April 28, 1975 ---

Video:  ClimateGate Makes the Daily Show (Jon Stewart) --- Click Here
Also see http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2009/12/02/jon-stewart-climategate-poor-al-gore-global-warming-debunked-internet
See commentary at http://newsrealblog.com/2009/12/02/shocking-leftist-jon-stewart-talks-about-climategate/

Also see

"A Reason To Be Skeptical The lessons of Climategate," by David Harsanyi, Reason Magazine, December 2, 2009 ---
Available for audio download

Who knows? In the long run, global warming skeptics may be wrong, but the importance of healthy skepticism in the face of conventional thinking is, once again, validated.

What we know now is that someone hacked into the e-mails of leading climate researchers at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit and others, including noted alarmists Michael Mann at Pennsylvania State University and Kevin Trenberth of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

We found out that respected men discussed the manipulation of science, the blocking of Freedom of Information requests, the exclusion of dissenting scientists from debate, the removal of dissent from the peer-reviewed publications, and the discarding of historical temperature data and e-mail evidence.

You may suppose that those with resilient faith in end-of-days global warming would be more distraught than anyone over these actions. You'd be wrong. In the wake of the scandal, we are told there is nothing to see. The administration, the United Nations, and most of the left-wing punditry and political establishment have shrugged it off. What else can they do?

To many of these folks, the science of global warming is only a tool of ideology. To step back and re-examine their thinking would also mean—at least temporarily—ceding a foothold on policy that allows government to control behavior. It would mean putting the brakes on the billions of dollars allocated to force fundamental economic and societal manipulations through cap-and-trade schemes and fabricated "new energy economies," among many other intrusive policies.

We have little choice but to place a certain level of trust in scientists—even when it comes to the model-driven speculative discipline of climate change. And, need it be said, most scientists take great care in being honest, principled and precise.

In the same way, a conscientious citizen has little choice but to be uneasy when those with financial, ideological, and political interest in peddling the most over-the-top ecological doomsday scenarios also become the most zealous evangelizers.

As President Barack Obama heads to Copenhagen to work on an international deal that surrenders even more of our unsightly carbon-driven prosperity to the now-somewhat-less-than-irrefutable science of climate change, shouldn't he offer more than a flippant statement through a spokesman on the scandal?

The talks, after all, will be based on the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report, which partially was put together by the very same scandal-ridden scientists.

Now, I do not, on any level, possess the expertise to argue about the science of anthropological global warming. Nor do you, most likely. This certainly doesn't mean an average citizen has the duty to do the lock step.

Yes, you apostates will be tagged "denialists"—because skepticism is synonymous with the Holocaust denial, don't you know—or some other equally unfriendly moniker.

Don't worry; you won't be alone. Gallup recently found that 41 percent of Americans now believe global warming news reports are exaggerated—the highest number in more than a decade despite the fact that this time frame has coincided with concentrated and highly funded scaremongering. That number is sure to rise as soon as word of this scandal spreads.

The uglier the names get, the more anger you see, the more that science-challenged politicians push invasive legislation, the more skeptics will join you. True believers will question your intelligence, your sanity and your intentions.

But as ClimateGate proves, a bit of skepticism rarely steers you wrong. In fact, it's one of the key elements of rational thinking.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of "Nanny State." Visit his Web site at www.DavidHarsanyi.com


An entire generation's prosperity vanishing, food stamp use exploding. Welcome to the jobless future. This month's jobs numbers drive home the point. The unemployment rate fell at the fastest rate for years — great news, right? Wrong. The vast majority of the gains — 75% — came from (wait for it) "temporary help services." See what just happened? We subtracted thousands of real jobs — and replaced them with low-value, no-future McJobs instead.

"Solve America's Employment Crisis With a Netflix Prize," Harvard Business School, December 4, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
I found it a bit ironic that included in the jobs creation statistics are the hundreds of construction workers temporarily employed in cities like Philadelphia constructing new or improved public housing like there's a real long-term improvement to economic recovery in this type of job creation.

"A better stimulus plan: Have Congress adjourn until 2011"
The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2009 --- Click Here

"Crawling on the Bottom." University of North Carolina accounting professor Mark Lang, CPA, analyzes results of the fourth quarter AICPA/UNC Kenan-Flagler Business & Industry Economic Outlook Survey, December 2009 -  

At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, the late Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, the author Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel, Catch-22, over its whole history. Heller responds, ‘Yes, but I have something he will never have: Enough.’ In summary, the best way to “get rich quick” is to be content with “enough.” What greater tragedy can there be than to chase something for one-half to two-thirds of a lifetime that may not be actually acquired by the means for which you have sacrificed?
Kent Thune --- The Greatest Deception in the History of Finance ---

Related book: Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life

Some things just do get better with age
If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires.

The New York Times Timeline History of Health Care Reform in the United States ---
Click the arrow button on the right side of the NYT timeline.

What went so wrong with health care system reform in the United States?
Mostly what went wrong is our ill-conceived and underfunded attempts to reform the system!

I have come to the conclusion that the real reason this gifted communicator (Obama) has become so bad at communicating is that he doesn't really believe a word that he is saying. He couldn't convey that health-care reform would be somehow cost-free because he knows it won't be. And he can't adequately convey either the imperatives or the military strategy of the war in Afghanistan because he doesn't really believe in it either. He feels colonized by mistakes of the past. He feels trapped by the hand that has been dealt him.
Leftist Leaning Tina Brown, "Obama's Fog War," The Daily Beast ---
Jensen Comment
And he was the dealer.

Voters are increasingly worried about unemployment, but Democratic leaders in Congress remain obsessed with passing health- care reform. Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin was asked recently if a health-care bill would pass the Senate by the end of this month. "It must," he said. "We have to finish it." Still, many in the trenches are uneasy about the sprawling, complex bill they privately acknowledge has no bipartisan support, doesn't seriously tackle soaring costs and will increase insurance premiums. That may explain Majority Leader Harry Reid's haste—he has ordered a rare Sunday session this weekend to hurry up the debate. Public support for the bill averages only 39.2% backing in all polls compiled by Pollster.com.
John Fund, "Why Dems Are Obsessed by Health Reform:  They believe the liberal base expects them to deliver and will punish them if they don't," The Wall Street Journal, December 4, 2009 ---

"Stop Insuring Mortgages:  The folly of government intervention in the housing market," by John Stossel, Reason Magazine, December 3, 2009 ---

The Federal Housing Administration announced this week that it wants tougher rules on mortgage lenders. It's about time.

Maybe FHA got spooked by the recent New York Times story titled "Easy Loans to Wealthier Areas," which said: "In its efforts to prop up a shattered housing market, the government is greatly extending its traditional support of real estate, including guaranteeing the mortgages of middle-class and even upper-class buyers against default."

The Times explained that San Francisco, one of the priciest real estate markets in the country, had no government-insured mortgages two years ago, but now "the government is guaranteeing an average of six mortgages a week here. ... The Federal Housing Administration is underwriting loans at quadruple the rate of three years ago even as its reserves to cover defaults are dwindling."

And some of those loans are surely questionable.

The Times explains that 27-year-old Mike Rowland and his friends were able to buy a two-unit apartment building for almost a million dollars. "They had only a little cash to bring to the table but, with the federal government insuring the transaction, a large down payment was not necessary."

"It was kind of crazy we could get this big a loan," Rowland said.

Yes, it was crazy. Such policies do not end well. Young Rowland gets that. Even the Times does: "With government finances already under great strain, the policy expansions are creating new risks for American taxpayers."

But our leaders plunge ahead, with your money. Has the administration forgotten that today's financial mess was precipitated in part by government's moves to encourage mortgage lending to unqualified or at best unproven borrowers? In the 1990s, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, concerned that blacks and Hispanics were "underserved," issued guidelines to banks stating: "Policies regarding applicants with no credit history or problem credit history should be reviewed. Lack of credit history should not be seen as a negative factor...."

Soon, the lower standards spilled into the prime-mortgage market. The risk to lenders seemed small because government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac happily bought the dubious loans. An entire financial edifice was built on these securitized mortgages and derivatives based on them.

Then the good times ended. Interest rates rose. Home prices flattened and then declined. Then those AAA mortgage-backed securities became "toxic."

After all that, it's crazy that government still subsidizes housing rather than letting the market work. The economy will recover from recession only when it is allowed to discover the real value of assets like houses. But the government refuses to allow this to happen. FHA has been blowing air into another bubble, while other agencies do everything they can to boost prices.

This includes leaning on and bribing banks to ease mortgage terms for people in default. The Obama administration announced that it would increase that pressure because "the banks are not doing a good enough job," said Michael S. Barr, assistant treasury secretary for financial institutions. Some Democrats want to go further. They demand that the government compel mediation over defaulted mortgages or empower judges to change the terms.

This sounds humane, but it is typical political shortsightedness. When government helps delinquent borrowers to get easier loan terms, it simultaneously makes it harder for marginal borrowers to get loans in the first place. That's because lenders must now factor in the likelihood of a judge changing the terms.

The know-it-alls in Washington "help" Americans by hurting them.

Why won't the government let housing prices seek their own level? After a Washington-inflated bubble, that would seem to be the wise thing to do. Sure, some people get hurt when prices fall, but others—prospective home-buyers—are helped. By artificially raising prices, the Realtor-Construction-Banking-Big Government Complex cheats honest low-income people who would otherwise have been able to afford a first home without begging the government for help.

