State Auditor: California’s Net Worth at Negative $127.2 Billion

Via: The Sacramento Bee

March 28, 2013

Were California’s state government a business, it would be a candidate for insolvency with a negative net worth of $127.2 billion, according to an annual financial report issued by State Auditor Elaine Howle and the Bureau of State Audits.

The report, which covers the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, says that the state’s negative status — all of its assets minus all of its liabilities — increased that year, largely because it spent more than it received in revenue.

During the 2011-12 fiscal year, the state’s general fund spent $1.7 billion more than it received in revenues and wound up with an accumulated deficit of just under $23 billion from several years of red ink. Gov. Jerry Brown has referred to that and other budget gaps, mostly money owed to schools, as a “wall of debt” totaling more than $30 billion.

Last November, voters passed an increase in sales and income taxes that Brown says will balance the state’s operating budget and allow the debt wall to be gradually dismantled.

About half of the $127.2 billion in accumulated red ink came from the state’s issuing general obligation bonds and then giving the money to local governments and school districts for public works projects, the auditor pointed out. The assets built with the bonds remain on local balance sheets while the bonded debt accrues to the state.

Read more: here

WTF? Negative 127 billion! Bunch of scum sucking, lying politicians!
-Moose

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Fun With The U.S. Tax Code

Via: National Review

 America’s tax code is a 74,000-page unintentional comedy.

By Deroy Murdock
April 12, 2013

As the Monday, April 15, tax-filing deadline mercilessly approaches, millions of Americans will cry as they calculate what they owe Washington and then fork it over. But, amid those tears, there will be plenty of laughs. The U.S. Tax Code is so tangled and twisted that University of Florida law professor Steven J. Willis speaks amusingly about “tax humor.” While not exactly the stuff of stand-up routines, America’s surreal tax code is a masterpiece of dark comedy.

When UF started its Graduate Tax Program in the College of Law, Willis recalls, “one requirement of the graduate school was knowledge of a foreign language. Well, that just wasn’t going to work. Then, the faculty showed the Graduate School the Internal Revenue Code, and they said that would do.”

Willis points to section 467(e)(1), which concerns pre-paid rent. It reads: “The term ‘constant rental amount’ means, with respect to any section 467 rental agreement, the amount which, if paid as of the close of each lease period under the agreement, would result in an aggregate present value equal to the present value of the aggregate payments required under the agreement.”

“I love the sentence because of the poetry,” Willis says. “I always have a student read it aloud and watch the faces.”

Read more: here

It’s not funny!
-Moose

The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans

Via: If Americans Knew

Israel has a population of approximately 7.8 million, or a million fewer than the state of New Jersey. It is among the world’s most affluent nations, with a per capita income similar to that of the European Union.[1] Israel’s unemployment rate of 5.6% is much better than America’s 9.1%,[2] and Israel’s net trade, earnings, and payments is ranked 48th in the world while the US sits at a dismal 198th.[3]

Yet Israel receives approximately 10% of America’s foreign aid budget every year.[4] The US has, in fact, given more aid to Israel than it has to all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined—which have a total population of over a billion people.[5] And foreign aid is just one component of the staggering cost of our alliance with Israel.

Given the tremendous costs, it is critical to examine why we lavish so much aid on Israel, and whether it is worth Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars. But first, let’s take a look at what our alliance with Israel truly costs.

Read more: here

Amazing…and yet they wield no undo influence of our politicians..so pure and honest they are…
-Moose

Lockheed Martin: First in Federal Funding, First in Government Fraud

Via: Corporate Greed Chronicles

November 25, 2011

Part 1 of 4: Lockheed Martin, First in Federal Funding

Lockheed Martin is by many measures the U.S. government’s top contractor, raking in $16.7 billion in new contracts related to “IT products and services, systems integration, telecommunications, professional services and engineering services” in 2010 alone.

And that is only a fraction of what they bank as the top defense contractor at the Pentagon, where on any given day they announce billions in new contracts awarded to Lockheed Martin and other members of the Military Industrial Complex.

“True, Lockheed Martin doesn’t actually run the U.S. government, but sometimes it seems as if it might as well. After all, it received $36 billion in government contracts in 2008 alone, more than any company in history. It now does work for more than two dozen government agencies from the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s involved in surveillance and information processing for the CIA, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Pentagon, the Census Bureau, and the Postal Service.”

