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Archive for March, 2008

As Jobs Vanish and Prices Rise, Food Stamp Use Nears Record
By ERIK ECKHOLM

Driven by a painful mix of layoffs and rising food and fuel prices, the number of Americans receiving food stamps is projected to reach 28 million in the coming year, the highest level since the aid program began in the 1960s.

The number of recipients, who must have near-poverty incomes to qualify for benefits averaging $100 a month per family member, has fluctuated over the years along with economic conditions, eligibility rules, enlistment drives and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, which led to a spike in the South.

But recent rises in many states appear to be resulting mainly from the economic slowdown, officials and experts say, as well as inflation in prices of basic goods that leave more families feeling pinched. Citing expected growth in unemployment, the Congressional Budget Office this month projected a continued increase in the monthly number of recipients in the next fiscal year, starting Oct. 1 — to 28 million, up from 27.8 million in 2008, and 26.5 million in 2007.

The percentage of Americans receiving food stamps was higher after a recession in the 1990s, but actual numbers are expected to be higher this year.

Federal benefit costs are projected to rise to $36 billion in the 2009 fiscal year from $34 billion this year.

“People sign up for food stamps when they lose their jobs, or their wages go down because their hours are cut,” said Stacy Dean, director of food stamp policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, who noted that 14 states saw their rolls reach record numbers by last December.

One example is Michigan, where one in eight residents now receives food stamps. “Our caseload has more than doubled since 2000, and we’re at an all-time record level,” said Maureen Sorbet, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Human Services.

The climb in food stamp recipients there has been relentless, through economic upturns and downturns, reflecting a steady loss of industrial jobs that has pushed recipient levels to new highs in Ohio and Illinois as well.

“We’ve had poverty here for a good while,” Ms. Sorbet said. Contributing to the rise, she added, Michigan, like many other states, has also worked to make more low-end workers aware of their eligibility, and a switch from coupons to electronic debit cards has reduced the stigma.

Some states have experienced more recent surges. From December 2006 to December 2007, more than 40 states saw recipient numbers rise, and in several — Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, North Dakota and Rhode Island — the one-year growth was 10 percent or more.

In Rhode Island, the number of recipients climbed by 18 percent over the last two years, to more than 84,000 as of February, or about 8.4 percent of the population. This is the highest total in the last dozen years or more, said Bob McDonough, the state’s administrator of family and adult services, and reflects both a strong enlistment effort and an upward creep in unemployment.

In New York, a program to promote enrollment increased food stamp rolls earlier in the decade, but the current climb in applications appears in part to reflect economic hardship, said Michael Hayes, spokesman for the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The additional 67,000 clients added from July 2007 to January of this year brought total recipients to 1.86 million, about one in 10 New Yorkers.

Nutrition and poverty experts praise food stamps as a vital safety net that helped eliminate the severe malnutrition seen in the country as recently as the 1960s. But they also express concern about what they called the gradual erosion of their value.

Food stamps are an entitlement program, with eligibility guidelines set by Congress and the federal government paying for benefits while states pay most administrative costs.

Eligibility is determined by a complex formula, but basically recipients must have few assets and incomes below 130 percent of the poverty line, or less than $27,560 for a family of four.

As a share of the national population, food stamp use was highest in 1994, after several years of poor economic growth, with an average of 27.5 million recipients per month from a lower total of residents. The numbers plummeted in the late 1990s as the economy grew and legal immigrants and certain others were excluded.

But access by legal immigrants has been partly restored and, in the current decade, the federal and state governments have used advertising and other measures to inform people of their eligibility and have often simplified application procedures.

Because they spend a higher share of their incomes on basic needs like food and fuel, low-income Americans have been hit hard by soaring gasoline and heating costs and jumps in the prices of staples like milk, eggs and bread.

At the same time, average family incomes among the bottom fifth of the population have been stagnant or have declined in recent years at levels around $15,500, said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

The benefit levels, which can amount to many hundreds of dollars for families with several children, are adjusted each June according to the price of a bare-bones “thrifty food plan,” as calculated by the Department of Agriculture. Because food prices have risen by about 5 percent this year, benefit levels will rise similarly in June — months after the increase in costs for consumers.

