May 25, 2006

Illegals Won’t Only Get Credit for Their Social Security Earnings (Updated: Senate Passes Comprehensive Bill)

UPDATE, 6:40 p.m.: The Senate passed what is essentially amnesty by a vote of 62-36 (HT Michelle Malkin and Hot Air). You know there’s a big problem when the Washington Post calls it a “a rare show of bipartisan, election-year cooperation…. “. Both of Ohio’s senators were among 23 from the GOP who voted Yes. Only two Democrats (Nelson-NE and Dorgan-ND) voted No.

UPDATE, 8:30 p.m.: This roll-call vote, on an amendment described incredibly vaguely as “to improve the bill,” includes a provision that the US must consult with Mexico before building any section of wall or fence, per this Free Republic thread, this Michelle Malkin post, and this Senate by Cboldt live link (go to 17:16 update). It passed 56-41.
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Put down whatever you’re drinking.

Keep sharp objects out of arm’s reach.

What’s in the first paragraph of the excerpt below was in the first paragraph of this article I referred to in this post a few days ago, so it may not be new to you. It’s meant to ease you into what’s new without causing medical-emergency shock or unanticipated violent behavior.

What’s “below the fold” in the second paragraph (but only if you’re on the home page) is ON TOP OF what is in the first paragraph.

Here is the first paragraph I have excerpted from Senator Jim DeMint’s “Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the Senate Amnesty Bill” (Reason 6 at the link):

The Senate rejected Senator Ensign’s amendment that would have prevented Social Security benefits from being awarded to immigrants for time that they worked illegally in the United States. If the immigration compromise bill before the Senate were enacted into law, an estimated 12 million illegal workers would be able to use their past illegal work to qualify for Social Security benefits.

Let’s stop for a moment. If what you just read IS new to you, take a break for a couple of minutes before going below the fold. Your health is my first concern.

Okay, here we go with the second excerpted paragraph:

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The Enron Verdicts Are Proof that Sarbanes-Oxley Wasn’t Needed

Filed under: Economy,Stock Schlock,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:06 pm

So who should care what anti-economic growth co-conspirator Mike Oxley (alleged R-OH) has to say (Investment News link requires subscription) about the verdicts?

“Justice has been served today,” said the Financial Services Committee chairman in a statement released shortly after the verdict was handed down.

“The entire debacle reminds us of the need for The Sarbanes-Oxley Act to help reinforce the duties of company directors and officers.”

The verdicts of course prove no such thing. They prove that the system worked before SarBox. It remains to be seen how it will work after it.

Nationalized Health Care Can Kill You — Literally

Filed under: Consumer Outrage,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:46 pm

You don’t think so? Read the excerpt from this story (HT “S.O.B.er” Interested-Participant). No further comment is needed:

Outrage as man, 88, left lying on hospital floor for four hours
FRANK URQUHART
Wed 24 May 2006POLITCIANS yesterday called for an inquiry after an 88-year-old pensioner was left lying on a hospital floor for four hours because staff were not allowed to move him.

Mitchell Cabel, a retired builder, was injured when he fell from a chair while a patient at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen. He was wrapped in blankets, given drugs and left on the cold floor of a ward while hospital staff waited for paramedics.

His son and wife arrived at the hospital to find Mr Cable moaning in agony.

He died two weeks later as a result of kidney and heart failure.

Yesterday, as NHS Grampian issued an apology and announced that a review was already under way, MSPs joined the family in calling for an inquiry into Mr Cabel’s ordeal.

The dead man’s son, Mitch, explained that his father had been admitted to Woodend four weeks before his fall on 25 April to be treated for a urinary infection.

….. Mr Cabel said: “I was shocked at the way my father was being treated and annoyed because he had been left lying on a cold floor because the staff couldn’t lift him.

“The doctor had made repeated calls to the ambulance service, stressing the importance of my father’s situation, but nothing seemed to work.

“I was amazed. There was a doctor there and nurses you would assume would be trained in lifting. After more than three hours they put him on a mattress because the doctor felt he had been lying long enough on the floor. He was big, over 6ft tall and maybe 17 stones in weight, but he wasn’t clinically obese, as the health authorities have said.”

He added: “My father died as result of kidney failure and heart failure. I can’t say that what happened to him contributed to his death, but having kidney problems and lying on a cold floor for as long as he did hadn’t helped.”

Brian Adam, the Scottish National Party MSP for Aberdeen North and a former health service worker, told The Scotsman: “For the hospital not to have procedures in place to deal with circumstances where a patient falls is a terrible condemnation of the system.

