Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

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I’ve been saying it for a long time – and now the President of the United States agrees with me – he doesn’t know WTF he’s doing!

Obama on Syria - we don't have a strategy yet

I can’t say as I take much satisfaction from his admission though.

The US President is the most powerful man in the world and he has at his disposal the most powerful military organization in the world.

Yet he doesn’t know what to do with it, when to do it, or even who to aim it at!

A bit of it, belatedly and half-heartedly, is now pointing at ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. Yes, you’re right, they are the very same Islamic terrorists he was funding for a while in Syria! He says he wasn’t, but in practice he was.

Confused?

You should be.

Because the Obama Administration certainly is!

Indeed Obama’s team of idiots have confused themselves to the degree that they don’t know what to do and are afraid to do it even if they did!

The situation is not being helped by the noise coming from the equally ill-informed politicians in the Republican camp either. Some cynics would say they are doing a lot of it with the November elections in mind!

Political Elephant and Donkey Cartoon

As I’ve said before on this blog, America has never been good at foreign policy. There are so many examples over the years to prove this beyond any and all doubt (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, now Syria). But this latest debacle could turn out to be foreign policy failure on a grand scale.

This is simply down to the fact that, even yet, the Obama administration clearly does not understand the severity of the problem. They haven’t managed to process the long term threat that a well armed, well supported and well funded group like ISIS can become.

Everyone – except the President and his people apparently – knows that these terrorists will not be content even if they are allowed to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in the Middle East. Their hatred of anything and everything in the West is total.

In fact, as we have seen in Iraq and Syria, their hatred even extends to fellow Muslims who they do not consider to be ‘militant enough’ and they have attacked and murdered them in just the same ways as they have attacked and murdered Christians.

In Syria, which is none of our business, the Obama team thought they wanted the Assad regime removed, and to get that done they thought they could support ISIS (or the anti-Assad fighters of whom ISIS were always destined to be a big part).

Now the US may well find itself on the same side as Assad in a fight against the terrorists. And that may be the crux of the US Administration’s problem. They made the wrong move, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, for all the wrong reasons and correcting the mistake will require a major volte face and sizeable portion of humble pie.

Are they big enough to swallow it?

We’ll see.   

humble-pie

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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A few weeks ago I wrote a post that I called “Why are the bureaucrats destroying what made America great?” (if you want to refer to it please click here

In it I posed the question as to why a self-defeating wealth-distributing philosophy is taking the place of the business-friendly environment that America is famed for and that made it the wealthiest nation on Earth. And why the bureaucrats are trying to make it increasingly more difficult and expensive for businesses to operate in the US rather than offering more incentives and encouragement.

drop business incentive programs

The example I gave in the previous post was the huge pharmaceutical corporation called AbbVie, which was relocating from Chicago, Illinois, to Europe and thereby effectively cutting its tax bill in half – a significant saving when you are generating billions of dollars in revenue each year.

Now the latest corporation to show its frustration with the way things are deteriorating in America is the Miami based fast food giant Burger King. It is currently in merger talks with Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons, in a deal that would allow Burger King to relocate out of the US with a view to trying to cut its “big whopper”  of a tax bill too.

Since the new company would be headquartered in Canada, Burger King would no longer be liable for punitive US taxes which are now regarded as the highest among developed economies.

It’s another high profile example of what is called an ‘inversion’ deal, a strategy that allows US firms to lower their tax bills by merging with a foreign company, and then relocating to the new country.

tim hortons logo

The Obama administration’s response has been predictable  –  cry foul, say it’s not fair, and tell these corporations to forget about the best strategy for their business and just wrap themselves in the Star Spangled Banner.

“My attitude,” the President declared in July, “is I don’t care if it’s legal — it’s wrong.”

It’s great to love your country, but it’s tough when the government of your country doesn’t love you back! And it will take more than bogus emotional claptrap to change the minds of hard-headed businessmen.

What Obama and his henchmen should be doing is asking themselves why it is happening and what THEY are doing wrong that makes these giant wealth creating corporations want to get out of America as fast as they can.

But they won’t do that.

That would make sense –  and sense is the last thing that the bureaucrats want to apply to any situation.

So they’ll continue to spend money they don’t have, on things the country can’t afford and probably doesn’t need, and then pass the bill on to the tax payers.

