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Louisiana Whacko Totally Wrong

A number of people have written about this and gotten parts of the story wrong, including identifying the dillweed at the center of it as a Congresscritter. I’ll let Mark Waller of The Times-Picayune explain: LaBruzzo welfare views out of sync

State Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, says the government should consider cash incentives for poor people to undergo reproductive sterilization, because society is careering toward a day when those on public assistance outnumber taxpayers and the economy collapses. A look at Louisiana welfare numbers suggests his fear is unfounded.

Figures from the state Department of Social Services show recipients of the main form of welfare, the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program, have plunged from a monthly average of 280,177 people in fiscal 1990-91 to 13,504 people in 2006-07. The monthly grant to a qualifying parent with two children is now $240.

Total annual spending during the 16-year period dropped from $187.2 million to $16.5 million, less than legislators earmarked for pet projects.

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September 27, 2008   2 Comments

Would You Like Formica With Your Coffee?

From MSNBC/Reuters: FDA warns of instant coffee in U.S. from China

WASHINGTON – U.S. regulators warned the public on Friday not to consume seven Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products that were made in China because of concerns they may be contaminated with melamine.

The Food and Drug Administration said the products were recalled by King Car Food Industrial Co Ltd “due to possible contamination with melamine.”

I’m fairly certain that the counter top is supposed to be under the cup, not in it.

September 27, 2008   8 Comments

Psyching Out Wall Street

Allan Sloan, senior editor at large, Fortune looks at the “voodoo economics” behind the bailout: Beltway medicine men

NEW YORK (Fortune) — The proposed bailout of the world’s financial system isn’t really about money, folks. It’s about psychology. In fact, you can think of it as the most expensive piece of psychotherapy in the history of the world.

The idea is that having Uncle Sam buy tons of trashy, hard-to-value financial assets will change the psychology of lending institutions throughout the world. This financial Prozac, as it were, would cure the lenders of their fear and depression, encourage them to start lending again, and induce investors to pump new capital into these capital-short institutions.

But psychology – even when practiced by masters like Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke – isn’t an exact science.

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September 27, 2008   4 Comments

Recession Scorecard

Currently there are official recessions in : Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, and New Zealand.  The US, Latvia, Italy, Spain, and Portugal are not looking well.  Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Taiwan are “sneezing”.

September 27, 2008   3 Comments

Incoming!

The BBC reports that Treasury to nationalise B&B bank

Troubled bank Bradford & Bingley is to be nationalised, the BBC has learned.

Officials from the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) have been in talks with executives from the bank in a bid to secure its future.

B&B’s £50bn of loans, including £41bn of home mortgages, will not be sold and will be nationalised on a long-term basis. The mortgages may be given to the nationalised Northern Rock to manage.

The bank experienced significant withdrawals of cash from its branches and online bank on Saturday amid customer concerns about its situation.

The Treasury’s decision to sell B&B’s savings business means that depositors and savers’ money should be safe.

However, B&B’s shareholders and holders of its subordinated debt may lose out.

The £50bn is more that $92 billion. More from Robert Peston, BBC Business editor.

September 27, 2008   Comments Off on Incoming!

RIP Paul Newman 1925-2008

Paul Newman died in his Connecticut home yesterday according to CNN. Actor, director, producer, racing driver, philanthropist, and liberal, he was proud to have been on Nixon’s Enemies List, because he was an enemy of what Nixon stood for politically.

There is more information on his Wikipedia and IMDb pages.

If you are inclined to get one of his films, try a 1981 release directed by Sydney Pollack, Absence of Malice. You might find the themes and story line amazingly contemporary. For some reason it doesn’t show up on television very often.

September 27, 2008   9 Comments

Hurricane Kyle – 3

Hurricane KylePosition: 36.2 N 69.5 W [10 PM CDT 0300 UTC].
Movement: North [005°] near 23 mph.
Maximum sustained winds: 75 mph [120 kph].
Wind Gusts: 90 mph.
Tropical Storm Wind Radius: 205 miles [335 km].
Hurricane Wind Radius: 70 miles [110 km].
Minimum central pressure: 995 mb.

It is 355 miles [570 km] South of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

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September 27, 2008   4 Comments

More Panic

From Fortune on CNN-Money a report on Gas shortages: get ready for more

NEW YORK (Fortune) — While Congress and Bush administration officials have been working to complete a bailout plan and stem the financial contagion on Wall Street, a different kind of economic crisis emerged across the South this week: A severe, hurricane-related gasoline shortage has curtailed trucking from Atlanta to Asheville, N.C., and created a wave of panic buying among motorists.

The return of gas lines has largely flown under the radar of politicians who are usually keenly attuned, because their constituents are, to what’s going on at the pump. But more of the Capitol gang should be paying attention to this.

This was totally predictable, only the response is unreasonable. People are panic buying and the system won’t respond when that happens. Gasoline deliveries are scheduled, they aren’t a response to any particular trigger. If you get a Tuesday delivery, the truck is there on Tuesday and fills your tank. When people rush in to keep topping off their tanks, and bring along gas cans to buy even more, stations run out before their delivery date.

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September 27, 2008   Comments Off on More Panic