EnduringSense

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Plato

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Gun Carrying Good Samaritan Saves Lives in Chicago

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 21, 2015

The news media cannot wait to publicize gun stories that fit their anti-Second Amendment narrative.  At the same time the media rarely publishes stories that might promote the benefits to society of gun rights.  Such was the case this week with an incident in Chicago, Illinois that had a happy ending.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Everardo Custodio began firing into a crowd of people in Logan Square.  Upon seeing this this, an Uber driver with a license and permit to carry a concealed weapon jumped into action, shooting and wounding Custodio.  The Good Samaritan will not be prosecuted, according to local authorities.  It is evident had the Good Samaritan not been armed, innocent people would have been wounded or killed.

Those who would impose strict gun controls on Americans will not discuss the benefits of honest citizens being armed.  In addition, they ignore the discussion of the significant drop in crime with increasing gun-carry permits.  The facts, however, are not arguable

Illinois started granting concealed carry permits in 2015 with over 68,000 issued.  Since then, robberies in Chicago have declined 20%, burglary and motor vehicle thefts are down over 20%, and homicide rates have declined to a 56 year low, according to The Washington Times.  Nationally, carry permits have increased from 4.5 million to 11.1 million in the past seven years.  During this same period, homicide and other violent crimes have decreased by 22%.

Those who are against gun ownership rights would argue that the cause and effect of the decreasing crime rates have not scientifically been correlated to the increased gun permits.  While technically correct, it is a thin argument.  Certainly the significant increase of gun carrying honest citizens has not resulted in increased gun violence, a cornerstone of the anti-gun ownership argument.

Posted in Gun Control | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Those Who can’t Speak English in Puerto Rico May Qualify for Social Security Disability

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 14, 2015

We have to thank Liz for sending this grotesque example of government gone wild.

According to the washingtonpost.com the Social Security office may consider you disabled if you can’t speak English, which could make it more difficult to obtain a job.  Our grandparents who came to this Country from non-English speaking countries would be aghast and insulted by such a perverse use of the handout logic.

But it gets worse.  Can’t speak English in Puerto Rico, a territory that includes mainly Spanish speaking residence and you still might qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  According to the Post, between 2011 and 2014, 218 local Spanish speaking residents were granted Social Security disability benefits for their weakness in English.  Adding insult to injury, even skilled professionals in Puerto Rico can apply for the benefit.

This author wonders whether us short folks are deserving of some special assistance for our “disability”.  Think of all of professional sports opportunities we have been locked out of for this disability!

Posted in Government Handouts, Government Ineptness | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

New Consumer Credit Scores Promote Risky Lending

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 5, 2015

The Wall Street Journal reported the most often used creator of consumer credit scores, Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), is introducing a new metric for rating consumer credit worthiness.  These metrics will use consumers’ payment history for items like utility bills and how often they have changed their address.  Previously, FICO scores have been created from information obtained by the major credit reporting firms.

In making the announcement, FICO indicated that over 50 million Americans who currently do not have acceptable FICO lending scores would be able to obtain them under the new system.  This fact alone should raise significant concern as to the motivation behind FICO’s change.  However, for those that need more convincing, the FICO’s rating changes come as a result of significant pressure from lending institutions and the real estate industry.  These self-interest groups do not seek change for any other reason than a desire for greater profits.  In the past, relaxing lending standards has resulted in significant economic damage to the greater society.

Posted in Debt | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

China’s Growing Debt

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 31, 2015

This Blog has often referred to the real and potential problems associated with the growing debt in the United States and Western Europe.  However, the unsustainable growth of debt is a worldwide phenomenon that includes the fastest-growing major economy, China.

The Wall Street Journal reported on China’s growing debt.  According to the International Monetary Fund, China’s debt is growing quicker than that of Japan, who has a debt to GDP ratio of over 200%.  It is also growing faster than the debt of the United States and South Korea.

A significant portion of China’s debt is being created by local governments who borrow to finance projects in their areas.  The Journal reports that these local governments have accounted for 25% of China’s total debt since 2008 and in 2013 reached 36% of GDP, double the rate of five years earlier.  At this rate it is estimated that local borrowing will increase to 52% of GDP by 2019.

Incredibly, there are approximately 8,000 local quasi-government finance organizations throughout China.  This huge number and the large amount of debt lend themselves towards corruption and inefficient usage of the debt.  Also, since these finance organizations are related to the government, they are able to sell bonds with high risk at subsidize rates as lenders incorrectly believe that default is not possible.

This lose money policy in China lends itself to financing ventures that do not make economic sense, thereby increasing the likelihood of defaults.  This is eerily reminiscent of the lose money policies of the West and the United States in particular that led to the economic meltdown of 2008.  It is likely that China’s flawed financing practices will lead to similar results in that country.  Given the size of the Chinese economy, that will lead to contagion in economies worldwide.

