Friday, April 29, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

According to USA Today, more Americans now depend on the the federal government for assistance than at any other time in our nations history, including the Great Depression. 18.3% of the nations total personal income was a payment from the government, whether in the form of Social Security, food stamps, Medicare, unemployment benefits, or other government payments. Earned income accounted for the lowest share of total income- 51%- since the government began tracking the data in 1929. The sharp increase in the transfer of wealth began in earnest in 2008 with the expansion of federal programs and the advent of socialized Medicine in the form of Obamacare. Expect this trend to continue as the population in this country ages and more people are eligible for social security and Medicare. This is the dilemma that leaders in Washington face: exploding social programs for which they have no will to bring under control, and this will be the political battleground for years to come. These numbers point out the fact that as a nation we have to get serious about reforming our social programs to keep them financially viable without confiscating a greater percentage of the income that you and I earn.

Not to brag, but I am good in bed. I can sleep for days.

Prices are going up at the pump, and we all feel the pain when we fill up our cars. President Obama blames the rising prices on speculators. Here is the President's opinion on what is happening,

"The problem is...speculators and people make various bets, and they say, you know what, we think that maybe there is a 20 percent chance that something might happen in the Middle East that might disrupt the oil supply, so we are going to bet that oil is going to go up real high. And that spikes prices significantly."

Oh, really? Here is a reality based alternative that the President might want to consider. Since he has assumed office, our country has embarked on a systematic weakening of our dollar through printing gobs of new dollars through quantitative easing. Not to mention that we have added $4 trillion dollars in new debt over the past two years. All have served to have the effect of making our dollar worth less. And a weaker- cheaper- dollar manifests itself in higher prices for everything we buy. Higher gas prices caused by speculation? I think if we want to find the real cause of higher gas prices, we look no further than our inept and dangerous monetary policy in this country.

My wife wanted me to take her somewhere expensive, so I took her to the gas station.

Forest Laboratories is a $4 billion pharmaceutical company that derives a large portion of its revenue from the sales of Celexa and Lexapro, both anti-depressants. The federal government brought a lawsuit against the company for improper marketing of Celexa as a treatment for children and adolescents  before final approval for this use was given by the Food and Drug Administration. The company settled with the FDA and agreed to pay a $13 million fine. One would think this would be the end of the case, but with the current administration, that is not so. The Department of Health and Human Services has notified Forrest Labs that it can no longer do business with the federal government unless the company removes its CEO. Failure to do so would mean that Forrest Labs could no longer sell its drugs to the Veterans Administration, Medicare, and Medicaid. Barring the company from these sales would be a death blow. This move shows how far the federal government is willing to reach into the affairs of a private business for which it has a conflict. To say that this will have a chilling effect on any company that does business with the federal government is an understatement of gargantuan proportions. Imagine if the CEO of a company that does business with the government is a large donor to the Republican party or to conservative causes and runs afoul of the myriad laws and regulations that come with interacting with the government. This move is indicative of a government that will go to any extreme to insert itself into the inner workings of a legitimate business, and this climate will not be good for business in this country.

In my experience, I have found that the number of people that are paying attention to you is directly proportional to the stupidity of my actions.

And that, my friends, is my view.

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