Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chris Hedges & The Occupy Wall Street Message

Finally someone has perfectly summarized the end-game of Occupy:  Wall Street.  Thank you Chris Hedges:
This is a goal the power elite cannot comprehend. They cannot envision a day when they will not be in charge of our lives. The elites believe, and seek to make us believe, that globalization and unfettered capitalism are natural law, some kind of permanent and eternal dynamic that can never be altered. What the elites fail to realize is that rebellion will not stop until the corporate state is extinguished. It will not stop until there is an end to the corporate abuse of the poor, the working class, the elderly, the sick, children, those being slaughtered in our imperial wars and tortured in our black sites. It will not stop until foreclosures and bank repossessions stop. It will not stop until students no longer have to go into debt to be educated, and families no longer have to plunge into bankruptcy to pay medical bills. It will not stop until the corporate destruction of the ecosystem stops, and our relationships with each other and the planet are radically reconfigured. And that is why the elites, and the rotted and degenerate system of corporate power they sustain, are in trouble. That is why they keep asking what the demands are. They don’t understand what is happening. They are deaf, dumb and blind.
For more of Hedges' (along with Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! in the first 2 clips) spot on analysis:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Elenin: Comet or Brown Dwarf?

According to NASA:  "Comet Elenin (also known by its astronomical name C/2010 X1), was first detected on Dec. 10, 2010 by Leonid Elenin, an observer in Lyubertsy, Russia, who made the discovery "remotely" using the ISON-NM observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico."

Conspiracy theorists believe that Elenin, however, isn't a comet, but rather a Brown Dwarf star.  Although, NASA has officially denied the claim, there are some interesting coincidences of major earthquakes occurring simultaneously with alignments of the Sun, Earth, and Elenin (hat tip: Chaukeedeaar's Blog).  All images below are curtesy of the JPL Small-Body Database Browser.

February 27, 2010 - Chile - 8.8 (6th largest in last 100 years):

September 4, 2010 - Christchurch, NZ - 7.2:

March 15, 2011 - Japan (occurred on 3/11) - 9.0 (4th largest in last 100 years):

The next alignment will occur on September 27, 2011:

and November 23, 2011:

Will there be a major earthquake to further support the theory or will the conspiracy theory be exposed for what it is?  Were the Mayans a year late?

Other significant dates include:

October 12, 2011 - Closest point:

November 5, 2011 - Entering the tail (indirectly as the comet is slightly off the ecliptic):

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How the Federal Government is Funded

It is constantly claimed that over half of the people in the US "pay no taxes." Although that IS the case when you look at federal income taxes (thanks to various tax credits and deductions), it's important to realize that 58.5% of total federal tax receipts come from other sources.

The 2 charts below show the current share of federal receipts by source compared to historical highs and lows as well as a visual representation of the distribution from 1934 to 2010.

What should be evident from the data is that although over half of the US pay no federal income taxes, EVERYONE pays payroll taxes (unless you make over $106,800, every dollar of which earned over that amount is payroll-tax free OR if you make your money from investment income, which is ironically called "unearned income"), which make up an almost identical share of total tax collections as federal income taxes (40% vs. 41.5%).

When you factor in the cap mentioned above, the poor and middle class pay a disproportionately large share of payroll taxes compared to the wealthy. So although the top 1% may pay 38% of all federal income taxes, they pay a much smaller share of payroll taxes.

The other important trend to notice is that the taxes on people (income and payroll taxes) are both near all time highs but those on business (corporate income taxes, excise taxes, and other) are all near all time lows.

Is it time for the pendulum to swing back in the other direction?

For reference:
  • Payroll taxes are comprised of Social Security, Medicare, Disability, Unemployment, and other retirement/health insurance taxes
  • Excise taxes are comprised of taxes on alcohol, tobacco, oil windfall profits, telephone, ozone depleting chemicals/products, transportation fuels, health insurance providers, indoor tanning services, medical devices
  • Other taxes include Estate and Gift Taxes; Customs, Duties, and Fees; and other miscellaneous receipts

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Annual Borrowing Costs vs. National Debt

Although our national debt is massive in absolute terms ($14 trillion+), when compared to the size of our economy, it's still very manageable (93%). In fact, it's 30% lower than it was after WWII (which we grew ourselves out of without ANY cuts in government spending), when our debt ratio peaked at 122% in 1946.

According to government statistics, our annual borrowing costs are currently only 1.5% of GDP, near all-time lows. That is less than HALF of what it was when Reagan was president (3.1%). Viewed in these terms, how can anyone claim that we are in the midst of a national debt crisis?

In case you were curious what occurred in the early 1980's that caused our debt ratio and borrowing costs to spike, it happens to coincide with the Reagan tax cuts which dropped the top marginal rate from in the 70's to the upper 20's and our deficit exploded.

Source: White House Office of Management & Budget

Monday, August 8, 2011

Total Unemployment & Average Duration

Although the total number of unemployed Americans peaked at just over 16 million in January 2010, there are still over 14M American's currently out of work:

Although the total number of unemployed has improved from it's peak, the average unemployment duration of those currently out of work is 39 weeks and trending upwards, suggesting that the longer someone is unemployed, the further they are from finding a job. To put that into context, the average unemployment duration between 2001 and 2009 was only ~16 weeks:

What will happen when unemployment insurance extensions expire at the end of the year?

Data Source:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Unemployment Stats

We can't forget the depths of the crisis President Obama inherited, when the economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month:

Over the past year, the private sector has steadily added jobs while government jobs have steadily been eliminated:

Data Source:

Thursday, December 9, 2010