12.09.2014

CIA goes Pulp Fiction on detainees

... or maybe it's more like South Park:
The CIA force-fed detainees through their rectums, and called it a “well acknowledged medical technique.” One detainee suffered from an anal fissure and “symptomatic rectal prolapse”—when parts of the rectum protrude from the anus and are visible outside the body.



UPDATE: James Taranto settles it. South Park:
“Cartman has a ‘brilliant’ idea, reasoning . . . it could be possible that eating food through the rectum can cause defecation through the mouth. The other boys (especially Kyle) think it is stupid and disgusting, and Cartman bets him $20 it will work.”—Wikipedia.org summary of “Red Hot Catholic Love,” aired July 3, 2002

11.27.2014

The lesson of the first Thanksgiving: socialism kills

Reposted from 2010.  More relevant now, obviously. Long before Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren were "fundamentally transforming" America, the first settlers had their own little experiment with socialism.

From Karl Denninger:
The first winter was disasterous - nearly half of the Pilgrims died of starvation, pneumonia and tuberculosis. Many claim that Bradford's first wife perished that first winter, but that is not quite true - she actually fell off the Mayflower quite close to land and drowned, never making it to Plymouth (he later remarried.)

During the first two years the colony lived under what could only be called Communism, enshrined in the Mayflower Compact. Each person was accorded a "share" of the totality of what was produced at the colony, and each person was expected to do their part in working toward the common good. The land, and that upon it, was owned by the colony as a collective.

It not only did not work out, it nearly killed them all.

William Bradford wrote in his diary "For in this instance, community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit and comfort. For the young men who were most able and fit for service objected to being forced to spend their time and strength in working for other men’s wives and children, without any recompense. The strong man or the resourceful man had no more share of food, clothes, etc., than the weak man who was not able to do a quarter the other could. This was thought injustice.”

After the second winter, realizing that the colony had survived only through the friendship and largesse of the native Americans, and would soon perish if changes were not made, Bradford tore up the Mayflower Compact. He instead assigned each family a plot of land to be their property, to be worked as the family saw fit, and with the fruits of that land to be their own. It was the beginning of private property rights in the New World.

The result? Again, from his diary: "It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better satisfaction.”

From the very day that Bradford tore up the Mayflower Compact, Plymouth began to prosper. Within a year the colonists found themselves with more food than they could eat. Flush with a bountiful harvest far in excess of their need for food and having bartered for all the goods they needed to get through the winter, they had a feast of thanks with their Indian trading partners.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the leftist teachers unions to teach this lesson to your children. Better show them this video from Reason:

11.12.2014

In exchange for Obama unilaterally ordering cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, China agrees to keep increasing emissions for 15 years

CNN's Matt Hoye is an idiot, mindlessly regurgitating White House talking points.
At the end of the APEC trade summit in China, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a climate change agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping that would cut both countries' greenhouse gas emissions by close to a third over the next two decades.


Under the deal, the United States would cut its carbon emissions between 26-28% -- from levels established in 2005 -- by 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions no later than 2030 and would also increase the use of non-fossil fuels to 20% by 2030.


[...]


A senior administration official calls the goals both "ambitious and achievable," but also acknowledged that U.S. domestic politics could put a damper on the announcement. Saying "leading climate deniers" in the GOP might try to stop the initiative, the official hinted the President may act alone if necessary.
China promising to do something 16 years from now in exchange for Obama issuing executive orders today is bad enough (and of extremely dubious enforceability), but Hoye's opening two paragraphs flatly contradict each other. How does China continually increasing emissions through 2030 "cut both countries' greenhouse gas emissions by close to a third over the next two decades?"

China is already a much larger greenhouse gas producer than the U.S., so any hypothetical cuts in the U.S. will be dwarfed by the increases that Obama negotiated for China.

P.S. China is dumping thick, black smog into its cities which causes serious health problems and causes public discontentment with leadership. Then when they don't meet smog reduction goals, they just hide the data. Do you really think China gives a rat's ass about a little clean, naturally occurring CO2?

11.11.2014

21st Century's most prolific mass murderers agree: there's no substitute for gold

First it was bubble-blower extraordinaire and progenitor of his own prolific Body Count, Alan Greenspan.
TETT: Do you think that gold is currently a good investment?

GREENSPAN: Yes... Remember what we're looking at. Gold is a currency. It is still, by all evidence, a premier currency. No fiat currency, including the dollar, can match it.
Now it's Greenspan's fellow mass murderers ISIS (or ISIL, or IS, or Islamic State, take your pick):
ISIS wants to introduce its own currency and plans to bring back solid gold and silver dinar coins, it has emerged.

The Middle East terror group apparently wants to introduce its own Islamic currency as part of its attempts to solidify its makeshift caliphate.

Militants are said to want to bring back the original dinar, which is an ancient currency from early Islam, and religious figures in Mosul and Iraq’s Nineveh province have apparently announced its return in mosques.

The currency known as the dinar, which once consisted purely of gold and silver coins, is today used by a variety of countries, but the coins are created from different materials to the originals.

However, the jihadi group is understood to be planning to return to the original gold and silver coins, which were first introduced during the Caliphate of Uthman in 634 CE.

11.07.2014

Californians want to slit their wrists

Wow.

Check out the map of people's life satisfaction by city.



There's obviously a huge weather effect, with people being much happier in the sun belt and miserable in the cold northeast, but California manages to create misery even with the country's best weather and beautiful geography!





11.04.2014

Therefore, it will not happen?

GOP Senate Takeover Would Put Fed Under Microscope
A Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate on Election Day would promise increased political turbulence for the Federal Reserve.

Financial executives say a GOP-led Senate would ratchet up congressional scrutiny of the central bank's interest- rate policies as well as its regulatory duties as overseer of the nation's largest financial firms. Republicans haven't controlled the Senate since before the 2008 financial crisis and recession, which put a spotlight on the Fed and its powers.

"If the Republicans take control of the Senate and thus have control of both the House and the Senate--two words for the Federal Reserve: Watch out," said Camden Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America.

Leading the GOP wish list in dealing with the Fed would be legislation to open the central bank to more scrutiny of its interest-rate decisions, using congressional audits of monetary-policy matters that Fed officials strongly oppose. Many Republican lawmakers also want to require the Fed to use a mathematical rule to guide interest-rate decisions or shift its focus more directly to inflation rather than inflation together with unemployment. All of that would come on top of heightened bipartisan scrutiny of the Fed's regulatory moves.
Nah, even if the Republicans take the Senate, I'm sure the Fed will find the new majority can be quite flexible...

10.16.2014

Zimbabwe Jim to the rescue

Two weeks ago, we pointed out that the only thing making stocks go up was Fed money-printing, and asked, "Would asset price stagnation or declines bring Janet back to the Ctrl+P button?"