Neutrality, Neuschmality: My Less-Than-Totally-Rational But Still Most Likely Correct Position

Admissions:

  • No, I don’t have all the facts.
  • No, I don’t understand all of the technicalities.
  • No, telco shills have not been able to convince me that they don’t have the pricing or traffic-control powers that their execs have nevertheless been jawboning about recently.

But I do know this: I detest the devils I know, and I’m not about to cast my lot with them. For now, I’ll take my chances on the devils I don’t know.

Who are the devils I know?

  • Google — BizzyBlog Internet Wall of Shame member; so-called “hate speech” enforcer that blacks out conservative sites (recent specific examples are here and here from Google News); and Internet broadcaster that routinely ridicules conservative commentators. Google’s broadcasts are at least as biased as the Big Three TV networks (look at this hatchet job on Michelle Malkin, and you’ll get my point). “Do no evil” my a**.
  • Yahoo! — Also on the Wall of Shame, Chinese journalist-arrest enabler.
  • Microsoft — Wall of Shame member, somewhat chastened but still arrogant as all get-out (see Item 2 at link) quasi-monopolist.

I can even overlook the fact that MoveOn.org is a major force in all of this, because I figure (at least in theory, because I can’t recall a single time it’s actually ever happened) they can be right about something once in a blue moon.

Nope, my reaction is all about the companies that are making the most noise. If these moral lepers of the tech sector are for “net neutrality,” I’m viscerally against it.

These three companies tell me I’m supposed live in mortal dread of the telcos’ power. I say “Look at what Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft have done when THEY’VE had the power.” Between them, they’ve helped a communist government perfect its police state (mostly Google and Yahoo!, with a pinch of MS too), used search engines to restrict the totally free and unbiased flow of ideas THEY promised (to varying extents, all three), and used giveaways to put pioneering competitors out of business (mostly Microsoft).

So you’ll have to excuse me if I’m seeing this debate as a ruse that really means “the beginnings of comprehensive government regulation of the Internet for Google’s, Yahoo!’s and Microsoft’s benefit.” I seriously doubt that these high-tech hypocrites are looking out for consumers’ best interests.

All three companies have lost any entitlement to goodwill or to the benefit of the doubt they once had. I believe that the “net neutrality” debate is indeed about market power–THEIRS, and their fear that as super-speedy bandwidth-hogging services become available, THEY may well turn out to be the dinosaurs. Too bad, so sad, guys. If that indeed happens, maybe in a future life you’ll be more interested in freedom and human rights than profits. It takes a lot for me to trust someone even less than I trust the telcos and the cable companies, but you all have pulled it off.

As the facts come out, I suspect that I will become more and more convinced that I am technically as well as emotionally right. NixGuy’s posts (here, here, and here) have gotten me a pretty fair percentage of the way there already.

If the “evil” telcos and/or cable companies try to exert the market and/or pricing control the Wall of Shame members think they have, or if they start to slow down the march of techhology like the old AT&T did for 50 years, or if customers seem to be running out of acceptable alternatives, Uncle Sam will have plenty of time to step in — but only then (because I don’t think any of the three problems just noted will occur).

So, yes, this officially reverses the position I took here — though I did say I was open to couterarguments. In my mind, the best counterarguments are Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft. Neutrality, neuschmality.
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UPDATE — Well, well. This link at CNET (HT NixGuy) leads pretty ominously:

One day before Republicans plan a Senate hearing on a new telecommunications bill without Net neutrality regulations, backers of the concept have thrown their support behind a competing proposal with far more extensive federal rules.

So “net neutrality” DOES appear to be a ruse for a vast new regulatory mechanism. I thought it was supposed to be a simple “Thou shalt be neutral.” This looks like a bait-and-switch to the bad old days of excessive “public utility” regulation. I feel even better about my position already.

UPDATE 2 — To the conservative orgs on the “net neutrality” bandwagon: How well have Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft treated you so far? And you want to give them MORE power over whether you’re seen and/or heard?

UPDATE 3:NixGuy’s post on what the House Judiciary Committee passed today provides the details. It’s “not that bad,” except that it sets a precedent that the Internet should be regulated at all, which, barring contrary evidence that we haven’t seen, I have yet to see the need for. The bill is a long way from law, and there’s another bill coming out of another committee, so there’s probably a long slog ahead.

1st Quarter GDP Revised to 5.3%; One More Revision to Go

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:16 am

More ho-hum news from the “Greatest Story Never Told” — Real GDP was just revised upward by a half-point:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 5.3 percent in the first quarter of 2006, according to preliminary estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 1.7 percent.

The GDP estimates released today are based on more complete source data than were available for the advance estimates issued last month. In the advance estimates, the increase in real GDP was 4.8 percent.

I think the first quarter of 2006 borrowed a little from the fourth of 2005.

