International Forecaster Weekly

Another Albatross Around The Necks Of The Taxpayers

Another albatross around the necks of the taxpayers... 1 dollar for a COLA... are internment camps coming back?... Monsanto contaminates academic freedom... 32% fewer white-collar investigations... The suspension of reality in America... Bankruptcies... harmful drugs easily approved... Euros for oil... the worst American government of all time... and more.

Bob Chapman | December 30, 2004

President Bush’s plan to partially privatize Social Security will raise interest rates and adversely impact financial markets. That is the exact opposite of what an editorial in the Washington Post says. The propaganda barrage has begun. Actually, it is a copy of a quote from Treasury Secretary John W. Snow. We then get his verbal foolishness, “Any additional debt should be accounted for openly, transparently, above board, not hidden ‘off budget’ for political purposes.” Republicans wanted it accounted for off budget. This is not an unnecessary fix for Social Security; it is a bailout of the stock and bond markets. It is another delaying tactic. Who would want to divert their Social Security into an overpriced stock market that is about to fall 50%? This insane plan will drive up the federal budget deficit for several decades. It would have to drive up interest rates. Then there is the question, can a $1 trillion issue be sold and who would buy it? This is an unfunded obligation. Another albatross around the necks of the taxpayers.

In the realm of tax simplification we expect cuts or elimination of tax preferences, credits, deductions and business tax depreciation schedules. The move to privatize Social Security and change taxes will be before Congress by March and voted on by June. They want to get this out of the way, so people will not remember what they have done four years from now. Economists expect the number of jobs to drop 1.4 million in 2005. That does not sound like a booming economy to us. The administration believes there will be a 2.1 million-job increase. That is either in reality, or just plain lying. N. Gregory Mankiew, chairman of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors says, “The economy is in very solid shape.” He must be talking about a different economy than we are.

We hear about all the Bush tax cuts but nary a word about the 27 million more Americans slated to pay higher federal income taxes. We might add a subscriber wrote in that because of the increase in the Medicare deduction, and the increase from Cola, her Social Security check was $1.00 larger. Anyway, over the next six years as taxpayers become subject to a tax provision unusually aimed only at the wealthiest Americans, they will now be subject to the alternative minimum tax. In fact, by 2010 it will strike 30 million Americans including many earning less than $100,000. In states with high-income taxation, such as New York, Connecticut, California and Massachusetts it will be brutal. That is because under the AMT the biggest factor in triggering the formula is the state and local tax deduction. The problems the AMT lacks are an inflation index and that makes it a most unfair tax. By 2010, 26% of those in heavy state tax states will be paying the AMT, those generally making over $75,000 a year. We do not see Mr. Bush pushing hard to end the issue because the hardest states hit all voted Democrat. That is a given, knowing how vindictive he and his neocons are; besides they cannot get rid of it at this point, because they will have an enormous revenue issue. They could kill it and also end the deduction for state and local taxes.

In Massachusetts employers sliced payrolls for the third time in four months. There were 2,000 job losses, not a lot, but we are supposed to be in a recovery. Jobs have been lost in four of the last nine months. The state still has 195,000 fewer jobs then at the February 2001 peak. The greatest job losses have been in the real estate sector some 1,100. The big dig ended canceling 600 jobs, and manufacturing lost 400 jobs for a fourth consecutive monthly loss. Professional business services lost 600 jobs. All the gains came from the low paying hotel-restaurant, retail, health and education industries. This is not a very positive report.

We are back in 1942 again, and we are picking up American Japanese to be put in interment camps. Today, 44% of Americans believe the government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. It is sad but predictable, considering all the propaganda being fed through our establishment media. Forty-eight percent said civil liberties should not be restricted in any way. Twenty-seven percent wanted Muslims registered and 29% thought under cover agents should infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations. Thirty-seven percent believe a terrorist attack in the US is likely within the next year. That number was 90% in 11/02.

Dr. Ignacio Chapela, a well-respected and popular professor at UC Berkley, has been fired for publishing a scientific paper regarding the uncontrolled contamination of irreplaceable native Mexican corn varieties by genetically engineered corn. Monsanto had him fired. So much for academic freedom.

Halliburton tried to screw their former employees out of part of their medical benefits, but a US District Judge thwarted their attempt.

The crooks are getting away and that is because of the effects of the FBI’s shift to counter-terrorism finds it had 32% fewer white-collar investigations in fiscal 2003 than in 2001. That means in 2003 and 2004, all of the following never would have been pursued: Adelphia; Health South; Global Crossing; Tyco; WorldCom; Enron; Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. The decline may be good news for the elitist corporate criminals, but it is bad news for the vast majority of law-abiding companies. Meanwhile, corporate criminality rages on. We have Parmalat, which includes Citigroup, J. P. Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank who concocted derivative’s deals that enabled Parmalat to transfer funds offshore and speculate with them. Then there is US Foodservices, two top executives, who overstated income by $800 million to secure bonuses at parent firm Ahold. The result is the FBI has found no terrorists and in exchange, it has lost its white-collar crime expertise. The administration in Washington is deliberately destroying our country.

George and the neocons have agreed to pay $16.7 million to a group of Central Valley farmers in California whose water deliveries were cut to protect endangered fish. This precedent could make it prohibitively expensive to protect endangered species. On the other hand, it was a significant victory for property rights advocates.

