Thomas L. Freidman’s Op-Ed in today’s New York Times, a lucid appraisal of an absurd VP selection for McCain and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

The following is an Op-Ed piece by ‘From Beirut to Jerusalem’ author, Thomas L. Freidman, published today in the New York Times: (see the original by clicking here.)

Criticizing Sarah Palin is truly shooting fish in a barrel. But given the huge attention she is getting, you can’t just ignore what she has to say. And there was one thing she said in the debate with Joe Biden that really sticks in my craw. It was when she turned to Biden and declared: “You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.”

What an awful statement. Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.

I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

Sorry, I grew up in a very middle-class family in a very middle-class suburb of Minneapolis, and my parents taught me that paying taxes, while certainly no fun, was how we paid for the police and the Army, our public universities and local schools, scientific research and Medicare for the elderly. No one said it better than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

I can understand someone saying that the government has no business bailing out the financial system, but I can’t understand someone arguing that we should do that but not pay for it with taxes. I can understand someone saying we have no business in Iraq, but I can’t understand someone who advocates staying in Iraq until “victory” declaring that paying taxes to fund that is not patriotic.

How in the world can conservative commentators write with a straight face that this woman should be vice president of the United States? Do these people understand what serious trouble our country is in right now?

We are in the middle of an economic perfect storm, and we don’t know how much worse it’s going to get. People all over the world are hoarding cash, and no bank feels that it can fully trust anyone it is doing business with anywhere in the world. Did you notice that the government of Iceland just seized the country’s second-largest bank and today is begging Russia for a $5 billion loan to stave off “national bankruptcy.” What does that say? It tells you that financial globalization has gone so much farther and faster than regulatory institutions could govern it. Our crisis could bankrupt Iceland! Who knew?

And we have not yet even felt the full economic brunt here. I fear we may be at that moment just before the tsunami hits — when the birds take flight and the insects stop chirping because their acute senses can feel what is coming before humans can. At this moment, only good governance can save us. I am not sure that this crisis will end without every government in every major economy guaranteeing the creditworthiness of every financial institution it regulates. That may be the only way to get lending going again. Organizing something that big and complex will take some really smart governance and seasoned leadership.

Whether or not I agree with John McCain, he is of presidential timber. But putting the country in the position where a total novice like Sarah Palin could be asked to steer us through possibly the most serious economic crisis of our lives is flat out reckless. It is the opposite of conservative.

And please don’t tell me she will hire smart advisers. What happens when her two smartest advisers disagree?

And please also don’t tell me she is an “energy expert.” She is an energy expert exactly the same way the king of Saudi Arabia is an energy expert — by accident of residence. Palin happens to be governor of the Saudi Arabia of America — Alaska — and the only energy expertise she has is the same as the king of Saudi Arabia’s. It’s about how the windfall profits from the oil in their respective kingdoms should be divided between the oil companies and the people.

At least the king of Saudi Arabia, in advocating “drill baby drill,” is serving his country’s interests — by prolonging America’s dependence on oil. My problem with Palin is that she is also serving his country’s interests — by prolonging America’s dependence on oil. That’s not patriotic. Patriotic is offering a plan to build our economy — not by tax cuts or punching more holes in the ground, but by empowering more Americans to work in productive and innovative jobs. If Palin has that kind of a plan, I haven’t heard it.”

U.S. Wholesale inflation jumped at more than twice the expected rate, meaning prices have risen at the fastest pace in 27 years over the past 12 months

“NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks headed for a sharply lower open Tuesday after a steeper-than-expected jump in wholesale inflation raised fresh concerns about the drag rising prices are having on the economy.

The Labor Department’s Producer Price Index showed inflation pressures faced by companies increased in July at more than double the expected rate, rising 1.2 percent. Wall Street forecast a 0.5 percent increase, according to Thomson/IFR.

The increase means prices have risen in the past 12 months at the fastest pace in 27 years and follows figures released last week showing consumers are also facing rising inflation.