Advocates worry more about the small but steady decline in real benefits since 1996, when the “standard deduction” for living costs, which is subtracted from family income to determine eligibility and benefit levels, was frozen. If that deduction had continued to rise with inflation, the average mother with two children would be receiving an additional $37 a month, according to the private Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Both houses of Congress have passed bills that would index the deduction to the cost of living, but the measures are part of broader agriculture bills that appear unlikely to pass this year because of disagreements with the White House over farm policy.

Another important federal nutrition program known as WIC, for women, infants and children, is struggling with rising prices of milk and cheese, and growing enrollment.

The program, for households with incomes no higher than 185 percent of the federal poverty level, provides healthy food and nutrition counseling to 8.5 million pregnant women, and children through the age of 4. WIC is not an entitlement like food stamps, and for the fiscal year starting in October, Congress may have to approve a large increase over its current budget of $6 billion if states are to avoid waiting lists for needy mothers and babies.

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Now we turn to bills that are moving through congress to attempt to fix the mortgage ‘crisis’.

Congress returns to Washington, D.C., next week with one big thing on its mind: the economy — and how to deal with a crisis that extends from Main Street to Wall Street. The Bush administration is resisting promising money to homeowners caught in the mortgage crisis. But Democrats in Congress, including both presidential candidates, disagree.

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The suggestions that are out there should be of major concern to everyone. One bill by Durbin is proposing to allow bankruptcy judges to restructure mortgage loans.

Guess what, if this goes into play than getting a mortgage loan will be MUCH MUCH more difficult? Why you ask? Simple. If a Bank believes that you now will have the ability to breach your contract by simply saying to a judge that you cannot pay your mortgage then they will assess this new risk with a much higher rate for everyone across the board. Contracts now having the ability to be redone by a judge sends a DANGEROUS signal to banks and sets a very dangerous precedent. The banks can easily say that loans will be 20% now.

Legislators like in more cases, are quick to act to things without looking at the whole picture. And in their zeal to try and patch things up quickly, they fail to fix anything and generally compound the issue and make it much worse.

Such is the case we saw and will be seeing in the coming weeks with the supposed “stimulus package”. A great feel good piece of legislation that will do little to stimulate the economy and a lot in fostering more fear in a pending recession.

Recessions again are healthy people. Its not the end of the world in a recession. Things get more difficult but after everyone resets financial markets reset, our economy gets stronger in the end, we get wiser with our money and we are off the races again.

Sadly democrats don’t get that, and are choosing to react to hastily with many of their proposals. The Durbin bill is just one of the disasters that democrats are creating. Another by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd proposes that FHA now take on and assume the mortgages on these foreclosed homes.

Link here

Here is how this would work.

1) The Mortgage company would write down the value of a home some 50-75%.

2) The borrower would have to pay the FHA insurance, think PMI here.

3) Any additional equity gained on the property would now he shared with the federal government.

So now the Government owns part of your home essentially.

Think about the overall implications about this for a minute from a economics stand point. Remove the knee jerk emotional reaction to this for just 1 minute.

The first part of the plan is now asking the bank to basically break the original contract with the borrower, which the borrower SIGNED. It also is telling the bank to drop that value of the new loan they will finance 25-50% so that the home owner can stay in the home. Look at the implications regarding contract agreements. The implications on mortgages moving forward and the increased risk now going into play for the banks to finance a mortgage that can down the line possibly be restructured at 50% of what they originally financed it for.

The second part isn’t that much different than FHA. No big deal right?
Wrong, essentially the federal government is now on the hook for the home should the homeowner just walk away. Which they still can. There is nothing there that says they have to stay there.

The third part tells you the homeowner that the equity in the home is now going to the federal government and not to you. You save your home in the process, your credit is still shot to crap, but you are staying in a home that you couldn’t afford before and you are now not going to reap the benefits of a home, such as the equity it creates. See the problem here?

Here is the next thing, what is to stop a homeowner in a home now from simply forcing himself into a pre foreclosure for the benefit of lowering his mortgage payments up to 50%? A person making their payments and saying, wait, I can save 50% on my mortgage so let me take part in this program. They can clearly afford it but they’ll take that hit and buy another property with the 50% savings.