Posted in China | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Discusses ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ Lie

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 25, 2015

Almost immediately after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by police officer Darren Wilson, supposed witnesses came forward and reported that Brown was shot while trying to surrender with his hands up.  These reports created the narrative of “hands up, don’t shoot” that became the rallying cry for protesters of the Brown shooting.  This rallying cry was reported and repeated by news outlets throughout the country, civil rights leaders, and even politicians on the floor of Congress.  The problem is that the reports were built on a lie; the “hands up don’t shoot” never occurred.

congress_handsupdontshootThe “hands up don’t shoot” claim was found false in the recently released Justice Department report that concluded “Brown never surrendered with his hands up, and Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.”  It also concluded that the witnesses that reported “hands up, don’t shoot” were not reliable.

While many in the United States rush to judgment based on this narrative, even with the Justice Department’s unequivocal conclusion on the falseness of the claim, few in the news media or the politicians that promoted it apologized for their error or to Officer Darren Wilson who was discredited and lost his job.

There have been a few exceptions to the silence for those that erred concerning Ferguson.  Liberal Washington Post columnist, Jonathan Capehart, to his credit admitted last week that the “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative he too promoted was “built on a lie”.

While Mr. Capehart showed honor, others are unapologetic.  For instance, last Thursday on CNN Tonight hosted by Don Lemon, a debate was held on the “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative.  While some on the panel admitted the claim false, others doubled down on the false story with Monifa Bandele stating:

“‘Hands up’ is the ultimate truth, and the reason why hands up has gone viral across the country is because it’s a posture known to black people, whether they are in the halls of congress, whether they are in the NFL, or whether they live in the most marginalized communities — or whether they’re on the campuses of Yale University.  It’s a posture known to them.”

Ms. Bandele’s and others who prove to be unwilling to admit their grievous error in the Brown tragedy exemplify what is so wrong with America today.  Partisan positions and personal agendas trump absolute truths.  While this currently serves the “needs” of the radical Left since their narrative has significant control over societal directions, there will be a time when the pendulum shifts and their tactic of dishonesty will be used to promote a very different agenda.  Only then will the cry foul.

Often those who promote a position that differs with the Leftist agendas, such as the theory of man-made global warming, are attacked as flat earther’s or some other derogatory stab at their intellect.  If ignorance was the reason behind the Left’s false narrative on the Ferguson shooting it would be a disappointment.  Unfortunately there is something more sinister behind their use of the Ferguson tragedy to further their own personal agendas.

 

Posted in Racism, Radical Left | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Subprime Loans are Back Again

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 21, 2015

It was just six years ago that the world was at the brink of economic Armageddon.  The crisis was brought on by the cheap loans made available to borrowers including those rated as subprime with credit scores below 640.  The cheap mortgages to those with limited assets helped create a huge bubble in the housing market.  When the economy slowed down and home values began to depreciate, many borrowers began to default on the mortgages, which placed at risk major financial institutions worldwide that invested in these bundled mortgages.

Banks and others that owned the collateralized mortgages then required bailouts from the government to stave off failure.  This did not eliminate the debt, but merely moved it from the private sector to governments; i.e. taxpayers.  In addition, the bailouts inordinately benefited companies and their shareholders who made the imprudent loans.  Without the bailouts they would have encountered substantial financial losses.

There is also been a more incipient result of the bailouts of investors who made imprudent loans in the subprime market.  Without suffering losses investors have had short memories and in fact they are back bailoutsat it again in the subprime financing business, once again supported by low interest rate central-bank policies with interest rates worldwide remaining at artificially and historic lows.

Last month, the Wall Street Journal highlighted the growth of subprime loans in an article titled Borrowers Flock to Subprime Loans.  Today, subprime loans are not in the housing market, but in consumer goods.  The Journal published the following:

  • Subprime loans are at the highest level since before the 2008 financial meltdown.
  • Approximately 4 out of every 10 loans for autos, credit cards and other personal borrowing in 2014 were in the subprime category.
  • During the fourth quarter of 2014, total US household debt increased by over $300 billion.

The Federal Reserve’s low interest rate policies are pushing investors to greater risk as they seek returns.  This, coupled with the availability of cheap capital has offered incentives for nontraditional lenders to enter the credit markets.  For example some venture backed funds are fueling the growth of subprime lending, such as Lending Tree, Inc., an online auto loan marketplace.  These lenders are not regulated and are likely to use leverage and other financial games to pursue even more subprime lending, a repeat of the actions behind the 2008 financial crisis.