Bob Jensen's threads on the sub-prime frauds ---


Which stories did media bury in 2009? --- http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=117601

Ethics-Challenged John Murtha on Principles of Democracy --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFqN2Kdib3w

ACLU:  To Hell With With the Lives of Our Troops
The A.C.L.U. has been fighting in court for several years to obtain the pictures. But American military commanders have warned that making the images public could set off a deadly backlash against United States troops. The administration said in April that it would not oppose release of the images. But President Obama changed his mind after seeing the photographs, and after listening to arguments from Pentagon officials that the pictures, taken early in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, would indeed inflame anti-American sentiment. The civil liberties union has differed with that stance.
David Stout, "Supreme Court Overturns Decision on Detainee Photos," The New York Times, November 30, 2009 ---

Absolute Proof That Some Things Are Getting Hotter for Global Warming Researchers
"Prostitutes Offer Free Climate Summit Sex," by Politiken Staff , December 4, 2009 ---

Copenhagen Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard sent postcards to city hotels warning summit guests not to patronize Danish sex workers during the upcoming conference. Now, the prostitutes have struck back, offering free sex to anyone who produces one of the warnings.

Copenhagen's city council in conjunction with Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard sent postcards out to 160 Copenhagen hotels urging COP15 guests and delegates to 'Be sustainable - don't buy sex'.

"Dear hotel owner, we would like to urge you not to arrange contacts between hotel guests and prostitutes," the approach to hotels says.

Now, Copenhagen prostitutes are up in arms, saying that the council has no business meddling in their affairs. They have now offered free sex to anyone who can produce one of the offending postcards and their COP15 identity card, according to the Web site avisen.dk.

Continued with a picture

The irony is that some troops may barely get to Afghanistan in time to be sent home
"Pullout From Afghanistan to Begin in 2011, Official Says," by David E. Sanger, and Peter Baker, The New York Times, December 1, 2009 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/world/asia/02policy.html?_r=1&hp

Jensen Comment
The President who claims Obamacare will cut the deficit now declares he can win the Afghanistan war in less than two years.
Yeah right!
The only thing that will be defeated by 2011 will be the U.S. economy.

"Clemency for terrorists but not our soldiers?" by Diana West, Townhall, November 27, 2009 ---

During the Thanksgiving season especially, Americans should give thanks to our brave men in uniform, and women, too, fighting in hostile lands under atrocious conditions.

But there's another duty upon us as Americans with a debt of gratitude to our armed forces.

We must recognize and protest the travesties of military justice that have tried, convicted, jailed and denied clemency to all too many brave Americans, the same brave Americans who have fought our wars only to be unfairly charged with "murder" in the war zone.

Readers of this column will recall the crushing conviction of Sgt. Evan Vela, a young Ranger-trained sniper and father of two from Idaho, for executing his superior's 2006 order to kill an Iraqi man who at the time has been compromising his squad's hiding place in the pre-"surge" Sunni triangle. Ten years in Fort Leavenworth, ordered not-so-blind justice. (There is evidence that Evan's harsh sentence was a blatant political offering to Iraq's government.) One reason behind my intense distaste for George W. Bush -- my own personal Bush Derangement Syndrome -- is the former president's callousness toward such Americans as Sgt. Vela, who served their commander in chief well in these difficult times of war. As the Bush administration came to an end, talk of a presidential pardon for Vela leaked to the media, no doubt elating the Vela family, but, cruelly, nothing came of it.

It never does. Evan Vela now has all too many brothers-in-arms at Fort Leavenworth prison where they form what is increasingly known as The Leavenworth Ten: Vela (10 years), Corey Claggett (18 years), William Hunsaker (18 years), Raymond Girouard (10 years), Michael Williams (25 years), Larry Hutchins (11 years), Michael Behenna (20 years), John Hatley (40 years), Joseph Mayo (20 years), Michael Leahy (20 years). Google their names, read their cases and, before recoiling in politically correct shudders into the deeper recesses of the Lazy Boy, try to imagine the particular hell of this war as they and others like them experienced it on our behalf.

If this exercise elicits any pangs amid the general sense of holiday well being, good. Maybe it will help Americans see the urgent need for clemency in these cases. And particularly given the mind-boggling fact that the United States has been granting clemency in Iraq to the most murderous detainees our soldiers were sent to fight in the first place.

I'm not even referring to the thousands of "lower-level" detainees released over the past year or more from U.S.-run prisons in Iraq. (A senior Iraq interior ministry official told AFP that the two suicide bombers and a majority of suspects in the Aug. 19 Baghdad bombings had recently been released from U.S.-run Camp Bucca.) I'm talking about high-level, known killers of Americans in Iraq, such as Laith al-Khazali, who, along with four fellow Iranian-backed operatives, was released in July.

As Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen noted, al-Khazali is a leader of Asaib al-Haq, an Iranian-backed "special group" that in 2007 kidnapped and killed five American soldiers. Later, the group kidnapped five British contractors, three of whom are known dead. Ghazali's release, a U.S. military spokesman told the New York Times, came as "part of a reconciliation effort between the government of Iraq and Asaib al-Haq." How sweet. But, Cullen wondered, if the United States can forgive al-Khazali, why can't the U.S. forgive Larry Hutchins? "So Larry Hutchins, killer of a single Iraqi, sits in prison while Laith al-Khazli, killer of many Americans, enjoys his freedom and his family."

I'm not sure how much "family" such a jihadist "enjoys," but however much it's a courtesy of the U.S. government most merciful -- at least toward Shiite terrorists with American blood on their hands. In September, more than 100 more Iraqi Shiites belonging to al-Ghazali's group were released. Also released this year was Mahmud Farhadi, whom Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal describes as a key Iranian leader in the Ramazan Corps, which, Roggio writes, "is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq."

I don't mean to equate Iraqi and Iranian terrorists with U.S. soldiers. But I do mean to question a government that frees its enemies in a sham of "reconciliation" and leaves its soldiers to rot in a sham of "justice."

And I challenge readers to do the same.

"Terror by Trial:  Lawyer Arlen Specter would make it easier for terrorists to sue," The Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2009 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703939404574568130713843644.html?mod=djemEditorialPage

If you think it's outrageous that Navy SEALs who helped capture one of Iraq's most wanted terrorists now face court-martial on charges they roughed him up, just wait. It may get worse. Tomorrow morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on a bill introduced by Arlen Specter (D., Pa.) that would make it easier for terrorists to sue military and federal law-enforcement officials.

That's not Mr. Specter's intent, of course. It would, however, be the effect of a bill that only a trial lawyer could love: the Notice Pleading Restoration Act of 2009. If successful, it would undo a recent Supreme Court ruling that gave us this common sense standard: Before you can sue someone, you have to have a plausible claim they did something wrong.

Mr. Specter, a former trial lawyer, finds the plausibility standard onerous. The reason has to do with the discovery process. Rightly used, discovery allows lawyers from both sides to gain access to evidence—documents, email, depositions, etc.—that support their case. In practice it can be abused, as when lawyers use discovery to go fishing for a case they don't have. And because compliance alone can be expensive and time-consuming, many companies find it cheaper to settle.

Greg Garre, a former solicitor general for the Bush administration who will testify at tomorrow's hearing, puts it this way: "If passed and signed into law, the bill would drive a truck through the Supreme Court ruling and dramatically lower the standards for pleading lawsuits."

When Mr. Specter introduced his bill in July, he said that insisting on plausible evidence before a lawsuit can proceed will "deny many plaintiffs with meritorious claims access to the Federal courts." So he aims to reverse the standard: Unless the Court has absolute proof that a claim will not succeed, his bill would effectively waive it through. There may be another, less altruistic interest: At a time when Mr. Specter is in a tough primary fight in his new party, he needs all the generosity he can get from his supporters in the plaintiff's bar.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce naturally opposes the bill, saying it would impose a hefty "litigation tax" on American business and encourage frivolous lawsuits. But where do the terrorists come in?

The answer goes back to the original Supreme Court ruling this bill hopes to overturn. That case involved Javaid Iqbal, a Pakistani Muslim who was arrested in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, designated a person of "high interest," and detained under restrictive conditions. After pleading guilty to criminal charges and serving time, he was released and sent back to Pakistan.

Once free, Mr. Iqbal filed a lawsuit against more than three dozen federal officials and corrections officers. That included everyone from the warden and the guards outside his cell to former Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller. The complaint alleged that Messrs. Ashcroft and Mueller discriminated against him based on race, religion or national origin.

The Supreme Court limited itself to the charges against Messrs. Ashcroft and Mueller. The ruling came down to this: While Mr. Iqbal was free to sue those who he says abused him, he needed to show his allegations were plausible. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy defined a plausible claim as "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."

That may not sound like much, but consider the alternative. We know that al Qaeda operatives are trained to claim abuse when they are captured. If Mr. Specter's legislation succeeds, what is to prevent them from alleging all sorts of violations so they can go on discovery expeditions against, say, Gen. David Petraeus or Defense Secretary Robert Gates? And how would that affect the ability of these men to prosecute the war?

Justice Kennedy made this point when he wrote about the "heavy costs" imposed on government officials trying to do their jobs. These costs, he noted, "are only magnified when Government officials are charged with responding to, as Judge [Jose] Cabranes aptly put it, 'a national and international security emergency unprecedented in the history of the American Republic.'"

As bad as this bill is, it's an opportunity for Barack Obama. When he speaks at West Point this evening, he will ask for support for his new strategy for Afghanistan. With many Americans still reeling from the decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal criminal court, coming out strongly against the Specter bill would burnish the president's war-fighting credentials—and limit al Qaeda's ability to manipulate the courts.

It wouldn't hurt that in so doing, the president would also be showing himself willing to stand up to a key Democratic constituency. Let's hope he recognizes this bill for the gift it is.

Foreclosuregate:  MSNBC's dung-mouthed Explosive Ed Lies Again and Again and Again

"Schultz Uses Questionable Foreclosure Data Generated by Agenda-Driven Newspaper to Blast Bachmann Voting Record," by Jeff Poor, NewsBusters, December 3, 2009 --- Click Here

Jensen Comment
MSNBC's liberals Chris Matthews and even Keith Olbermann apologize in public for their mistakes, but you will never catch liberal fanatic Ed Shultz apologizing for blatant falsehoods that he most likely knew all the time were falsehoods. I actually chuckle when he curses down a guest or call in listener on his show that would dare express an opinion that Explosive Ed does not agree with (ending with a preposition).

