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Monday, July 1, 2013

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- June 30, 2013

OK to slaughter horses for meat, federal agency tells New Mexico plant - CNBC - Reuters through CNBC - June 28, 2013 - A New Mexico meat plant received federal approval on Friday to slaughter horses for meat, a move that drew immediate opposition from animal rights group and will likely be opposed by the White House.                 The U.S. Agriculture Department said it was required by law to issue a "grant of inspection" to Valley Meat Co, Roswell, New Mexico, because it had met all federal requirements. Now, the USDA is obliged to assign meat inspectors to the plant.                   The USDA also said it may soon issue similar grants for plants in Missouri and Iowa.                 Horse meat cannot be sold as food in the United States, but it can be exported. Attempts to reach Valley Meat Co. via a number listed online were unsuccessful.                 Valley Meat would be the first meat plant to be allowed to slaughter horses since Congress banned it in 2006.                      It is not known when the plant will start production, but two bills in Congress want to ban horse slaughter and President Barack Obama has asked Congress to ban it.

Multiple Government Agencies Are Keeping Records Of Your Credit Card Transactions - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder - June 28th, 2013 - Were you under the impression that your credit card transactions are private?  If so, I am sorry to burst your bubble.  As you will see below, there are actually multiple government agencies that are gathering and storing records of your credit card transactions.  And in turn, those government agencies share that information with other government agencies that want it.  So if you are making a purchase that you don't want anyone to know about, don't use a credit card.  This is one of the reasons why the government hates cash so much.  It is just so hard to track.  In this day and age, the federal government seems to be absolutely obsessed with gathering as much information about all of us as it possibly can.  But there is one big problem.  What they are doing directly violates the U.S. Constitution.  For those that are not familiar with it, the following is what the Fourth Amendment actually says: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."  Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment is essentially dead at this point.  The federal government is investigating all of us and gathering information on all of us all day, every day without end.                          Many Americans have never even heard of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but Judicial Watch has discovered that they are spending millions of dollars to collect and analyze our financial transactions...                       How do you feel about the fact that the government has contracts with "multiple credit reporting agencies and accounting firms to gather, store, and share credit card data"?                       How do you feel about the fact that your credit card data and other "non-public, confidential information" may be shared with "additional government entities"?                   Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton put it very well when he said that this "warrantless collection of the private financial information of millions of Americans is mind-blowing.  Is there anything that this administration thinks it can’t do?"                         But of course the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not the only one keeping records of your credit card transactions.                      We have also recently learned that the NSA is doing it too.  The following is from a recent Time Magazine article...                                             We are rapidly becoming a "Big Brother society" where the government tracks virtually every move that we make.
And don't think that you can escape this by not using credit cards or by staying off of the Internet.  The truth is that we are being tracked in hundreds of different ways.                         For example, have you heard of automated license plate readers?                       They are being installed on police vehicles all over the nation, and the amount of information that they are gathering on all of us is frightening.                   A computer security consultant named Michael Katz-Lacabe asked the city of San Leandro, California for a record of every time that these license plate readers had scanned his vehicle, and what he discovered absolutely stunned him...                    Most Americans do not even know that these devices exist, but they have been "collecting millions of records" and feeding them into law enforcement databases all over the nation.                       In San Diego alone, more than 36 million license plate scans have been fed into a regional database just since 2010...                  
Is this the kind of society that we want to become?                        Do we really want the police to be taking millions of photographs of us?                       Do we really want all of our financial transactions to be fed directly into federal databases?                    Do we really want the government to track every phone call we make and every email we send?                       As I wrote about recently, it has been documented that literally thousands of companies have been handing over customer data to the NSA.
Is this the kind of legacy that we want to leave for our children and our grandchildren?                  Fortunately, it appears that at least some Americans are waking up to all of this.                 According to a brand new Rasmussen survey, 56 percent of likely voters in the United States now believe that the federal government is a threat to individual rights...                             If the American people do not stand up and demand change, the people that are constantly violating our privacy are going to continue to do so.                           Sadly, the vast majority of the politicians in both major political parties seem to think that there is nothing wrong with the status quo.  So I wouldn't expect any major changes in the short-term.  But hopefully government surveillance will start to become such a major issue with the American people that the politicians will be forced to start addressing it.

How the Government collects your information:

36 Hard Questions About The U.S. Economy That The Mainstream Media Should Be Asking - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder - June 30th, 2013 - If the economy is improving, then why aren't things getting better for most average Americans?  They tell us that the unemployment rate is going down, but the percentage of Americans that are actually working is exactly the same it was three years ago.  They tell us that American families are in better financial shape now, but real disposable income is falling rapidly.  They tell us that inflation is low, but every time we go shopping at the grocery store the prices just seem to keep going up.  They tell us that the economic crisis is over, and yet poverty and government dependence continue to explode to unprecedented heights.  There seems to be a disconnect between what the government and the media are telling us and what is actually true.  With each passing day the debt of the federal government grows larger, the financial world become even more unstable and more American families fall out of the middle class.  The same long-term economic trends that have been eating away at our economy like cancer for decades continue to ruthlessly attack the foundations of our economic system.  We are rapidly speeding toward an economic cataclysm, and yet the government and most of the media make it sound like happy days are here again.  The American people deserve better than this.  The American people deserve the truth.  The following are 36 hard questions about the U.S. economy that the mainstream media should be asking...