Magic 8-ball says, "It is decidedly so."
The Federal Reserve should consider delaying the end of its bond purchase program to halt the decline in inflation expectations, said St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard.

10.13.2014

Loose Janets sink planets

Even the dummies at the IMF are catching on to the idea that you can't solve all the world's problems by printing infinite amounts of money.

NYT:
As economists and politicians heap pressure on global central banks to continue, and even escalate, their unusually loose monetary policies in order to spur global demand, the fear that these measures could provoke another market convulsion is spreading.

“A major lesson of the last crisis is that accommodative monetary policy contributed to financial excesses,” said Lucas Papademos, a former vice president of the European Central Bank. “We are pursuing a similar policy for good reason. But there are limits — if you do this for too long, risks in the financial markets will materialize.”

[...]

“What we see is extraordinary risk-taking in the financial markets while in the real economy risk-taking has taken a holiday,” said Claudio Borio, a senior economist at the Bank for International Settlements, a clearinghouse for global central banks.

10.01.2014

Generalissimo Essen P. Fivehundred is still dead

A year and a half ago, we posted He's dead, Jim, showing that the ratio of the stock market to the Federal Reserve's balance sheet had absolutely flatlined, meaning the correlation of stock prices to Dirty Fed money-printing was essentially perfect.

Now with the Fed promising to halt QE this month, we thought an update would be highly relevant.

The verdict?







Still dead!  The stock market has flatlined down 75% from its 2000 peak in Fed balance sheet terms.

Does the impending end of QE mean the end of asset price appreciation?  Would asset price stagnation or declines bring Janet back to the Ctrl+P button?

9.26.2014

Bill Gross's last PIMCO Investment Outlook

... is a good read. It acknowledges the great credit Ponzi, that our economy is entirely dependent on issuing new debt to pay interest on old debt.  It's something that everyone who understands macroeconomics knows, but it's rarely spoken in polite company.

Read it here.  And in case PIMCO takes it down after Gross's jumping ship just before being made to walk the plank, here's the Google cache.

9.10.2014

$3 Obama raffle

Stay classy, Democrats!



Full text:


Hello --

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I'll take care of everything. All you have to do is enter for your chance to be that person.

If you've saved your payment information, your donation will go through immediately.

QUICK DONATE: $3

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Or donate another amount.


I love being able to lend a hand with the winner's big day. This trip is pretty cool, too: We're flying one supporter (and a guest!) to D.C., putting them up in a hotel, and sending them to our last big event before the election with President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Sounds great, right? Right!

Chip in $3 or whatever you can now to be automatically entered, and hopefully you'll be the one whose flight I'm booking:

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Emily Gottschalk-Marconi
Democratic National Committee

9.03.2014

Libyan terrorists take 11 jetliners

News from the last community that Obama reorganized:
U.S. officials fear Islamic militants have stolen nearly a dozen commercial planes in Libya which could be used to carry out 9/11-style terrorist attacks in the region.

Eleven commercial jets operated by two state-owned airlines went missing last month, after militant group Libyan Dawn overtook the international airport in the capital city of Tripoli.

In the past two weeks, the U.S. government has been issuing warnings about the deteriorating state in Libya, drawing attention to the fact that the planes could be used in attacks to mark the anniversary of 9/11 later this month, sources who read the briefs told the Washington Free-Beacon.
Thanks, Obama, for bombing Libya into anarchy and turning it into a playground for terrorists!

9.02.2014

Because they eat out all the time

"Feds still studying why lesbians are obese." - headline, Washington Free Beacon, August 29, 2014

8.31.2014

Disability is the new retirement

Barron's cover story:
The share of the adult population, 16 and over, participating in the labor force is at its lowest level since 1978, at 62.8% and 62.9% in June and July, respectively. In a comprehensive study of trends in the workforce released in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said it expects a further decline in labor-force participation, to 61.6%, by 2022.




[...]

Do some of these people [dropping out of the labor force] have independent means? If so, their number is small. Census Bureau data show that in 2012, just 232,000 prime-age men, or 0.4% of the total cohort, had income from stocks, bonds, and real estate of $50,000 or more, while 76,000 enjoyed an investment income of $100,000 or more. Both figures should be enough to get by without income from a job. But we don't know how many of these men supplemented that income with work.

And evidence exists that some of these men may be doing any of a combination of the following: living off loans and stipends that support them through college and professional school; using credit-card debt to cover living expenses; relying on spouses for support; working sporadically in the above-ground economy, or living off crime.


WHEN IT COMES TO the millions of people receiving Social Security disability income, however, it is fairly certain that virtually all of them are outside of the labor force.

The SSDI program "creates a very strong incentive against meaningfully participating in the formal labor market," says Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor David Autor, author of the November 2011 study, "The Unsustainable Rise of the Disability Rolls in the United States."

The reason is simple: If you take a job, you run the risk of being terminated from the program and losing the benefits.
It always comes back to incentives.

Ben & Jerry's preparing for shrinkage?

We have long noted the tendency of packaged goods sellers to shrink packages in order to hide inflation.

Our friend Negocios Loucos points us to another possible instance.

When Haagen-Dazs shrunk their "pints" to 14 ounces a few years ago thanks to food cost inflation, Ben & Jerry's responded by labeling their ice cream "Still a Pint!"



... until now. A package recently purchased in the Northeast:

8.28.2014

Real American Heroes

Doctor refuses to submit to Obamacare, instead provides quality, affordable free-market care.



8.24.2014

News from the latest community re-organized by Obama

Bloomberg:
An alliance of Islamist militias said it wrested control of Tripoli’s international airport from a rival force after weeks of fighting that triggered an exodus of foreigners and threatened to plunge Libya deeper into chaos.



Libya’s defunct, Islamist-dominated parliament said it would temporarily resume its sessions, the state-run Libya News Agency reported, a move that may set the stage for dueling legislatures amid a leadership vacuum.



The fighting has battered Libya, undercut efforts to revive oil output in the OPEC member and dimmed hopes for a transition to democracy. It has sparked concern the nation, led by a largely toothless central government, will descend into anarchy and emerge as little more than a failed state controlled by militias.
Who would have thought community organizing would be such relevant experience for a President?

8.08.2014

7.28.2014

Fifty Shades of Meh

I read a few pages of the chick-porn book 50 Shades of Grey. It was the worst ten minutes of my life.

I didn't think the movie adaptation could get any worse, but it looks like it does.

How much you wanna bet these Keynesian clowns don't mention excessive debt as the primary reason?







Yup. The word "debt" appears exactly once in the article, and only as a reference to the difficulty of paying it off without economic growth, not as a cause of weak growth.

7.17.2014

Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs

Chicago Tribune:
Microsoft Corp. said on Thursday it would cut up to 18,000 jobs, or about 14 percent of its workforce, as it halves the size of its recent Nokia acquisition and trims down other operations.

