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Hollywood’s Superheroes, Family Movies Boosted by China in 2016 

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The revenue from the world’s second-largest movie market accounted for 13 percent of the $13.5 billion generated by the top 20 movies from U.S. studios.

Lisa Richwine reports: China’s moviegoers embraced big-screen superheroes, cartoon animals and a video game-turned-action flick in 2016, adding $1.8 billion in ticket sales to Hollywood’s 20 highest-grossing films of the year.

The revenue from the world’s second-largest movie market accounted for 13 percent of the $13.5 billion generated by the top 20 movies from U.S. studios, according to a Reuters analysis of data from tracking firm Box Office Mojo. That was triple the 4 percent level five years ago.

The numbers illustrate China’s growing importance to U.S. studios such as Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) Disney Studios, Time Warner Inc‘s (TWX.N) Warner Bros. and Comcast Corp’s (CMCSA.O) Universal Pictures.

While China’s booming box office growth stalled this year in single digits, the country remains vital for Hollywood studios, box office analysts said. In 2016, China overtook the United States as the country with the largest number of movie screens.

Most of the top Hollywood movies would have reached the top of the film charts without China. But the additional revenue is significant, especially for blockbuster films that can cost $200 million or more to make.

“You can grab an extra hundred million (dollars) of revenue from the Chinese market,” said Jonathan Papish, film industry analyst for China Film Insider. “You can’t do that anywhere else in the world.”

Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) animated “Zootopia,” known in China as “Crazy Animal City,” was Hollywood’s biggest hit there, with $236 million in ticket sales, and ranked as the third-highest-grossing movie worldwide. China’s film authorities extended the movie’s theatrical run by two weeks beyond the typical 30 days for foreign films. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Johnny Depp Heads List of World’s Most Overpaid Paid Actors, 2015

Depp

 


Meet The African-American Billionaire Businessman Who’s Richer Than Michael Jordan

Robert F. Smith makes his debut on the Forbes 400 as the second-richest African-American, based on years of hard work and high achievement in the software industry….(read more)

Source: Forbes


The Mystery of Hillary’s Missing Millions 

hillary-clinton-hollywood-money

If the Clintons made $230 million, spent $135 million and have just $45 million left over, what happened to the other $50 million?

Dan Alexander reports: Since Bill and Hillary Clinton left the White House in 2001, they have earned more than $230 million. But in federal filings the Clintons claim they are worth somewhere between $11 million and $53 million. After layering years of disclosures on top of annual tax returns, Forbes estimates their combined net worth at $45 million. Where did all of the money go? No one seems to know, and the Clintons aren’t offering any answers.

“I don’t see how that would be possible…That’s quite a quite a mystery you have on your hands.”

— Jim Gilmore

From 2001 to 2014 the power couple spent $95 million on taxes. Hillary’s 2008 presidential run cost her $13 million. Their two homes cost a combined $5 million, and the Clintons have given away $22 million to charity. All of this is according to FEC filings, property records and years of tax returns. Add it up and you get $135 million. If the Clintons made $230 million, spent $135 million and have just $45 million left over, what happened to the other $50 million?

“That’s kind of strange,” says Joe Biden’s accountant, Walter Deyhle. “You have to report all of your assets. You have to report assets that are owned by your spouse.”

“That’s kind of strange. You have to report all of your assets. You have to report assets that are owned by your spouse.”

— Joe Biden’s accountant, Walter Deyhle.

It seems unlikely that the Clintons could have spent all of it. Over 14 years $50 million averages out to $3.6 million in extra expenses per year, or $9,800 per day.

WHERE COULD THAT much money have disappeared? The Clintons have been speaking around the world for years, and they count millions in travel expenses under their businesses. It is unclear whether they have paid for additional travel expenses out of their own PANTSUIT-REPORTpockets. It seems unlikely, but they could have given it away overseas: Donations to foreign charities are not deductible and would not be listed on tax returns. Billionaires like Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, Lakshmi Mittal of India and Joseph Safra of Brazil have donated to their foundation. Maybe the Clintons are returning the favor?