IF the 5.3% holds (in fact, unless it doesn’t drop by over a point in the final revision in late June), it’s the highest quarterly rate since 7.2% the third quarter of 2003.

IF the 5.3% holds with no change in the final revision, growth during the past four quarters will have been 3.6%; pretty good, but not spectacular.

Ah, but AP says this wasn’t as good as “expected”:

Economists, however, were predicting an even bigger upgrade to the first-quarter reading. Before the release of the report they were forecasting economic growth to clock in at a 5.8 percent pace. Even though the revised figure fell short of that, it nonetheless made clear that the economy had snapped out of its end-of-year lull.

I have a bit of trouble with those “economists” who expected a full point change from the April to May estimates. I don’t recall that happening in many years. Who knows, maybe the other half-point will come in with the final report.
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UPDATE: The headline on the AP article at MyWay that I linked above is “Economy Dashes Ahead at 5.3 Percent Pace,” which is very decent. Mary Katharine Ham over at Hugh Hewitt’s place didn’t find the same thing at Dow Jones.

UPDATE 2: Kudlow’s take is here (HT Instapundit). His post is entitled “Great American Boom Continued,” who then calls it a steady economy in the body. Give me another quarter of over 5%, and I’ll be with you on using the B-word, Larry.

Cue up the “Wipeout” Music

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy — Tom @ 9:03 am

May 22 total cable news viewership:

0522cable

Fox had more viewers than the other three channels combined. Every, single, hour.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ-Life Links (052506)

Free Links:

  • Good News and Not-Really-Bad News — The good news is that sales of new homes jumped “unexpectedly” (of course) by 4.9% in April, when economists had expected a decline. But this is NOT bad news: “But the price of homes sold last month fell and the level of unsold homes rose to a record high.” Why? First, I’ve looked at the data, and nationwide prices fell because inexpensive parts of the country had brisk sales and expensive parts had sales declines (so OF COURSE the average price fell; examples include a 10% unit sales decline in expensive California and double-digit increases in bargain states Louisiana and Missisippi). Second, the unsold homes inventory rise could be (note that I didn’t say “is” because I’m not sure) a reflection of high job-transfer and relocation activity, something that picks up a lot when times are good.
  • Bans on Using Wireless Phones While Driving Don’t Work — Just don’t expect politicians to back off on the cheap points they score by enacting them.
  • Although this isn’t a public company, the sheer size of the fraud is Enron-like, and should be making more news than it has:

    Seven former executives of the defunct National Century Financial Enterprises were indicted Monday on money laundering, conspiracy and securities fraud charges stemming from the Dublin company’s 2002 collapse.

    Officials alleged the company’s collapse was the largest corporate fraud case involving a privately held company that the FBI has investigated. The 60-count indictment seeks to recover about $2 billion in property.

    The indictment alleges about $3 billion disappeared in a complex accounting scheme run by executives of the health-care financial services firm. U.S. Attorney Gregory G. Lockhart said that in the almost three years since the company collapsed, investigators have been able to recover $1 billion.

    ….. The company’s bread and butter was purchasing accounts receivable from health-care providers at a discount, then giving the providers their money up front. National Century would then package the receivables as asset-backed bonds and sell them to raise cash.

    The government has alleged executives falsified the company’s books and tried to conceal the fraud from investors.

    The collapse pushed several health-care companies into bankruptcy when they stopped receiving money.

    These people do not deserve the luxury of white-collar prisons.

  • Meanwhile, in a somewhat less developed real estate market that ours, Fidel Castro says “We Will Never Become a Consumer Society” — no, Fidel, not as long as you’re in charge.
  • Ho-hum Economic News, Worldwide Division

    Worldwide Economy Rising

    Global economic growth is speeding up and has spread to weak spots such as Japan and Europe without sparking a surge in inflation so far, the OECD said on Tuesday.

    ….. Growth in the 30 mostly industrialized economies of the OECD is forecast to expand 3.1 percent overall this year, up from 2.8 percent in 2005, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in its Economic Outlook, a twice-yearly report.

    “The ongoing expansion is entering its fifth year,” it said.

    “Notwithstanding the headwinds from high and volatile energy prices, it is projected to continue and even broaden this year and next.”

    That echoed the International Monetary Fund, which in March forecast worldwide economic growth of 4.9 percent in 2006, the best in 30 years barring an exceptional year in 2004.

    Yes, the report names all manner of potential problems (oil and commodity prices, trade “imbalances,” housing markets, etc.). That’s okay — It’s ther job to worry. What’s unusual is the opening optimism. See ya later, Fidel.

Positivity: Dog and Owner Rescued

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

That the dog survived is especially incredible:

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