28 February 2014
Business, Economics, Government, Health Care, Taxation
Insurance, Obamacare, Surcharge
This is one of the few posts I will ever do on the ACA (Obamacare) because there is way too much BS flowing around the subject……but there is a firestorm going on on the web because of something a restaurant did to its patrons……
An otherwise nondescript restaurant chain in Florida is suddenly national news thanks to a new policy: Gator’s Dockside has added a 1% surcharge to cover the costs of the Affordable Care Act, reports CNN Money. Participating restaurants aren’t trying to hide it, either. “The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors,” reads a sign to patrons. “Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator’s Dockside locations have implemented a 1% surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only.” An executive with the chain estimates that it will cost $500,000 a year to provide all its workers with insurance when the employer mandate kicks in next year, and she figures the surcharge will bring in about $160,000 annually.
As one would expect there is a wealth of opinions…….
- Dumb move: “Obviously, the restaurateur is thinking about this from the perspective of an angry talk-radio-listening Republican rather than that of a hard-headed capitalist,” writes Jonathan Chait at the Daily Intelligencer. “There are costs associated with all kinds of government regulations and spending, but he’s not creating a line item on his tab to highlight his share of, say, financing the Department of Defense.”
- Smart move: “As the surcharge shows, Obamacare is no free lunch,” writes Katrina Trinko at the Heritage Foundation. “Most businesses probably won’t opt to add a specific surcharge in order to cover their new health care costs, but some will certainly raise prices—or reduce quality of their products. Obamacare hasn’t driven down the costs of health insurance, or found a magical new source to cover those costs.”
- Similar move: Eater notes that a popular Los Angeles restaurant, Republique, asks diners to pay a 3% surcharge for employee health care costs. The restaurant makes it optional, however, and says it is not specifically tied to the new law’s mandates.
Now my take……you may call it whatever you like surcharge or tax….it is the same thing……my problem is with the 16th amendment…….
Article I, Section 2, Clause 3:
Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Number
Article I, Section 8, Clause 1:
The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.
If it is a tax then why is only one individual doing it? The name is irrelevant……..it is like the visit to the auto repair shop….take a look at you bill…….there will be a ‘surcharge’ for shop supplies……I do not like that either….but if these people can get away with it why not Gator’s Dockside?
If one opposes taxes then one should be in opposition to this ‘surcharge’. I was unaware that an individual could level taxes I thought that was the duty of the state…….call it what you like a tax is a tax…….I will admit that it is creative….but is it legal?
6 January 2014
Business, Government, Public Policy
Attorney General, Banks, Justice Dept
That’s right…I said public enemy #1….NO I am not jumping on the right wing bullshit wagon…..I do not like Holder for a whole array of reasons and none of them have anything to do with the talking points of the right talking points….like “fast & Furious” or drones or surveillance or…..pick a subject that they like to go on about incessantly….I am talking about why the Justice Department did not pursue the banks for their complacency in the 2008 economic meltdown….and why after all these years these same thieves are allowed to continue to play their dangerous game…..
After reading an article in Truthout….I ask these questions……..
Providing additional evidence that the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) is protecting “banks too big to fail,” Pulitzer Prize winning financial reporter David Cay Johnston has revealed that the DOJ has refused to force JPMorgan Chase to comply with an ongoing investigation into the bank’s possible knowledge of Bernard Madoff’s fraud scheme of a few years ago.
The information obtained might reveal that the bank chose to financially benefit from criminal activity:
Bernard Madoff’s principal bank, JPMorgan Chase, has for years obstructed federal bank examiners trying to ascertain what it knew about his gigantic Ponzi scheme, an official document obtained by Newsweek shows.
The Justice Department refused in September to back up Treasury inspector general staff who wanted a court order to enforce a subpoena, in effect shielding JPMorgan from law enforcement, the October 8 document shows.
The Justice Department told the Treasury Inspector General “that they were denying the request for enforcement of the subpoena,” which means officials “could not undertake further actions regarding this matter,” wrote Jason J. Metrick, the inspector general special-agent-in-charge.
Johnston disclosed the latest damning indication of the DOJ shielding Wall Street banks that dominate US finanes in a Newsweek article. The DOJ pattern of not exploring potential big bank criminal activity was admitted to by Attorney General Eric Holder — as BuzzFlash at Truthout reported at the time — as recalled by Johnston:
Holder is as much at fault as the bankers……time for this person to disappear (take that anyway you choose)……..crooks and cons are just that and until we hold those responsible for their actions we will continue this vicious cycle of boom and bust…..
The markets have gone batshit crazy, closing on record highs almost daily…..to me we are being set up for another meltdown…..maybe not tomorrow….but it is coming and coming hard!