Lawmakers fail to reach student loan deal before July 4 break
- Fox News - Perry Chiaramonte - June 27, 2013
- Interest rates on student loans are set to double on Monday after lawmakers failed to find a bipartisan solution to keep the federally subsidized borrowing costs down.                     The Senate adjourned Thursday night for the July 4 recess without approving a student loan rate package.
With the current, 3.4 percent interest rate on Stafford loans -- the most popular funding for college students – set to expire on July 1, a host of 11th-hour fixes all failed to generate support from both sides of the aisle. Without new legislation -- either to extend the cap, set a new one or find another way to peg the loans – the cap rises to 6.8 percent. Congress could always forge a solution in the following days, even lowering rates retroactively.                The higher rates would add about $3,000 to the total interest on a $23,000 student loan repaid over 10 years.

U.S. education spending tops global list, study shows - AP through CBS News - June 25, 2013 - The United States spends more than other developed nations on its students' education each year, with parents and private foundations picking up more of the costs, an international survey released Tuesday found.                       Despite the spending, U.S. students still trail their rivals on international tests.                   The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — which groups the world's most developed countries — writes in its annual report that brand-new and experienced teachers alike in the United States out-earn most of their counterparts around the globe. But U.S. salaries have not risen at the same pace as other nations.                        The findings, part of a 440-page tome of statistics, put the United States' spending on its young people in context.                   The United States spent more than $11,000 per elementary student in 2010 and more than $12,000 per high school student. When researchers factored in the cost for programs after high school education such as college or vocational training, the United States spent $15,171 on each young person in the system — more than any other nation covered in the report.

Ron Baron: Geithner Says Fed Exit from QE Will Take 5 Years - Newsmax MoneyNews - Dan Weil - June 28, 2013 - Billionaire investor Ron Baron says former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said at an event he attended that the Federal Reserve will take five year to end its easing program.                           Baron told CNBC that he interpreted Geithner's remarks to mean it would take that long for the Fed to taper its quantitative easing (QE) program. The central bank is currently buying $85 billion of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities a month.                      "As far as the ending of quantitative easing, [Geithner] thought that was going to, when it ultimately began, take five years — a five-year process to wind down these bond purchases," Baron said.                    
"That doesn't mean that's what's going to happen. That's just his opinion of what's going to happen."                      As for interest rates, Baron stated that Geithner said it "wasn't likely that the [short-term] interest rates would rise anytime soon. [Geithner] meant for years and years."                              "I always believe that when people are telling me something, they're telling me something for a reason. He was telling us something also presumably to try to calm the market."                  The federal funds rate target stands at a record low of zero to 0.25 percent, and the Fed has stated that it doesn't plan to raise the target until unemployment drops to 6.5 percent. The jobless rate stood at 7.6 percent in May.                    On Thursday, three Fed officials gave speeches indicating investors had overreacted to comments from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last week that the Fed may start tapering its QE later this year.                    Meanwhile, the White House has begun putting together a short list of candidates to succeed Bernanke, as he has indicated he won't seek reappointment when his term ends in January, knowledgeable sources told The Wall Street Journal.                Experts have speculated that candidates include Fed vice chairwoman Janet Yellen, Geithner and Lawrence Summers, former head of President Barack Obama's National Economic Council.

68 Senators Vote to Create Incentive for Employers to Hire Amnestied Immigrants Over U.S. Citizens - The Weekly Standard - By JOHN MCCORMACK - June 28, 2013 - The immigration bill passed by the Senate Thursday afternoon would give some employers a financial incentive to employ "registered provisional immigrants" (illegal immigrants granted legal status) instead of U.S. citizens.                  As the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein recently reported: "Under Obamacare, businesses with over 50 workers that employ American citizens without offering them qualifying health insurance could be subject to fines of up to $3,000 per worker. But because newly legalized immigrants wouldn’t be eligible for subsidies on the Obamacare exchanges until after they become citizens – at least 13 years under the Senate bill – businesses could avoid such fines by hiring the new immigrants instead."                         On Tuesday, THE WEEKLY STANDARD asked five U.S. senators about this problem, and none of them knew if it was a problem. "We're trying to solve that right now. I don't know if that's been solved," Senator Max Baucus of Montana (chief author of Obamacare) told THE WEEKLY STANDARD.                         "I don't know. I'd have to look at it closely," said Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. "I just haven't read it that closely to know."                   As The New RepublicInvestors' Business Daily, and the Washington Examiner have all reported, this problem certainly does exist, and the bill was never amended to fix the problem before it was passed by the Senate on a 68-32 vote Thursday afternoon. "[Registered provisional immigrants] are not subject to mandate and the do not count towards an employer's penalty," Sean Neary, communications director for the Senate Finance Committee, told THE WEEKLY STANDARD in an email late Thursday night.

Study: 30-somethings worse off than their parents' generation - CBS News

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