Friday, August 26, 2016

Why Sarkozy Will Return as France's Next President

This week, Nicolas Sarkozy announced that next year he will be running as a conservative contender for the presidency of France.   A job he held before being ousted by the current socialist President Francois Hollande in 2012.  But, Sarkozy sees his return as a near shoe-in because of this one chart:

In essence, 88% of France disapproves of Hollande.  With such a high disapproval, even a dog catcher would have a decent chance of winning against him.

References:

Sarkozy announces bid for 2017 presidential race: https://www.yahoo.com/news/frances-sarkozy-run-2017-presidential-election-142713975--business.html

Graph Source: Nearly 90 percent of the French now disapprove of their president: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/07/05/nearly-90-percent-of-the-french-now-disapprove-of-their-president/

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Lincoln Bedroom and the Clinton Foundation: Same Ol' Same Ol'

Just recently, the Associated Press (AP) revealed that 85 of the 154 people who -- outside of the federal government and who had special, non-State-Department-business access to the then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- had all been contributors to the Clinton Foundation.  Quite a coincidence, isn't it?

Well, this shouldn't be any surprise.  It's what the Clinton's do.

Back in 1997, the story broke, that in 1996, Bill Clinton and top aides had a bunch of broad fund raising strategies which included "sleep overs" in the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House.  In fact those "sleep overs"  ultimately, resulted in millions of dollars being funneled to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

And, those Lincoln Bedroom Buddies are still the gifts that keep on giving.

In February 2008,  49 of the famous "PJ Party" crowd were among the top 200 donors to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign via payments to and through the DNC; each pledging at least $100,000 and some promising at least one million.  Even as late as October of last year, Slate.com reported that 34 of those still-living Lincoln sleep-over participants were continuing to commit funds for Hillary's second presidential run.

God only knows what will be up for "sale", if and when she actually becomes President.

References:

AP: Many donors to Clinton Foundation met with her at State: https://www.yahoo.com/news/many-donors-clinton-foundation-met-her-state-183315225--election.html

1997: President Had Big Role in Setting Donor Perks: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/campfin/stories/lincoln.htm

Lincoln Bedroom Guests Gave $5.4 Million: http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1997/02/26/clinton.lincoln/

2008: Hillary still in bed with ‘96 scandal: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/feb/8/hillary-still-in-bed-with-96-scandal/

2015: The Lincoln Bedroom Is Still Paying Dividends. Donors who spent the night in the famous bedroom are now writing checks for Hillary Clinton: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/10/lincoln_bedroom_guests_are_still_donating_to_hillary_clinton_many_of_bill.html


 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Recidivism's Role in Mass Incarcerations

A big part of Hillary Clinton's campaign to woo the black vote is to end mass incarcerations; especially for black youth.  On her webpage titled "Criminal Justice Reform" she makes this comment:

What she doesn't seem to understand is that all too many criminals in this country are locked behind a revolving door.  Once released, the rearrest rate is very high.  Note these statistics from our National Institute of Justice:
  • Within three years of release, about two-thirds (67.8 percent) of released prisoners were rearrested.
  • Within five years of release, about three-quarters (76.6 percent) of released prisoners were rearrested.
  • Of those prisoners who were rearrested, more than half (56.7 percent) were arrested by the end of the first year.
  • Property offenders were the most likely to be rearrested, with 82.1 percent of released property offenders arrested for a new crime compared with 76.9 percent of drug offenders, 73.6 percent of public order offenders and 71.3 percent of violent offenders
Most of what contributes to such a high recidivism rate is the lack of any prisoner reform while incarcerated and, at the same time, joblessness when released.   Perhaps some crimes are over-charged, but the fact remains that the crimes were committed and some amount of time must be served.  If prisoners keep getting rearrested, the prison population will remain high.   At the same time, high rates of black unemployment and poverty are just as responsible for high crime rates among this racial group, and that has nothing to do with the criminal justice system.

Simply, much of the crime problem in this country could be solved with better jobs and better standards of living for those now locked in too many low-income and no-income ghettos.  Hillary Clinton has no solution for these realities and their impact on society; just as President Obama has not improved these critical aspects of black communities in this country.

References:

Criminal Justice Reform: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/criminal-justice-reform/

Office of Justice Programs: National Institute of Justice: Recidivism: http://www.nij.gov/topics/corrections/recidivism/pages/welcome.aspx

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Forget Healthcare Inflation. College Costs are Double That!

One of the people I most enjoy reading is Mark J. Perry who writes some very interesting articles for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  Mark is a professor of economics and finance for the University of Michigan at Flint.

In one of his latest offerings, he put together this amazing graph which shows selected costs and how they have risen, and fallen, over the last 20 years:

Not only are college costs double that of healthcare, they are nearly 4 times higher than the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which represents a market basket of items that a normal consumer would buy on a regular basis.

In my opinion, this shows why student loan debt is so high and why the defaults on that debt are rising.  As I have said before, as long as colleges and universities stay in the position where they can continue to turn away applicants, they can keep raising tuition; unabated.  We need to get to a point where the demand for college entrance falls.  Perhaps this will finally happen when it becomes so expensive that no one can afford to attend.  But, with proposals from Hillary Clinton to make college "free" by putting the costs on the taxpayer, that "affordability test" will be taken out of the hands of the people, who should be paying the bills, and who could actually change the direction of the rising rate of college tuition.