3 January 2014
Business, Observations, Society
Debts, Economic Injustice, Judicial Issues, Prisons
Back in the early days of America England would turn out all the prisoners in debtor’s prison and mail them off to the new world and they were our first settlers……that’s right some of our earliest settlers were ex-cons, if you will……
But once we became a separate country we did away with people going to prison because they had the misfortune of being in debt……a step forward in the evolution of a civilized country, right?
The sad thing is that debtor’s prison may be making a comeback and in the country that prides itself in not throwing people in prison for being in debt…..
From Fox News:
As if out of a Charles Dickens novel, people struggling to pay overdue fines and fees associated with court costs for even the simplest traffic infractions are being thrown in jail across the United States.
Critics are calling the practice the new “debtors’ prison” — referring to the jails that flourished in the U.S. and Western Europe over 150 years ago. Before the time of bankruptcy laws and social safety nets, poor folks and ruined business owners were locked up until their debts were paid off.
Reforms eventually outlawed the practice. But groups like the Brennan Center for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union say it’s been reborn in local courts which may not be aware it’s against the law to send indigent people to jail over unpaid fines and fees — or they just haven’t been called on it until now.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law released a “Tool Kit for Action” in 2012 that broke down the cost to municipalities to jail debtors in comparison with the amount of old debt it was collecting. It doesn’t look like a bargain. For example, according to the report, Mecklenburg County, N.C., collected $33,476 in debts in 2009, but spent $40,000 jailing 246 debtors — a loss of $6,524.
Don’t worry, I’m sure private prisons for debtors will soon spring up to make this practice a pillar of GDP growth.
Many jurisdictions have taken to hiring private collection/probation companies to go after debtors, giving them the authority to revoke probation and incarcerate if they can’t pay. Research into the practice has found that private companies impose their own additional surcharges. Some 15 private companies have emerged to run these services in the South, including the popular Judicial Correction Services (JCS).
Sad…..very sad…..that a country as modern and up-to-date would resort to this type of thing……but I guess anything is possible when profit is the only worthwhile goal to pursue…..
22 December 2013
Business, News, Observations
Diplomacy, World Affairs
We know that we humans are a greedy lot…….it is all about keeping up appearances….we must own stuff…especially stuff that others may have…..Hell, I learned from my days selling at flea markets, the best and fastest way to sell something is put a sign on it…NFS (Not For Sale)….people go bat shit crazy to have it and the bidding war begins……
With that little rant out of the way…..I read a short piece that made me shudder…….
(Newser) – As a scramble for Arctic resources looms, scientists have spotted evidence of mineral riches at the other end of the planet. An Australian-led team discovered rocks signalling large diamond deposits on the icy slopes of Mount Meredith in the northern Prince Charles Mountains, the BBC reports. Demand for diamonds is expected to outstrip supply in the coming years, and other researchers have found signs of gold, copper, iron, and platinum in the frozen continent.
But would-be prospectors can put away their parkas for now: The 1991 Antarctic Treaty bans mining in Antarctica until at least 2041, preserving the continent for wildlife and scientific research. Only 50 countries, however, have signed the treaty, and it’s not clear what will happen when the ban comes up for review. “We do not know what the Treaty parties’ views will be on mining after 2041 or what technologies might exist that could make extraction of Antarctic minerals economically viable ,” a spokesman for the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research tells Reuters.
Now we will wait and see who will try to claim the site. Since it is pretty much an international zone, it will be an interesting story to follow……who will come out victorious……and wait there is another possibility……reality show!
We have mind numbing, soul sucking, pathetic excuse for entertainment like Bering Sea Gold, Gold Rush, Gem Hunters, etc, etc, etc…….how long before the Antarctica becomes the next waste of valuable air time?
12 December 2013
Business, Economics, Government, Public Policy
Banks, Economic News, Economic Problems, Economic Solutions
File this under the heading……Can’t Fix Stupid!
This is the cry from the right wing…..I read a bunch of these pieces of crap on Twitter today…..all were railing that the new “Volcker Rule” will, in essence, nationalize the banks and in turn bring down the whole economic system in the US….
For those with addled brains let me help with the definition of the term…….nationalization……it means the transfer of private assets into public ownership……see how simple that was and has NOTHING to do with the new “Volcker Rule”………
Let me say here and now…If you believe that this will nationalize the banks then you are sadly mistaken…it will try to prevent the gambling by banks that caused the collapse in 2008…..I am guessing here but NO one wants to revisit the crippling effect that the banksters caused back then…..but do not take my word for it……
(Newser) – The FDIC and Federal Reserve both unanimously approved the long-debated Volcker Rule today, and three other regulatory agencies plan to before the day is out, making it official. The rule, named for and originally proposed by Paul Volcker, aims to ban proprietary trading, “or in plain English,” as the Washington Post puts it, “it removes the parts of banks that gamble and act like hedge funds, because those parts can blow up.” Or at least, that’s what it was supposed to do.