In my opinion his rants doing more to hurt the Democratic Party than anything Fox News can dream up.

Ed Schultz: More Racist Hate Speech from Neal "Fascist Fuck" Boortz ---

Libtalker Ed Schultz Has Another Unhinged Meltdown With Caller ---

"Is Global Warming Unstoppable?" Science Daily, November 24, 2009 ---

Also watch videos of skeptics ---

"The great climate change science scandal:  Leaked emails have revealed the unwillingness of climate change scientists to engage in a proper debate with the sceptics who doubt global warming," Jonathon Leake, London Times, November 29, 2009 --- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6936289.ece

The storm began with just four cryptic words. “A miracle has happened,” announced a contributor to Climate Audit, a website devoted to criticising the science of climate change.

“RC” said nothing more — but included a web link that took anyone who clicked on it to another site, Real Climate.

There, on the morning of November 17, they found a treasure trove: a thousand or so emails sent or received by Professor Phil Jones, director of the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

Jones is a key player in the science of climate change. His department’s databases on global temperature changes and its measurements have been crucial in building the case for global warming.

What those emails suggested, however, was that Jones and some colleagues may have become so convinced of their case that they crossed the line from objective research into active campaigning.

In one, Jones boasted of using statistical “tricks” to obliterate apparent declines in global temperature. In another he advocated deleting data rather than handing them to climate sceptics. And in a third he proposed organised boycotts of journals that had the temerity to publish papers that undermined the message.

It was a powerful and controversial mix — far too powerful for some. Real Climate is a website designed for scientists who share Jones’s belief in man-made climate change. Within hours the file had been stripped from the site.

Several hours later, however, it reappeared — this time on an obscure Russian server. Soon it had been copied to a host of other servers, first in Saudi Arabia and Turkey and then Europe and America.

What’s more, the anonymous poster was determined not to be stymied again. He or she posted comments on climate-sceptic blogs, detailing a dozen of the best emails and offering web links to the rest. Jones’s statistical tricks were now public property.

Steve McIntyre, a prominent climate sceptic, was amazed. “Words failed me,” he said. Another, Patrick Michaels, declared: “This is not a smoking gun; this is a mushroom cloud.”

Inevitably, the affair became nicknamed Climategate. For the scientists, campaigners and politicians trying to rouse the world to action on climate change the revelations could hardly have come at a worse time. Next month global leaders will assemble in Copenhagen to seek limits on carbon emissions. The last thing they need is renewed doubts about the validity of the science.

The scandal has also had a huge personal and professional impact on the scientists. “These have been the worst few days of my professional life,” said Jones. He had to call on the police for protection after receiving anonymous phone calls and personal threats.

Why should a few emails sent to and from a single research scientist at a middle-ranking university have so much impact? And most importantly, what does it tell us about the quality of the research underlying the science of climate change?

THE hacking scandal is not an isolated event. Instead it is the latest round of a long-running battle over climate science that goes back to 1990.

That was when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — the group of scientists that advises governments worldwide — published its first set of reports warning that the Earth faced deadly danger from climate change. A centrepiece of that report was a set of data showing how the temperature of the northern hemisphere was rising rapidly.

The problem was that the same figures showed that it had all happened before. The so-called medieval warm period of about 1,000 years ago saw Britain covered in vineyards and Viking farmers tending cows in Greenland. For any good scientist this raised a big question: was the recent warming linked to humans burning fossil fuels or was it part of a natural cycle?

The researchers set to work and in 1999 a group led by Professor Michael Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University, came up with new numbers showing that the medieval warm period was not so important after all.

Some bits of the Atlantic may have been warm for a while, but the records suggested that the Pacific had been rather chilly over the same period — so on average there was little change.

Plotted out, Mann’s data turned into the famous “hockey stick” graph. It showed northern hemisphere temperatures as staying flat for hundreds of years and then rising steeply from 1900 until now. The implication was that this rise would continue, with potentially deadly consequences for humanity.

That vision of continents being hit by droughts and floods while the Arctic melts away has turned a scientific debate into a highly emotional and political one. The language used by “warmists” and sceptics alike has become increasingly polarised.

George Monbiot, widely respected as a writer on green issues, has branded doubters “climate deniers”, a phrase uncomfortably close to holocaust denial. Sceptics, particularly in America, have suggested that scientists who believe in climate change are part of a global left-wing conspiracy to divert billions of dollars into green technology.

A more cogent criticism is that there has been a reluctance to acknowledge dissent on the question of climate science. Al Gore, the former US vice-president turned green campaigner, has described the climate debate as “settled”. Yet the science, say critics, has not been tested to the limit. This is why the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia is so significant.

Its researchers have built up records of how temperatures have changed over thousands of years. Perhaps the most important is the land and sea temperature record for the world since the mid-19th century. This is the database that shows the “unequivocal” rise of 0.8C over the last 157 years on which Mann’s hockey stick and much else in climate science depend.

Some critics believe that the unit’s findings need to be treated with more caution, because all the published data have been “corrected” — meaning they have been altered to compensate for possible anomalies in the way they were taken. Such changes are normal; what’s controversial is how they are done. This is compounded by the unwillingness of the unit to release the original raw data.

David Holland, an engineer from Northampton, is one of a number of sceptics who believe the unit has got this process wrong. When he submitted a request for the figures under freedom of information laws he was refused because it was “not in the public interest”.

Others who made similar requests were turned down because they were not academics, among them McIntyre, a Canadian who runs the Climate Audit website.

A genuine academic, Ross McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada, also tried. He said: “I was rejected for an entirely different reason. The [unit] told me they had obtained the data under confidentiality agreements and so could not supply them. This was odd because they had already supplied some of them to other academics, but only those who support the idea of climate change.”

IT was against this background that the emails were leaked last week, reinforcing suspicions that scientific objectivity has been sacrificed. There is unease even among researchers who strongly support the idea that humans are changing the climate. Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said: “Over the last decade there has been a very political battle between the climate sceptics and activist scientists.

“It seems to me that the scientists have lost touch with what they were up to. They saw themselves as in a battle with the sceptics rather than advancing scientific knowledge.”

Professor Mike Hulme, a fellow researcher of Jones at the University of East Anglia and author of Why We Disagree About Climate Change, said: “The attitudes revealed in the emails do not look good. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organisation within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science.”

There could, however, be another reason why the unit rejected requests to see its data.

This weekend it emerged that the unit has thrown away much of the data. Tucked away on its website is this statement: “Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites ... We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (ie, quality controlled and homogenised) data.”

If true, it is extraordinary. It means that the data on which a large part of the world’s understanding of climate change is based can never be revisited or checked. Pielke said: “Can this be serious? It is now impossible to create a new temperature index from scratch. [The unit] is basically saying, ‘Trust us’.”

WHERE does this leave the climate debate? While the overwhelming belief of scientists is that the world is getting warmer and that humanity is responsible, sceptical voices are increasing.

Lord Lawson, the Tory former chancellor, announced last week the creation of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a think tank, to “bring reason, integrity and balance to a debate that has become seriously unbalanced, irrationally alarmist, and all too often depressingly intolerant”.

Lawson said: “Climate change is not being properly debated because all the political parties are on the same side, and there is an intolerance towards anybody who wants to debate it. It has turned climate change from being a political issue into a secular religion.”

The public are understandably confused. A recent poll showed that 41% accept as scientific fact that global warming is taking place and is largely man-made, while 32% believe the link is unproven and 15% said the world is not warming.

This weekend many of Jones’s colleagues were standing by him. Tim Lenton, professor of earth system science at UEA, said: “We wouldn’t have anything like the understanding of climate change that we do were it not for the work of Phil Jones and his colleagues. They have spent decades putting together the historical temperature record and it is good work.”

The problem is that, after the past week, both skeptics and the public will require even more convincing of that.

"Democrats Censor Climate Skeptics in Congress," by Jillian Bandes, Tpwnhall, December 3, 2009 ---

The Democratically-controlled Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held a hearing yesterday to examine the science behind global warming. Two climate experts from the Obama administration testified, but when Republicans asked to have a global-warming skeptic at the hearing, Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) refused to allow it.

Hosting a hearing on global warming with no dissenting opinions made Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the ranking Republican on the Committee, think the Democrats and the Obama administration were just as complicit in the global warming scandal sparked by Climategate as the Climategate scientists themselves.

“What the hearings showed is that the President’s science advisors are at the bottom of the whole climate change debate,” said Sensenbrenner.

Chairman Markey did not even hold the hearing for the purpose of exploring the Climategate scandal. Rather, it was held to explore the “urgent, consensus view on our planetary problem: that global warming is real, and the science indicates that it is getting worse” in advance of the President’s trip to Copenhagen.

Sensenbrenner said that totally missed the point.

“As policymakers, we should all be concerned when key climate scientists write in private correspondence that they found a ‘trick’ to ‘hide the decline’ in temperature data documented in climate studies,” he said.

Sensenbrenner made it clear that Climategate does not undermine all of global warming science. But the scandal does “read more like scientific fascism than the scientific process,” and very clearly necessitates additional consideration of the global warming issue.

“[Markey] has gone so far as to not provide a debate on the issue, when obviously the mail from the British university indicates that debate should be encouraged rather than suppressed,” said Sensenbrenner. He has formally requested an additional hearing, which Markey will be forced to entertain due to Committee rules. But exactly when that additional hearing will put it on the schedule is uncertain.

Sensenbrenner also complained that the two witnesses who were called, Dr. John Holdren, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, an administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were not put under oath at the hearing. Markey said that the reason they were not put under oath was because it would be “grandstanding.”

But Markey insisted that oil executive be put under oath during hearings last month.

“Up until the last couple months, I think that Markey has been very fair in operating his Committee,” said Sensenbrenner. But as the whole scientific political argument is falling apart, he’s become increasingly intolerant.”

