“The Buck knife saved my leg and maybe my life at least once when I carelessly caught a pant leg in the anchor winch.” So writes “Old Fool,” the retired aviator and mariner who writes a colorful blog on various and sundry things at www.oldfool.org.
The Obama administration has recently reduced by 60,000 the number of jobs created or preserved by stimulus funds. The acknowledged overstatement of jobs underscores the problem with all government statistics: There is an inherent bias to report success and no real incentive to report problems.
Thanks to how the Internal Revenue Service implemented President Barack Obama’s tax break last spring, more than 15 million taxpayers may owe the government either $250 or $400 more for their 2009 income tax. The tax break has decreased the amount of tax withheld for 95 percent of working families, but millions will find that they need to pay back the government for not withholding enough.
General Motors has received $50 billion in taxpayer assistance, yet even as the company cuts thousands of jobs at U.S. locations, it is considering investing billions of those taxpayer dollars on overseas operations. GM maintains that only through a strong international presence can it remain competitive and profitable, but critics say that the taxpayer money was meant to preserve U.S. jobs.
The U.S. federal government possesses the largest stockpile of gold in the world, but even with record high prices, it isn’t likely to be selling any. In fact, other countries and global central banks are building up their gold reserves as the dollar’s value plummets.
The federal deficit for October reached a record-setting level for that month: $176 billion. The Treasury Department made the announcement on November 13, saying the shortfall occurred as income of $135 billion was exceeded by $311 billion in spending.
Many small banks are turning down federal money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) because they recognize that it comes with too many strings attached. Additionally, the small businesses they primarily cater to “need lines of customers, not lines of credit,” as ABC News put it on November 9.
The unemployment rate shot from 9.8 percent in September to 10.2 percent in October, the highest it has been since 1983, the Labor Department reported on November 6. In response, the Obama administration is set to sign a $24-billion economic stimulus bill.