Or maybe they have given millions to their daughter, Chelsea, although she has plenty of her own money, after working for years and marrying hedge fund manager Marc Mezvinsky in 2010. The problem with all of these ideas is they are merely guesses. The Clintons did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Others were just as perplexed as we were. Read the rest of this entry »


OUT: Apple Watch. IN: Implantables

Fig-1-Implant

‘ It might sound like something you’d see in a science fiction movie, but my prediction is that in the next three to five years, implantable devices will become about as normal as wearing the latest watch.’

Bijan Khosravi writes: That is right, the implantable. In the past decade of tech innovation, connectivity has been the name of the game. Call your friend in the middle of the night in Antarctica. Facetime with your sister on vacation in India. Talk about the movie you saw with friends in London. Anything is possible with the push of a button and now with the Apple Watch, you can do it all with the twist of a dial. But this is just the beginning of what Silicon Valley has in store for us in the name of connectivity. We’re about to enter the next level of high tech innovation – connecting with yourself.

And the most efficient and accurate way to do that is with the next wave of sensor based smart devices – those you can implant into your body. It might sound like something you’d see in a science fiction movie, but my prediction is that in the next three to five years, implantable devices will become about as normal as wearing the latest watch.

The movement into an era of implantables is already in full swing with wearables and attachables like FitBit. These are just the first generation of gadgets that go beyond monitoring and measuring your body movements. Startups like Thync are pushing the envelope with their neurosignaling patch that uses low voltage electrical currents to alter a person’s mood and energy. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] OH YES HE DID: Entrepreneur Kevin Czinger’s First 3D-Printed SUPERCAR

Meet Blade – a super-light sports car with a 3D printed chassis, designed as an alternative to traditional car manufacturing. Through 3D printing, entrepreneur Kevin Czinger has developed a radical new way to build cars with a much lighter footprint.

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Read More at Forbes


超富裕 HONG KONG PAYDAY, BABY!

billionare-Asia

HONG KONG—Shares in blue chip firms Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd and Hutchison Whampoa surged on Monday after Asia’s richest person, Li Ka-shing ,announced the reorganization of his empire into two new companies.

By the close of trading in Hong Kong Monday, Mr. Li and his family’s stakes in Hutchison and Cheung Kong were valued at US$19.9 billion combined, up 14.5% from US$17.4 billion Friday. Cheung Kong soared 14.7% to close at 143.2 Hong Kong dollars (US$18.47) Monday, outperforming the benchmark Hang Seng Index’s 0.5% gain, while Hutchison Whampoa jumped 12.5% to close at HK$98.35.

Mr. Li, 86 years old, said Friday the real-estate assets of Cheung Kong and Hutchison will be carved out into a new company listed in Hong Kong, to be called CK Property. Read the rest of this entry »


FCC Plans Stealth Internet Tax Increase

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Net neutrality isn’t something we want. It’s a threat to the Internet. It must die.

Some helpful links for those who don’t believe the graphic:

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Look for Attempts to Rewrite 1990s History

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An Affair to Remember

As Hillary and Bill Clinton prepare for another White House ramble, the country is fated to endure more than a few 1990s flashbacks, often including attempts to whitewash the real history. The latest character to re-emerge is Monica Lewinsky, the former intern who is doffing her beret to reinvent herself as an anti-cyberbullying activist.

Bill-Clinton-Hillary-Clinton-Getty-Images

“We correct the record not least to point out that the Clintons weren’t above falsely smearing a young woman not much older than their daughter as an oversexed psycho blackmailer.”

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In a speech this week at a Forbes magazine conference that went viral on the Web, Ms. Lewinsky describes herself as a “survivor” of online abuse—she became “the creature from the media lagoon.” As the worst abusers, she cited Matt Drudge and the New York Post, which gave Ms. Lewinsky a term of tabloid endearment as “the portly pepperpot.” Another culprit was “a politically motivated independent prosecutor,” or Ken Starr.

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eye-of-hillary

The problem is that Ms. Lewinsky was actually the victim of the Clinton lagoon, as White House operatives tried to destroy her reputation when the scandal broke. The real bullies weren’t online but in the West Wing.