Video:  ClimateGate Makes the Daily Show (Jon Stewart) --- Click Here
Also see http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2009/12/02/jon-stewart-climategate-poor-al-gore-global-warming-debunked-internet
See commentary at http://newsrealblog.com/2009/12/02/shocking-leftist-jon-stewart-talks-about-climategate/

National Public Radio won't let Climategate refute the undisputable truth that global warming is a man-made phenomenon and the earth has not been cooling down contrary to any hidden scientific evidence to the contrary (that won't ever be aired or even mentioned on MSNPR oops NPR) ---

"E-Mail Fracas Shows Peril of Trying to Spin Science," by John Tierney, The New York Times, November 30, 2009 ---

As the scientists denigrate their critics in the e-mail messages, they seem oblivious to one of the greatest dangers in the climate-change debate: smug groupthink. These researchers, some of the most prominent climate experts in Britain and America, seem so focused on winning the public-relations war that they exaggerate their certitude — and ultimately undermine their own cause.

Consider, for instance, the phrase that has been turned into a music video by gleeful climate skeptics: “hide the decline,” used in an e-mail message by Phil Jones, the head of the university’s Climatic Research Unit. He was discussing the preparation of a graph for the cover of a 1999 report from the World Meteorological Organization showing that temperatures in the past several decades were the highest of the past millennium.

Most of the graph was based on analyses of tree rings and other “proxy” records like ice cores and lake sediments. These indirect measurements indicated that temperatures declined in the middle of the millennium and then rose in the first half of the 20th century, which jibes with other records. But the tree-ring analyses don’t reveal a sharp warming in the late 20th century — in fact, they show a decline in temperatures, contradicting what has been directly measured with thermometers.

Because they considered that recent decline to be spurious, Dr. Jones and his colleagues removed it from part of the graph and used direct thermometer readings instead. In a statement last week, Dr. Jones said there was nothing nefarious in what they had done, because the problems with the tree-ring data had been openly identified earlier and were known to experts.

But the graph adorned the cover of a report intended for policy makers and journalists. The nonexperts wouldn’t have realized that the scariest part of that graph — the recent temperatures soaring far above anything in the previous millennium — was based on a completely different measurement from the earlier portion. It looked like one smooth, continuous line leading straight upward to certain doom.

The story behind that graph certainly didn’t show that global warming was a hoax or a fraud, as some skeptics proclaimed, but it did illustrate another of their arguments: that the evidence for global warming is not as unequivocal as many scientists claim. (Go to nytimes.com/tierneylab for details.)

In fact, one skeptic raised this very issue about tree-ring data in a comment posted in 2004 on RealClimate, the blog operated by climate scientists. The comment, which questioned the propriety of “grafting the thermometer record onto a proxy temperature record,” immediately drew a sharp retort on the blog from Michael Mann, an expert at Penn State University:

“No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, ‘grafted the thermometer record onto’ any reconstruction. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation Web sites) appearing in this forum.”

Dr. Mann now tells me that he was unaware, when he wrote the response, that such grafting had in fact been done in the earlier cover chart, and I take him at his word. But I don’t see why the question was dismissed so readily, with the implication that only a tool of the fossil-fuel industry would raise it.

Contempt for critics is evident over and over again in the hacked e-mail messages, as if the scientists were a priesthood protecting the temple from barbarians. Yes, some of the skeptics have political agendas, but so do some of the scientists. Sure, the skeptics can be cranks and pests, but they have identified genuine problems in the historical reconstructions of climate, as in the debate they inspired about the “hockey stick” graph of temperatures over the past millennium.

It is not unreasonable to give outsiders a look at the historical readings and the adjustments made by experts like Harry. How exactly were the readings converted into what the English scientists describe as “quality controlled and homogenised” data?

Trying to prevent skeptics from seeing the raw data was always a questionable strategy, scientifically. Now it looks like dubious public relations, too.

In response to the furor over the climate e-mail messages, there will be more attention than ever paid to those British temperature records, and any inconsistencies or gaps will seem more suspicious simply because the researchers were so determined not to reveal them. Skeptical bloggers are already dissecting Harry’s work. As they relentlessly pore over other data, the British scientists will feel Harry’s pain:

My colleagues and I accept that some of the published emails do not read well. I regret any upset or confusion caused as a result. Some were clearly written in the heat of the moment, others use colloquialisms frequently used between close colleagues.
Phil Jones, Head ("scientist") of the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, November 24, 2009
Jensen Comment
"colloquialisms frequently used" = "only publish outcomes consistent with funding and political goals"
Or in other words "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and don't mess with Mr. Inbetween."

Climate Science Video --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEiLgbBGKVk&feature=player_embedded

Leading British scientists at the University of East Anglia, who were accused of manipulating climate change data - dubbed Climategate - have agreed to publish their figures in full.The U-turn by the university follows a week of controversy after the emergence of hundreds of leaked emails, "stolen" by hackers and published online, triggered claims that the academics had massaged statistics. In a statement welcomed by climate change sceptics, the university said it would make all the data accessible as soon as possible, once its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had negotiated its release from a range of non-publication agreements.
Robert Mendick, "Climategate: University of East Anglia U-turn in climate change row Leading British scientists at the University of East Anglia, who were accused of manipulating climate change data - dubbed Climategate - have agreed to publish their figures in full," London Telegraph, November 28, 2009 --- Click Here

Oops! Scratch the Above Tidbit: 
This is beginning to sound more like ACORN and the Houston Office of Arther Andersen.

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years....In a statement on its website, the CRU said:
“We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data.”
Jonathan Leake, "Climate change data dumped," London Times, November 29, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
Phil Jones was not in charge in the 1980s when the raw data were discarded.

The Economist believes that global warming is a serious threat, and that the world needs to take steps to try to avert it. That is the job of the politicians. But we do not believe that climate change is a certainty. There are no certainties in science. Prevailing theories must be constantly tested against evidence, and refined, and more evidence collected, and the theories tested again. That is the job of the scientists. When they stop questioning orthodoxy, mankind will have given up the search for truth. The sceptics should not be silenced.
"A Heated Debate," The Economist, November 25, 2009, Page 15 --- Click Here

A new scientific scandal Alert:  If a peer review fails in the woods...,
A scientific scandal is casting a shadow over a number of recent peer-reviewed climate papers. At least eight papers purporting to reconstruct the historical temperature record times may need to be revisited, with significant implications for contemporary climate studies, the basis of the IPCC's assessments. A number of these involve senior climatologists at the British climate research centre CRU at the University East Anglia. In every case, peer review failed to pick up the errors. At issue is the use of tree rings as a temperature proxy, or dendrochronology.
Andrew Orlowski, "A new scientific scandal Alert:  Print If a peer review fails in the woods...," The Register, September 29, 2009 --- http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/29/yamal_scandal/

Noted University of Arizona Scientist Caught Up in the Scandal
"Global warming fraud uncovered," by Kathy G. Boatman, London Times, November 27, 2009 ---

The documents released make it clear that this particular situation involved a notable University of Arizona climate change scientist by the name of Jonathan Overpeck.

The university issued a press release regarding Jonathan Overpeck in 2007 that seems to confirm his involvement, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was one of the winners of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, and a professor at The University of Arizona was one of only 33 lead authors on an IPCC assessment report released earlier this year.”

Overpeck, director of the University of Arizona’s Institute for the Study of Planet Earth and professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences, was a coordinating lead author of a chapter on Paleoclimate, for the IPCC’s fourth assessment report.

“This is pretty awesome,” Overpeck was quoted as saying in the news release. “So much work went into this on the part of so many scientists. The recognition is a reflection of the impact that climate science is having. It’s also a reflection that society is moving from questioning climate change to realizing that it’s happening and discuss what to do about it.”

The fourth assessment report, which focused on the science of climate change, presented expert consensus on greenhouse gas levels, global land and ocean temperatures, sea level rising, changes in sea ice and predictions of future change.

However, it now appears that Overpeck and others have manipulated the science and the consensus they claim to have. Perhaps congressional hearings will help to determine Overpeck’s role in this situation.

In addition to these problems, the attempts to brainwash the public are evident. CRU apparently utilized a public relations firm to communicate its climate change message. Most notable is the statement, “Changing attitudes toward climate change is not like selling a particular brand of soap, it’s like convincing someone to use soap in the first place.” Another one of the PR rules is, “Everyone must use a clear and consistent explanation of climate change.”

Before you take start purchasing carbon credits, I suggest you peruse the documents and e-mails that were leaked and are available in a searchable database at www.anelegantchaos.org/cru/search.php 

Jensen Comment
Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State’s Earth System Science Center is also caught up in the scandal and under some pressure to resign.


Hackers are revealing the moral hazards of climate science
However, we do now have hundreds of emails that give every appearance of testifying to concerted and coordinated efforts by leading climatologists to fit the data to their conclusions while attempting to silence and discredit their critics. In the department of inconvenient truths, this one surely deserves a closer look by the media, the U.S. Congress and other investigative bodies.

Scientists have long endured the criticism that many of them cheat in their grant applications, experiments, and in their race to be the first to publish findings that ultimately do not stand the test of more deliberative replications. But the open-minded willingness of journals and editors to publish contradictory findings has always been viewed as saving the credibility of science. In the natural sciences replication or other confirmation is the name of the game. In the social sciences replication and confirmation is more problematic, but increasingly attempts are being made to improve the credibility of social science experimentation --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#Myths

This is why it is very disheartening to see the politics of climate-change scientists destroying the credibility of their journals and their editors who control the gates of publication of climate change research.

Since science funding in the United States has become largely a game of gaming for grants, there are many other examples in virtually all branches of science where scientists engage in fraud just for the money and the prestige. Politicians have created enormous moral hazards in the world of science and medicine.