“Oh, and Lockheed Martin has even helped train those friendly Transportation Security Administration agents who pat you down at the airport. Naturally, the company produces cluster bombs, designs nuclear weapons, and makes the F-35 Lightning (an overpriced, behind-schedule, underperforming combat aircraft that is slated to be bought by customers in more than a dozen countries) – and when it comes to weaponry, that’s just the start of a long list. In recent times, though, it’s moved beyond anything usually associated with a weapons corporation and has been virtually running its own foreign policy, doing everything from hiring interrogators for U.S. overseas prisons (including at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Abu Ghraib in Iraq) to managing a private intelligence network in Pakistan and helping write the Afghan constitution.”

Read more: here

The Bank, The School And The 38-year Loan

Via: The Orange County Register

Published: Feb. 15, 2013 Updated: Feb. 21, 2013 1:43 p.m.
Melody Petersen / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

The fliers touted new ballfields, science labs and modern classrooms. They didn’t mention the crushing debt or the investment bank that stood to make millions.
In early 2008, residents of Placentia and Yorba Linda approved a $200 million school construction bond after reading those fliers and being assured repeatedly that “their money will be spent wisely.”

Borrowing through capital-appreciation bonds is helping to pay for a 600-seat performing arts center at El Dorado High School in Placentia. The expensive bonds, which delay payments for decades, were sold by Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified officials after voters approved Measure A in 2008.

What happened instead was that Measure A led to a debt so large and long lasting that it has mortgaged the future of their children’s children.

With no public discussion, the school board had hired George K. Baum & Co. and its staff of political strategists to help push the measure through so the district could continue an ambitious building spree.

After the election, the board allowed the bank to sell some of the costliest bonds ever issued by a California public agency. Just one $22 million borrowing from 2011 will cost taxpayers nearly 13 times that amount – $280 million – to repay.

Those bonds, known to Wall Street traders as capital appreciation bonds, are like a loan for which no principal or interest payments are made for 35 years. Interest is charged on a growing pile of unpaid interest, causing the balance to balloon.

“It’s another method of pushing debt to future generations,” said state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who compares the bonds to “payday loans.” “I just don’t understand how these board members got away with this,” said Alexandria Coronado, a former member of the Orange County Board of Education. “These people need to be recalled.”

Read more: here

This scam has been played out all over.
Greed isn’t only in Orange County….although there is a lot of it there..
-Moose

A Low, Dishonest Decade: New Details for the Iraq War Crime Mosaic

Via: Empire Burlesque

Written by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 07 March 2013 00:36

The truth-telling of the imprisoned Bradley Manning continues to bear rich fruit, even as he faces a lifetime in prison for acting on principle to save innocent lives and prevent his country from staining itself further with war crimes. This week, the Guardian released a special investigation into the hideous regime of torture that the United States imposed and empowered during its years-long rape of Iraq.

The Guardian report draws on the trove of documents that Manning gave to Wikileaks (and the now diplomatically “sequestered” Julian Assange) to provide new details on the direct links of America’s highest officials — including the bipartisanly adored and now much mourned retired apparatchik David Petraeus — to the torture of tens of thousands of Iraqis.

In many ways, of course, it’s hardly a revelation that American forces were deeply involved in torture during the “extraordinary achievement” (B. Obama) in Iraq. Some cranks have been writing about it since the earliest days of the invasion — as in this piece, from August 2003:

Here’s a headline you don’t see every day: “War Criminals Hire War Criminals to Hunt Down War Criminals.”

Perhaps that’s not the precise wording used by the Washington Post this week, but it is the absolute essence of its story about the Bush Regime’s new campaign to put Saddam’s murderous security forces on America’s payroll.

Yes, the sahibs in Bush’s Iraqi Raj are now doling out American tax dollars to hire the murderers of the infamous Mukhabarat and other agents of the Baathist Gestapo – perhaps hundreds of them. The logic, if that’s the word, seems to be that these bloodstained “insiders” will lead their new imperial masters to other bloodstained “insiders” responsible for bombing the UN headquarters in Baghdad – and killing another dozen American soldiers while Little George was playing with his putts during his month-long Texas siesta.