(Photo by Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images)

On Jan. 21, 1998, Mr. Clinton told his aide Sidney Blumenthal that Ms. Lewinsky “came on to me and made a sexual demand on me,” according to Mr. Blumenthal’s deposition to Mr. Starr. Mr. Clinton added that he “rebuffed her” and then she “threatened him. Read the rest of this entry »


Where Does the Vast Majority of Internet Attack Traffic Originate From? China


China Launches Hi-Def Observation Satellite

Alex Knapp reports: On Tuesday of this week, a Long March-4B carrier rocket lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, carrying with it China’s Gaofen-2, as well as a Polish satellite as part of the BRITE constellation.

A Chinese Long March 4-B rocket lifted off on Tuesday, August 19 with the Gaofen-2 satellite and a Polish BRITE satellite. (Credit: China Great Wall Industry Corporation)

A Chinese Long March 4-B rocket lifted off on August 19 with the Gaofen-2 satellite and a Polish BRITE satellite. (Credit: China Great Wall Industry Corporation)

The Gaofen-2 is China’s most powerful imaging satellite in orbit to date. A full color satellite, it’s able to view images to a resolution of one meter, and according to the Chinese government, will be used for geographic surveys, environmental modeling, agriculture, and other applications.

“The goal of the BRITE constellation is to observe some of the brightest stars in the sky in the hopes of learning more about them from their light properties.”

As you might guess by the name, this satellite is the second in China’s Gaofen satellite series. The first, Gaofen-1, was launched in April of 2013. The Chinese government plans to place a total of seven Gaofen satellites into orbit. The first Gaofen satellite has been used for city development and agricultural planning, according to the Chinese government. The satellite was also used to assist the search for the missing Malaysian Airline flight earlier this year. Read the rest of this entry »


YOU DON’T SAY? Survey: U.S. Sees Sharpest Health Insurance Premium Increases

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The Daily Caller‘s Sarah Hurtubise reports: Americans have recently been hit with some of the largest premium increases in years, according to a Morgan Stanley survey of insurance brokers.

The investment bank’s April survey of 148 brokers found that this quarter, the average premium increase for customers renewing an insurance plan is 12 percent in the small group market and 11 percent in the individual market, according to ForbesScott Gottlieb.

The hikes — the largest in the past three years, according to Morgan Stanley’s quarterly reports — are “largely due to changes under the [Affordable Care Act],” analysts concluded. Rates have been growing increasingly fast throughout all of 2013, after a period of drops in 2012.

Read the rest of this entry »


Power Shift: Putin Topples Obama in Forbes Ranking

Who's your Daddy Now?

Who’s your Daddy Now?

Having outfoxed him on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin has pipped Barack Obama to the title of the world’s most powerful leader as ranked by Forbes on Wednesday.

It was the first time in three years that the US president has dropped to second place on the magazine’s list and came as US-Russia relations slid to a new low.

Read the rest of this entry »


Low-information Voter Intelligence in Full Glory: The 2013 Government Shutdown isn’t Obama’s Fault, it’s George Bush’s Fault

MRCTV’s Dan Joseph had a question on his mind that he couldn’t shake: who bears the brunt of the blame for the government shutdown? Who really is responsible for the mess we’re in right now? Is it President Obama or former President George W. Bush? He decided to take these questions to the heart of our misery: Washington D.C.

Maybe you’ve seen this video already. If not, welcome to the age of “it’s not my fault” leadership. Every day Obama’s been in the White House, or perhaps every day of his entire political career, his willingness to pass the buck, avoid accountability, and blame his opponents and predecessor for anything and everything, shocked many people, but satisfied many, many others. It’s successfully provided steady cover for a breathtaking series of policy failures. Meanwhile taking (often undue) credit anything remotely positive, invoking “me” and “I” at every opportunity. Blaming Bush (and assigning blame anywhere but his own desk) is such a routine, it’s not surprising that he doesn’t even have to invoke it anymore, he can let others do it for him, it’s almost like quoting scripture.