The left's police-hating chickens are coming home to roost. While partisan liberals have gone out of their way to blame conservative media and the Tea Party movement for creating a "climate of hate," they're silent on the cultural and literal war on cops that has raged for decades -- and escalated tragically this year. The total number of law-enforcement officers shot and killed this year is up 19 percent over last year, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
"The War on Cops Is Getting Worse," New York Post, December 5, 2009 ---

Say that again?
Russian Military Analysts are reporting to Prime Minister Putin that US President Barack Obama has issued orders to his Northern Command’s (USNORTHCOM) top leader, US Air Force General Gene Renuart, to “begin immediately” increasing his military forces to 1 million troops by January 30, 2010, in what these reports warn is an expected outbreak of civil war within the United States before the end of winter.
Freedom Fighter, November 28, 2009 --- http://freedomfighterradio.net/?p=12655
Jensen Comment
MSNBC has yet to confirm that General Palin will lead rebel guerillas bent on overturning Queen Pelosi's reign.

When Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman comes to Washington next week, he plans to ask for increased military aid for a government that just gave a terrorist group responsible for killing hundreds of Americans free rein to wage war on Israel. His government last week granted Hizbullah, the Shi'ite group that the US and most Western nations consider a terrorist organization, the right to "liberate occupied territories" - read Israel - as it wishes. The Lebanese Forces and the Phalange Party say this is tantamount to granting the Iranian ally separate and independent status from the state in violation of the...
"Is Lebanon becoming a terrorist state?" by Douglas Bloomfield, Jerusalem Post, December 2, 2009 ---

This summer, the US sold Lebanon eight rubber Zodiac boats. That may sound insignificant, but that's the boat favored by Palestinian terrorists who have made commando raids on Israeli shores, by the Mumbai attackers last year, by Iranians to attack tankers in the Gulf and by Somali pirates. In today's Lebanon, there would be no way to keep them out of Hizbullah's "navy." It not as though Hizbullah needs American arms.

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah announced Monday that not only isn't his group disarming but it intends to improve and expand its arsenal, which he boasted has tens of thousands of rockets. The IDF estimates the group has more than 40,000, triple its prewar inventory, many now capable of hitting Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and beyond. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that "dwarfs the inventory of many nation-states." Most are coming from Iran, Syria and North Korea, in violation of UN resolutions. Israel recently intercepted a ship, the Francop, with some 500 tons of weapons and ammunition bound from Iran via Syria for Hizbullah.

Continued in Article

"The surge in temp hiring is not a sign of a malfunctioning economy. It is the face of the future," by Jody Greenstone Miller, The Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2009 --- Click Here

The White House is turning its nose up at last month's spurt in temporary work—the one bright spot in an otherwise grim jobs report. It claims that such work is proof that the economy is still malfunctioning. The truth is that this surge in temporary workers is not only good news for the economy, it's the future of the 21st century labor market. If Washington wants to jump start job growth for the 3.5 million white-collar workers who have lost jobs in this recession, it should start by scrapping the outdated legal and regulatory hurdles to temporary work.

I know something about this because I run a business that places talented individuals into temporary consulting and interim executive assignments. Amid the worst recession in decades, our business is up 70%. Yet there would be much more growth in this sector if Americans—from the White House down to the personnel department—stopped discriminating against temporary work as inferior or anomalous.

Today, demand for high-end temporary business talent is not focused on cost-cutting projects, as some might suspect. Instead, firms use temporary executives to drive innovation. In uncertain times, firms are simply more comfortable with deploying talent on a flexible basis.

Temporary work also boosts economic efficiency because not all executive roles require permanent staff. For example, one pharmaceutical company client took on a temporary marketing executive to help launch a new drug. The old way of doing this was to make a new permanent hire (or a small team) who would have been under-utilized after the launch. The availability of temporary staff who can get the job done quickly means that firms can rethink how work is organized.

Which brings us to another case for temporary work: Top business talent increasingly wants to work this way. In one situation, a VP-level executive we placed was developing his own new business. He valued the way a part-time senior role allowed him to support his family while he worked on his own project. For others, working in a series of temporary assignments may be their preferred full-time occupation.

Given the contribution that temporary work makes to the economy, it's time Washington embraced it. Here are three things the feds could do immediately to make it easier for firms and executives to work this way:

First, the Obama administration should create a two-year "safe harbor" for independent professionals doing temporary work. Currently, the rules governing independent contractors are determined on a case-by-case basis and are subject to state law variations. This leaves risk-averse personnel departments wary of hiring temporary executives for fear that they could be reclassified as employees, saddling employers with liabilities. The solution is to create a two-year safe harbor provision that lays out a clear test for being classified as an independent contractor. The White House could streamline these rules, beginning with the IRS, if it made it a priority.

Second, Washington should apply any new employment tax subsidy to temporary jobs. There is much talk of a new jobs tax subsidy, but as it currently stands it would exclude temporary work. This is 20th century thinking. Any new subsidy should seek to boost temporary roles as well.

Third, the feds should let independent workers buy into the congressional health plan. A huge barrier to temporary employment for professionals who prefer to work this way is their inability to access group health coverage outside the permanent employment setting. Though Congress may pass health reform this year, the new insurance exchanges that would remedy this problem won't come into play until at least 2013. Congress should allow temporary workers to buy into the congressional health plan until then.

As we reboot the great American jobs machine, it's time to shelve outdated assumptions and accept that a portfolio of multiple assignments is what growing legions of companies and executives want. This new relationship between talent and firms isn't a failure to be stigmatized, but the latest sign of our economy's endless capacity for renewal and innovation.

Ms. Miller is the founder and CEO of the Business Talent Group. She served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1995.

U.S. Debt/Deficit Clock --- http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Obama Criticizes Himself, Warns on High Deficits
President Barack Obama gave his sternest warning yet about the need to contain rising U.S. deficits, saying on Wednesday that if government debt were to pile up too much, it could lead to a double-dip recession. With the U.S. unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, Obama told Fox News his administration faces a delicate balance of trying to boost the economy and spur job creation while putting the economy on a path toward long-term deficit reduction . . . As if things could not possibly get more weird and delusional, President Obama now criticizes the very high government deficits he himself supported, promoted, and helped create. I don’t think the word “pathological” is sufficient to describe this man. We need to invent a new term.
Reuters, November 18, 2009 --- Click Here
Also see http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/11/18/obama-warns-double-dip-recession/ 

In the Testimony of a Former Congressional Budget Office Director
"The Coming Deficit Disaster:  The president says he understands the urgency of our fiscal crisis, but his policies are the equivalent of steering the economy toward an iceberg." by Douglas Hotlz-Eagen, The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2009 --- Click Here

President Barack Obama took office promising to lead from the center and solve big problems. He has exerted enormous political energy attempting to reform the nation's health-care system. But the biggest economic problem facing the nation is not health care. It's the deficit. Recently, the White House signaled that it will get serious about reducing the deficit next year—after it locks into place massive new health-care entitlements. This is a recipe for disaster, as it will create a new appetite for increased spending and yet another powerful interest group to oppose deficit-reduction measures.

Our fiscal situation has deteriorated rapidly in just the past few years. The federal government ran a 2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion—the highest since World War II—as spending reached nearly 25% of GDP and total revenues fell below 15% of GDP. Shortfalls like these have not been seen in more than 50 years.

Going forward, there is no relief in sight, as spending far outpaces revenues and the federal budget is projected to be in enormous deficit every year. Our national debt is projected to stand at $17.1 trillion 10 years from now, or over $50,000 per American. By 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) analysis of the president's budget, the budget deficit will still be roughly $1 trillion, even though the economic situation will have improved and revenues will be above historical norms.

The planned deficits will have destructive consequences for both fairness and economic growth. They will force upon our children and grandchildren the bill for our overconsumption. Federal deficits will crowd out domestic investment in physical capital, human capital, and technologies that increase potential GDP and the standard of living. Financing deficits could crowd out exports and harm our international competitiveness, as we can already see happening with the large borrowing we are doing from competitors like China.

At what point, some financial analysts ask, do rating agencies downgrade the United States? When do lenders price additional risk to federal borrowing, leading to a damaging spike in interest rates? How quickly will international investors flee the dollar for a new reserve currency? And how will the resulting higher interest rates, diminished dollar, higher inflation, and economic distress manifest itself? Given the president's recent reception in China—friendly but fruitless—these answers may come sooner than any of us would like.

Mr. Obama and his advisers say they understand these concerns, but the administration's policy choices are the equivalent of steering the economy toward an iceberg. Perhaps the most vivid example of sending the wrong message to international capital markets are the health-care reform bills—one that passed the House earlier this month and another under consideration in the Senate. Whatever their good intentions, they have too many flaws to be defensible.

First and foremost, neither bends the health-cost curve downward. The CBO found that the House bill fails to reduce the pace of health-care spending growth. An audit of the bill by Richard Foster, chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, found that the pace of national health-care spending will increase by 2.1% over 10 years, or by about $750 billion. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's bill grows just as fast as the House version. In this way, the bills betray the basic promise of health-care reform: providing quality care at lower cost.

Second, each bill sets up a new entitlement program that grows at 8% annually as far as the eye can see—faster than the economy will grow, faster than tax revenues will grow, and just as fast as the already-broken Medicare and Medicaid programs. They also create a second new entitlement program, a federally run, long-term-care insurance plan.

Finally, the bills are fiscally dishonest, using every budget gimmick and trick in the book: Leave out inconvenient spending, back-load spending to disguise the true scale, front-load tax revenues, let inflation push up tax revenues, promise spending cuts to doctors and hospitals that have no record of materializing, and so on.

If there really are savings to be found in Medicare, those savings should be directed toward deficit reduction and preserving Medicare, not to financing huge new entitlement programs. Getting long-term budgets under control is hard enough today. The job will be nearly impossible with a slew of new entitlements in place.

In short, any combination of what is moving through Congress is economically dangerous and invites the rapid acceleration of a debt crisis. It is a dramatic statement to financial markets that the federal government does not understand that it must get its fiscal house in order.