These proposals are knee jerk reactions that are only going to damage things further. Just like we should not be bailing out Investment Banks with structuring their debt under a federal guarantee to some other bank, we should not be getting into the mortgage business for people that handled their OWN finances improperly. In the end the people that got into these ARMS did not plan things out correctly and did things haphazardly.

What is it with democrats and republicans that insist on carrying peoples loads for them. Be it a bank of an individual. What is it with the American Society that we are being so coddled that people and companies can’t even take responsibility on their own for their own mistakes? When did we become this society that needs to bail everyone out when they mess things up?

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Investment Houses Borrow Billions From Fed’s Emergency Lending ProgramWASHINGTON (AP) — Big Wall Street investment companies are taking advantage of the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented offer to secure emergency loans, the central bank reported Thursday.

The lending is part of a major effort by the Fed to help a financial system in danger of freezing.

Those large firms averaged $13.4 billion in daily borrowing over the past week from the new lending facility. The report does not identify the borrowers.

The Fed, in a bold move Sunday, agreed for the first time to let big investment houses get emergency loans directly from the central bank. This mechanism, similar to one available for commercial banks for years, got under way Monday and will continue for at least six months. It was the broadest use of the Fed’s lending authority since the 1930s.

Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley said Wednesday they had begun to test the new lending mechanism.

On Wednesday alone, lending reached $28.8 billion, according to the Fed report.

The Fed created a way for financially strapped investment firms to have regular access to a source of short-term cash. This lending facility is seen as similar to the Fed’s “discount window” for banks. Commercial banks and investment companies pay 2.5 percent in interest for overnight loans from the Fed.

Investment houses can put up a range of collateral, including investment-grade mortgage backed securities.

The Fed, in another rare move last Friday, agreed to let JP Morgan Chase secure emergency financing from the central bank to rescue the venerable Wall Street firm Bear Stearns from collapse. Two days later, the Fed back a deal for JP Morgan to take over Bear Stearns.

Thursday’s report offered insight on how much credit was extended to Bear Stearns via JP Morgan through the transaction the Fed approved last Friday. Average daily borrowing came to $5.5 billion for the week ending Wednesday.

Separately, the Fed said it will make $75 billion of Treasury securities available to big investment firms next week. Investment houses can bid on a slice of the securities at a Fed auction next Thursday; a second is set for April 3.

The Fed will allow investment firms to borrow up to $200 billion in safe Treasury securities by using some of their more risky investments as collateral.

By allowing this, the Fed is hoping to take pressure off financial companies and make them more inclined to lend to people and businesses.

The housing collapse and credit crunch have led to record-high home foreclosures and forced financial companies to rack up multibillion losses in complex mortgage investments that turned sour.

In the past day and weeks, the Fed has taken extraordinary moves aimed at making sure that problems in credit and financial markets do not sink the economy.[/QUOTE]

There is a reason for this folks, and some people are not going to like the answer. Particularly those that don’t understand why the investment banks are getting this money. And those die hard Clinton supporters but here goes. Republicans don’t go unscathed here either as Senator Phil Gramm was a supporter of this act as well.

In 1999 the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act went into effect. It repealed the Glass Steagall Act which prevented banks from offering services to Investment banks, commercial banks and insurance companies.

Because of this new act large companies began to consolidate left and right, Citibank merged with Travelers group and JP Morgan merged with Chase. Mega ventures were now being created, further merging wall street investment firms with main street banks.

These new ventures are part of the underlying problem we have today.
Now we are seeking to fix the problem by increasing more regulation on Investment firms.
Most of them are still being mulled over but many are calling for some serious restrictions on banking firms.
Stay tuned for the madness.

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Trustees for the government’s two biggest benefit programs warned Tuesday that Social Security and Medicare are facing “enormous challenges” with the threat to Medicare’s solvency far more severe.

The trustees, issuing a once-a-year analysis of the government’s two biggest benefit programs, said the resources in the Social Security trust fund will be depleted by 2041. The reserves in the Medicare trust fund that pays hospital benefits were projected to be wiped out by 2019.

Both those dates were the same as in last year’s report. But the trustees warned that financial pressures will begin much sooner when the programs begin paying out more in benefits each year than they collect in payroll taxes. For Medicare, that threshhold is projected to be reached this year and for Social Security it is projected to occur in 2017.

