How Retirement Benefits May Sink the States By Steven Malanga

Illinois is a lesson in why companies are starting to pay more attention to the long-term fiscal prospects of governments..

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently offered a stark assessment of the threat to his state’s future that is posed by mounting pension and retiree health-care bills for government workers. Unless Illinois enacts reform quickly, he said, the costs of these programs will force taxes so high that, “You won’t recruit a business, you won’t recruit a family to live here.”

We’re likely to hear more such worries in coming years. That’s because state and local governments across the country have accumulated several trillion dollars in unfunded retirement promises to public-sector workers, the costs of which will increasingly force taxes higher and crowd out other spending. Already businesses and residents are slowly starting to sit up and notice.

“Companies don’t want to buy shares in a phenomenal tax burden that will unfold over the decades,” the Chicago Tribune observed after Mr. Emanuel issued his warning on April 4. And neither will citizens.

Government retiree costs are likely to play an increasing role in the competition among states for business and people, because these liabilities are not evenly distributed. Some states have enormous retiree obligations that they will somehow have to pay; others have enacted significant reforms, or never made lofty promises to their workers in the first place.

Indiana’s debt for unfunded retiree health-care benefits, for example, amounts to just $81 per person. Neighboring Illinois’s accumulated obligations for the same benefit average $3,399 per person.

Read more from Wall Street Journal

SideBear: As one who is very familiar with Illinois politics, I can state unequivocally that before Illinois changes its ways, the State will go broke first.

Illinois is a one party State (D) and is as blue as blue can get, it is probably the most corrupt State in the union lead by one of the most corrupt cities in the country that just happens to be the murder capitol of the world.

Need I say more?

More Than 50% of Poll Respondents Expect Economy to Get Worse. By Tess Stynes

Consumer spending in the U.S. continued to decline during July as consumer sentiment about the economy waned and expectations about personal finances were unchanged, according to Discover Financial Services’ U.S. Spending Monitor.

The poll index, which tracks economic confidence and spending intentions of about 8,200 consumers a month, declined 1.4 points to 89.3 points last month.

The poll found 28% of respondents view the U.S. economy as improving, down from 29% in June and 33% in May. Roughly 53% of respondents now rate the U.S. economy as poor, unchanged from June.

However the portion of consumers that expect the economy will get worse rose to more than half for the first time this year–up 4 percentage points at 53%–as sentiment among men worsened. The portion of men who indicated expectations the economy will worsen was up 9 percentage points at 57%, while the amount of women who felt that way was unchanged at 50%.

The number of people who said their personal finances were improving was unchanged at 23% in July from June, but was down from 25% during May. Respondents who see their personal finances getting worse was up 2 percentage points to 49%.

While 28% of respondents planned to spend more next month, the increase was driven mostly by an increase in anticipated spending on nondiscretionary items. About 38% of respondents expect to spend more on household expenses.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Something about chickens coming home to roost… By T. Scott

Reuters quietly released a Congressional report telling how a VIP Mortgage program run by the former Countrywide Financial Corporation used this preferential program to sway Congress hopefully to kill any proposed legislation that might hurt that company.

Between 1991 and 2008, Countrywide held virtual control over the sub-prime mortgage market and their efforts at lobbying Congress stopped any meaningful investigation dead in its tracks as the wheels in Congress were liberally greased by Countrywide along with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Well. La Dee Dah………Where have the media been hiding since the early 2000’s when several Republicans asked pointed questions about the financial health of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – these quasi-government entities were the prime purchasers of loans originated or sold through Countrywide ? Remember ?? Barney Frank who sat on the House committee that was supposed to oversee mortgage lenders assured all of us that everything was just fine. We now know that he lied. Chris Dodd who sat on the similar Senate board stated that he did not receive a preferential loan from Countrywide and he was right – this sly corruptocrat received two such loans !! Frank has said he will not seek election this November and Dodd had found greener pastures taking over the Motion Picture slot once held by Jack Valenti. There is something very un-American when someone who is dishonest suffers no loss but is handsomely rewarded by a system that is out of control.

We read that Angelo Mozilo, former chief executive at Countrywide recently paid a fine of some $ 67.5 millions. The harm that was caused by Mozilo was certainly wide-spread and it seems that he will get off with the mentioned fine. Not so for Mr. Madoff who ( we remember )scammed greedy people with his offerings of huge gains but the government decided that Madoff would spend the rest of his days in jail. Madoff did not help kick off a mortgage market meltdown that spread damage far and wide and by any reasonable comparison, Mozilo should be in jail for a term several times as long as Madoff, but justice works slowly, if it works at all.