What to do? The best option would be for the president to halt Congress's rush to fiscal suicide, and refocus on slowing the dangerous growth in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He should call on Congress to pass a comprehensive reform of our income and payroll tax systems that would generate revenue sufficient to fund its spending desires in a pro-growth and fair fashion.

Reducing entitlement spending and closing tax loopholes to create a fairer tax system with more balanced revenues is politically difficult and requires sacrifice. But we will avert a potentially devastating credit crisis, increase national savings, drive productivity and wage growth, and enhance our international competitiveness.

The time to worry about the deficit is not next year, but now. There is no time to waste.

Mr. Holtz-Eakin is former director of the Congressional Budget Office and a fellow at the Manhattan Institute. This is adapted from testimony he gave before the Senate Committee on the Budget on Nov. 10.

U.S. Debt/Deficit Clock --- http://www.usdebtclock.org/

"CBS Catches Up with Conservatives and Realizes Obama Has 'Credibility' Problem," by Brent Baker, Newsbusters, November 24, 2009 --- Click Here

Long after conservatives and the American people figured it out, CBS on Monday night came to the realization President Barack Obama has a “credibility” problem fueled by the “disconnect” between Obama's promise to reduce the deficit as he pushes for massive new spending. Back in August, the CBS Evening News denigrated the town hall questioners as “unruly protests,” but on Monday reporter Chip Reid warned:

The American people are increasingly questioning the President's credibility. He says the stimulus has saved or created 640,000 jobs, but only seven percent of Americans believe it has created any. And he's repeatedly promised health care reform will not increase the deficit, but a mere 19 percent believe him.

Reid proceeded to relay how CBS News analyst John Dickerson “says for many Americans there's a basic disconnect -- a President who promises to trim the budget but only seems to want to spend and spend.” More amazing for CBS, Reid noted how “highly respected foreign policy analyst Leslie Gelb” called Obama's just-completed Asia trip “'amateur hour' for failing to get deals locked in before the President left home.”

Katie Couric set up the story by asking: “Is the honeymoon over? Though President Obama has been in office less than a year, many Americans are growing disenchanted with his handling of the enormous problems he and the country are facing -- from unemployment to health care to Afghanistan.” She introduced Reid by worrying: “Are there signs of strain apparent at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue these days?”

(Meanwhile, over on World News, ABC anchor Charles Gibson fretted over all the “problems” Obama “faces, all coming to a head, it seems, soon. Health care to be debated by the Senate but support could easily unravel, a much delayed presidential decision on more troops for Afghanistan and, on the horizon, the huge ballooning costs of the federal deficit.”)

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Monday, November 23 CBS Evening News:

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on the pending collapse of the United States (not just the economy) ---

Is this tantamount to simply printing money like Zimbabwe or is it a genuine tax?
The zero-interest-rate policy of the Fed is sold to the public as a benign economic rescue in the public interest. The stark reality is that this policy is a disguised tax implemented by the Fed. It takes income from savers and hands it as a subsidy to borrowers. It also facilitates and funds the fiscal deficit policies of central government. Such a well disguised tax is a boon for governments. The cruelest tax of all is this 100 percent tax on interest income, disguised and rationalized as "good" policy.
Sarel Oberholster, "The Cruelest Tax of All," Mises Daily, November 26, 2009 ---

Zero Interest Rate Policy --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_interest_rate_policy

Bob Jensen's threads on the bailout mess --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm

What caused the great depressions in stock market listings, especially new listings?
Grant Thornton has a strong argument that the underlying reason for “The Great Depression in Listings” is not Sarbanes-Oxley, but what they call “The Great Delisting Machine,” an array of regulatory changes that were meant to advance low-cost trading, but have had the unintended consequence of stripping economic support for the value components (quality sell-side research, capital commitment and sales) that are needed to support markets, especially for smaller capitalization companies. GT cautions that today, capital formation in the U.S. is on life support. Within the venture capital universe, the average time from first venture investment to IPO has more than doubled.
David Weild and Edward Kim, "A Wake Up Call for America," Grant Thornton LLC, November 2009 ---

"Near-Zero Rates Are Hurting the Economy Low rate expectations are pushing dollars abroad. That capital needs to stay here to grow businesses and create jobs," by David Malpass, The Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2009 ---

The Federal Reserve implemented an emergency monetary policy after the 2008 Lehman bankruptcy to salvage the world financial system. In his testimony yesterday before the Senate Banking Committee, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said, "We must be prepared to withdraw the extraordinary policy support in a smooth and timely way as markets and the economy recover."

This leaves all-out emergency monetary stimulus in place, but with a different, much weaker justification. With the system stabilized, the Fed hopes that artificially low interest rates and its purchases of mortgage-backed securities will spur growth. Instead they are pushing dollars abroad and wasting precious growth capital in asset and commodity bubbles.

Since the show of global cooperation at the Nov. 6 G-20 meeting, the rest of the world has challenged the Fed's emergency policy. Asia warned President Barack Obama on his recent trip that the zero-percent fed-funds rate was flooding Asia with excess dollars, causing asset bubbles there and undercutting global growth.

Europe quickly joined Asia's criticism. On Nov. 20, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said that the U.S. policy threatened "enormous turbulence." European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet has repeatedly tried to bolster the U.S. commitment to a strong dollar, most recently with yesterday's comment that "I trust the sincerity of the U.S. authorities."

Nevertheless, more than a year after the heart of the panic, the Fed is still promising near-zero interest rates for an extended period and buying over $3 billion per day of expensive mortgage securities as part of a $1.25 trillion purchase plan. Capital is being rationed not on price but on availability and connections. The government gets the most, foreigners second, Wall Street and big companies third, with not much left over.

The irony of the zero-rate policy, coupled with Washington's preference for a weak dollar, is a glut of American capital in Asia (as corporations and investors shun the weakening U.S. currency) and a shortage at home. For gold and oil, the low-rate policy works, weakening the dollar so commodity prices go up and providing traders with ample funds to buy into the expanding bubble. Those markets are almost daring the Fed to try to break out of its zero-rate box.

But for small businesses and new workers, capital rationing is devastating, spelling business failures and painful layoffs. Thousands of start-ups won't launch due to credit shortages, in part because the government and corporations took more credit than they needed (because it was so cheap).

Already countries with higher interest rates, Australia for one, are viewed as less risky because they have room to cut rates if there's another emergency. This wins them capital and jobs that might otherwise be ours.

According to International Monetary Fund data, U.S. GDP has fallen to 24% of world GDP from 32% in 2001. And as U.S. capital escapes the weak dollar and high tax rates, the U.S. share of world equity market capitalization has fallen to 30% from 45%. This leaves the U.S. alone with Japan at the bottom of the monetary heap, with rate expectations so low they repel investment.

Yet the Fed's not nearly as trapped as it seems. Much of its current stimulus is being diverted to commodities and foreign economies—hence Asia's complaint about bubbles. Under emergency stimulus, corporations are borrowing dollars hand-over-fist, pleasing Wall Street while using the proceeds to expand their foreign businesses. If that stimulus could be retained here, the Fed could stand down gradually from the emergency yet still assure appropriate policy accommodation.

The simple goal is to convince the capital now funding gold mines and foreign asset bubbles to instead fund small businesses and the guaranteed mortgages the Fed's been buying. This means stopping the dollar's collapse, since it is fueling the outflow.

Since U.S. inflation is relatively low, even a Fed nod toward normalcy on monetary policy (not evident in Mr. Bernanke's testimony yesterday) should cause a dramatic improvement in the dollar and the magnitude of capital flows.

The fed-funds rate can stay near zero for a while longer, but the Fed can't keep promising "exceptionally low rates for an extended period," as it did last month. The sooner the Fed moves off its policy extreme, the sooner markets can resume their job of allocating capital and assessing relative value. In a more market-oriented allocation of global capital, the U.S. will be a big winner, especially for jobs and small businesses.

If the Fed wants to speed the capital reflow, it could mention the importance of the dollar in its Dec. 16 committee statement on interest-rate policy and inflation risks. In his Nov. 16 address to the Economic Club of New York, Mr. Bernanke said policies should "help ensure that the dollar is strong and a source of global financial stability." Putting that in the Fed's policy statement—with none of the normal winks to those who favor devaluation—would cause capital to flood back into the U.S., loosening small-business credit and adding jobs even when the Fed eventually contemplates rate hikes.

If the Fed announces that an end is in sight to its all-out emergency policies, two other benefits may accrue. China should be more willing to allow yuan appreciation if it thinks there's a net under the dollar. With no net, China fears that yuan appreciation would accelerate dollar flight, driving commodities even higher. And the Fed should be able to maintain its independence, which is at risk from congressional audits as long as the deeply unsettling emergency policies persist.

Wall Street will threaten a tantrum if the Fed even thinks about damping the air-raid sirens. The Street utterly loves the Fed's largess, earning massive profits from trading unstable currencies, the carry trade (borrow short-term dollars near zero, buy longer-term assets abroad), and the high-margin process of transferring America's capital abroad.

The hitch is that there isn't much trickle-down to normal jobs and small businesses from the sophisticated, zero-rate arbitrage that is propelling asset prices ever higher. It would be better to stand down from emergency stimulus and instead help markets direct the capital that is now going into bubbles into the economy and jobs.

The $61 Trillion Margin of Error, and What "Empire Decline" Means in Layman's Terms
This is a bipartisan disaster from the beginning and will be until the end

David Walker --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_M._Walker_(U.S._Comptroller_General)

Niall Ferguson --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niall_Ferguson

Call it the fatal arithmetic of imperial decline. Without radical fiscal reform, it could apply to America next.
Niall Ferguson, "An Empire at Risk:  How Great Powers Fail," Newsweek Magazine Cover Story, November 26, 2009 --- http://www.newsweek.com/id/224694/page/1
Please note that this is NBC’s liberal Newsweek Magazine and not Fox News or The Wall Street Journal.

. . .