The first year that payments will exceed income for Social Security will occur in 2017, just nine years from now, reflecting growing demands from the retirement of 78 million baby boomers. Medicare is projected to pay out more than it receives in income starting this year.

“The financial difficulties facing Social Security and Medicare pose enormous challenges,” the trustees said in their report. “The sooner these challenges are addressed, the more varied and less disruptive their solutions can be.”

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, one of the trustees, warned that the country was facing a fiscal train wreck unless something is done.

“Without change, rising costs will drive government spending to unprecedented levels, consume nearly all projected federal revenues and threaten America’s future prosperity,” Paulson said in releasing the new report. “Our nation needs a bipartisan effort to strengthen both programs for future retirees.”

President Bush, who wanted to make overhauling Social Security his top domestic priority in his second term, tapped Paulson to lead that effort. However, Paulson has been unable to forge a consensus with Democrats, who took control of Congress in 2006.

Democrats contend that Bush lost valuable time after his 2004 re- election pushing a plan to allow younger workers to direct their payroll tax contributions into private accounts, an idea that went nowhere in Congress.

While the Social Security trust fund will have resources until 2041, the more critical date in terms of government revenues will occur in That is the date that Social Security will have to pay out more in benefits than it collects in payroll taxes. At present, Social Security is running large surpluses that are going to fund the rest of government.

However, in 2017, the situation will be reversed and the government will have to start filling the gap between what Social Security will be collecting in payroll taxes and what it must pay out. Technically, it will do that by redeeming the non-marketable Treasury securities that are held in the trust fund. However, those bonds are simply government IOUs.

To get the money to pay the benefits, the government will have to borrow or close the gap in other ways such as cutting benefits or raising taxes.

This is of no shock to me.
It shouldn’t be to anyone.
USA Today recently did an analysis on this very issue with the same results.
But Democrats but like most liberals believe that creating more social programs will solve the problem we have today. Its why plans like the proposed Universal Health Care program will fail.

They won’t cut benefits, so the only obvious solution will be to raise taxes. Its the only way they know how to do things. The recent legislation to push for an expanded medical program was funded entirely with increases in cigarette taxes. What happens when those taxes aren’t collected? Will they cut the program? Doubt it.

This will make it all the more fun to watch a Democrat win this election year.

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What started as a small, online grassroots effort now appears to have the potential for something bigger.Dan Little, the owner/operator of a livestock hauling company in Carrollton, Mo., estimated Tuesday that at least 1,000 other truckers from across the United States have committed so far to joining him in a strike on April 1.

Although none of the truckers interviewed Tuesday at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop, Walcott, which is just off Interstate 80 west of Davenport, has heard of the intended strike, some said they would shut down, too.

Weldon Kinnison, a Virginia trucker who was hauling soft drink from Indiana to Denver, heard about the plans for a strike for the first time Tuesday while stopping at Walcott.

“I’m an owner/operator with the American Truckers Association,” he said. “I’d park my truck for a week with the cattle haulers.

“The fuel is too high, and there’s no reason for it. I don’t listen to the CB (radio) that much, but I guess I’ll start now.”

At issue is the rising cost of diesel fuel, which has reached or exceeded $4 per gallon in at least 17 states. But Little does not expect his strike to bring down the per-gallon price of gas, nor does he expect to have any effect on the oil companies.

“What I would personally like to see is our federal and state governments, until our economy recovers, suspend federal and state fuel taxes,” the 49-year-old said. “The second thing I’d like to see is an oversight committee for truck insurance, which is part of what’s taking us down.

“The average owner/operator is paying $600 to $800 a month for truck insurance. It’s based on personal credit, which means the monthly cost is going up for a lot of truckers because their credit is going down.

“Everything in the world is going up (in price), except for what we do. I lose money if I start my truck, and that truck is paid for — free and clear.”

Mike Hills, a driver from Wyoming, Iowa, said he also would shut down to support Little and the others — if he could.

“I can’t strike with them because I’m company,” he said while at the Walcott truck stop. “If I owned the truck, I’d strike with them. As far as I’m concerned, the gas prices are driving the economy.

“It might be a good thing if the drivers strike. They can’t make payments. Maybe if the oil companies bought all the trucks, things would change. Everything in this country is trucked.”