A quick look at the listing of those in Congress who received contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac up to 2008 shows that Chris Dodd led the group pocketing $ 165,000. Next in line ( and this one is a real puzzlement ) is Barack Obama who was a brand new Senator and even so, he pocketed $ 126,300 followed by John Kerry who grabbed third spot with his greedy $ 111,000 in funds.

All of this points to a very real and terribly serious problem in Washington. In 2009, there were some 12,577 registered lobbyists in Washington and together, they disposed of $ 1.62 billion dollars in the performance of their lobbying efforts. Do the math – the 535 members of Congress were all swimming in a pool of special interest money. We, as citizens, vote for people to represent us and our interests. There are some who of us who allow naive thoughts that the letter they write to their representative really means something but looking again at the tremendous impact this herd of lobbyists exert across our Capitol tells a very sorry story – that our government has no time for us – there are too many lobbyists to see, too many hands to shake and too many special interest deals to make.

Our government is thoroughly out of control.

This control factor is more easily amplified when we look at laws our own government passed, but will not enforce. We read of individual states efforts to pick up the law enforcement slack – Arizona for one – and we also read that the government that will not perform has taken Arizona to court in an effort to stop Arizona from doing what should have been done long ago. In Florida, a Federal judge stopped the purging of voter lists, we read that the defense of Marriage Act has been reduced to toilet tissue and efforts to improve the positively awful education system have been stopped deal in their tracks. Far worse, we read that teacher unions are demanding that vouchers which might enable a child to receive a decent education be stopped and they have issued threats should any government function seek to aid a child by making vouchers available.. Voter intimidation that was an open and shut case will not be properly handled, trials of terrorists held at Gitmo linger for how long ??? and the fate of the Ft. Hood shooter is nowhere to be found in media reporting. As for Fast and Furious and the Department of Justice gun-running scheme, there might be truth made public long after most of us are dead as the stack of cover-ups nearly reaches the ceiling and contempt citations are meaningless as there is no organization empowered to enforce those citations against the very departmnent charged with the maintenance of justice.. Government runs by a different set of laws as can be clearly seen and all who dishonor their oath in this regard should be hauled before a judge..

We The People have no options but to wrest control of our government in a decisive manner by taking firm control of both houses of Congress and the White House. To start to balance our budget, we need to severely reduce the size and complexity of our central government that has grown so large that it truthfully does not know what either its right or left hands are doing – worse, it doesn’t know where either hand is at any moment.The entitlement racket must be shown for the counter-productive feature that it is and all entitlements need to be carefully reviewed to insure that only the very needy receive help. The economy can recover only if the volumes of silly government regulations are tossed into the nearest incinerator and proposed legislation that will increase any aspect of business costs needs to see the trash can. The government should not be a hiring depot for the mentally challenged or irresponsible along with those who have shirked payment of their taxes, taken graft and done all of those self-enrichment things the rest of trusting America reads about in disbelief. Daily disclosures of fraud in this or that Federal program cost the nation billions and billions of dollars and yet, our bureaucracy cannot seem to be concerned, our Congress works hard to hide their collective yawns and We The People end up paying the cost of all of these illegal or certainly improper actions – – – – – and we are not the ones who did the things that caused these many messes…. those we actually hire to run government and were well paid to to this job should all be punished as would happen to any person in our civilian world, certainly not allowed to retire with generous pensions and health benefits they negotiate for themselves but deny all of us. .

In short, America must become what it was designed to be and very little more than that. It must be established for once and for all time that our government is ” of the people, by the people and for the people ‘ and all elected officials must adhere to that basic tenet of our law as well as our Constitution which the Democrats and Obama seem to think is their personal wad of silly putty to be shaped as they wish

Our economy can again be vibrant and productive but only if government is prevented from seeking new ways to hamper business growth as seems to be its present way of doing the people’s business.

Chemotherapy can backfire and boost cancer growth: study

Cancer-busting chemotherapy can cause damage to healthy cells which triggers them to secrete a protein that sustains tumour growth and resistance to further treatment, a study said Sunday.

Researchers in the United States made the “completely unexpected” finding while seeking to explain why cancer cells are so resilient inside the human body when they are easy to kill in the lab.

Read more here…

January 21, 2013 Chicago, IL