The company said it would take a pre-tax charge of $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion for the costs of the layoffs during the next four quarters.

The restructuring will be the biggest in Microsoft history, topping the 5,800 jobs cut in 2009.

Microsoft shares were up nearly 3 percent in premarket trading, to $45.37 a share.
Another data point for Rise of the Machines.

6.17.2014

Worst company in America

It takes a special kind of asshole to send you mail to discuss the fact that you asked not to be sent mail.



6.12.2014

Obama regime's amnesty-by-executive order creates humanitarian crisis

... by luring children to be smuggled by human traffickers.

Even the palace guard NBC News is reporting it.

What did I tell you people about incentives?

6.11.2014

Econ Prof and Cantor-killer Dave Brat speaks

... on CNBC, on the tax code, corporate welfare, free markets, Main Street vs. Wall Street, and the Fed.


There are signs that some of the victory was due to Democrat crossover voters, whether they responded to his message of freedom or just to mischievously "get Cantor."  Hey, democracy's a bitch.  And Brat has a populist, anti-corporate welfare message that could appeal to a lot of Democrats and independents.

6.08.2014

A hungry mob is an angry mob

A Facebook friend, a socialist American expat living in Switzerland, posted on Facebook:
I tremble on the eve of WWIII as I watch the ingredients of this terrible recipe mix as if by invisible hand. Alas there is no invisible hand for war - merely ignorance and hatred that spread when vigilance is forgotten in the pursuit of selfish materialism. Or was it the pursuit of tolerance? I am grimly in accordance with the statement that Golden Dawn is using Democracy to end Democracy. How could their rise have been tolerated? How could this be happening in Europe AGAIN?
... linking to this story:
In an explosive political climate, where popular rage is at boiling point nearly five years into the country's worst crisis in living memory, the politics of hate so embodied by Golden Dawn is becoming increasingly pervasive. "Who cares if six million Jews were exterminated?" asked the businessman back at the cafe, in a shocking endorsement of that reality. "I don't care if they were turned into soap. What I care about is the salary I have lost, the never-ending taxes I am forced to pay, the criminals who rule this country, the anger I carry inside."
In the words of Bob Marley, "A hungry mob is an angry mob." EU debt slavery is choking Greece. They should have defaulted and gone back to the drachma, but their politicians are doing the bidding of the Euro banksters. So you get what we had here last week... which is the way he wants it... well, he gets it.

It was externally-imposed reparation debt that set the stage for the stagnation and inflation that gave rise to the Nazis in the 1930's.  When will they ever learn?

6.04.2014

Business booming, no jobs

Believe it or not, Jim Cramer, the buffoon of CNBC's Mad Money afternoon stock market show for idiots, often carries on intelligent conversations in CNBC's morning hours.

Here's Cramer discussing why this morning's ADP payroll report was so bad despite business being good.



We've known about this phenomenon for years.

Two points:

1) Obamacare creates a strong incentive not to hire (remember incentives?)
2) Rise of the Machines

5.31.2014

What kind of idiot blows up a bank in 2014?

Back in 2008-09 we used to regularly observe Bank Failure Friday.  Hundreds of banks got themselves in trouble by extending too much credit to questionable borrowers.  As soon as the value of the collateral (homes, commercial buildings, etc.) started falling, the banks were toast.

But who could possibly manage a bank so badly in an era of massive money-printing from the Fed and rising asset values?  If a borrower defaults on a loan, you just seize the collateral, which is worth a lot more now than it was a few years ago when you made the loan.

Nevertheless, a few bankers are still finding ways to blow up a bank even in the most forgiving imaginable environment.  Yesterday brought back Bank Failure Friday for the ninth time this year.

5.29.2014

#Snowden

Short clip. Critical issue. Please watch and share.

5.23.2014

Bitcoin rising from consolidation

In the aftermath of the Mt. Gox debacle, Bitcoin spent a month trading remarkably steadily in the low-to-mid $400 range.

Until now. The last few days it has been steadily marching upward to the $540 range. Gotta love a chart like this.

Chart courtesy of bitcoincharts.




5.07.2014

Obama and the Dirty Fed: creating inequality, stagnation, and inflation

Take it away, Prof. Allan Meltzer:
Broadly speaking, the Obama administration has pursued a course the opposite of that taken by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations in the 1960s (and the Reagan administration in the 1980s). Kennedy-Johnson enacted across-the-board tax cuts: Promoting growth came first, redistribution later. By putting redistribution first and sacrificing growth, the Obama administration got neither.

Ironically, despite often repeated demands for increased redistribution to favor middle- and lower-income groups, the policies pursued by the Obama administration and supported by the Federal Reserve have accomplished the opposite. When the president campaigns in the midterm election, he will talk about the relative gains by the 1%. Voters should recognize that goosing the stock market through very low interest rates, not to mention the subsidies and handouts to cronies, have contributed to that result.

We are now left with the overhang. Inflation is in our future. Food prices are leading off, as they did in the mid-1960s before the "stagflation" of the 1970s. Other prices will follow.
WINNING!!!

4.29.2014

LA Times' Nicole Santa Cruz: Hey everybody, white people committed a crime!

Have you ever seen a reporter go so far out of her way to point out the race of arrested criminal suspects?


It's one thing to use race as part of a description in order for the public to help police catch an at-large suspect. Even then political correctness often prescribes against noting that a suspect is black or Hispanic. But with the suspects already identified and arrested, what possible point is there in emphasizing their race three times?

A crazy homeless guy stabbed a tourist who refused him a dollar.  Why make this into a race thing?

Check out the giant racist chip on the shoulder of Nicole Santa Cruz. And where the heck are her editors?

4.18.2014

Jerry Brown's Body Count



This is the kind of "non-violent" offender that California Governor Jerry Brown releases early from prison in his "prisoner realignment" program:
Los Angeles police are investigating potential links between the kidnapping of a teenage girl who was doused with flammable liquid and two other South L.A. attacks that left two women and a 1-year-old boy dead.

The suspect, Robert Ransom Jr., 30, has been charged with nine felony counts related to the attack on the 16-year-old, including rape, attempted murder, kidnapping and assault, according to a complaint filed by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

[...]

A week after the kidnapping, the LAPD said Ransom -- who has previous felony convictions for robbery, assault and being a felon in possession with a firearm -- was arrested on a parole violation.
He was released early as a non-violent offender because his most recent prison term was only for possession of a firearm by a felon.

In possibly related news, another serial killer may have appeared in the Mt. Tamalpais area of Marin County north of San Francisco.

4.05.2014

I love postage-paid reply envelopes




"Doc fix" is a recurring budget gimmick. Every year, the budget contains an assumption that Medicare will severely cut payments to doctors. Congress passes that budget to make the overall numbers look good, then later they always sneak back and undo the cuts to doctors.