Subprime lending is fueling economic unsustainable growth.  For example US auto sales topped 16.5 million in 2014, a nearly 6% increase from the previous year and up nearly 60% from 2009.  When the inevitable slowdown occurs, an increasing number of subprime borrowers will be unable to repay their loans, a repeat of what led to the 2008.

History has demonstrated that booms and busts, and yes bubbles, are at normal part of economic cycles.  However, major macroeconomic bubbles have generally been a once in a generation occurrence that is self-correcting and serves as a reminder to that generation of the pitfalls of imprudent economic behavior.  The collapse of 2008 was different with many investors being bailed out and equity markets returning to their highs within a relatively short period of time.  This has shortened capitalists’ memory who are now once again making imprudent loans in search of returns.  This will lead to another significant downturn in the relatively near future, a probability that investors are ignoring in the belief that when it occurs the government will again come to the rescue.  However, this time the government and the Federal Reserve are themselves deep in deep.  It remains to be seen how this huge sovereign debt will affect the outcome.

Posted in Bailouts, Bubbles | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Obama and Liberal Allies Were Wrong on Ferguson; Two Policemen Shot

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 12, 2015

Last year’s shooting in Ferguson, Missouri of African-American Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson lea to protests, some violent, in Ferguson and other cities.  The protests were based on the narrative that Brown was an innocent who was shot by Wilson because of his skin color.  This narrative was taken to an emotional height by the often repeated chant, “hands up, don’t shoot”, supposedly sad by Brown before he was shot.  The narrative and chant were completely false, as confirmed by Eric Holder’s Justice Department who recently refused to press Civil Rights charges against Wilson and confirmed that the supposed “hands up don’t shoot” appeal never occurred.  It further found Officer Wilson’s testimony to be credible.

Given the Justice Department’s findings on Ferguson it is reasonable to expect retractions and apologies from those politicians and the media that promoted the false narrative.  But reason is not a strong suit of radicals on the Left or Right.  In this case, the lack of reason runs all the way up to the President himself.

Earlier this week, Sean Hannity interviewed two African Americans concerning the Ferguson events, Civil Rights attorney Leo Terrell and columnist Deroy Murdock.  Murdock expressed concern about the manner in which President Obama and AG Holder politicized the tragedy.  Hannity went further criticizing the President for not only jumping to conclusions before having the facts, but also coming to the wrong conclusions concerning the Cambridge police/Professor Gates, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown matters, in all cases incorrectly concluding that racism was involved.

Terrell disagreed with Hannity and Murdock with an emotional outburst included in the video below that bordered on irrational.  Instead of debating the issues Terrell personally attacked Murdock in a condescending tone.  This is an often used tactic by the Left who instead of debating issues demonize opponents to sniffle intelligent debate.

As for the Justice Department, instead of admitting that Eric Holder initially wrongfully concluded that Brown was the victim of racism, changed the goal posts.  Holder, in announcing the DOJ’s findings that vindicated Wilson, justified those who lied about the incident based on Ferguson’s more general history of racism.  However, that does not explain why Holder and Obama initially agreed with the false narrative in a very public fashion.

Unlike Holder and Obama who remain silent relating to their errors, local politicos in Ferguson have not.  Since the DOJ’s damming report of general racism by some in the Ferguson police department, its chief has resigned.  But that has not mollified some.  Last night’s protests in Ferguson included the shooting of two police officers.  The lack of appropriate condemnation of the riots after the Brown shooting by Obama, Holder and others, as well as the promotion of the false narrative concerning the Brown shooting, created an atmosphere that ferments violence.  It will be hard to put this genie back in the bottle and the blame law squarely in the hands of Obama, Holder and others that have created divisions in the Country to further their own agendas.

Posted in President Obama, Racism | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

EPA Administrator Uses Global Warming to Justify Huge Funding Increase to Agency

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 6, 2015

Progressive governments worldwide have tainted the science behind the theory that man’s usage of carbon-based fuel is responsible for what they first called global warming and more recently climate change.   By controlling funding they effectively control the outcome of the debate, irrespective of real science, using the threat of cutting off the funding for institutions and scientists that do not toe the line.

The US government’s bias in the man-made climate change debate was made transparent in a recent hearing before a Senate committee studying an increased budget request from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was grilled by Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama concerning the Agency’s request for a 6% funding increase for next year, three times the rate of inflation.

In justifying the EPA’s huge budget increase request, McCarthy referred to the dangers of man-made global warming and the important role that EPA plays in combating it.  That led to an exchange between Session’s and McCarthy, video below, which demonstrates McCarthy’s strong bias in the issue.  When Session asked the Administrator three direct questions concerning historical facts of the past 10 years whose answers do not support the man-made global warming “science”, McCarthy feigned ignorance or sparred with the responses.  Her combative and evasive answers are not that of a scientist, but an advocate.