Obama’s a smart guy. After a while, observant people realized, his habit of blaming Bush wasn’t sincere, Obama never believed it. Bush-blaming was insincere from day one. Obama knew that supporters wanted to believe it (after all, they hated Bush) and the press (hates Bush) would amplify the message to protect him. And he understood that even if the Democratic party’s domestic policies did more lasting damage the lives of low-income, minorities, working people, and middle-class people than any president in half a century, he would never have to accept responsibility for any of it. After all, he’s ‘trying’, and that’s what counts.

And if it’s not working? It’s those damed Republicans, it’s their fault. Even though Obama had no meaningful legislative opposition. The Democrats enjoyed a Super-majority, controlling the legislative agenda for his first two years, and has enjoyed Democrat control of two of the three branches of government, for a full five years. Republicans are in the minority. Things are going bad? Blame the minority. Blame the powerless. And play the role of victim at every opportunity.

George Bush is a private citizen, has no role in government whatsoever. And best of all, Bush doesn’t complain. He never did. Unlike Obama, he endured hatred and criticism, didn’t expect the press to defend him, didn’t take it personally, and didn’t blame his predecessors. He’s the perfect fall-guy. Like I said, Obama’s a bright guy. He doesn’t believe the “it’s Bush’s fault” avoidance tactic, it’s not sincere. It’s a political convenience. He knows it’s an easy escape, The low-intelligence-average voter, and the compliant, conservative-hating mainstream press, will always have his back.

–The Butcher

Dan Joseph continues: Despite the fact that George W. Bush has been out of office for the past five years, most of the respondents said former President George W. Bush is to blame for the shutdown.

Why?  Well, he apparently did a lot of bad stuff! And had policies that only Barack Obama can reverse, which is why the current president has added twice as much debt than economic output over the past two years.

As for health care, which is at the heart of the shutdown, one respondent said that, if Bush had proposed some sort of health care reform, all of this could’ve been avoided.  Well, he did.  In fact, there’s a long history of Republican policy proposals to fix American health care.

The irony is that Bush’s 2007 health care proposal is actually “superior” to Obamacare concerning universal coverage. As Chris Conover of Forbes noted last August:

“[T]he Bush plan actually was superior to Obamacare when it comes to providing universal coverage. Remember, Obamacare actually does not provide universal coverage. The latest figures from CBO says that when it is fully implemented in 2016, Obamacare will cut the number of uninsured by only 45%, covering 89% of the non-elderly. Even if illegal immigrants are excluded, this percentage rises to only 92%. In contrast, the Bush plan (without a mandate!) would have cut the number of uninsured by 65%.”

CNS News


ObamaCare: It’s unsustainable; better to scrap it and start anew

Confirming the disconnect between the empty-promise pretenses on which ObamaCare was sold and its real-world effects in practice is a new report from Medicare actuaries that says health spending in ObamaCare’s first 10 years will be about $621 billion higher than it would be without that train wreck of a law.

That’s $7,450 more in health spending per family of four through 2022, according to Duke University health-policy expert Chris Conover, writing for The Apothecary, a Forbes blog. And that figure’s contrast with candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 promise that he’d lower such families’ premiums “by up to $2,500” — during his first term! — is both grim and stark.

The Medicare actuaries’ report is consistent with their prior reports showing ObamaCare would increase, not decrease, health spending. It’s the latest evidence that Mr. Obama made America the “absurd promise” that Mr. Conover says it is. Read the rest of this entry »


Obamacares Slush Fund Fuels A Broader Lobbying Controversy

By Stuart Taylor

Obamacares Slush Fund Fuels A Broader Lobbying Controversy - Forbes

A little-noticed part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act channels some $12.5 billion into a vaguely defined “Prevention and Public Health Fund” over the next decade–and some of that money is going for everything from massage therapists who offer “calming techniques,” to groups advocating higher state and local taxes on tobacco and soda, and stricter zoning restrictions on fast-food restaurants.

The program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has raised alarms among congressional critics, who call it a “slush fund,” because the department can spend the money as it sees fit and without going through the congressional appropriations process. The sums involved are vast. By 2022, the department will be able to spend $2 billion per year at its sole discretion. In perpetuity.