A Commerce Department report on July housing starts, meanwhile, showed that construction of homes and apartments fell to the lowest level in more than 17 years. Starts fell to an annual rate of 965,000 units for July; the figure was higher than the rate of 950,000 units analysts had predicted on average but didn’t appear strong enough to quell investors’ worries about the sector.

The weakness in housing has not only imperiled home builders and suppliers but has left financial companies reeling over how to cope with soured mortgage debt.

Following the reports, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 106, or 0.92 percent, to 11,393. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures declined 12.50, or 0.97 percent, to 1,269.80, while Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 16.25, or 0.84 percent, to 1,927.25. Futures weakened after the reports.

Bond prices were down after the economic reports. While investors ordinarily seek the shelter of government debt when bad news arrives, inflation is just as bad for bonds as stocks because it can eat into the more modest returns Treasurys usually show. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.83 percent from 3.82 percent late Monday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

The latest readings don’t reflect all of the pullback in oil seen since mid-July. Oil is down more than $30 a barrel since its July 11 peak of $147.27. Light, sweet crude fell 51 cents to $112.36 a barrel in premarket electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Retailers reported mixed quarterly results, adding to investors’ uncertainty about the economy.

Home Depot Inc. reported a 24 percent decline in its second-quarter earnings but topped Wall Street’s expectations. The nation’s largest home improvement retailer reiterated its forecast for the year amid a weak housing market.

Target Corp. said its second-quarter earnings fell 7.5 percent but topped Wall Street’s expectations despite continued weak sales amid a challenging economy.

Saks Inc. is reporting a wider-than-expected loss in the second quarter as its affluent shoppers cut back on apparel amid a slowing economy. The luxury goods retailer also issued a downbeat forecast for the year.”

Consumer prices up 5%, to highest level in 17 years

U.S. Economy: Consumer Prices Up 5%, 17-Year High (Update2)

By Shobhana Chandra and Timothy R. Homan

July 16 (Bloomberg) — U.S. consumer prices surged 5 percent in the past year, the biggest jump since 1991, just as households struggled with falling home values and the credit crunch.

Spiraling expenses for food and fuel spurred the increase in June, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The cost of living rose 1.1 percent from May, more than forecast and the second-largest rise since 1982. Separate figures showed industrial production rose more than estimated because of the end of a strike at American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. and increased electricity output.

Price gains accelerated last month even after stripping out energy and food, underscoring the challenge for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke as he attempts to steer the economy through the slowdown and credit crisis. Treasuries fell.

“This is a problem for the economy; it’s even worse for the Fed,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors Inc. in Holland, Pennsylvania. “Inflation numbers are high enough that under different circumstances the Fed would be hiking rates.”

Excluding food and energy, so-called core costs climbed 0.3 percent in June from the previous month and 2.4 percent from a year before.

Yields Jump

Benchmark 10-year note yields rose to 3.93 percent at 4:20 p.m. in New York, from 3.82 percent late yesterday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index advanced 2.5 percent to close at 1,245.36, after earnings from Wells Fargo & Co. topped analysts’ estimates.

Consumer prices were forecast to rise 0.7 percent, according to the median estimate of 79 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Projections ranged from gains of 0.2 percent to 1.1 percent. Costs excluding food and energy were forecast to rise 0.2 percent, the survey showed.

Bernanke told lawmakers in semiannual testimony on the economy yesterday and today that inflation risks have “intensified.” At the same time, he dropped his June assessment that risks to the economic expansion had diminished, indicating policy makers aren’t ready to raise interest rates to contain expenses.

“We don’t think they’re going to raise rates now — until June next year now is our forecast — until basically the economy starts to get some footing,” Beth Ann Bovino, senior economist at Standard & Poor’s in New York, said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio. “Right now the beast is what’s going to happen with the economy.”

Exceeding Forecasts

Prices were forecast to climb 4.5 percent in June from a year earlier, according to the survey median.