Given that the EPA gains power and additional funding by “promoting” global warming dangers, it is not surprising that McCarthy was so emotional in her exchange with Session.  This is but an example of government agencies and bureaucrats framing arguments and facts to the benefit of themselves personally and/or their agencies.

In the past decade, private companies have significantly cut their cost of doing business in response to increased worldwide competition and also by taking advantage of technology to improve productivity and efficiency.  Contrast this with the US government that continually increases its budget and number of employees and the problem is clear to see.  Then, to protect turf and perpetual growth, high-level bureaucrats justify their existence promoting one potential crisis after another that they are protecting the People from.  Pretty good gig!

Posted in Global Warming | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Congressional Democrats Boycott Benjamin Netanyahu Congressional Speech

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 3, 2015

Nearly 60 Congressional Democrats boycotted today’s speech before Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  The purported reasons according to the Democrats were that Israeli and American politics were behind the PM’s speech and that Congress’s invitation was a breach of protocol.

Both the Democrat’s excuses for the boycott are lame.  First, politics plays a role in what every politician does on a daily basis, whether he be the Prime Minister of Israel or President of the United States.  As for the breach in protocol, that is a rather hollow excuse coming from this Leftist president for whom American history often is of little importance.

Irrespective of the personal differences between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Iranian matter is complex for which reasonable people can disagree.  Iran has for decades proven to be one of the world’s foremost promoter of terrorism.  It also continuously on threatens the annihilation of Israel.  Given these realities should Iran become a nuclear power, a difficult world situation will become even more dangerous.

A nuclear armed Iran becomes an immediate existential threat to Israel.  Should it also obtain intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), Iran would become a direct tgigihreat to the United States.  In addition, should Iran go nuclear, its arch enemies, the Sunni Arab countries of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, as well as Turkey, would likely join a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Given the complexity of the Iranian issue, we should promote active debate on possible responses. However, the Obama Administration and its allies in Congress instead seek to stifle debate and opposing opinions including those of Benjamin Netanyahu.  It begs the question as to why they fear debate so much.  It seems that the Obama Administration is so intent on making a deal with the ayatollahs that it would demonize and ally and thwart open debate.

This Blog comes with a Libertarian view towards and its rightful powers.  On the other end of the philosophical spectrum are Progressives including liberal law professor, Alan Dershowitz.  Dershowitz posted an op-ed prior to Netanyahu’s visit condoning those that would suppress his voice in front of Congress, article posted below.  The ineffective leadership and failed policies of Barack Obama are bringing together a uniquely diverse group of opposition.

The Appalling Talk of Boycotting Netanyahu, ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ, Feb. 23, 2015

As a liberal Democrat who twice campaigned for President Barack Obama , I am appalled that some Democratic members of Congress are planning to boycott the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 3 to a joint session of Congress. At bottom, this controversy is not mainly about protocol and politics—it is about the constitutional system of checks and balances and the separation of powers.

Under the Constitution, the executive and legislative branches share responsibility for making and implementing important foreign-policy decisions. Congress has a critical role to play in scrutinizing the decisions of the president when these decisions involve national security, relationships with allies and the threat of nuclear proliferation.

Congress has every right to invite, even over the president’s strong objection, any world leader or international expert who can assist its members in formulating appropriate responses to the current deal being considered with Iran regarding its nuclear-weapons program. Indeed, it is the responsibility of every member of Congress to listen to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who probably knows more about this issue than any world leader, because it threatens the very existence of the nation state of the Jewish people. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Iran | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

UCLA Video Shows Student Council Anti-Semitism

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 2, 2015

UCLA’s Rachel Beyda is a law student who decided to try out for Universiy’s Judicial Council.  She evidently had a fine resume.  However, when she went before the Council for a final interview, she was initially turned down due to one fact: she is Jewish, as indicated in the video clip posted below.

There was a time when UCLA’s Student Council’s action would have been labeled anti-Semitism.  But in these days of political correctness and bigoted behavior by the Left, it is often excused as something else.

After intervention by a faculty member, Beyda was ultimately appointed to the position.  However, even in the offending party’s apology, the Leftist anti-Semitism remains glaring with Fabienne Roth saying: “I am really sorry with how I framed my argument and the words that I used.  Using someone’s identity against them is completely unacceptable”.  Typical of Leftist bigotry, Progressive Roth believes it is the words or their framing that is the problem. No it is not.  The problem is the bigotry in the heart.

There was a time when bigotry was more likely to emanate from the Right side of the political spectrum.  While it still exists, those of the Right are quickly called for bigoted behavior by the press and greater society.  Today, bigotry is growing on the Left that is creatively camouflaged by political correctness and false intellectualism.  Its growing presence on college campuses should be a concern to all Americans.

Posted in Anti-Semitism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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