What makes the Prevention and Public Health Fund controversial is its multibillion-dollar size, its unending nature (the fund never expires), and its vague spending mandate: any program designed “to improve health and help restrain the rate of, growth” of health-care costs.  That can include anything from “pickleball” (a racquet sport) in Carteret County, N.C. to Zumba (a dance fitness program), kayaking and kickboxing in Waco, TX.

“It’s totally crazy to give the executive branch $2 billion a year ad infinitum to spend as they wish,” said budget expert Jim Capretta of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Congress has the power of the purse, the purpose of which is to insure that the Executive branch is using taxpayer resources as Congress specified.”

The concerns are as diverse as the critics. The HHS Inspector General, in a 2012 “alert,” was concerned that the payments to third-party groups came dangerously close to taxpayer-funded lobbying. While current law bars lobbying with federal money, Obama administration officials and Republican lawmakers differ on where lawful “education” ends and illicit “lobbying” begins.  Nor have federal courts defined “lobbying” for the purposes of this fund. A health and Human Services (HHS) department spokesman denies that any laws were broken and the inspector general is continuing to investigate.

Republicans in both the House of Representatives and Senate have complained that much of the spending seems politically motivated and are alarmed that some of the federal money went to groups who described their own activities as contacting state, city and county lawmakers to urge higher taxes on high-calorie sodas and tobacco, or to call for bans on fast-food restaurants within 1,000-feet of a school, or total bans on smoking in outdoor venues, such as beaches or parks. In a May 9 letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius, Rep. Fred Upton (R,Mich) wrote that HHS grants “appear to fund lobbying activities contrary to the laws, regulations, and guidance governing the use of federal funds.” His letter included the latest in a series of requests for more documents and complaints about responses to previous requests.

Some Democrats, including Obamacare champion Sen. Tom Harkin (D, Iowa), are extremely unhappy with another use of Prevention Fund money. The Obama Administration plans to divert $453.8 million this year from that fund to use for administrative and promotional efforts to enroll millions of people in health insurance exchanges that are said to be vital to Obamacare’s success. Harkin calls this shift, which has not been authorized by Congress, “an outrageous attack on an investment fund that is saving lives.”

This extraordinary fund transfer coincides with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s much-criticized solicitation of health industry officials for large “voluntary” corporate donations — on top of hefty tax increases — to help implement Obamacare. Together, they give the appearance of a desperate Administration effort to avoid the kind of “train wreck” that Senator Max Baucus (D, Montana), a principal architect of Obamacare, recently said he fears. That’s also one reason why Republicans who want to kill Obamacare refuse to provide additional funding for the exchanges…

 More via  Forbes

 


Why 3D-Printed Untraceable Guns Could Be Good For America

Paul Hsieh

UPDATE  Feds demand removal of 3-D printable gun plans from the Internet  possible export law violation —- via Hot Air

In the past few days, Forbes writer Andy Greenberg broke a pair of dramatic stories on Cody Wilson’s quest to build an untraceable plastic gun using commercially available 3D-printing technology. First, Greenberg publishedexclusive photos of the completed firearm, then he reported on a successful test firing of a live .380 cartridge.

Although the technology is still in its infancy, Wilson’s innovation has already sparked heated debate. Some gun rights advocates (including Wilson) argue this means current gun laws will soon be obsolete. They welcome the fact that home hobbyists may soon be able to build functioning firearms without any background check or government record. Others are alarmed, concerned that this would enable criminals to more easily obtain firearms. Congressman Steve Israel has already stated his intent to modify current laws to ban such guns.

However, Congressman Israel may be too late. Once thousands of motivated hobbyists start downloading open source gun designs and posting their refinements, we’ll likely see rapid technical advances. But Cody Wilson’s real impact on America may not be technological but political — and in a good way.

Government will likely be unable to suppress this application of 3D-printing technology. True, they could attempt to outlaw the possession of such untraceable guns, but that would be as ineffective as current laws banning the possession of marijuana. Similarly, the government could attempt to require 3D-printers be installed with special software that only allows them to build objects from data files certified as “approved” by the authorities. But given how quickly hackers routinely “jailbreak” software restrictions on smartphones, the same would likely happen to software restrictions on 3D-printers. In other words, the genie is probably already out of the bottle.