Naturally, the Iraqi people – even the Bush-appointed leaders of the Potemkin “Governing Council” – aren’t exactly overjoyed at seeing Saddam’s goons return, flush with American money and firepower. And they’re certainly not reassured by the fact that the Bushists have also re-opened Saddam’s most notorious prison, the dread Abu Ghraib, and are now, Mukhabarat-like, filling it with Iraqis – men, women and children as young as 11 – seized from their homes or plucked off the street to be held incommunicado, indefinitely, without due process, just like the old days. As The Times reports, weeping relatives who dare approach the gleaming American razor-wire in search of their “disappeared” loved ones are referred to a crude, hand-written sign pinned to a spike: “No visits are allowed, no information will be given and you must leave.” Perhaps an Iraqi Akhmatova will do justice to these scenes one day.

There were many, many more where that came from, from many sources, as the mosaic of horror built up, fragment by fragment. Unfortunately, America’s multifarious war crime in Iraq is news that stays news — because awareness of the depth of evil we wrought there has scarcely penetrated the American public consciousness. And of course, the Wikileaks documents give more form and substance to the piecemeal parceling of earlier truth fragments.

The Guardian pieces focus on the long lineage of the American way of torture, as represented by the figure of James Steele, a Special Forces offer who made his bones in the torture racket during the murderous American-backed, American-trained, American-funded “counterinsurgency” campaigns in Latin America during the 1980s. Steele has a little pal back in those days by the name of Davy Petraeus; later, the two worked cheek-by-jowl in Iraq to foment a hell on earth of sectarian violence and state terror.

Read more: here

But they deserved it cuz they caused 911!  That’s what my pwezident tode me….

-Moose  

Shock in Cyprus as Savers Face Bailout Levy

Via: BBC

16 March 2013

People in Cyprus have reacted with shock to news of a one-off levy of up to 10% on savings as part of a 10bn-euro (£8.7bn; $13bn) bailout agreed in Brussels.

Savers could be seen queuing at cash machines amid resentment at the charge.

The deal reached with euro partners and the IMF marks a radical departure from previous international aid packages.

President Nicos Anastasiades defended it as a “painful” step, taken to avoid a disorderly bankruptcy.

The Cypriot leader, who was elected last month on a promise to tackle the country’s debt crisis, will address the nation on Sunday.

Lenders are said to be gambling that the risk of a bigger banking crisis elsewhere in the eurozone has receded.

While Cyprus may be one of the eurozone’s tiniest economies – its third-smallest – there could be serious repercussions for other financially over-stretched economies, such as those of Spain and Italy, Robert Peston writes.

The point of the levy is as a caution to lenders to banks that they should take care where they place their funds, and avoid banks that overstretch themselves – as Cypriot banks did, he adds.

Cyprus is the fifth country after Greece, the Republic of Ireland, Portugal and Spain to turn to the eurozone for financial help during the region’s debt crisis.

Read more: here

Thank goodness nothing like this could happen in America!
-Moose

Don’t Fall for Pentagon Spin

Via: Salon

Never mind what you heard about massive new cuts to the defense industry. Here’s how contractors avoided calamity

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013
By Ben Freeman

If you believe the hype, sequestration is going to deal a catastrophic blow to the politically powerful defense industry.

It’s a “doomsday mechanism,” former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta declared. The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) – the leading advocacy group for Pentagon contractors – has also warned of the allegedly dire consequences of sequestration for their industry (which receives nearly $1 billion a day from the Pentagon), expressing “extreme disappointment that sequestration was not averted.”

The political implications for the contractor lobby are just as calamitous, we’re told. Roll Call’s Eliza Newlin Carney says the enactment of sequestration “marks a moment of truth for an industry that has lost clout and allies on Capitol Hill, probably for good.”

And, of course, sequestration’s plan to reduce Pentagon spending by $492 billion over the next nine years was the reason Democrats mistakenly believed Republicans would seek to avoid it at all costs.

Don’t believe the hype…

The truth? We’re watching a political magic trick. Right now, we’re at the part of the show where it appears Congress and the President sawed through Pentagon contractors. They’re moaning and complaining – giving the audience a good show – but fear not, contracts will be just fine.

This is largely because of the rock solid foundation the industry is standing on. Every year for the last five years the Pentagon has doled out at least $360 billion to contractors. In fact, every year since the war in Afghanistan began contractors have received more than half of the Pentagon’s total budget. In other words, contractors have received more taxpayer money than the Department of Defense’s civilian employees and nearly 1.4 million active duty military personnel combined.

All that money has really added up. So much so that Pentagon contractors are sitting on a backlog of contracts worth nearly as much as the entirety of Pentagon sequestration.