This year, Speaker Boner teamed up with Democrats to pass the budget-busting "doc fix" over the objections of fiscal conservatives in his own party who wanted to pay for the fix with offsetting budget cuts elsewhere.

Here's what Club for Growth said about Boehner's tactics on this vote:


Dear W.C.,

The act of publicly voting in Congress is fundamental to our nation.  It is fundamental to Democracy.

It is only through transparency that there can be accountability.  And a true democracy cannot exist without both of these. 

Which is why it was so outrageous – and frankly even a little hard for even us to believe – that House GOP leadership was able to pass a Medicare Spending Bill, otherwise known as the “Doc Fix”…WITHOUT A ROLL CALL VOTE! 

Last week, Speaker Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy gaveled through a bill that increased spending on Medicare reimbursements without it being offset by spending cuts elsewhere – something conservatives were demanding.  And again I repeat, they passed the bill WITHOUT A ROLL CALL VOTE.

Not only was the bill bad economic policy – but it violated the trust that the Republican conference is supposed to have with the Republican leadership. Sneaking a bill past your own colleagues is downright unconscionable.

So how did fiscal conservatives react?

“Bulls**t,” said Congressman Mick Mulvaney (SC-05).

Congressman Tom Massie (KY-04) described how the mind boggling deceit unfolded before his own eyes to the Washington, D.C. paperRoll Call:

“I was there on the floor of the House and I did observe it, but I didn’t believe that was happening,” he said in an interview. “I couldn’t grasp, I couldn’t bring myself to believe two things: One, that more than 400 members would be misled into thinking there’s no vote and then for the vote to occur. The other thing I was trying to resolve is that there were clearly Democrats on the floor and they were publicly opposed to the [sustainable growth rate] … also that the Democrats were in on this.
    
“As I was trying to resolve all this, the gavel went down, the vote was done,” he said.
    
Massie added that GOP staff was on the floor and celebrated as the vote was called.

“The staff were giddy, almost like they shot off a firework and ran and got away with it,” he said. “It made me feel sick.”

I wish I could say that I was surprised that the GOP leadership stafferswere actually celebrating the fact that they misled their fellow Republicans.  But sadly, I am not.

This is just another addition to an increasingly growing list of times the House GOP leadership has betrayed not only their colleagues – but their constituents who elected them because of their claimed conservative values.

Another recent example is when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor went around Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling in order to pass a bill to increase taxpayer-backed subsidies for flood insurance.

And who did Cantor negotiate with instead of Hensarling? 

Liberal California Democrat Maxine Waters – lifetime Club forGrowth score: 10% (Hensarling has a lifetime 96%). 

The result?

More government, more spending, and more taxpayer exposure for beach-front properties!

House GOP leaders have also stymied Chairman Hensarling’s bill to reform the government’s role in the housing market and eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - a position the Club for Growth and almost every fiscal conservative supports. 

Coming up next in Congress will be debates over extending unemployment benefits and the so-called “tax extenders” -- market-distorting provisions in the tax code like credits for NASCAR drivers and horse racing.   They are basically tax earmarks.

If Republican leadership negotiates from a position of weakness with people like Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi again, you can expect to see these policies sail through Congress.

And so if Republicans won’t hold themselves accountable on policy then the Club for Growth will!  It is clear that our role as the guard dogs of economic freedom has never been more needed in Congress than it is today.

We will watch.  We will report back.  And with your continued support, we will continue to hold politicians’ feet to the fire through our Congressional ScorecardKey Vote Alerts, and hard-hitting independent issue ads.

Best regards,
Chris
Chris Chocola
President, Club for Growth

4.02.2014

A Wall Street veteran's view of High-Frequency Trading

High-Frequency Trading (HFT) is the media's bogeyman du jour, thanks to Michael Lewis' latest book tour.

The reality is not so simple.  A couple of good rebuttals are here and here, and I'd like to add the following response from friend of the blog JF:
I think this line nailed it in a lot of ways…. “High-frequency traders tend to do it best because their computers are much cheaper than expensive Wall Street traders, and competition forces them to pass most of the savings on to us investors. That also explains why many old-school Wall Street traders hate them.”

Wall Street guys had a very hard time accepting the reality that electronic trading, whose adaptation was delayed several years thanks to the power of Wall Street and men like Dick Grasso, was here to stay and a game changer. Traders continued to try to trade the same way they had for years. They would enter orders to buy 10,000 shares of XYZ on Dot when only 2500 shares were offered, and they would spook the markets which would in turn work against them. They would get frustrated by their inability to trade the way they always had. So HFT became their scapegoat on how and why they had become so crappy at executing orders for clients. It used to make me laugh. So in 2008, I stopped using [well-known Wall Street firm's] trading desk. I had all the tools to execute orders myself, and the high paid talent that was there to execute would butcher my clients orders because they refused to update their approach. I started going more passive, using 5-10% of volume strategies, dark pools, etc… I had to train a lot of my clients to not judge an execution by the old metrics they had. If a client told me to be super active with an order, I would try to talk them out of it. I said if you do that, it will cost you. I covered one account that refused to update how they liked to execute. The portfolio managers knew best, no less than 30% of the volume. Man stocks would go up 5% and they would buy nothing. Was it HFT that caused the stocks to go higher, maybe. Was it the firm's unwillingness to accept the fact that the market structure had changed and their approach should change as well, absolutely. Once I had figured it out, I had no problems trading for my clients. What the HFT guys did was meaningless to me if I did things right. And if I didn’t, shame on me it was my fault…

I read the NYT article on Sunday about this guy from IEX. I love what he is doing. If the story is true the way it is told, he put his clients first. That doesn’t happen on Wall Street. That said he used to be a liquidity provider for RBC. He would print a client on 1mm XYZ to get an order to sell 2mm. Well as soon as that 1mm would trade, he would already be in a losing position. He was trying to do business the old way, the way he got paid $1.5mm a year. And when that old way didn’t work anymore, he wanted to know why. For wanting to know why, I applaud him. Who knows what is true or not, but someone putting a client first at a Wall Street big bank is commendable for sure….




3.24.2014

Wave of banker suicides alarms industry

Bloomberg:
Coroners in London are preparing to investigate two apparent suicides as unexpected deaths by finance workers around the world have raised concerns about mental health and stress levels in the industry.

The inquest into the death of William Broeksmit, 58, a retired Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) risk executive found dead in his London home in January, will start tomorrow. The inquest for Gabriel Magee, a 39-year-old vice president in technology operations at JPMorgan Chase (JPM) & Co., who died after falling from the firm’s 33-story London headquarters, is scheduled for late May.

