Friday, October 14, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
However, if you get a chance, check out this week's show on the character assassination of Bruce Ivins, the man accused of the Anthrax mailing after 9/11.
It's a true study on how, when you get in the cross hairs of a government investigation, you are a soon to be a dead man.......literally.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Three former Hamilton County workers and 12 of their families and friends have been indicted, accused of participating in a scheme that stole more than $135,000 in public benefits from taxpayers.
“They were using it like a community candy jar and they were all feeding out of it,” Prosecutor Joe Deters said today of the indictments.
It's bad enough that these people were ripping off the government (or we the taxpayers). But this is what I found to be the money quote of this article........
The workers, who were operating their schemes independent of each other without the knowledge of what the others were doing, all resigned in the summer of 2010 after a JFS investigation was launched.
We're not talking about a sophisticated criminal enterprise here. These are three employees (probably illiterates) who were able to pull off these stunts.
It just makes you wonder how much more of this graft is occurring throughout the government.
A labor leader in Chicago is expected to receive pension payments of nearly $500,000 a year, while another could get about $438,000 a year, according to reports Wednesday.More......
The Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV, which obtained information about union pension benefits during a joint investigation, said at least eight union officials in Chicago were eligible for what were described as inflated city pensions on top of union pensions for the same period of employment.
The news organizations said this was due to "a charitable interpretation" of Illinois law by officials representing two city pension funds.
"Can you name any place in the world where someone can get two pensions for the same job?" state Rep. Tom Cross, a Republican, told the paper. "Even by our standards here in Illinois, it's beyond belief. It's insane."
I keep thinking this guy is a made up character who calls in because no one can be this stupid. For instance, who does he think supplies batteries and Starbucks?
Listen in starting at the 15:45 mark.
Pennsylvania's capital city voted to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday as it faced a state takeover, according to media reports.
The City Council voted 4-3 to seek bankruptcy protection for Harrisburg, which has a debt burden five times its general-fund budget "because of an overhaul and expansion of a trash-to-energy incinerator that doesn’t generate enough revenue," Bloomberg reported.
The bankruptcy means the city will lose state aid, but that is better than the proposed recovery plans, Councilwoman Susan Brown-Wilson said, according to Bloomberg.
There goes the first domino......
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Dissembling about the capital destruction debacle that was his Administration's loan guarantee to bankrupt green-energy firm Solyndra, President Obama told ABC News last week that "if we want to compete with China, which is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into this space...we've got to make sure that our guys here in the United States of America at least have a shot."
Of course if the president were better schooled in basic economics, he would well understand that "our guys" do have a shot to compete in this space thanks to U.S. capital markets being the deepest in the world. Thanks to angel financing, venture capital, PIPEs, convertible bonds, bonds themselves, and stock issuance, those with a good idea have myriad options when it comes to marrying their innovation with capital.
And there lies the obvious problem with Solyndra. Unable to raise needed operating funds in the private markets, it was forced to go to the federal government to get what our markets would not provide.
Revisiting the GM bailout. At least we lost less than a billion on Solyndra.
The United States Treasury owns roughly 500 million shares of common stock in General Motors. (Source: U.S. Treasury) The Treasury would need to sell these shares at roughly $53 per share in order to "break even" on the investment. (Source: WSJ) Using Google Finance API, we multiply the current GM stock price by 500,065,254, and subtract that total from $26,503,458,462 (or, 500,065,254 x $53).
Our calculations estimate the loss taxpayers would suffer if UST sells its GM common stock shares at the current ticker price. We track the common stock price and update our calculations on an ongoing basis, providing an up-to-the-minute snapshot of the money the UST lost in Government Motors.
Check out the site here...........
Street lights in cash-strapped Highland Park are the target of the repo man.Thanks reader Becky for the tip
WWJ’s Ron Dewey reports that not only have they turned out the lights around Highland Park, DTE Energy has also removed the light bulbs in 1,400 light poles. This, as part of a settlement that lets the city avoid paying $4 million in unpaid bills going back several years.
In March 2004, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley announced a deal that promised to save taxpayer money, reduce natural gas consumption and bring “green” jobs to Chicago.