Nonetheless, how likely is an attempted government crackdown on 3D-printed guns? One clue comes from ATF agent Charles Houser, head of their National Tracing Center Division. In a recent CNBC interview, Houser stated that there was no “legitimate purpose” to making an untraceable gun and that seeking to build one indicated “criminal intent.”

However, current law already allows home hobbyists to build their own firearms provided they are for personal use only (and not for sale). Such guns are already “untraceable.” 3D-printing doesn’t change that basic fact — it merely allows a wider range of hobbyists without specialized machine shop skills to do what’s already legal.

The unease expressed over 3D-printed guns mirrors similar unease following the adoption of widespread cryptography for secure communications. Some opponents were concerned that ordinary Americans could use this technology to engage in criminal activities undetected by the government. In the 1990s, the Clinton administration pushed for the adoption of hardware backdoors to allow government to read otherwise secure e-mail as it saw fit. Even now, the FBI continues to seek wider powers to monitor citizens’ electronic communications on the grounds it’s necessary to stop terrorism.

Yes, the government has a legitimate role in stopping the misuse of cryptography for evil purposes, such as terrorist plots or the dissemination of digital contraband such as child pornography or pirated software. But that should not be a pretext for giving the government excessive power over innocuous private communications.

Similarly, government has a legitimate role in stopping gun crime. But this should not be a pretext for restricting 3D-printing technology.

Furthermore, University of Chicago professor (and co-author of the bestsellerFreakonomics) Steve Levitt has noted that most proposed gun controls have minimal impact on gun crime. One of the few ideas that does work is enhanced prison sentences for crimes committed with a gun. According to Levitt, the gun laws that work are ones “where you’re not tying it to the gun itself, you’re tying it to the use of guns that you don’t want.” This makes perfect sense. The government should not punish gun ownership by responsible adults, nor legitimate sporting or self-defense uses. Instead, the government should punish the misuse of a gun by criminals.

Citizens do not have a general obligation to communicate with others in a way that the government can readily understand. An honest person can have many legitimate personal or business reasons for private communications. Most Americans recognize this is not a sign of “criminal intent.” If the government has a specific need to monitor someone’s private electronic communications, the burden of proof should be on them to demonstrate their need for a warrant for appropriate wiretapping. Otherwise, anyone using cryptography should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Similarly, honest citizens should not have a general obligation to disclose to the government what firearms they’ve built or bought, provided they are for honest purposes. An honest person may wish to keep this information private to avoid becoming the target of thieves or unwanted political attacks. A desire for private firearms ownership is not proof of “criminal intent.” And if the government has a specific concern that someone is planning a crime with a gun (or any other tool), the burden of proof should be on the government prior to any search or other invasion of his privacy. Otherwise, anyone owning an “untraceable” 3D-printed gun should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Wilson’s innovation could thus spark a much-needed re-examination of American gun laws, including the current paradigm of imposing ever-increasing restrictions on millions of honest gun owners in an attempt to stop relatively fewer bad guys from committing gun crimes. By making it harder (if not nearly impossible) for the government to regulate gun possession and transfers, his development could move the government to instead (properly) focus its efforts on punishing gun misuse.

That is why I’m encouraged by the development of 3D-printed guns. Not because I want bad guys committing more gun crimes. But because I hope it sparks some vigorous discussions on deeper themes such as “innocent until proven guilty” and the proper scope of government. If enough people start debating these questions, Cody Wilson will have done America a real service.

via  Forbes


Sequester This!

President Obamas Colossal Media Blunder

By Bill FrezzaForbes

President Obama has gone all-in trying to get Republicans to blink and serve up another round of tax increases in lieu of the looming spending sequester. Eschewing talks with Congress or any pretense of leadership, he is instead flying around the country burning $180,000 an hour on Air Force One laying out a parade of horribles that will descend upon us if the growth of federal spending were reduced by one iota.

Why is he doing this? Because the mainstream media are lapping it up. Poisoned meat coming to grocery shelves near you! Air traffic grinds to a screeching halt! Fires, murder, and mayhem in the streets as first responders are laid off! No visits to the Washington Monument! OK, it all makes for good copy.