The suicides were followed by others around the world, including at JPMorgan in Hong Kong, as well as Mike Dueker, the chief economist at Seattle-based Russell Investment Management Co. The financial world’s aggressive, hard-working culture may be hurting itself, professionals advising on mental health in the industry say.
Flashback:

3.18.2014

Greenspan's Body Count: L'Wren Scott, girlfriend of Mick Jagger

Debt distress reaches all levels of society:
L’Wren Scott, prominent fashion designer and long-time girlfriend of Mick Jagger, was found dead in an apparent suicide in her New York City apartment on Monday morning. It has been revealed by MailOnline that Scott was “distraught and ‘embarrassed’ over her failing business.” According to MailOnline, L’Wren Scott’s company was $6 million in debt at the time of her suicide. An assistant discovered her body after receiving a text at 8:30 a.m. from Scott requesting her to go over to Scott’s 11th Avenue apartment and let herself in. After hearing about Scott’s death, actress Ellen Barkin and several other close friends went to Scott’s apartment. One friend said that Scott had been avoiding phone calls and had been acting strangely for more than a week.
Greenspan's Body Count stands at 251.

UPDATE: Bernanke's Body Count? Most of the debt burden seems to have been piled on during Bernanke's post-crash liquidity sloshfest:
Her company’s debt was growing over the years, going from $2,120,015.67 in 2009 to $3,063,160.87 in 2010.

3.17.2014

Memories

Remember when the media gave Obama an assist by mocking Romney for saying that Russia was our greatest geopolitical foe?

How's that workin' out for ya?

3.14.2014

Happy Pi Day! 3.14

Next year we'll have 3.14.15:9:26.5359. Mark your calendar!

In unrelated news, John Kerry walks into a bar in Ukraine. The bartender says, "Why the long face?"

3.05.2014

Arguing with Ph.D.s



Yes, there are probably more productive uses of my time than arguing with myopic, model-worshipping, economics Ph.D.s.

But this is Menzie Chinn, of losing-a-battle-of-wits-to-Sarah-Palin fame.

Today's episode is Chinn defending Obama's GDP forecast by comparing it to a projection based on the last half-century's unprecedented debt boom.

Read the comments and enjoy.

But she still sings a great "Let It Go!"

Senate rejects Debo Adegbile.

3.01.2014

2.25.2014

So I bought some Bitcoin...

Yes, I'm a Bitcoin skeptic.

But as the facts change, the open-minded reconsider their positions.

Yes, it's still true that it's just a bunch of BS made up by some guy, and that some other guy, or thousands of guys, can costlessly invent multiple other alternative currencies. (Not that Janet Yellen can't costlessly will hundreds of billions of new dollars into existence.)

Bitcoin is gaining wide enough acceptance as a currency that it merits a second look. Overstock and other merchants now accept it as payment for all kinds of goods and services.

This past weekend, I spoke with fellow SLOB Charles Fettinger of Doo Doo Economics, who is also a Bitcoin expert. Fettinger gave me the basics of how to get started.

I went to coinbase.com and set up an account. I had to link a bank account, which took a couple of days to verify by micro-transaction. The security seemed pretty serious, including personal identification through credit records and phone verification through an authentication app. Coinbase seems to be a very legit Silicon Valley startup with serious venture capital behind it. Fettinger recommends starting with very small transactions and using the Instant Buy feature so that you don't have a trade fail due to a price move while your large payment is being verified. To protect themselves, Coinbase allows only $100 worth of Instant Buys per week for new traders.

Bitcoin prices have been down a lot recently due to the collapse of Mt. Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange. That event has shaken the faith in the security of crypto-currencies, but seems to be an exchange-specific issue and not necessarily damning of Bitcoin. So I was able to pick up a little Bitcoin just over $500, down from recent highs around $1200.

It still could all disappear in the blink of an eye, but then again, it could also be a lasting, appreciating currency. Worth a very small bet, at least as an educational experience.

This Congressional Research Service backgrounder is a good resource to understand the basics -- and it's funny how much time they spend on Bitcoin as a threat to the Dirty Fed's ability to centrally plan the economy by controlling the money supply.

2.24.2014

Greenspan's Body Count: slaughter in the developing world

Indian farmers, some in debt, committing suicide:
BOLLIKUNTA, India — Latha Reddy Musukula was making tea on a recent morning when she spotted the moneylenders walking down the dirt path toward her house.

They came in a phalanx of 15 men, by her estimate. She knew their faces, because they had walked down the path before.

After each visit, her husband, a farmer named Veera Reddy, sank deeper into silence, frozen by some terror he would not explain.

Three times he cut his wrists. He tied a noose to a tree, relenting when the family surrounded him, weeping. In the end, he waited until Musukula stepped out, and then he hanged himself from a pipe supporting their roof, leaving a careful list of each debt he owed to each moneylender. She learned the full sum then: 400,000 rupees, or $6,430.
Debt-ridden factory owner jumps to death from 6th floor in Tong'an:
A debt-ridden factory owner jumped to his death from 6th floor of an apartment building in Tong’an District on Friday after failed suicide attempt with gas, reports Xiamen Daily.

The police received a report of a gas explosion in an apartment building at around 9 o’clock in the morning. After arriving at the scene, they found the glass frame of an apartment on the 6th floor was severely deformed in the explosion, and glass fragments scattered on the floor.

The police also found a dying man lying in a pool of blood on the terrace on the second floor. He was immediately sent to a nearby hospital, but later died in the hospital.

The police said the 38-year-old man surnamed Liu was from Wuping County in southwestern Fujian and was the owner of the apartment on the 6th floor where the gas explosion happened.

His relative said Liu, who ran a factory in Tong’an District, could commit suicide himself as they revealed he was heavily in debt and could not repay the debt.

2.21.2014

Obamanation in action

As Venezuela shows us where the path of leftist demagogues leads, we're getting a good look at the effects of Obamunism here at home too.

Obama's Body Count: Domestic Edition begins as Obamacare claims its first known victim.

US plunges to 46th in world in press freedom. That was before the Obama regime's plan to embed government bureaucrats in press newsrooms.

Meanwhile, we've dropped to 12th in economic freedom. Remember when we were called the "land of the free?"

Student loan debt passes $1 trillion, creating an entire generation of debt serfs.

Finally, America turns Renter Nation as mortgage purchase applications plunge to 20-year lows.

2.12.2014

Stench of Obama sinks Alvarez campaign

A look at three recent news items in the San Diego mayor's race:

Feb 9: Mayor's race a dead heat (47%-46%), poll taken Feb 3 -6.

Feb 8: Obama endorses Alvarez.

Feb 11: Faulconer crushes Alvarez by 9 points.

David Alvarez is an earnest young man, and a fresh face.   Kevin Faulconer is a boring old moderate Republican.  But like almost every modern elected Democrat, Alvarez was beholden to the government workers' union political machine.  Was Obama's endorsement what cemented that fact in voters minds?  Or is it the cumulative effect of Obamacare, rewriting laws by executive order, NSA wiretapping, and drone strikes on children?