Read more: here

Unbelievable…no morality at all is left…It is a tax on all of us for the benefit of a few…
-Moose 

Wary of Attack With Smallpox, U.S. Buys Up a Costly Drug

Via: The New York Times

By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
Published: March 12, 20

The United States government is buying enough of a new smallpox medicine to treat two million people in the event of a bioterrorism attack, and took delivery of the first shipment of it last week. But the purchase has set off a debate about the lucrative contract, with some experts saying the government is buying too much of the drug at too high a price.

A small company, Siga Technologies, developed the drug in recent years. Whether the $463 million order is a boondoggle or a bargain depends on which expert is talking. The deal will transform the finances of Siga, which is controlled by Ronald O. Perelman, a billionaire financier, philanthropist and takeover specialist.

Smallpox was eradicated by 1980, and the only known remaining virus is in government laboratories in the United States and Russia. But there have long been rumors of renegade stocks that could be sprayed in airports or sports stadiums. Experts say the virus could also be re-engineered into existence in a sophisticated genetics lab.

As part of its efforts to prepare for a possible bioterrorism attack, the government is paying more than $200 for each course of treatment.

Read more: here

Nothing to see here…move along…
-Moose

1.6 Billion Rounds Of Ammo For Homeland Security? It’s Time For A National Conversation

Via: Forbes

3/11/2013 @ 8:00AM

The Denver Post, on February 15th, ran an Associated Press article entitled Homeland Security aims to buy 1.6b rounds of ammo, so far to little notice. It confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security has issued an open purchase order for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. As reported elsewhere, some of this purchase order is for hollow-point rounds, forbidden by international law for use in war, along with a frightening amount specialized for snipers. Also reported elsewhere, at the height of the Iraq War the Army was expending less than 6 million rounds a month. Therefore 1.6 billion rounds would be enough to sustain a hot war for 20+ years. In America.

Add to this perplexing outré purchase of ammo, DHS now is showing off its acquisition of heavily armored personnel carriers, repatriated from the Iraqi and Afghani theaters of operation. As observed by “paramilblogger” Ken Jorgustin last September:

[T]he Department of Homeland Security is apparently taking delivery (apparently through the  Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico VA, via the manufacturer – Navistar Defense LLC) of an undetermined number of the recently retrofitted 2,717 ‘Mine Resistant Protected’ MaxxPro MRAP vehicles for service on the streets of the United States.”

These MRAP’s ARE BEING SEEN ON U.S. STREETS all across America by verified observers with photos, videos, and descriptions.”

Regardless of the exact number of MRAP’s being delivered to DHS (and evidently some to POLICE via DHS, as has been observed), why would they need such over-the-top vehicles on U.S. streets to withstand IEDs, mine blasts, and 50 caliber hits to bullet-proof glass? In a war zone… yes, definitely. Let’s protect our men and women. On the streets of America… ?”

“They all have gun ports… Gun Ports? In the theater of war, yes. On the streets of America…?

Seriously, why would DHS need such a vehicle on our streets?”

Why indeed?  It is utterly inconceivable that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is planning a coup d’etat against President Obama, and the Congress, to install herself as Supreme Ruler of the United States of America.  There, however, are real signs that the Department bureaucrats are running amok.

About 20 years ago this columnist worked, for two years, in the U.S. Department of Energy’s general counsel’s office in its procurement and finance division.  And is wise to the ways.   The answer to “why would DHS need such a vehicle?” almost certainly is this:  it’s a cool toy and these (reportedly) million dollar toys are being recycled, without much of a impact on the DHS budget.  So… why not?

Read more: here

Its just for training..Move along… There’s nothing to see here…
-Moose

Let’s Stop Fooling Ourselves: Americans Can’t Afford the Future

Via: Peakprosperity

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unemployment, Taxes and Unfunded Retirement are Squeezing Each Generation 
Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 11:24 AM

The American spirit is rooted in the belief of a better tomorrow. Its success has been due to generations of men and women who toiled, through both hardship and boom times, to make that dream a reality.
But at some point over the past several decades, that hope for a better tomorrow became an expectation.

Or perhaps a perceived entitlement is more accurate.

It became assumed that the future would be more prosperous than today, irrespective of the actual steps being taken in the here and now.

And for a prolonged time characterized by plentiful and cheap energy, accelerating globalization, technical innovation, and the financialization of the economy it seemed like this assumption was a certain bet.