But what would happen to the media narrative if the Republicans don’tcollapse into a puddle of cowardice and the sequester were to actually stick? Imagine the stories if Obama, in an attempt to turn public opinion against his political opponents, were to concentrate spending cuts on the most visible and critical government functions. Party organs like The New York Times or MSNBC might buy into that ploy, but what do you think will run in the independent press right alongside the photos of two-hour airport security lines?

My bet is you’ll see stories about the bottomless pit of waste, fraud, pork, cronyism, malinvestment, and idiocy that characterize so much of business as usual in Washington. With a glut of examples a mere Google search away, it won’t be long before even the most disengaged voter—facing some Obama-generated inconvenience and having these stories shoved in his face—asks, “What do you mean I can’t get my passport renewed? Couldn’t they fire Obama’s $100,000 a year dog trainer instead?” And if this phony “austerity” is imposed on the rest of us, how do you think the public will react to the First Lady’s next multi-million dollar vacation?

More via  Forbes


Why Both Sides Wrong About The Fiscal Cliff

Don’t buy all the hysteria about what’s over the cliff. Government spending reduces real growth, while tax cuts only work if they’re paired with a strong dollar. Both sides miss the point.

English: Detail from Government. Mural by Elih...

The point? The destruction of the dollar. It undermines the argument on both sides, according to this essay. It’s an oversimplification, but understanding that “GDP” is an absurd measure, invested with false meaning, is a good start. 

Supply-siders and Keynesians don’t agree on much these days, but when it comes to the alleged “fiscal cliff”, both sides are in agreement that jumping off this ledge would bring tragic economic consequences. Though a strong believer in supply-side principles, I believe even more strongly that conventional wisdom is nearly always wrong. It’s wrong here.

Before getting into why the grand assumptions surrounding the fiscal cliff are ridiculous, it’s best to explain why we’ll never reach this ranch-style house “plunge” onto soft ground. We won’t because the incentives that drive politicians ensure a deal.

“Economies are nothing more than a collection of individuals, and when we break the U.S. economy down to the individual, it’s easy to see how wrong the Keynesians are.”

That’s the case because with the economy still limping, very few politicians will want to be on record as having voted to raise rates of taxation. Every member of the House of Representatives is up for re-election in 2014, a third of all senators are, and with an eye on re-election they’re not going to vote for large tax increases. At best with taxes, they’ll compromise: lower rates in return for a reduction in economy-distorting tax loopholes.

Considering spending, though it nearly always occurs at the expense of growth, politicians exist to spend our money. That’s what animates them, and it’s true irrespective of party affiliation. The spending of the money of others is to politicians what oxygen is to the rest of us. Because spending is breath to the political class, there’s no way they’d ever allow automatic spending cuts or, “sequestration.” Repeat after me, we’ll never jump off of the “fiscal cliff”, and breathy commentary suggesting we will is written by writers who haven’t a clue about human nature.

“…with policy in favor of dollar devaluation, why commit capital to economy-enhancing ideas if any returns come back in dollars that have shrunken in value?”

Turning to why supply-siders and Keynesians alike are so fearful of the “cliff”, that’s easy too. For Keynesians, they’re deluded by the false belief that government spending is an economic stimulant. Because they are, automatic reductions in spending by the feds would directly subtract from GDP growth.

In an artificially absurd sense, the Keynesians are right. GDP would decline in the very near term amid automatic spending cuts, but all this tells us is that Gross Domestic Product is a worthless number. Governments have no resources, so for governments to spend is for them to tax or borrow limited resources from the private sector that will be consumed in a wasteful ways.

Economies are nothing more than a collection of individuals, and when we break the U.S. economy down to the individual, it’s easy to see how wrong the Keynesians are. Indeed, are you better off when the federal government taxes away your earnings and consumes limited capital that might otherwise fund a future Microsoft? No? Well, you’re the economy.

In short, government spending is an economic retardant. Because it tautologically weighs on economic growth, any reduction in the burden that is government would boost the economy.

Read the rest of this entry »