In other words, there is no end in sight to the borrowing binge. Unless entitlements are cut or taxes are raised, there will never be another balanced budget. Let's assume I live another 30 years and follow my grandfathers to the grave at about 75. By 2039, when I shuffle off this mortal coil, the federal debt held by the public will have reached 91 percent of GDP, according to the CBO's extended baseline projections. Nothing to worry about, retort -deficit-loving economists like Paul Krugman.

. . .

Another way of doing this kind of exercise is to calculate the net present value of the unfunded liabilities of the Social Security and Medicare systems. One recent estimate puts them at about $104 trillion, 10 times the stated federal debt.

Continued in article --- http://www.newsweek.com/id/224694/page/1

Niall Ferguson is the Laurence A. Tisch professor of history at Harvard University and the author of The Ascent of Money. In late 2009 he puts forth an unbooked discounted present value liability of $104 trillion for Social Security plus Medicare. In late 2008, the former Chief Accountant of the United States Government, placed this estimate at$43 trillion. We can hardly attribute the $104-$43=$61 trillion difference to President Obama's first year in office. We must accordingly attribute the $61 trillion to margin of error and most economists would probably put a present value of unbooked (off-balance-sheet) present value of Social Security and Medicare debt to be somewhere between $43 trillion and $107 trillion To this we must add other unbooked present value of entitlement debt estimates which range from $13 trillion to $40 trillion. If Obamacare passes it will add untold trillions to trillions more because our legislators are not looking at entitlements beyond 2019.

The Meaning of "Unbooked" versus "Booked" National Debt
By "unbooked" we mean that the debt is not included in the current "booked" National Debt of $12 trillion. The booked debt is debt of the United States for which interest is now being paid daily at slightly under a million dollars a minute. Cash must be raised daily for interest payments. Cash is raised from taxes, borrowing, and/or (shudder) the current Fed approach to simply printing money. Interest is not yet being paid on the unbooked debt for which retirement and medical bills have not yet arrived in Washington DC for payment. The unbooked debt is by far the most frightening because our leaders keep adding to this debt without realizing how it may bring down the entire American Dream to say nothing of reducing the U.S. Military to almost nothing.

Niall Ferguson, "An Empire at Risk:  How Great Powers Fail," Newsweek Magazine Cover Story, November 26, 2009 --- http://www.newsweek.com/id/224694/page/1

This matters more for a superpower than for a small Atlantic island for one very simple reason. As interest payments eat into the budget, something has to give—and that something is nearly always defense expenditure. According to the CBO, a significant decline in the relative share of national security in the federal budget is already baked into the cake. On the Pentagon's present plan, defense spending is set to fall from above 4 percent now to 3.2 percent of GDP in 2015 and to 2.6 percent of GDP by 2028.

Over the longer run, to my own estimated departure date of 2039, spending on health care rises from 16 percent to 33 percent of GDP (some of the money presumably is going to keep me from expiring even sooner). But spending on everything other than health, Social Security, and interest payments drops from 12 percent to 8.4 percent.

This is how empires decline. It begins with a debt explosion. It ends with an inexorable reduction in the resources available for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Which is why voters are right to worry about America's debt crisis. According to a recent Rasmussen report, 42 percent of Americans now say that cutting the deficit in half by the end of the president's first term should be the administration's most important task—significantly more than the 24 percent who see health-care reform as the No. 1 priority. But cutting the deficit in half is simply not enough. If the United States doesn't come up soon with a credible plan to restore the federal budget to balance over the next five to 10 years, the danger is very real that a debt crisis could lead to a major weakening of American power.

The Meaning of Present Value
Initially it might help to explain what present value means. When I moved from Florida State University to Trinity University in 1982, current mortgage rates were about 18%. As part of my compensation package, President Calgaard agreed to have Trinity University carry my mortgage. I purchased a home at 9010 Village Drive for $300,000 by paying $100,000 down and signing a 240 month mortgage at 12% APR and a 1982 present value of $200,000. At payments of $2,202 per month my total cash obligation (had I not refinanced from a bank when mortgage rates went below 12%) would've been $528,521. However, since money has time value, the present value of that $528,521 was only $200,000.

In a similar manner, Professor Ferguson's $104 trillion present value translates to over $300 trillion in cash obligations of Social Security and Medicare before being tinkered with changed entitlement obligations.

The "Burning Platform" of the United States Empire
Former Chief Accountant of the United States, David Walker, is spreading the word as widely as possible in the United States about the looming threat of our unbooked entitlements. Two videos that feature David Walker's warnings are as follows:

David Walker claims the U.S. economy is on a "burning platform" but does not go into specifics as to what will be left in the ashes.

The US government is on a “burning platform” of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon.
David M. Walker, Former Chief Accountant of the United States --- http://www.financialsense.com/editorials/quinn/2009/0218.html

An "Empire at Risk"
Harvard's Professor Niall Ferguson is equally vague about what will happen if the U.S. Empire collapses from its entitlement burdens.
Niall Ferguson, "An Empire at Risk:  How Great Powers Fail," Newsweek Magazine Cover Story, November 26, 2009 --- http://www.newsweek.com/id/224694/page/1

This is how empires decline. It begins with a debt explosion. It ends with an inexorable reduction in the resources available for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Which is why voters are right to worry about America's debt crisis. According to a recent Rasmussen report, 42 percent of Americans now say that cutting the deficit in half by the end of the president's first term should be the administration's most important task—significantly more than the 24 percent who see health-care reform as the No. 1 priority. But cutting the deficit in half is simply not enough. If the United States doesn't come up soon with a credible plan to restore the federal budget to balance over the next five to 10 years, the danger is very real that a debt crisis could lead to a major weakening of American power.

The precedents are certainly there. Habsburg Spain defaulted on all or part of its debt 14 times between 1557 and 1696 and also succumbed to inflation due to a surfeit of New World silver. Prerevolutionary France was spending 62 percent of royal revenue on debt service by 1788. The Ottoman Empire went the same way: interest payments and amortization rose from 15 percent of the budget in 1860 to 50 percent in 1875. And don't forget the last great English-speaking empire. By the interwar years, interest payments were consuming 44 percent of the British budget, making it intensely difficult to rearm in the face of a new German threat.

Call it the fatal arithmetic of imperial decline. Without radical fiscal reform, it could apply to America next.

Empire Collapse in Layman's Terms
In 2010, hundreds upon hundreds of people will daily sneak across the U.S. border illegally in search of a job, medical care, education, and a better life under the American Dream. By 2050 Americans will instead be exiting in attempts to escape the American Nightmare and sneak illegally into BRIC nations for a job, medical care, education, and a better life under the BRIC Dream.

A BRIC nation at the moment is a nation that has vast resources and virtually no entitlement obligations that drag down economic growth --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BRIC

In economics, BRIC (typically rendered as "the BRICs" or "the BRIC countries") is an acronym that refers to the fast-growing developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The acronym was first coined and prominently used by Goldman Sachs in 2001. According to a paper published in 2005, Mexico and South Korea are the only other countries comparable to the BRICs, but their economies were excluded initially because they were considered already more developed. Goldman Sachs argued that, since they are developing rapidly, by 2050 the combined economies of the BRICs could eclipse the combined economies of the current richest countries of the world. The four countries, combined, currently account for more than a quarter of the world's land area and more than 40% of the world's population.

Brazil, Russia, India and China, (the BRICs) sometimes lumped together as BRIC to represent fast-growing developing economies, are selling off their U.S. Treasury Bond holdings. Russia announced earlier this month it will sell U.S. Treasury Bonds, while China and Brazil have announced plans to cut the amount of U.S. Treasury Bonds in their foreign currency reserves and buy bonds issued by the International Monetary Fund instead. The BRICs are also soliciting public support for a "super currency" capable of replacing what they see as the ailing U.S. dollar. The four countries account for 22 percent of the global economy, and their defection could deal a severe blow to the greenback. If the BRICs sell their U.S. Treasury Bond holdings, the price will drop and yields rise, and that could prompt the central banks of other countries to start selling their holdings to avoid losses too. A sell-off on a grand scale could trigger a collapse in the value of the dollar, ending the appeal of both dollars and bonds as safe-haven assets. The moves are a challenge to the power of the dollar in international financial markets. Goldman Sachs economist Alberto Ramos in an interview with Bloomberg News on Thursday said the decision by the BRICs to buy IMF bonds should not be seen simply as a desire to diversify their foreign currency portfolios but as a show of muscle.
"BRICs Launch Assault on Dollar's Global Status," The Chosun IIbo, June 14, 2009 ---

Their report, "Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050," predicted that within 40 years, the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China - the BRICs - would be larger than the US, Germany, Japan, Britain, France and Italy combined. China would overtake the US as the world's largest economy and India would be third, outpacing all other industrialised nations. 
"Out of the shadows," Sydney Morning Herald, February 5, 2005 --- http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2005/02/04/1107476799248.html 

The first economist, an early  Nobel Prize Winning economist, to raise the alarm of entitlements in my head was Milton Friedman.  He has written extensively about the lurking dangers of entitlements.  I highly recommend his fantastic "Free to Choose" series of PBS videos where his "Welfare of Entitlements" warning becomes his principle concern for the future of the Untied States 25 years ago --- http://www.ideachannel.com/FreeToChoose.htm 

Where Did Social Security Go So Wrong?
Social Security in the United States currently refers to the Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. It commenced only as an old age ("survivors:") retirement insurance program as a forced way of saving for retirement by paying worker premiums matched by employer contributions into the SS Trust Fund. Premiums were relatively low due heavily to the proviso that the SS Trust Fund got to keep all the premiums paid for each worker and spouse that did not reach retirement age (generally viewed as 65).  Details are provided at

If Congress had not tapped the SS Trust Fund for other (generally unfunded social programs of various types), the SS Trust Fund would not be in any trouble at all if it were managed like a diversified investment fund. But it became too tempting for Congress to tap the SS Trust Fund for a variety of other social programs, the costliest of which was to make monthly living allowance payments to each person of any age who is declared "disabled." In many cases a disabled person collects decades of benefits after having paid less than a single penny into the SS Trust Fund. It's well and good for our great land to provide living allowances to disabled citizens, but without funding from other sources such as a separate Disability Trust Fund fed with some type of other taxes, the disability payments mostly drained the SS Trust Fund to where it is in dire trouble today.