Hills then removed his wristwatch, using it to explain his point of view: “Every piece of this watch was trucked from somewhere. If you can’t keep up with the trucks, we’re all screwed — not just this country, but the world.”

Keith Deblieck, the owner of a trucking company out of Geneseo, Ill., said that, for many drivers, the time for a strike has come.

“They ought to strike,” he said. “We all ought to. They lose money every day they go out.”

But officials from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are encouraging truckers to find options to a strike. The trade group represents the interests of more than 160,000 small business trucking companies and drivers.

“If we told our operators to shut down, we’d be slapped with a lawsuit because of anti-trust,” said association spokeswoman Norita Taylor, adding that a poor economic outlook and rising fuel prices are creating “a lot of emotions” among truckers.

“It’s hurting these people who are living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “People are upset. What can we do?”

One thing the association is trying to do is talk to lawmakers and truckers about making sure that surcharges being charged to shippers are getting back to the people who paid for the gas. Surcharges are supposed to compensate for high fuel charges, but they must be negotiated with each shipper, and the truckers who pay at the pump aren’t always first in line to receive the surcharges.

Even when the surcharges do make it back to the driver, they are not enough.

“I turn down loads every day,” Little said. “The loads aren’t the problem — never have been.

“It’s the only thing I know how to do, driving a truck. But I sold my trailer the other day, and I’m not buying another one until something gets done.

“In no way, shape or form do truckers want to hurt this country. My whole deal on this thing is that I’m shutting down on April 1. Call it a strike, a shutdown or just flat-ass going broke.”

Jim Johnston, president of Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, warned that a strike “is not the answer,” saying, “Calling for a strike without the support of the majority would show weakness rather than strength, and the result would be increased economic hardship to the small percentage of truckers who do participate in the shutdown with no gains to justify their sacrifice.”

Little said he has no other choice.

“Our federal government is subsidizing railroads, airlines, banks and farmers,” he said. “Meanwhile, we’re being taxed to death.”

If truckers across the country strike things could get very ugly.
This economy is already slowing down, trucks stopping will grind the nations to a halt.

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CATASTROPHIC predictions of global warming usually conjure with the notion of a tipping point, a point of no return.

Last Monday – on ABC Radio National, of all places – there was a tipping point of a different kind in the debate on climate change. It was a remarkable interview involving the co-host of Counterpoint, Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. Anyone in public life who takes a position on the greenhouse gas hypothesis will ignore it at their peril.Duffy asked Marohasy: “Is the Earth stillwarming?”

She replied: “No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you’d expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years.”

Duffy: “Is this a matter of any controversy?”

Marohasy: “Actually, no. The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it. He talks about the apparent plateau in temperatures so far this century. So he recognises that in this century, over the past eight years, temperatures have plateaued … This is not what you’d expect, as I said, because if carbon dioxide is driving temperature then you’d expect that, given carbon dioxide levels have been continuing to increase, temperatures should be going up … So (it’s) very unexpected, not something that’s being discussed. It should be being discussed, though, because it’s very significant.”

Duffy: “It’s not only that it’s not discussed. We never hear it, do we? Whenever there’s any sort of weather event that can be linked into the global warming orthodoxy, it’s put on the front page. But a fact like that, which is that global warming stopped a decade ago, is virtually never reported, which is extraordinary.”

Duffy then turned to the question of how the proponents of the greenhouse gas hypothesis deal with data that doesn’t support their case. “People like Kevin Rudd and Ross Garnaut are speaking as though the Earth is still warming at an alarming rate, but what is the argument from the other side? What would people associated with the IPCC say to explain the (temperature) dip?”

Marohasy: “Well, the head of the IPCC has suggested natural factors are compensating for the increasing carbon dioxide levels and I guess, to some extent, that’s what sceptics have been saying for some time: that, yes, carbon dioxide will give you some warming but there are a whole lot of other factors that may compensate or that may augment the warming from elevated levels of carbon dioxide.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the impact of the sun and that maybe we’re going to go through or are entering a period of less intense solar activity and this could be contributing to the current cooling.”

Duffy: “Can you tell us about NASA’s Aqua satellite, because I understand some of the data we’re now getting is quite important in our understanding of how climate works?”