Reference:

Source of Graph: http://www.aei.org/publication/do-you-hear-that-it-might-be-the-growing-sounds-of-pocketbooks-snapping-shut-and-the-chickens-coming-home/

Making college debt-free and taking on student debt | Hillary for America: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/college/
 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tasers Aren't Always Non-Lethal

After reading an article about a 56-year old man being tasered 5 times by the Los Angeles police, who subsequently died, I wondered how often people do die from police tasers each year.

According to the website, the Counted, 49 people died from a taser in 2015.  And, as of this writing,  a lesser trend of 16 people have died so far this year.  Another website claims 634 deaths occurred from the period 2001 to 2014.  Altogether, a total of 699 people have been documented to have died from being tasered since 2001.

The truth is that tasers can cause death by creating a cardiac arrhythmia; followed by cardiac arrest, and sometimes death.

Possibly, the lower number of fatalities this year may be due to less aggressive policing.  But, the truth is that tasers aren't necessarily non-lethal.

References:

Dead in an hour: Video shows LA cops tasering grandfather who died in jail: https://www.rt.com/usa/356589-police-taser-dead-jail/

634 Taser-Related Deaths in the United States Since 2001: http://electronicvillage.blogspot.com/2009/05/taser-related-deaths-in-united-states.html

The Counted: People Killed by Police in U.S.: Classification: Tasers: https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4551919160687115242#editor/target=post;postID=3399841268420051068

Taser Safety Issues: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taser_safety_issues

Friday, August 19, 2016

Are the States Signaling A Recession?

In the latest report, the 4th Quarter 2015 economic growth was downgraded from a previous 1.4% to just 0.9%.  To me, and I assume others, this was no surprise, because back in June, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released a rather dismal view of State-by-State economic growth for that very same quarter.  Note the following pictorial that was included:

Click on Image to Enlarge
As you can see from this map, 8 states had negative economic growth.  Two states, including New York, had no growth, and three grew only one tenth of a percent.  Two additional states had growth of four-tenths of a percent or less.  Many more stand at less than 2%.

The bottom line, here,  is that there are too many state economies that are struggling.  A fact that could be signaling a recession in the not too distant future.

References:

Falling Productivity and the Sad State of Our Economy: http://cuttingthroughthefog.blogspot.com/2016/08/falling-productivity-and-sad-state-of.html

Source of Map: http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_state/2016/pdf/qgsp0616.pdf


Thursday, August 18, 2016

ObamaCare: Will the Last Insurer Leaving Turn Off the Lights?

What if there were no companies left to insure people in the ObamaCare exchanges?  Would ObamaCare just die on its own and go away? Well, that is starting to look like a real possibility.

In only 3 years, the number of private insurers operating in the exchanges has fallen by more than 27%, from 395 in 2013 to 287 in 2016.  How many of those remaining will back out this year before the enrollment period begins in the Fall is anyone's guess.  But, the nation's largest insurers, United Healthcare, Aetna, and Humana, have already indicated quitting operations in certain markets. In addition, of the 24 co-op insurance companies that the Obama Administration spent billions to set up, and that were supposed to provide competition in states that lacked adequate competition, only 5 may be left standing before this year's enrollment period begins.

One reason that insurers may start leaving more heavily, is the fact that the 3-year protections against insurance losses like reinsurance and the risk corridors have expired this year.  This leaves insurers fully exposed to losses resulting by having to carry an older and sicker enrollment base.  With those protections gone, the across the board rate increase requests are expected to be in the double digits.

If the state regulators don't approve these increases because they are seen as too high, some insurers will have no other choice but to back out of some or all of the exchanges they operate in.  And, the rate increases will only make insurance less affordable for the younger/healthier crowd that is much needed to reduce losses.  Thus, losses will again increase and even more insurers will be forced to leave.

Essentially, ObamaCare seems to be in a death spiral as it becomes more and more evident that any gains made in getting people insured may come to an end and may even be reversed.  If this continues, no insurers will be left in the very exchanges that were intended to make ObamaCare affordable.

References:

New Report: Insurers Leaving Obamacare Exchanges in Droves: http://townhall.com/columnists/justinhaskins/2016/04/20/draft-n2151481

The 8 [remaining] Obamacare Co-Ops Most Likely To Fail This Year: http://dailycaller.com/2016/04/10/the-8-obamacare-co-ops-most-likely-to-fail-this-year/

After $300 Million Loss, Another Major Insurer Pulls Out of Obamacare: http://www.weeklystandard.com/after-300-million-loss-another-major-insurer-pulls-out-of-obamacare/article/2003852

As millions get covered, a POLITICO investigation finds that dozens of the insurers that the health care law depends on are losing money and even abandoning the system. Can it be fixed?: http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2016/07/obamacare-exchanges-states-north-carolina-000162

Double-digit ObamaCare premium hikes projected in 2017: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/06/15/double-digit-obamacare-premium-hikes-projected-in-2017.html

California's Obamacare premium sticker shock: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/whats-behind-californias-obamacare-premium-hike/