2.11.2014

Little-known facts

Janet Yellen is the voice of Shelly Marsh on South Park.





Listen to Old Taffy Mouth's testimony today here.

2.10.2014

Greenspan goes to China

The plague of Alan Greenspan's debt-based consumption has spread to all corners of the earth:
A 32-year-old labor contractor in Fuzhou, Fujian province attempted suicide after he racked up 110,000 yuan in credit card debts to 'make himself look rich' in front of his family members over the Spring Festival, Strait Metropolis Daily reported this weekend.

The man, surnamed Yang, decided to take advances from his four credit cards so that he would look good in front of his family and friends when he saw them over the Lunar New Year holiday, according to ECNS.com.

Yang spent most of the money on gambling with his friends and spent the rest on gifts for his family members. He said he didn't realize how much he was spending until after the holiday when he received a message from the bank.

The man, unable to borrow more money, knew he couldn't afford to pay the debt and felt so helpless that he chose to commit suicide.

On Friday morning, he jumped into a river in Fuzhou, but was saved by an older man who was swimming in the river.

2.04.2014

Prohibition killed Philip Seymour Hoffman

Reason:
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, fentanyl is "roughly 50-80 times more potent than morphine," so it's the sort of ingredient you'd want to know about before snorting or injecting that white powder you just bought. This kind of thing—passing one drug off as another, delivering something much more (or less) potent than the customer expects—almost never happens in a legal market. When was the last time you bought a bottle of 80-proof whiskey that turned out to be 160 proof? The main reason liquor buyers do not have to worry about such a switcheroo is not that distillers are regulated, or even that their customers, unlike consumers in a black market, have legal recourse in case of fraud. The main reason is that legitimate businesses need to worry about their reputations if they want to keep customers coming back. It is hard to build and maintain a reputation in a black market, where brands do not mean much.

El número de muertos de Greenspan

Spanish suicides rise to eight-year high.

1.30.2014

California Beer - How Capitalism Provides

An ironic title but one that I will illustrates provides an appropriative narrative when describing how government regulation reduces choice and increases price. As I previously stated, I escaped California and moved to Pennsylvania last summer. Almost all of my costs went down except for one, alcohol. And since my alcohol of choice is beer, I am struggling. Well not really since I'm saving multiple times on everything else but I want to illustrate the impact of government limited supply on society.

Today was the annual release of Bell's Brewery's Hopslam Imperial IPA. This apparently is IPA ambrosia because it sold out of the Whole Foods near me in an hour, around mid-day. I have a job that's more than 10 minutes away so I missed out, and I was, was disappointed. Then I thought about it. These tools at Bell's are limiting supply in PA so to drive the price up. And it turns out a pizza bar across the street was purchasing the bottles at Whole Food's and then selling them for 3x the original cost. Good for them, I guess. But is Bell's any better than Dogfish Head's 90 Minute, Lagunitas Brewery's Maximus or Sucks, or Stone's Ruination? I have no idea because Bell's doesn't produce enough for me to try. But the response here in South Eastern PA is strange. Does any Imperial IPA deserve a 3x premium? I'm not sure. I mean the gold standard for Imperial IPA is Pliney the Elder from Russian River Brewery which is number 2 on Beer Advocate's Imperial rating, and yet that was available every Wednesday in California for just $4.50 a bottle. If they sold it hear at the extremely limited outlets I'm pretty sure it would command $10 a bottle because there are few vendors providing it. On the other hand Lagunitas Maximus and Dogfish Head 90 Minute are available every day of the year. So is Hopslam any better? I don't know because the snobs don't produce enough. But what strikes me as odd is the reaction here. Folks storming the Whole Foods for a mythical beer that one person of knowledge, having tasted it, says is totally not worth it. I wonder if we aren't seeing a glimpse of blue jeans demand in Czechoslovakia circa 1987? Are we witnessing a minor example of how government regulation creates absurd demand that enriches a few but otherwise doesn't supply the most profitable result? Isn't it ironic that in terms of fantastic beer sales, California, an otherwise socialist state, provides?

Who knows? But one thing is for sure, I have no interest in Bell's Hopslam or any Bell's beer. Their's is an exclusive crowd that is capable of shopping for beer at 1PM on a Thursday and I wish them all the best, and won't get in the way by purchasing any of their offerings going forward.

1.29.2014

Obama announces plan to prey on the poor and stupid to fund his deficits

CNN Money:
President Obama on Tuesday offered up a new kind of "starter" retirement accounts aimed at employees of companies that don't offer such plans.

Obama is calling them the "MyRA" and said he would, by executive order, direct the Treasury Department to create them.
The idea is to create Roth IRA accounts that can hold only Treasury securities. News flash: people whose employers don't offer 401(k)s can already use Roth IRAs. And Roth IRA accounts can already hold Treasury securities. But only a moron would put his entire retirement into Treasury bonds yielding 2-4%.

Unfortunately, the poor and stupid don't have enough money to make a difference in the Treasury market, because, well, they're poor and stupid. But this is all part of a long-time dream of leftists to force Americans to finance the deficit by forcing them to hold Treasuries in their retirement accounts. Today, the poor. Tomorrow, the masses of 401(k) owners. Somebody's got to buy all those Treasuries after the Fed and China are done and the government still needs to fund monster deficits.

More at Reason and Sovereign Man. And Zero Hedge: "If you like your retirement account, you can keep your retirement account." And here's our friend Skeptical CPA writing about this more than five years ago.

1.22.2014

Pennsylvania - Beer - Nanny State

Straight out of Beer with Demo's playbook we have a story about beer in our constantly more intrusive nanny state. Strangely though the nanny state of Pennsylvania is pretty long in the tooth with this one. It has to do with how they sell beer here.

Now say what you will about the socialistic leanings of California, but my goodness do they do beer well. There is even a brewery in Scotland that is trying to replicate Californian beer called Brew Dog. Now as an aside, I can't find anything on their website referencing this now but when I visited their brewpub in Camden, London, UK, the bartenders went on about their goal to replicate the brilliant beer being produced in California. So much was this the goal that the bottles they had for sale were from Stone, Anchor, Lagunitas, and Lost Coast, IN LONDON!

Anyway, having arrived in PA I've been shocked into a dark and miserable beer reality that is nanny state regulation of my beer pleasure. In PA the law is this: we have beer distributors that you can drive up to and buy a case of beer. ONLY A CASE of beer. No 22 oz. bottles, no 6 packs, no 4 packs of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. You are only allowed to buy 24 bottles of beer at a time at these beer stores. The ONLY alternative to that is to buy beer from a bar. FROM A BAR MAN! Now you can imagine the cost because they charge you for 6 bottles of succulent Miller Lite what they charge for 1 bottle of Miller Lite x 6 in the bar. It is stupid.