But big banks like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have been lobbying against the law for more than three years, Bloomberg points out, and their “lobbying efforts paid off” in easing some provisions. On the other hand, recent weeks have seen a charge from regulators favoring a tougher version, and they’ve scored points, too, the New York Times reports. Here’s what each side won:
The Tough Side:
- When JPMorgan lost $6 billion on the London Whale trade, it said the position was a “hedge.” The rule still allows hedging, but banks will now have to name a specific, quantifiable risk that each such trade is hedging against.
- Bonuses and compensation must be structured in a manner that doesn’t encourage “prohibited proprietary trading.”
- Chief executives will have to personally “attest” every year that the bank has measures in place to comply with the rule.
The Not-So-Tough Side:
- Banks have until July of 2015 to implement the rule, though they must make a “good faith effort” to do so before that.
- Banks are still allowed to “make markets,” meaning to act as middle men for clients who want to buy and sell stock. Under this guise, banks could buy and hold a stock, arguing that a client might someday want to buy it. The rule mandates that banks buy only enough to meet the “reasonably expected near-term demands of clients,” but leaves it up to banks to decide what’s reasonable.
- Banks can still make proprietary trades in bonds issued by governments.
- Many banks tell the Wall Street Journal that they think they’re already in compliance with the law, while some business groups say they intend to challenge the rule in court. Reform advocates, meanwhile, are starting to call again for a return to Glass-Steagall.
There you have it….this is NO one’s idea of nationalization. If possibly do then I suggest that you spend less time on World of Warcraft and more time educating yourself on the issues….
Personally, I do not think that this piece of legislation goes far enough to prevent banks from doing the gambling that they have come accustomed to in the past……they are still allowed to gamble and that will cause yet more economic problems in the future…..
31 October 2013
Business, Government, Taxation
Contracts, Corporate Greed, Government Spending
My friend over at American Liberal Times wrote a post today about the cost of the ACA program…..I add this is to where a lot of our problems are found…..
I have heard this question asked by many and from both sides…..we hear about all those cheats on welfare and we hear about all that corporate welfare…..and then there are the stories about a $60 hammer or that $500 toilet seat…..you get my drift……this country is screwed daily by all those government contractors….that is why so many want to be on the list…..it is easy money.
I found another story about a total waste of our hard won cash in Afghanistan……
500 for a gallon of fuel?
That was the exorbitant figure paid with U.S. tax dollars to a contractor building a hospital in rural Afghanistan, according to a report from the government watchdog tasked with investigating expenditures on Afghanistan’s reconstruction.
In the report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the International Organization for Migration was found to lack sufficient internal controls able to detect overpayments of at least $507,000 to the contractor it hired to build a 100-bed hospital in the town of Gardez.
It was part of a project begun in July 2008 in a cooperative agreement between the United States International Agency for Development and IOM.
The examples of oversight ineptitude are staggering.
The inspector general found one case where IOM paid the contractor, Sayed Bilal Sadath Construction Company, $300,000 for 600 gallons of diesel fuel – a cost of $500 per gallon.
In another instance, IOM was found to have paid $220,000 for an automatic temperature control device that the audit said should have cost between $2,000 and $10,000.
And I bet you thought gas was expensive in your neighborhood….believe me….IT can get worse!
27 October 2013
Business, News, Society
The techno world is going bat shit crazy…….there is a new discovery almost daily……and some of it sounds like scifi….but NOPE…it be real!
I told my daughter years ago that if she wanted to ever invest to look at the nano-tech companies….I do believe that it is the future and best get on the ground floor……..this is a great story….
(Newser) – A team of Stanford scientists has built a working computer out of carbon nanotubes, a nigh-impossible feat that could herald silicon’s eventual replacement. Granted, the device (which is named “Cedric,” the BBC notes) isn’t terribly useful, containing as many transistors as the earliest 1950s computers. But it can run a basic OS, perform calculations, and switch between processes. “It really is a computer in every sense of the word,” the project’s lead electrical engineer tells the Wall Street Journal .
Carbon nanotubes are rolled out of sheets of pure carbon that are one atom thick. A bundle of 10,000 would be about the width of a human hair. They’re extremely promising conductors, but must be grown like crystals, and tend to develop impurities. “People said you would never be able to manufacture this stuff,” one Stanford engineer says. The results could extend the theoretical limits of Moore’s Law (up to a point anyway), because the nanotubes have the potential to be vastly superior to silicon, CNET observes.
Technology is getting smaller and smaller and this will be a boon to that downsizing…….