A separate report today said confidence among U.S. homebuilders dropped to 16 this month, a record low. Readings for current sales, expected sales and buyer traffic in the National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo sentiment index also were at all-time lows.

“The magnitude of the housing bubble was unprecedented, and the corrective process promises to be a long and painful one,” Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at Maria Fiorini Ramirez Inc. in New York, said in a note to clients.

The Fed said today that production at factories, mines and utilities increased 0.5 percent last month after dropping 0.2 percent in May. Capacity utilization, which measures the proportion of plants in use, rose to 79.9 percent from 79.6 percent.

Strike’s Resolution

The resolution of a three-month strike by General Motors Corp.’s largest axle supplier, American Axle, probably helped lift auto output. Excluding autos, factory output fell 0.1 percent for a second month.

Wholesale costs rose 1.8 percent in June, the most in seven months, the Labor Department reported yesterday. From a year ago, prices climbed 9.2 percent, the biggest surge since 1981.

Companies, unable to fully recover ballooning raw-material costs by raising prices, have cut staff and reduced equipment purchases as profits shrink.

Kimberly-Clark Corp., the maker of Huggies diapers and Scott paper towels, said earnings for this year will trail its previous forecast as expenses rise more than twice as fast as predicted,

“Inflation has outpaced our ability to offset higher costs in the near term through price increases, cost reductions and other measures,” Thomas Falk, the Dallas-based company’s chief executive officer, said this week in a statement.

Price Increase

Procter & Gamble Co., the maker of Tide detergent and Head & Shoulders shampoo, last week said it’ll raise prices as much as 16 percent due to higher costs for plastic, energy and paper. The increases start in September and are the Cincinnati-based company’s steepest in at least 18 months.

Energy expenses jumped 6.6 percent, the biggest gain since November. Gasoline soared 10.1 percent and fuel oil jumped 10.4 percent.

The cost of fuel will continue stoking price pressures. Crude oil futures reached a record $147.27 a barrel on July 11 and have risen almost 90 percent in the past year. Regular gasoline, which topped $4 a gallon for the first time in June, kept rising this month, AAA figures show.

The consumer price index is Labor’s broadest gauge of costs. Almost 60 percent of the CPI covers prices consumers pay for services ranging from medical visits to airline fares and movie tickets.

Food Expenses

Food prices, which account for about a fifth of the CPI, increased 0.8 percent, driven by the biggest gain in the cost of vegetables in almost four years.

The report showed that food and fuel weren’t the only items on the rise. Costs for airline fares jumped 4.5 percent, the most since 2001.

Rents which, make up almost 40 percent of the core CPI, also accelerated. A category designed to track rental prices rose 0.3 percent after a 0.1 percent gain in May.

Today’s figures also showed wages decreased 0.9 percent in June after adjusting for inflation, the biggest drop since September 2005, and were down 2.4 percent over the last 12 months. The decline in buying power is one reason economists forecast consumer spending will slow.

Americans trimmed purchases of automobiles, furniture and restaurant meals last month as the cost of gasoline soared, a Commerce Department report showed yesterday. Retail sales rose 0.1 percent, less than forecast, a sign the boost from the tax rebate checks is already fading.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shobhana Chandra in Washington at schandra1@bloomberg.netTimothy R. Homan in Washington at thoman1@bloomberg.net

Cam Cardow National Debt Cartoon, again.

A Cam Cardow National Debt Cartoon, and U.S. National Debt Clock, here…

2007 U.S. Financial Report and Government Accountability Office memo warn of tough times coming for American tax payers.

Found this at Steve Skojec’s excellent blog, here (post called: “economic stimulus package: made in China.”):

According to the 2007 U.S. Financial Report, here’s Government Accountability Office’s included memo that tries to give the lowdown on the unaccounted for future liabilities:

“Fiscal year 2007 marked the second year in which the Statement of Social Insurance has been presented as a basic financial statement. As noted above, this year, we were able to render an unqualified opinion on the 2007 Statement of Social Insurance. This is a significant accomplishment for the federal government. This statement shows that projected scheduled benefits exceed earmarked revenues by approximately $41 trillion in present value terms for the next 75-year period.