But that is the law in PA. If you want to run a store that sells beer you can only sell cases at a time. But if you are a bar you can sell other denominations, but you are a bar so you might sell at bar prices. Thanks goodness Whole Foods and Wegmans have some clever folks on hand. They get around this, and provide my basic need of a sublime Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, by opening legal bars within their confines.

Whole Foods in Devon has a pub legally separate from the store called the Mile Post Pub. They have a very good selection of beer matching their offerings in CA but they are also a legal bar selling glasses of wine and beer as well as growlers. So far so good. But a problem remains, Wegmans and Whole Food ARE THE ONLY folks that have figured this out. What that leaves is prices like this:

So while I can still get my Stone fix, the cost is most disappointing.

There is a movement to free this up called Free My Beer but it actually depresses me. There is nothing to be gained by the state to reduce beer sales other than possibly prevent dangerous alkies from getting their fix. But really, dangerous alkies will get their fix regardless. So PA loses tax revenue to Delaware and New Jersey for people who say no and deprives me of Stone's latest Enjoy By because vendors don't have an incentive to provide a competitive variety because their competition is so limited. And yet this law does not get overturned in an instance. Why? Well I suppose that when you have a state that protects child molesters so they can have a good university football team then common sense is probably not something you can expect from this lot.

Oh well, Delaware is about 40 miles away and they have no sales tax. I'll be heading there and stocking up once the weather get warmer.

I do thank Whole Foods, who have an excellent staff in Devon, and Wegmans, who not-so-much because they scan every single drivers license to confirm the 60 year old standing in front of them is 60, for setting up shop to provide the micro-brew offerings. At the same time I do miss my local Shell selling a 22oz bottle of Lagunitas IPA for me to easily pick up when I fill my tank. Oh well, I suppose it is the price I pay for getting my house for 60% less than I would pay in the East Bay....

1.17.2014

Mortgage Qualification -- American = Crook

Hi folks, NL here, it's been a while. Where have I been? Well I've left the communist confines of California and relocated my family to the Philadelphia area. Why? Hmmmm, I don’t make 7 figures so I can’t live comfortably in CA. I also want my kids to have a good education, I can’t afford private school and I would prefer a student teacher ratio that is less than 40. But I can comment on this topic more in the future.

Tonight I want post a comment on the absurdity of mortgage qualification. Since I’ve moved to PA I can suddenly afford to buy my first home. In the Bay Area this was impossible with my low 6 figure salary, but my God have I found the promised land! I’m going to close on my first home on .7 acres with a 2300 square foot house in a lovely area known as the Mainline. This property would literally cost 1.2+ million in Walnut Creek, CA. Here we are south of half a mil and the people in my neighborhood tell me that our 10 out 10 rated school with an average class size of 17 is the best in the state. Of course I’ve found out there are 8 school districts here where people claim the same but whatever, it’s better than what we were looking at in CA.

So I am about to become landed gentry and I’m trying to finalize the loan. The only debt I have is a car payment for my VW Golf (base model) and my credit score is 800. Yet I’m being treated as a common drug-money launderer by the banks that would provide me a loan. (BTW, I haven’t applied to HSBC and their not-even-alleged drug money laundering, but I hate them so much so I haven’t even tried. Maybe that's my mistake). So I’m left to fend for myself and I want to post exactly what I’m hearing back about some foreign cash I have.

My wife is from the foreign land of samba and football, but she speaks perfect English having studied English and American literature in college. We visit her foreign land almost every other year. My brother-in-law is one of the most generous, wonderful human beings on the planet and last time we visited he put our hotel and car rental bills on his credit card because he works for a huge firm that gets great discounts. So at the end of the vacation I handed him a wad of foreign land cash to cover our costs and thanked him greatly for helping us. He took the money and replied "no problem." When we returned from the foreign land I opened one of my bags to find an envelope that had written on it ‘You’re Welcome’. And in the envelope was that wad of cash, 3000 real units of his country’s currency, which equates to about $1500. The generous saint wanted to provide his sister with a vacation present. Awesome dude.

Fast forward to this week and my hassle in getting approved for a loan. Many of my deposits of legal US currency have been questioned and I’m being asked to provide bank statements of those that provided me these legal US currency gifts over the holiday period. I have resisted stating that their business has nothing to do with me and I will not ask those generous relatives for their bank statements just because they are old school Chicago and like to deal in cash. The response has been that this is Fannie Mae rules, the Government OWNED entity that contributed to the almost immediate, and certainly long term, destruction of this nation.

I’m likely not going to get a loan because of this though I am doing nothing illegal; I’m transacting in the legal currency of this country and I’m a super credit candidate. So I pitched to the lender the foreign currency scenario I mentioned above to find out if I could convert that into USD and use it, just for kicks. This was the response:
"My processor said it could possibly fly with a letter of explanation, the documentation of the exchange and evidence of your trip last year, i.e. passport, or other."
That is hilarious. I received cash gifts from relatives over the holiday because they wanted to help me finally cross the home ownership finish line. Now I’m required to provide my relatives' bank statements, which I will not be providing. BUT if I happen to acquire foreign currency all I need do is supply a letter and port of entry stamp.

The moral of the story, I don’t know, avoid fiat currency banana republics like the USA? Or one might suggest that if someone provides you cash, leave the country, convert the cash into a foreign currency then write a nice letter and show your passport with proof you left the country, and deposit the funds. One used to maybe consider this very suspect, but ironically no. It’s suspect to deposit large sums of US currency. Only criminals would do that. Depositing sums of foreign currency, well, as long as you write a nice letter…

As a footnote, I’m not going to convert that foreign currency into USD because we are going to head back there next year and I’m just going to use it then. Instead I’m going to look into alternative loan options that don’t involve organizations that have direct access to the overnight Fed lending window. They will only have indirect access but hey, one level removed is still something.

Remember folks Americans are money laundering terrorist until proven not, over and over and over again. Now get back in line at the airport you scumbags....

1.14.2014

Greenspan's Body Count: Jennifer Berman, Alexander Berman, Jacqueline Berman

It's hard to believe that Alan Greenspan is still killing, years after the housing crash and after his successor Zimbabwe Ben has re-inflated the housing bubble.  But the Maestro works in mysterious ways.

Today's episode of Greenspan's Body Count comes from the wealthy town of West Palm Beach.
By 6 p.m. city police confirmed Alexander Berman, 16, and his sister, Jacqueline, 15, had been found dead in the pink house with the basketball net out front. The body of a woman, who police identified as Richard Berman’s ex-wife, was also found in the home.

The three appear to have died from gun shots in a murder-suicide.