Marohasy: “That’s right. The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you’ve got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you’re going to get a positive feedback. That’s what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite … (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they’re actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you’re getting a negative rather than a positive feedback.”

Duffy: “The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?”

Marohasy: “That’s right … These findings actually aren’t being disputed by the meteorological community. They’re having trouble digesting the findings, they’re acknowledging the findings, they’re acknowledging that the data from NASA’s Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they’re about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide.”

Duffy: “From what you’re saying, it sounds like the implications of this could beconsiderable …”

Marohasy: “That’s right, very much so. The policy implications are enormous. The meteorological community at the moment is really just coming to terms with the output from this NASA Aqua satellite and (climate scientist) Roy Spencer’s interpretation of them. His work is published, his work is accepted, but I think people are still in shock at this point.”

If Marohasy is anywhere near right about the impending collapse of the global warming paradigm, life will suddenly become a whole lot more interesting.

A great many founts of authority, from the Royal Society to the UN, most heads of government along with countless captains of industry, learned professors, commentators and journalists will be profoundly embarrassed. Let us hope it is a prolonged and chastening experience.

With catastrophe off the agenda, for most people the fog of millennial gloom will lift, at least until attention turns to the prospect of the next ice age. Among the better educated, the sceptical cast of mind that is the basis of empiricism will once again be back in fashion. The delusion that by recycling and catching public transport we can help save the planet will quickly come to be seen for the childish nonsense it was all along.

The poorest Indians and Chinese will be left in peace to work their way towards prosperity, without being badgered about the size of their carbon footprint, a concept that for most of us will soon be one with Nineveh and Tyre, clean forgotten in six months.

The scores of town planners in Australia building empires out of regulating what can and can’t be built on low-lying shorelines will have to come to terms with the fact inundation no longer impends and find something more plausible to do. The same is true of the bureaucrats planning to accommodate “climate refugees”.

Penny Wong’s climate mega-portfolio will suddenly be as ephemeral as the ministries for the year 2000 that state governments used to entrust to junior ministers. Malcolm Turnbull will have to reinvent himself at vast speed as a climate change sceptic and the Prime Minister will have to kiss goodbye what he likes to call the great moral issue and policy challenge of our times.

It will all be vastly entertaining to watch.

THE Age published an essay with an environmental theme by Ian McEwan on March 8 and its stablemate, The Sydney Morning Herald, also carried a slightly longer version of the same piece.

The Australian’s Cut & Paste column two days later reproduced a telling paragraph from the Herald’s version, which suggested that McEwan was a climate change sceptic and which The Age had excised. He was expanding on the proposition that “we need not only reliable data but their expression in the rigorous use of statistics”.

What The Age decided to spare its readers was the following: “Well-meaning intellectual movements, from communism to post-structuralism, have a poor history of absorbing inconvenient fact or challenges to fundamental precepts. We should not ignore or suppress good indicators on the environment, though they have become extremely rare now. It is tempting to the layman to embrace with enthusiasm the latest bleak scenario because it fits the darkness of our soul, the prevailing cultural pessimism. The imagination, as Wallace Stevens once said, is always at the end of an era. But we should be asking, or expecting others to ask, for the provenance of the data, the assumptions fed into the computer model, the response of the peer review community, and so on. Pessimism is intellectually delicious, even thrilling, but the matter before us is too serious for mere self-pleasuring. It would be self-defeating if the environmental movement degenerated into a religion of gloomy faith. (Faith, ungrounded certainty, is no virtue.)”

The missing sentences do not appear anywhere else in The Age’s version of the essay. The attribution reads: “Copyright Ian McEwan 2008” and there is no acknowledgment of editing by The Age.

Why did the paper decide to offer its readers McEwan lite? Was he, I wonder, consulted on the matter? And isn’t there a nice irony that The Age chose to delete the line about ideologues not being very good at “absorbing inconvenient fact”?

Inconvenient indeed.

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The man has a great point for MOST of the video.
This bailout and the continuous printing of money is a very large problem.
Moving forward we are going to have to correct inflationary pressures by increasing rates substantially.
He also adds excellent points on Japan.

There is nothing wrong with a recession, they clean out issues in the market, and in the end the economy becomes stronger.

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