The suspension of reality in America is beyond anything we have ever seen and could have never contemplated. How does the Dow go up 95 points and then 60 points when scores of our young men and women are being killed and maimed in Mosul? It is obvious we have something much worse in Iraq than we had in Vietnam. The market goes up – interest rates remain unchanged and 68% of Americans believe the war is not worth it, or the cost. This lunatic and his neocon gang have our country mired in another no-win war in Iraq. The basis for invasion, WMD, was a lie. The generals who said we needed more troops were fired as were those who said it would cost far more than the neocons conceded. The cost is now prohibitive in lives and money. In addition, social programs are being cut and our standard of living is falling. We predicted this invasion would be a disaster and so it is. We can promise you one thing, 2005 will be a year of panic selling in markets as it finally hits home that our nation is in deep trouble. It also means gold and silver will go through the roof.

Our president, in order to reduce spending to continue his wars, has cut donations to several charities to pay for food for starving millions. We are talking hundreds of millions of dollars.

In most American cities, real estate has been appreciating, adding to wealth, but in Colorado, bankruptcies are at an all-time high, running 7% ahead of last years’ record filings. The only place with higher filings is the Southern District of New York, up 20%. Lifestyles are catching up to those who cannot live within their means. America is headed for trouble.

Sixty-two percent of Americans said they would not participate in a Social Security program if it meant their retirement income would go up or down dependent on the performance of their stock picks, which is the essence of the Bush plan.

Yes, Social Security is broke. If our politicians stopped stealing the $200 billion-a-year we paid into the program, it would be a firm step forward in helping the problem. There is absolutely no question that George Bush and the neocons depict the Social Security crisis in the direst terms possible to build support for their privatization scheme to bail out Wall Street and the stock market. In reality, that scheme will make the shortfall far worse by requiring the government to go another $2 trillion in debt and that is just for openers. This is another game of misinformation, misdirection and lies fed to into the media to build a case for more disastrous debt. The system does not need privatization, it needs to be fixed and that is simple; stop the politicians from looting the funds. Segregate the real funds, invest the funds in real government bonds that trade, not bonds that sit in a vault and in fact, are worthless.

The bottom line on the Vioxx and Celebrex revelations is that many drug trials are poorly conceived, biased, even falsified, and often, too dispersed over the globe with the sole objective of enlarging markets and expanding profits no matter what the consequences. Most trials are effected against placebos and not against a similar, already approved drug. Consequently, nothing proves that this new drug has an impact superior to those that already exist. Ninety percent of trials are never published or revealed, so if there are risks that information lies only with the manufacturer and the FDA, which often looks the other way. French and European drug agencies have the same problems as the FDA. Most of the new drugs on the market are “me too” drugs that have no additional benefits. They are just merchandising to make money. Expenditures on drugs have taken off since 1988 and grown four times faster than GDP, while the number of therapeutic advances tumbles. That is why drug companies are spending so much on advertising. Their lines of new products from research are just not materializing.

It was recently exposed under the Freedom of Information Act that US mercenaries were torturing POWS (nee detainees) at the US Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This is in violation of US law, the US Anti-Torture Act and the Geneva Convention, which was ratified by the US in 1958. The report was made by an FBI agent from the Boston office. The FBI and the military police are unable to interfere in these torture proceedings because instructions come directly from our Commander in Chief in the White House – our lunatic president. Without going into detail, they use every single horrible torture you can think of in what is essentially a concentration camp. Our President’s executive order, authorizing these myriad methods of torture is in violation of US law. Remember, we are responsible for what this madman does. Write to your representatives and senators and demand they put an end to this horrible practice.

A year and a-half ago the reason foreigners began selling dollar assets was a result of the Bush neocon foreign policy. The anti-Bush-neocon sentiment all over the world is negatively manifesting itself economically. The US has become a “rogue nation” and foreigners are displaying their disapproval by selling dollars. Untoward events, such US adventurism and the reaction to it has finally been the catalyst, which sent the dollar rolling downhill. That accomplished, foreign central bank purchases of dollar assets are dwindling as well. The free ride for the rogue is over. The world is fed up and will no longer underwrite the design of US foreign policy and finance the mega-indebted American consumer. It now could be the only way to possibly save the dollar and its place as the world’s reserve currency; it is to end the occupation of Iraq and withdraw. Unless that happens, the dollar is certainly doomed.

Yes, there is ample justification for the dollar’s 7% drop versus the euro and the 5% slide against the yen in this quarter. Record budget and current account deficits are spooking investors, as are signs of further insane Bush tax cuts. Who wants to deal with torturers who have broken the Geneva agreements unilaterally? Who wants to hold the currency of a rogue nation that has no respect for human rights and is planning along with Israel and the UK to invade Iran? The dollar has become a mirror of America’s plunging approval rating with the rest of the world. Foreigners are well aware that the US owes huge sums of money to the rest of the world and if foreigners do not keep lending money to the US, it will go bankrupt.

A good example of Bush-neocon foreign policy is the attempts to overthrow the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez Frias and assassinate him. Now, because of Bush and the neocons, Venezuela has offered the Chinese government almost unlimited access to Venezuela’s massive oil and gas reserves. Venezuela will supply 120,000 barrels of oil a month to China, in a deal that may well see a reduction of 60% of exports to the US, while remaining the world’s fifth largest oil exporter. The people in Washington are absolutely certifiably insane. This is payback for the anti-Chavez coup d’etat and a two-mouth attempt to strangle their economy by arranging an oil industry strike. Who can blame the Chavez government for diverting oil exports away from the US?

This madness of regime change, attack and invasion has pushed oil prices 30% higher. It is as if the Bush-neocon-rogues wanted further trouble for a staggering deficit-laden, personal debt-laden economy. It is pushing oil producers to switch to euros for payment in oil. The Bush government will go down in history as the worst American government of all time.