“I can’t believe this could happen in our neighborhood, but I guess it could happen anywhere,” said Rod Tinson, a neighbor. “It’s a shame. It’s sickening to hear the teenage kids, too.”

The teens’ mother, Jennifer Berman, 48, sent emails to Richard Berman, her ex-husband and father of the children, and to other members of their family Monday morning, saying she was going to harm either herself or other family members, said Sgt. David Lefont, a city police spokesman.

[...]

The home, which records still list the two as owning, has been in the process of foreclosure since 2010. It originally belonged to Jennifer Berman’s mother, according to court records, and had recently been sold. The mother and children were to move out in February.
Zillow shows the home having been sold in 2004 at the deeply discounted price of $101,000. That's likely the family deal purchase from Jennifer Berman's mother or her estate. But the family must have hit the home ATM a little too hard with the value soaring to over $1 million at the peak of Greenspan's bubble.

Greenspan's Body Count stands at 250.

1.11.2014

The brighter side of Obamacare

Though the most visible effects of Obamacare are millions of Americans losing their health insurance and higher health care costs for almost everyone else, it's important to remember that there are some people who are actually helped by Obamacare.

One such person is a Facebook friend of mine. "Sue" is not old enough for Medicare, but old enough to be in the deep end of the risk pool. She didn't have insurance prior to Obamacare because it was simply too expensive in the individual market. Under Obamacare, she has been able to purchase a heavily subsidized plan that costs her very little. Here is Sue's story :
WC, I couldn't afford coverage. [Husband] "Bob" had it through Veterans, as he's a Vietnam Vet. I was able to get subsidized Healthcare through CoveredCA.com. California had a better system than Healthcare.gov. My first appointment is Jan. 7. I was able to get a primary care physician here in Encinitas. My doctor is on El Camino Real. I had a small glitch because I switched to her from another doctor in Oceanside. I got to request a woman doctor, and there were several under HealthNet, my new insurance provider.

My daughter, who was insured through her and her husband's private corporation, which later went public, was dropped by her insurance carrier for various reasons, but mostly because she got thyroid cancer; her cancer was diagnosed and removed, but then she had to get a different, much more expensive insurance company and they would not pay for anything related to her pre-existing condition. Fortunately, "LeeAnn" has been in remission for more than five years. However, both my daughters are glad I'm now covered, and will be getting a check-up, at long last.

I was surprised I got an appointment so quickly, but I really worked at signing up in a timely manner. I did have to wait on hold for over 10 minutes a couple of times.

Our next door neighbor, who works, but not enough hours to be covered through her jobs, I think, was able to qualify for subsidized healthcare premiums of only $41 per month. She and her boyfriend/now husband are very glad for this opportunity, as am I.
Observations:

1) So far, so good.

2) This anecdote supports the proposition that older and/or sicker people are much more highly motivated to sign up than the young and healthy, especially with the program subsidizing the old and overcharging the young. The one young uninsured fellow I know hasn't bothered to sign up and is offended by the whole program.

On the sign-up process, choices available, and costs:
Yes, one could choose between bronze, silver and gold, bronze being the least expensive. But because Bob and I are both retired now, and on a low fixed income (Bob recently turned 65 and is now also on Medicare, so he doesn't need to sign up for this coverage).

But the years between 60 and 65 are considered high risk by insurance companies, and those are the folks that get charged the highest premiums. Depending on what plan I selected, I had to pay for a "Silver" HMO coverage up to $91 per month. I signed with HealthNet, for the lowest amount, but I am not affiliated with Scripps hospitals. I'd rather not say exactly how much I pay, but it's less than my neighbor, at $41. Remember, this is for one person's coverage, only, not family. The government is paying the insurance company around $600 per month! What is outrageous, to me, is that the insurance companies are making so much on this deal. I say it's a far better arrangement for them than Medicare or MediCal [California's Medicaid]. We would not have qualified for MediCal, in any case. If someone is indigent, say homeless, that person could get MediCal, already. But those people usually wouldn't sign up, and would be "processed" through emergency rooms, the most expensive type of treatment. I have an office Copay of $15 and an Emergency Room Copay of $75. That is very reasonable, I know.
Observations:

3) Probably a correct observation that Obamacare is a much better deal for the insurance companies than Medicare or Medicaid. That was the plan all along to get insurers on-board to help pass Obamacare.

Post-appointment report:
WC, I was super disappointed because although my (previous) doctor here, in Encinitas, takes Healthnet HMO, her office manager told me there was a mistake. They don't take Healthnet HMO through Covered California. So I sat there like a dummy, for over an hour, because Bob had dropped me off half an hour early, to fill out forms, as it was to be my initial appointment (he had errands to do, so we thought it would save car trips). I feel like filling out a grievance with our State Insurance Commissioner, because I don't think it's right that a doctor's office or clinic, which accepts a particular insurance can cherry pick it and say, but not if it's affordable healthcare, fully subsidized through an HMO by that same insurance provider. But another friend had told me that it's hard to find doctors that accept new patients on Medicare, as well. My point is, there are a lot of politicians, as well as health care providers, who don't WANT the affordable healthcare act to work.

I came back home and called up Healthnet, had to wait only a few minutes this time, on hold less than five minutes, to speak to a rep. I have now changed my Primary Care provider to a doctor in Oceanside. I tried to call her office, to make another initial appointment, which the Healthnet rep had said I could, but when I called the doctor, her intake lady explained I'm not in the system yet. So once again, I called back Healthnet, and was then told it could take five to seven days for my change in primary care provider (they call it PCP, ha ha) to show up in the system, for the doctor's office to verify. In other words, I'm going to wait until a week from today, and call for another appointment.

I checked out the doctor, and she got good reviews online. Originally, I hadn't wanted to be associated with Tri-City Medical Center, but someone told me they are good, too. The issues they have had, in the news, have been political or administrative, not anything to do with the quality of the physicians. I am willing to wait, as I don't have an emergency, but the system I am disappointed in is the system of capitalism that puts the monetary bottom line of greatest profit as the overriding priority.
Observations:

4) Not surprising about the appointment SNAFU -- that's not just a government health care thing but this kind of thing happened often with our byzantine pre-Obamacare health insurance system.

5) Interesting that Obamacare patients are relegated to a lesser list of providers even within the same insurance company. Tri-City Medical Center is not only 15 miles away with ancient facilities, it's also the kind of place that sees a lot of gunshot wounds and stabbings, if you know what I mean. Was Obamacare intended to be second-class health care? It certainly wasn't advertised that way.

Sue is certainly better off under Obamacare than without insurance, and possible better off than she'll be on Medicare.  But if the best thing that can be said about Obamacare is that some people are better off after being given heavy subsidies, that's damningly faint praise indeed.

Thoughts on a #TradeWarTuesday

1) We're going to need to decouple from the evil Chinese regime. This started as a crazy Trump position but is now bipartisan consensus....