Their short term solution to these corporate inversion deals will be to try to legislate to make them illegal. Good luck with that, I have never seen legislation drafted by an idiot bureaucrat that a team of top corporate lawyers couldn’t drive a coach and horses through.

So rather than stopping the exodus, it’s more of a question of what will be the next corporation to leave???

drive a coach and horses through

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What A Flipping President – What A Flipping Mess!!

Posted: August 17, 2014 in War, Politics, Rants, Current Events
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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

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President Obama said in June that he would be prepared to “take targeted and precise military action” in Iraq, whatever that meant.

But it’s taken him two months to make the decision. Two months during which Islamist militants have swept through northern and western Iraq and are now threatening Christians in that country with religious conversion or death.

indecisive Obama

So far its not only too little too late, but half-hearted to boot, with Obama saying that the step was being taken to defend US personnel in the city of Irbil and protect religious minorities facing what he called a “potential act of genocide” from the Islamic State, the extremist group most recently known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

There doesn’t seem much “potential” about from the reports I am reading.

convert or die

It’s as if the President’s Administration and his advisors didn’t see it coming!

This belated decision is yet another turning point in the Obama administration’s dreadfully badly thought out foreign policy, which has seen his ratings plummet, both at home and in the eyes of the world.

Even now his administration’s goals remain unclear. For example, is this latest move a tactical decision, or a simple reaction to the consequences of failing to act sooner, or is there a strategy behind it?

I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else knows, but I fear it is just the former. Sadly, a belated attempt to halt ISIS’s advance toward Irbil won’t be enough – and if I know that, why don’t Obama’s advisors?

Of course, on the other side of the political fence, rather predictably, some of the gung-ho Republicans, always spoiling for a fight (somewhere other than in the US), have quickly jumped on the bandwagon and tried to use this latest debacle to score political points against the President.

gung-ho GOPers

They have criticized Obama’s inaction in Syria and the failure to bolster moderate rebel forces there as contributing to ISIS’s growth. But hang on a moment GOPers, think it through before you speak (this will be new territory to most of them!). If the President had intervened (or rather, been allowed to intervene) in Syria he would have been intervening on the same side as ISIS, not against them.

Then we would have had an even more bewildering situation where US troops would have been fighting with ISIS (effectively) in Syria against Assad and at the same time fighting against ISIS in Iraq trying to stop their genocidal purge of the Christian community there.

It is this kind of utter confusion that has over the past few years greatly diminished America’s global influence and standing.

bush_wmd_cartoon.1

The mess that was left in Iraq after Bush’s invasion on the false premise (the lie) of WMDs, and Obama’s withdrawal of troops on the equally disingenuous premise (another lie) that they had brought peace to the country, is a disgrace.

And unfortunately it sends a message to the world that America is confused, indecisive, deceitful, short-sighted, blundering – in short all the things that you don’t want the world to think about you if you want to be taken seriously.

What a flipping mess!

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

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“It was the Russians, they’re the ones to blame.”

“It was Putin. He’s the baddie. We can’t let him get way with it!”

 malaysia-airlines-flight-mh17

So go the cries in the US in the aftermath of the shooting down of Air Malaysia Flight MH17 over the Ukraine.

And that was long before any of the facts had been collected and it was known who shot down a plane on a different continent, or why. 

Russia wants (virtual) control of the Ukraine. There isn’t really any doubt about that. For them it is a strategic imperative. Russia’s history has taught it that it needs to be able to control a vast amount of territory, if only to use as a buffer zone against invasion.

The situation is not helped by various US Presidents and Secretaries of State giving Russia assurances that they would not attempt to involve the peripheral former Soviet states in things like NATO – and then trying to do the exact opposite.

It is now widely accepted that the underlying reason for the unrest in the Ukraine and Russia’s reaction is because of US interference in that country, which included helping to overthrow its democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, and replace him with someone who was a virtual puppet of the West.

That was just asking for trouble. And they should have known it.

And they will get trouble, probably much more than they bargained for.

Unfortunately that will impact on ordinary people, like us.

 Major_NATO_affiliations_in_Europe

Just as the US has its beady eyes on bringing the Ukraine and other former Soviet states into pro-Western organizations like NATO, it is equally certain that Putin will have his beady eyes on not only bringing the former Soviet states back firmly under Russian control, but in perhaps expanding his relationships with other parts of Europe.