But these wonderful tailwinds that America has been enjoying for so many decades are sputtering out. The forces of resource scarcity, debt saturation, price inflation, and physical limits will impact our way of life dramatically more going forward than living generations have experienced to date.

And Americans, who had the luxury of abandoning savings and sacrifice for consumerism and credit financing, are on a collision course with that reality. Like the grasshopper in Aesop’s fable, they have partied away the fair seasons and winter is now on the way, which they are not prepared for.

The prudent thing to do here would be to have an honest, adult-sized conversation with ourselves about our level of (un)readiness and how best to use the resources and time we have left while the system still works more or less the way we’re used to. There are certainly strategies and steps we can take in the here and now to best match priorities to needs, and meet the future as prepared as possible.

But you won’t find this discussion in the national media. Our politicians insist on charting a course of more of the same, no matter how unsustainable, adamant not to touch any political third rails for fear of not pleasing the electorate and/or donors. Major media outlets have abandoned the investigative journalism that once held the mirror of truth up to power, and instead, run superficial puff pieces that conclude with platitudes for fear of not offending viewers and/or sponsors.

The message is clear: The future will be better as soon as economic growth returns. Or oil prices come down. Or the iPhone 6 comes out. Or whatever the magic bullet du jour.

Read more: here

Sequestration and the Death of Journalism

Via: Organizations and Markets

4 March 2013 at 12:13 pm
By Peter Klein

Much virtual ink has been spilled over the decline of the mainstream media, measured by circulation, advertising revenue, or a general sense of irrelevance. Usual explanations relate to the changing economics of news gathering and publication, the growth of social media, demographic and cultural shifts, and the like. These are all important but the main issue, I believe, is the characteristics of the product itself. Specifically, news consumers increasingly recognize that the mainstream media outlets are basically public relations services for government agencies, large companies, and other influential organizations. Journalists do very little actual journalism — independent investigation, analysis, reporting. They are told what stories are “important” and, for each story, there is an official Narrative, explaining the key issues and acceptable opinions on these issues. Journalists’ primary sources are off-the-record, anonymous briefings by government officials or other insiders, who provide the Narrative. A news outlet that deviates from the Narrative by doing its own investigation or offering its own interpretation risks being cut off from the flow of anonymous briefings (and, potentially, excluded from the White House Press Corps and similar groups), which means a loss of prestige and a lower status. Basically, the mainstream news outlets offer their readers a neatly packaged summary of the politically correct positions on various issues. In exchange for sticking to the Narrative, they get access to official sources. Give up one, you lose the other. Readers are beginning to recognize this, and they don’t want to pay.

Nowhere is this situation more apparent than the mainstream reporting on budget sequestration. The Narrative is that sequestration imposes large and dangerous cuts — $85 billion, a Really Big Number! — to essential government services, and that the public reaction should be outrage at the President and Congress (mostly Congressional Republicans) for failing to “cut a deal.” You can picture the reporters and editors grabbing their thesauruses to find the right words to describe the cuts — “sweeping,” “drastic,” “draconian,” “devastating.” In virtually none of these stories will you find any basic facts about the budget, which are easily found on the CBO’s website, e.g.:

Sequestration reduces the rate of increase in federal spending. It does not cut a penny of actual (nominal) spending.

The CBO’s estimate of the reduction in increased spending between 2012 and 2013 is $43 billion, not $85 billion.

Total federal spending in 2012 was $3.53 trillion. The President’s budget request for 2013 was $3.59 trillion, an increase of $68 billion (about 2%). Under sequestration, total federal spending in 2013 will be $3.55 trillion, an increase of only $25 billion (a little less than 1%).

Did you catch that? Under sequestration, total federal spending goes up, just by less than it would have gone up without sequestration. This is what the Narrative calls a “cut” in spending! It’s as if you asked your boss for a 10% raise, and got only a 5% raise, then told your friends you got a 5% pay cut.

Of course, these are nominal figures. In real terms, expenditures could go down, depending on the rate of inflation. Even so, the cuts would be tiny — 1 or 2%.

The news media also talk a lot about “debt reduction,” but what they mean is a reduction in the rate at which the debt increases. Even with sequestration, there is a projected budget deficit — the government will spend more than it takes in — during every year until 2023, the last year of the CBO estimates.

The Narrative grudgingly admits that sequestration might be necessary to reduce the national debt, but sequestration doesn’t even do that. It’s as if you went on a “dramatic” weight-loss plan by gaining 5 pounds every year instead of 10.

Read more: here