Item: The Washington Post for March 31 reported: “The billions of dollars spent in U.S. aid to Afghanistan over the past seven years have been largely wasted, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday. ‘For those of you who have been on the ground in Afghanistan, you have seen with your own eyes that a lot of these aid programs don’t work,’ she said. ‘There are so many problems with them. There are problems of design, there are problems of staffing, there are problems of implementation, there are problems of accountability. You just go down the line.’ Clinton called the amount of money spent without results ‘heartbreaking.’”
Dave Ramsey on Thursday evening, April 23, held a town hall-style meeting in Oklahoma City that was webcast to about 6,000 sites, mostly churches, across the country. Ramsey, who has carved out a professional niche as a Christian financial adviser, hosts his own syndicated radio show and also regularly appears on the Fox Business Network. Creator of the Financial Peace University, Ramsey encourages a life free of debt and living within one's means. This involves not using a credit card, having an emergency fund in the bank to pay for three-to-six months of expenses, and buying only things you can afford.
President Obama on April 10 emerged from a high-level meeting with his economic team and proclaimed there were “glimmers of hope across the economy.” He believed some of those “glimmers” included his stimulus program and infrastructure work that he labeled “progress toward getting the economy back on track.” Nevertheless, he was forced to admit that unemployment had hit a 25-year high of 8.5 percent in March, and many Americans are still losing their homes and jobs.
Next up for the federal government: the credit card industry. Having already thrown trillions in taxpayer dollars at the banking sector, and having moved to nationalize several of the nation’s largest banks by buying up preferred shares of stock, the Obama Administration now has the credit card sector in its sights.
Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the TARP, informed Congress April 21 that he has opened 20 criminal investigations and six audits in connection with improper dispensation of bailout funds under TARP. The $700 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) has a “great inherent danger” for fraud, and he says in his 250-page report to Congress that losses from fraud could end up exceeding $300 billion.
The BBC reported on April 14 that one city in Egypt, Damietta, still has zero unemployment in these difficult economic times. That’s surprising, but what makes this even more surprising is that the city specializes in manufacturing furniture, often high-end furniture, for export. This isn’t just micro-manufacturing in a small town either. It is estimated that there are over 60,000 furniture shops in the city.
Suppose we had conducted a national opinion poll a few months ago to canvass Americans on their opinions of the G20. Most respondents, it is probably safe to say, would not have had the slightest idea whether you were asking them about a new smart phone, the trendiest fashion footwear, or the latest fat-burner diet drink.
ITEM: An editorial entitled "The Federal Reserve acts boldly to ease credit conditions" in the Seattle Times for March 20 commented: "The Federal Reserve decision to pump another trillion dollars [more precisely: $1.15 trillion] into the economy still has the capacity to raise eyebrows."
President Barack Obama’s statement last Friday that we’re “starting to see ... glimmers of hope across the economy” has gotten quite a bit of publicity. What has gotten less coverage is the president’s rationale for being so optimistic in the face of bad economic news such as the unemployment rate, which rose to 8.5 percent last month, the highest unemployment rate in over a quarter of a century. (This figure does not take into account long-term unemployed who have given up looking for jobs.)
After a record $192.3 billion federal budget deficit for March, the U.S. Treasury Department reported a $956.8 billion federal deficit for the first half of fiscal 2009 — already nearly $1 trillion. As the Treasury published the news of the deficit, President Obama told the press on April 10, “What we’re starting to see is glimmers of hope across the economy.”
Sometimes one wonders what it will take to wake people up and shake people up. It can become tiresome being labeled a kook, a nutjob, a conspiracy whacko — by both Democrats and Republicans, “liberals” and “conservatives” — all for merely pointing out what is obvious and easily verifiable. Thus, there is a certain satisfying sense of vindication when the labelers finally admit that maybe you weren’t really crazy after all. Maybe your warnings about the dangers of the steady transfers of power and money to an ever-proliferating international bureaucracy weren’t so far out. Maybe the United Nations really is being built into an all-powerful world government. And … maybe we should finally get concerned about all of that!