Putin has the energy reserves to do it. Whilst there is very little in the way of direct trade between the US and Russia, particularly in regard to energy supplies, (Russia is just the United States’ 20th largest trading partner), Europe is largely dependent on Russian gas to keep it going. Over 30 percent of the European Union’s energy supplies come from Russia and the EU is Russia’s largest trading partner.

Russia’s counter strategy, therefore, will obviously be to use its considerable economic influence as leverage to try to break up the NATO alliance and to separate the European power house, Germany, from its Anglo-American alliance.

Putin is being helped by the arrogance of America’s government spooks who thought they could spy on their friends and allies, even going so far as tapping the phone of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, without there being consequences.  

consequences

Prompted by leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the fallout from America’s spying debacle continues, people have been arrested, and the German government has even ordered the local CIA station chief to pack his bags and leave the country.

Germany may still place some value on its relationship with the US, but not nearly so much as previously, thanks solely to America’s lack of respect for them.

Putin and his advisors know this, even if Obama and Kerry don’t. They see Germany as ready for change. And they may well be right. The German people are angry at the contempt America has shown for them  – just as Americans would rightly have been if the Germans had done the same to them and their President  –  and they are increasingly frustrated at the burden the European Union has become economically.

If the US doesn’t catch itself on and behave differently and with respect towards its foreign friends, it may find that there will be changes it did not expect and certainly did not want.

Kerry Putin Obama

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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We had it with the real estate market. Billions of dollars being lent to people who obviously couldn’t afford it.

We saw the trouble, hardship, misery and financial woes that were caused as credit dried up, real estate prices began to tumble, and bankruptcies and foreclosures increased.

And we know the damage it did to the economy when irresponsible banks and other lenders went bust and almost brought down the entire financial system. 

Smart people would learn from such a situation.

Smart people would never contemplate doing such a thing again.

But despite what they would like to have you believe, bankers are not smart people. They’re dumb and they are greedy, a deadly combination.

bad credit 100 percent financing

As a result of the financial crisis millions of Americans (and people in other countries too) have been left with poor credit scores. Yet remarkably they are now able to easily obtain auto loans from used-car dealers, including some who fabricate or ignore borrowers’ abilities to repay. Even if you are bankrupt or living only on social security, banks like Wells Fargo will lend you thousands of dollars to buy a used car.

It’s called the new sub-prime boom, because the lack of caution resembles the frenzied sub-prime mortgage market before its collapse. And it is already bringing misery to many people who have been suckered into taking out loans that they clearly could not afford.

Worse than that, these sub-prime auto loans often come with terms that take advantage of the most desperate, least financially sophisticated customers, with interest rates that can exceed 20 percent. And many of the loans can be at least twice the value of the second hand cars they are being used to purchase!

wall street car crash

This creates a vicious circle for some borrowers, who still owe money on a car that they are trading in when they purchase another one, meaning that the former debt is rolled over into the new loan and they end up, not just paying too much for their current car, but also continue to pay off the loan on their previous car that they don’t even have!

This is the way loan sharks operate. Eventually you end up borrowing your own money and paying them interest for the privilege!

This surge in sub-prime auto lending is being driven by some of the same dynamics that were at work in sub-prime mortgages. There is a veritable deluge of money pouring into sub-prime autos, as the high rates and steady profits of the loans attract investors.

And just as Wall Street stoked the boom in mortgages, some of the nation’s biggest banks and private equity firms are now feeding the growth in sub-prime auto loans by investing in lenders and making money available for loans.

To quote some of the figures, auto loans to people with bad credit have risen more than 130 percent in the five years since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, with roughly one in four new auto loans last year going to borrowers considered sub-prime, that is, people with credit scores at or below 640. Wells Fargo, mentioned earlier, made $7.8 billion in auto loans in the second quarter of this year, up 9 percent from a year earlier, and has at least $50 billion in auto loans on its books.

greedy bankers

Even worse, as was the case with sub-prime mortgages before the financial crisis, many sub-prime auto loans are being bundled up into complex bonds and sold as securities by banks to insurance companies, mutual funds and public pension funds. They are all scrambling for these, which in turn creates ever-greater demand for loans, and leads to the banks issuing more and more sub-prime credit.