The obligation to pay pensioners as well as disabled persons was passed on to current and future generations to a point where the Social Security and Disability Program is no longer self-sustaining with little hope for meeting entitlement obligations from worker premiums and employer matching funds. The SS Trust Fund will have deficits beginning in 2010 that are expected to explode as baby boomers collect benefits for the first time.

Where Did Medicare Go So Wrong?
Medicare is a much larger and much more complicated entitlement burden relative to Social Security by a ratio of about six to one or even more. The Medicare Medical Insurance Fund was established under President Johnson in1965.

Note that Medicare, like Social Security in general, was intended to be insurance funded by workers over their careers. If premiums paid by workers and employers was properly invested and then paid out after workers reached retirement age most of the trillions of unfunded debt would not be precariously threatening the future of the United States. The funds greatly benefit when workers die before retirement because all that was paid in by these workers and their employers are added to the fund benefits paid out to living retirees.

The first huge threat to sustainability arose beginning in 1968 when medical coverage payments payments to surge way above the Medicare premiums collected from workers and employers. Costs of medical care exploded relative to most other living expenses. Worker and employer premiums were not sufficiently increased for rapid growth in health care costs as hospital stays surged from less than $100 per day to over $1,000 per day.

A second threat to the sustainability comes from families no longer concerned about paying up to $25,000 per day to keep dying loved ones hopelessly alive in intensive care units (ICUs) when it is 100% certain that they will not leave those ICUs alive. Families do not make economic choices in such hopeless cases where the government is footing the bill. In other nations these families are not given such choices to hopelessly prolong life at such high costs. I had a close friend in Maine who became a quadriplegic in a high school football game. Four decades later Medicare paid millions of dollars to keep him alive in an ICU unit when there was zero chance he would ever leave that ICU alive.

On November 22, 2009 CBS Sixty Minutes aired a video featuring experts (including physicians) explaining how the single largest drain on the Medicare insurance fund is keeping dying people hopelessly alive who could otherwise be allowed to die quicker and painlessly without artificially prolonging life on ICU machines.
"The Cost of Dying," CBS Sixty Minutes Video, November 22, 2009 ---

What is really sad is the way Republicans are standing in the way of making rational cost-benefit decisions about dying by exploiting the "Kill Granny" political strategy aimed at killing a government option in health care reform.
See the "Kill Granny" strategy at --- www.defendyourhealthcare.us

The third huge threat to the economy commenced in when disabled persons (including newborns) tapped into the Social Security and Medicare insurance funds. Disabled persons should receive monthly benefits and medical coverage in this great land. But Congress should've found a better way to fund disabled persons with something other than the Social Security and Medicare insurance funds. But politics being what it is, Congress slipped this gigantic entitlement through without having to debate and legislate separate funding for disabled persons. And hence we are now at a crossroads where the Social Security and Medicare Insurance Funds are virtually broke for all practical persons.

Most of the problem lies is Congressional failure to sufficiently increase Social Security deductions (for the big hit in monthly payments to disabled persons of all ages) and the accompanying Medicare coverage (to disabled people of all ages). The disability coverage also suffers from widespread fraud.

Other program costs were also added to the Social Security and Medicare insurance funds such as the education costs of children of veterans who are killed in wartime. Once again this is a worthy cause that should be funded. But it should've been separately funded rather than simply added into the Social Security and Medicare insurance funds that had not factored such added costs into premiums collected from workers and employers.

The fourth problem is that most military retirees are afforded full lifetime medical coverage for themselves and their spouses. Although they can use Veterans Administration doctors and hospitals, most of these retirees opted for the underfunded  TRICARE plan the pushed most of the hospital and physician costs onto the Medicare Fund. The VA manages to push most of its disabled veterans onto the Medicare Fund without having paid nearly enough into the fund to cover the disability medical costs. Military personnel do have Medicare deductions from their pay while they are on full-time duty, but those deductions fall way short of the cost of disability and retiree medical coverage.

The fifth threat to sustainability came when actuaries failed to factor in the impact of advances in medicine for extending lives. This coupled with the what became the biggest cost of Medicare, the cost of dying, clobbered the insurance funds. Surpluses in premiums paid by workers and employers disappeared much quicker than expected.

A sixth threat to Medicare especially has been widespread and usually undetected fraud such as providing equipment like motorized wheel chairs to people who really don't need them or charging Medicare for equipment not even delivered. There are also widespread charges for unneeded medical tests or for tests that were never really administered. Medicare became a cash cow for crooks. Many doctors and hospitals overbill Medicare and only a small proportion of the theft is detected and punished.

The seventh threat to sustainability commenced in 2007 when the costly Medicare drug benefit entitlement entitlement was added by President George W. Bush. This was a costly addition, because it added enormous drains on the fund by retired people like me and my wife who did not have the cost of the drug benefits factored into our payments into the Medicare Fund while we were still working. It thus became and unfunded benefit that we're now collecting big time.

In any case we are at a crossroads in the history of funding medical care in the United States that now pays a lot more than any other nation per capita and is getting less per dollar spent than many nations with nationalized health care plans. I'm really not against Obamacare legislation. I'm only against the lies and deceits being thrown about by both sides in the abomination of the current proposed legislation.

Democrats are missing the boat here when they truly have the power, for now at least, in the House and Senate to pass a relatively efficient nationalized health plan. But instead they're giving birth to entitlements legislation that threatens the sustainability of the United States as a nation.

In any case, The New York Times presents a nice history of other events that I left out above ---

"THE HEALTH CARE DEBATE: What Went Wrong? How the Health Care Campaign Collapsed --
A special report.; For Health Care, Times Was A Killer," by Adam Clymer, Robert Pear and Robin Toner, The New York Times, August 29, 1994 --- Click Here

November 22, 2009 reply from Richard.Sansing [Richard.C.Sansing@TUCK.DARTMOUTH.EDU]

The electorate's inability to debate trade-offs in a sensible manner is the biggest problem, in my view. See


Richard Sansing

The New York Times Timeline History of Health Care Reform in the United States ---
Click the arrow button on the right side of the page. The biggest problem with "reform" is that it added entitlements benefits without current funding such that with each reform piece of legislation the burdens upon future generations has hit a point of probably not being sustainable.

Call it the fatal arithmetic of imperial decline. Without radical fiscal reform, it could apply to America next.
Niall Ferguson, "An Empire at Risk:  How Great Powers Fail," Newsweek Magazine Cover Story, November 26, 2009 --- http://www.newsweek.com/id/224694/page/1

. . .

In other words, there is no end in sight to the borrowing binge. Unless entitlements are cut or taxes are raised, there will never be another balanced budget. Let's assume I live another 30 years and follow my grandfathers to the grave at about 75. By 2039, when I shuffle off this mortal coil, the federal debt held by the public will have reached 91 percent of GDP, according to the CBO's extended baseline projections. Nothing to worry about, retort -deficit-loving economists like Paul Krugman.

. . .

Another way of doing this kind of exercise is to calculate the net present value of the unfunded liabilities of the Social Security and Medicare systems. One recent estimate puts them at about $104 trillion, 10 times the stated federal debt.

Continued in article

This is now President Obama's problem with or without new Obamacare entitlements that are a mere drop in the bucket compared to the entitlement obligations that President Obama inherited from every President of the United States since FDR in the 1930s. The problem has been compounded under both Democrat and Republican regimes, both of which have burdened future generations with entitlements not originally of their doing.

Professor Niall Ferguson and David Walker are now warning us that by year 2050 the American Dream will become an American Nightmare in which Americans seek every which way to leave this fallen nation for a BRIC nation offering some hope of a job, health care, education, and the BRIC Dream.

Bob Jensen's threads on health care ---

Bob Jensen's threads on entitlements ---


PwC's Global Economic Crime Survey ---

Lexis Nexis Fraud Prevention Site ---  http://risk.lexisnexis.com/prevent-fraud

Many of the scandals are documented at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/fraud.htm 

Resources to prevent and discover fraud from the Association of Fraud Examiners --- http://www.cfenet.com/resources/resources.asp 

Self-study training for a career in fraud examination --- http://marketplace.cfenet.com/products/products.asp 

Bob Jensen's threads on Fraud Detection and Reporting ---

Source for United Kingdom reporting on financial scandals and other news --- http://www.financialdirector.co.uk 

Updates on the leading books on the business and accounting scandals --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud.htm#Quotations 

I love Infectious Greed by Frank Partnoy ---  http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud.htm#Quotations 

Bob Jensen's American History of Fraud ---  http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/415wp/AmericanHistoryOfFraud.htm

Future of Auditing --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#FutureOfAuditing 

"What’s Your Fraud IQ?  Think you know enough about corruption to spot it in any of its myriad forms? Then rev up your fraud detection radar and take this (deceptively) simple test." by Joseph T. Wells, Journal of Accountancy, July 2006 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/jul2006/wells.htm

What Accountants Need to Know --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#AccountantsNeedToKnow

Global Corruption (in legal systems) Report 2007 --- http://www.transparency.org/content/download/19093/263155

Tax Fraud Alerts from the IRS --- http://www.irs.gov/compliance/enforcement/article/0,,id=121259,00.html

White Collar Fraud Site --- http://www.whitecollarfraud.com/
Note the column of links on the left.

Bob Jensen's threads on fraud are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud.htm

Peter, Paul, and Barney: An Essay on 2008 U.S. Government Bailouts of Private Companies ---

Bob Jensen's threads on Fraud Detection and Reporting ---


Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm

Return to the Tidbits Archives ---


Bob Jensen's economic crisis messaging http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm

Bob Jensen's threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm

Bob Jensen's Home Page --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/