But taxpayers might see red when they learn how the deal turned out. More than seven years later, the initiative has been quietly suspended amid problems with some of the equipment — and acknowledgements by city officials that taxpayers will probably lose money on the deal and never realize the energy savings that Daley touted, the Better Government Association has learned.
The arrangement centered on solar-powered hot water heating systems made by North Carolina-based Solargenix Energy LLC with technology designed at the University of Chicago.
The city agreed to spend up to $5 million on the eco-friendly systems, and install them on more than 100 public buildings, such as firehouses and police stations, yielding an estimated $7 million in energy savings over 30 years.
In exchange for that commitment — and an additional $1.7 million no-interest loan through the Daley administration — Solargenix agreed to open a factory in Chicago, employing at least 15 workers, and build the solar equipment there.
Probably not a coincidence Eastman Kodak announced that it was looking into bankruptcy protection.
Where are all the people trying to protect the jobs for all those Kodak employees making outdated film and cameras?
Both businesses are dinosaurs of a business model that passed a decade ago.
But in one case, the business will be allowed to simply drift into history books as a once great giant of industry (I believe they were once in the NYSE 30). While in the other, the business will get propped up as some kind of necessity to national security. You can decide which is which.
Mean while, I should probably get that unknown roll of film in my desk drawer developed before it's too late.
1) The US Constitution
2) Ronald Reagan's 1964 convention speech
3) PJ O'Rourke's address to the Cato Intitute
4) The Northwood University President's address to their graduates
Seriously, if you can get a liberal to read these things (a big "if" mind you) you've got a conservative on your hands. Of course, most liberals already know everything which is why it's so difficult to get them to read these.
None the less, As I was talking to reader Tim, it dawned on me that I need one additional item in this mix.
The TJ Rodgers response to Sister Doris' request for a more socially conscience company.
It's really a work that deserves attention today (written in 1996) given the Occupy Wall Street protestors demands.
Here's a taste............
My views aside, your requirements are -- in effect -- immoral. By "immoral," I mean "causing harm to people," a fundamental wrong. Here's why:
I presume you believe your organization does good work and that the people who spend their careers in its service deserve to retire with the necessities of life assured. If your investment in Cypress is intended for that purpose, I can tell you that each of the retired Sisters of St. Francis would suffer if I were forced to run Cypress on anything but a profit-making basis. The retirement plans of thousands of other people also depend on Cypress stock -- $1.2 billion worth of stock -- owned directly by investors or through mutual funds, pension funds, 401k programs, and insurance companies. Recently, a fellow 1970 Dartmouth classmate wrote to say that his son's college fund ("Dartmouth, Class of 2014," he writes) owns Cypress stock. Any choice I would make to jeopardize retirees and other investors from achieving their lifetime goals would be fundamentally wrong.
- Consider charitable donations. When the U.S. economy shrinks, the dollars available to charity shrink faster, including those dollars earmarked for the Sisters of St. Francis. If all companies in the U.S. were forced to operate according to some arbitrary social agenda, rather than for profit, all American companies would operate at a disadvantage to their foreign competitors, all Americans would become less well off (some laid off), and charitable giving would decline precipitously. Making Americans poorer and reducing charitable giving in order to force companies to follow an arbitrary social agenda is fundamentally wrong.
- A final point with which you will undoubtedly disagree: Electing people to corporate boards based on racial preferences is demeaning to the very board members placed under such conditions, and unfair to people who are qualified. A prominent friend of mine hired a partner who is a brilliant, black Ph.D. from Berkeley. The woman is constantly insulted by being asked if she got her job because of preferences; the system that creates that institutionalized insult is fundamentally wrong.
Finally, you ought to get down from your moral high horse. Your form letter signed with a stamped signature does not allow for the possibility that a CEO could run a company morally and disagree with your position. You have voted against me and the other directors of the company, which is your right as a shareholder. But here is a synopsis of what you voted against:
- Employee ownership. Every employee of Cypress is a shareholder and every employee of Cypress -- including the lowest-paid -- receives new Cypress stock options every year, a policy that sets us apart even from other Silicon Valley companies.