Considering this projected gap in social insurance, in addition to reported liabilities (e.g., debt held by the public and federal employee and veterans benefits payable) and other implicit commitments and contingencies that the federal government has pledged to support, the federal government’s fiscal exposures totaled approximately $53 trillion as of September 30, 2007, up more than $2 trillion from September 30, 2006, and an increase of more than $32 trillion from about $20 trillion as of September 30, 2000.

This translates into a current burden of about $175,000 per American or approximately $455,000 per American household. (page 33)”

And then this:

“Unsustainable Debt…”

“As noted earlier, the Government must borrow from the public to finance any gaps between expenditures and revenues. Increased borrowing leads to higher debt service (net interest) which in turn can make it more difficult to balance expenditures and revenues in the future. Chart J shows that by 2030, public debt is projected to rise to 68 percent of GDP, surpassing the non-wartime peak of 49 percent in 1993. By 2040, public debt is projected to be 128 percent of GDP, well above the World War II peak of 109 percent, and by 2080, debt is projected to approach 600 percent of GDP.

At some point before the debt reaches such unprecedented levels, the world’s financial markets would likely cease lending to the United States. Although the precise point at which this would occur is unknown, these projected debt levels cannot be sustained indefinitely. Many economists believe that persistent debt/GDP levels over 100% are unhealthy. The U.S. is projected to surpass that mark within the next 30 years, with the debt/GDP ratio at that point on a continually and dramatically rising trajectory (more than 10 percentage points per decade through 2080). Avoiding the catastrophic consequences of this fiscal path will require action to bring program expenditures in line with available resources. How soon those actions are taken will greatly influence their ultimate impact on the Nation. (page 19)”

The blogger who originally posted these snippets from the 2007 U.S. Financial Report, Steve skojec, adds:

“Did you notice anything off about these two paragraphs? Maybe the idea that we’re fast approaching a debt that’s 600 TIMES THE GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT OF THE WEALTHIEST NATION ON EARTH? How about the fact that the financial report itself characterizes the consequences of this trend as “CATASTROPHIC”?”

==interesting and scary….If this information scares you or is something you have not heard before, you should really check out Ron Paul and some of his speeches on yourtube and else where as he is one of the few politicians who has been trying to warn against the dangerous fiscal policies of our central bank, the federal reserve, as well as the spending habits of the US Federal Government.

U.S. and post World War I German republic share monetary policies, lets pray it does not lead to the same results…

Read a great new post about the US economy and monetary policy here, this is an excerpt:

“…We are reaching a point, however, where the economic issues facing our nation are becoming a grave moral concern. What happens when we run out of money? When foreign countries dump our currency? When the dollar completely tanks? When unemployment soars?

Ever heard of the Weimar Republic? That period of post World War I Germany where inflation had spiralled so far out of control that the German Mark, which had an exchange rate of 4.2 to the American Dollar in 1914 had reached an unfathomable low of 2 TRILLION marks to the dollar by 1923? People were bringing cash to the store by the wheelbarrow full to buy things like a loaf of bread. Nearly 1,800 government printing presses were running around the clock just to produce enough cash. (For more on this aspect of Weimar Germany, go here.)

What had precipitated this massive decline? A huge war debt, financed only partially by taxes. The bulk was paid for by loans, the sale of treasury bills, and an increased monetary supply.

Sound familiar?

We need to get this country’s spending under control. We are making ourselves vulnerable in so many ways. Economic crisis leads to real suffering – extreme poverty, starvation, loss of life…”

Not happy with the three choices for President this year? Makes you wish you voted for Ron Paul, huh?

Just Click play, you might like it:

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