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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Flushing money down the toilet... 

The average US familty of four is paying nearly $8000 into the military next year. But is is far worse for the trade deficit...$725 BILLION last year.

The U.S. trade deficit with the world has reached an all-time high, setting new record levels with China, Japan, Europe and oil-exporting nations, the U.S. the Commerce Department's said Friday, even as some U.S. senators slammed China as the biggest contributor to the deficit.

"These trade deficits show that our trade policy is an unbelievable failure that is selling out American jobs and weakening our country," said U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota, in a statement after the release of the figures. "If these new trade deficit numbers don't finally wake up the president and Congress, nothing will."

The Commerce Department reported that the annual U.S. trade deficit for 2005 swelled 17.5 percent above the 2004 deficit of 617.6 billion dollars, to a whopping 725.8 billion dollars, the highest on record.

You can do the math (probably), unless you were a student left behind. That's a stunning $2400 per person, or nearly $10,000 for a family of four. In that same family, you made perhaps $135,000 (this is above the median income, but for purposes of comparison, we must use the mean income instead--if the US GDP is around $10 trillion, then it comes to approximately $135,000 for every four people) and paid roughly $30,000 in taxes. Guess what? The military is using 26% of that. And the trade deficit is another 33%. Wonder why nothing is getting done? Why the safety net is frayed and tattered? Why the infrastructure is falling apart? Why there's no money for schools, for highways, for alternate fuels, for medical care, for monitoring the environment, for National Parks? There is simply no money left. It's all going to the military to build cheap armor and funnel the funds to Halliburton et al., to Canada, Mexico and OPEC to buy $70/barrel oil, and to China to buy cheap crap.

The government, as we've talked about before on The Bite, can run a deficit. Especially in bad economic times (as in since 2000--don't be fooled by the BS--median income went down again last year, and so much money has been stolen from the future to make this quarter look good that it's all about to collapse). But a trade deficit, across the board--with Europe, with Japan, with Canada and Mexico, with OPEC--is unsustainable. At some point, you have to offer more than a huge, obese, smug market. The clock is ticking.

-Vulf

Wal-Mart continues to ruin small businesses... 

This is funny...from The Onion

After serving the area for more than four decades, Parking Lot 2A lowered its moveable-arm gates for the last time Friday. The much-loved municipal parking lot is only the most recent casualty of Wal-Mart parking lots.

A Wal-Mart Supercenter opened across from Lot 2A in October 2001.
Comprising 80 public and 45 rental stalls, the city-owned lot charged $3 a day during its prime. However, city engineers report that over the past five years, 2A's clientele has steadily eroded, as more Auburn locals have opted for the convenience of the Wal-Mart lot.


-Vulf

Friday, February 10, 2006

A new Patty Hearst? 

The headdress and the increased composure? Is this a case of the Stockholm Syndrome at work, or is Jill Carroll to be this generation's Patty Hearst?

Just a thought, or more accurately a musing. Not that this lessens any of the trauma involved for her family and friends...but the deadline has passed, and the question will be asked by others soon enough...

-Vulf

The Horror, again... 

In a budget that can only be called evil (reduce support of the already decrepit safety net for the poor and middle class; reduce taxes on the mega-rich; and hide $70 billion targeted for Iraq from the budget process altogether; the largest deficit in history), the most evil part is the total military budget--$509 billion ($439 billion on the books, the $70 billion as described above hidden from view). This is $1700 per PERSON in the US, $6800 for a family of four. And death benefits for veteran's families are being cut, Iraq is no closer to stability now than a year ago, it goes on and on.

The karma is bad. Awful. The median family of four is paying nearly $7000 for the military next year.

-Vulf

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Why Iran can kick out the UN 

Iran is developing nuclear weapons, brazenly and openly. They have WMDs, and may well use them. But the US cannot go into Iran, because they would lose. The news from Afghanistan is so shocking as to not be believed...70% unemployment, and a 173 (out of 178) ranking in development. This means that at least half of the following set of ten nations is DOING BETTER than Afghanistan, 4 years after our mountain biking, vacationing, retirement-anticipating president ordered it's invasion:

Chad
Mali
Burkina Faso
Sierra Leone
Somalia
Haiti
Niger
Zimbabwe
Sudan
Liberia

Which 5 is it, then? Can you believe this? 70% unemployment, and worse:

According to human rights watchdogs, the huge increase in economic migrants exposes the shortcomings of Western-led reconstruction, estimated to have cost $8bn (£4.5bn) so far, failures which are disturbingly apparent in the overflowing slums of the capital, Kabul. Hundreds of thousands may have returned from Pakistan and Iran, swelling the city's population to more than two million, but with local unemployment running at 70 per cent there is simply no future for them.

A United Nations report concluded last year that Afghanistan remains one of the world's least developed countries, ranking 173rd out of 178 countries surveyed. For every 1,000 babies born in Afghanistan, 142 die before their first birthday. An Afghan woman dies in pregnancy every half-hour. Overall life expectancy is estimated at just under 42 years. Three-quarters of adults are illiterate and few girls go to school. But no problem haunts the country more than its displaced peoples - the UN estimates four million Afghans are refugees in Pakistan and Iran, and another two million are uprooted in their own country. The total, a fifth of the population, represents the largest refugee crisis in the world.

Another casualty of the hideous war in Iraq...US moral high-ground lost forever, US and Iraqi people dying everyday, the Muslim world galvanizing against the west (see US-puppet state Denmark's latest problems...), and now the obvious...complete failure in Afghanistan, as well:

Outside the Ministry of Interior, a cottage industry has sprung up supplying services to those who want to leave the country, from roadside photographers providing passport pictures to local people filling out forms for the illiterate. Tariq has raised the money to buy an ancient camera and takes at least 200 passport snaps a day. 'The demand is high. Everyone wants to go to Iran and Pakistan to work, young and old, nobody wants to stay here. The queue for the visas is so large that the traffic police marshal it. But what you are seeing here is the people who want to enter within the law, probably because they have been put in jail as illegal immigrants before and don't want that again. 'Hundreds of thousands more will go over the border illegally, what other option do they have,' he adds, pointing across the street where a group of men have monopolised a playground. 'Look at them, they are playing on a children's roundabout, there is nothing else to do.'

And yet complacency pervades in the US. Got news for all you idiots with W'04 and Darwin-eating fish bumper stickers on your car. Heaven ain't waiting for your sorry hypocritical souls to show up. If you aren't acting now, you never will. You would have been one of Hitler's Willing Executioners.

-Vulf

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