Unbelievably it’s the same crooks doing exactly the same thing, including using incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment, so that people who had lost their jobs, or were bankrupt, or living on Social Security, could qualify for loans that they could never afford.

carbuying credit report

Admittedly, the size of the sub-prime auto loan market is only a tiny fraction of the sub-prime mortgage market at its peak, and its implosion would not have the same far-reaching consequences.

For the banks the investors silly enough to buy their bonds, that is.

But the misery is just as great for the people who are suckered into accepting credit they cannot afford.

Illegal it may not be, but immoral it certainly is.

Political leaders who sit astride high horses and purport to be working on behalf of the ordinary people should be doing something about it.

But, as I’ve said before, don’t hold your breath!

obama used car salesman

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Why Are The Bureaucrats Destroying What Made America Great?

Posted: July 20, 2014 in Business, Current Events, Factoids, Politics, Rants
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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

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Since the government and bureaucrats in the United States abandoned the business-friendly environment that made the country the greatest and wealthiest nation on earth, and replaced that with a legislative and wealth redistributing strategy that is anything but business-friendly, there has been a growing trend for successful companies to leave the US.

It should have been obvious – and indeed it was – to everyone but the morons in Washington. 

 

obama cartoon big government

The latest to try to make a move out of the United States is the pharmaceutical giant AbbVie, currently based outside Chicago, Illinois, but not for much longer if they get their way.

Using a $53 billion acquisition of the Jersey-registered, Irish-headquartered global specialty biopharmaceutical company “Shire”, a deal that will allow Abbvie to reincorporate elsewhere, it plans to leave the high tax US for a more advantageous business environment.

By making this move and escaping United States tax rates, Abbvie will pay lower taxes on its international earnings, get access to overseas cash more cheaply, and be able to acquire other companies without making their earnings subject to United States taxes.

Abbvie

And Abbvie is not alone.

There has been a rush of companies wanting to get out of the United States. Health care companies in particular, such as Medtronic, Mylan, Actavis, Perrigo, Jazz Pharmaceuticals and Endo, have pursued these “inversion deals”, as they are called, with particular zeal.

The moral of the story is simply this.

When a country forgets what has made it great and instead turns into something quite the opposite, all the reasons for its greatness disappear. And the United States is doing this at a time when it is heavily in debt – the most indebted nation in the world by a long way.

The short-termism of trying to grab as much money as possible from companies and individuals will end in failure and disaster for all. People like Obama try to put a fancy misleading name on it and call it “wealth redistribution”. What it really is, is a major disincentive for anyone to want to set up and do business in the United States.

redistribution-of-wealth

And as you would expect, the idiots in Washington aren’t scratching their heads and wondering why more and more companies are opting to leave the US. Instead the bureaucrats are trying to think of ways to make it illegal for companies like Abbvie to adopt this strategy. 

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has already sent letters to senior members of Congress, encouraging them to pass legislation halting inversions. The legislation being considered by some lawmakers would be retroactive, and if passed, could impede AbbVie’s ability to reincorporate overseas.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew

And proving that stupidity is a cross party phenomenon, on Thursday, Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican who is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, responded to calls from the Obama administration to crack down on inversions by saying he supported a short-term fix, although he suggested that the administration’s initial proposal went too far.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch

It seems fairly logical in my mind that the way to stop this growing exodus, which in the longer term will leave the US a lot poorer and a lot more of its citizens out of work, is to legislate to reduce tax bills, not increase them; to give businesses an incentive to invest and expand in the United States, not to drive them away; and to encourage entrepreneurs to relocate TO the US rather than scramble to get out.

Of course, that’s just in my head. All that is in the heads of the idiot bureaucrats in Washington is self-defeating rubbish like increase minimum wages, increase healthcare contributions, increase taxation, introduce capital controls, increase government bureaucracy so more debt is piled up and the USD$ weakens further, and of course start a few more wars to distract the people from the mess that is being made at home.

So, to pose the question in the title of this post again, why are the bureaucrats destroying what made America great?

Your guess is as good as mine, although while some obviously have malicious intent, I wouldn’t entirely rule out plain old stupidity!

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