- Excellent pay. Our employees in San Jose averaged $78,741 in salary and benefits in 1995. (That figure excludes my salary and that of Cypress's vice presidents; it's what "the workers" really get.)
- A significant boost to our economy. In 1995, our company paid out $150 million to its employees. That money did a lot of good: it bought a lot of houses, cars, movie tickets, eyeglasses, and college educations.
- A flexible health-care program. A Cypress-paid health-care budget is granted to all employees to secure the health-care options they want, including medical, dental, and eye care, as well as different life insurance policies.
- Personal computers. Cypress pays for half of home computers (up to $1,200) for all employees.
- Employee education. We pay for our employees to go back to school, and we offer dozens of internal courses.
- Paid time off. In addition to vacation and holidays, each Cypress employee can schedule paid time off for personal reasons.
- Profit sharing. Cypress shares its profits with its employees. In 1995, profit sharing added up to $5,000 per employee, given in equal shares, regardless of rank or salary. That was a 22% bonus for an employee earning $22,932 per year, the taxable salary of our lowest-paid San Jose employee.
- Charitable Work. Cypress supports Silicon Valley. We support the Second Harvest Food Bank (food for the poor), the largest food bank in the United States. I was chairman of the 1993 food drive, and Cypress has won the food-giving title three years running. (Last year, we were credited with 354,131 pounds of food, or 454 pounds per employee, a record.) We also give to the Valley Medical Center, our Santa Clara-based public hospital, which accepts all patients without a "VISA check."
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Hell just ask Gibson Guitar where the feds have confiscated millions of dollars of products without filing any charges.
Or take the Kelo decision, where it was the liberals on the court who decided that it was A-Ok for a government to seize private property on behalf of another private entity.
Or how about that liberal utopia, California where they have this..........
California Gov. Jerry Brown is vetoing legislation requiring police to obtain a court warrant to search the mobile phones of suspects at the time of any arrest.
The Sunday veto means that when police arrest anybody in the Golden State, they may search that person’s mobile phone — which in the digital age likely means the contents of persons’ e-mail, call records, text messages, photos, banking activity, cloud-storage services, and even where the phone has traveled.
Police across the country are given wide latitude to search persons incident to an arrest based on the premise of officer safety. Now the nation’s states are beginning to grapple with the warrantless searches of mobile phones done at the time of an arrest.
Monday, October 10, 2011
No worries. See the state of Ohio has a plan for you. They're going to increase the minimum wage......
At 9:54 this morning, the Ohio Department of Commerce announced that Ohio’s minimum wage will increase on January 1, 2012 to $7.70 per hour for non-tipped employees and to $3.85 per hour for tipped employees, plus tips. Currently, Ohio’s minimum wage is $7.40 per hour for non-tipped employees and $3.70 for tipped employees, plus tips.
On January 1, 2012, the increased minimum wage will apply to employers who gross more than $283,000 per year. Ohio’s current minimum wage standard applies to employers who gross more than $271,000 annually.
For employees at smaller companies - those grossing $283,000 or less per year after January 1, 2012 - and for 14- and 15-year-olds, the state minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. For these employees, the state wage is tied to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
“While this is disappointing news to all of us in the foodservice industry, this information comes early enough that owners and operators can use it to begin making some tough decisions with their 2012 budgets,” said Richard Mason, the ORA’s Director of Government Affairs.
Can someone give these guys a supply/demand curve.
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Riders at crowded Detroit bus stops boil with frustration and anger -- much of it aimed at Mayor Dave Bing. Sometimes waiting for hours, they miss work, classes, job interviews, medical appointments.More....
In the last four months, city bus service has crumbled into a crisis, stranding many of the nearly 30% of Detroit households that don't have vehicles. If this debacle had happened to anyone but Detroit's poor, politicians and pundits would scream for action.
But the mayor better hear these bus blues and act as though his job depended on it -- because it probably does.
"Bing doesn't give a damn," Sheila Jones, 53, told me last week while waiting at a downtown bus stop. She takes up to four hours to get from work in Dearborn to home on Detroit's east side. "This is what you get when you have an ex-basketball star running the city."