“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Deal for economic rescue package closer

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer

House Democratic and Republican leaders are looking for imminent agreement with the White House on an emergency package to jolt the economy out of its slump after negotiators on all sides made significant concessions at a late-night bargaining session.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to drop increases in food stamp and unemployment benefits during the Wednesday meeting in exchange for gaining a rebates of at least $300 for each person earning a paycheck, including low-income earners who make too little to pay income taxes.

Families with children would receive an additional $300 per child, subject to an overall cap of perhaps $1,200, according to a senior House aide who outlined the deal on condition of anonymity in advance of formal adoption of the whole package.

Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, had yet to reach agreement on a package of tax breaks for businesses after estimates showed a tentative business tax agreement could exceed $70 billion, far more than had been expected, the aide and a Democratic lobbyist said.

Pelosi and Boehner appeared optimistic as they left their third extended negotiating session of the day with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. "We'll have more to say tomorrow," Boehner said. "We're hopeful."


  1. I think illegals should get a double dip, with the proviso that they only send one dip back to Mexico, and keep the other dip here to stimulate themselves and the economy.

  2. So, this is great, my sixteen year old with the part time job at Taco Bell will qualify for a $600 dollar rebate!

    A child and a wage earner, all rolled up in one!

    What a good deal,
    I'm turning blue with envy.

  3. ahhh 600 bucks in everyones pocket that'll solve the problems...NOT!

    One financial issue I've been trying to track and I think is indicative of the problems we face is the story of the bond insurers:

    "While $15 billion might seem like a large amount of money for banks to commit to bond guarantors at a time when many investors have lost faith in them, Mr. Haines said it would be smaller than the billions the banks might have to write down if the companies lost their top ratings or incurred major losses.

    “It’s a calculated kind of risk,” he said"

    ahhh calculated risk, gotta luv that (mind you that's the name of the game isn't it? calculated risk)?

    One of the economic problems I've been toying with over the years is our dependency on growth. Everything is framed in terms of growth with the amount of growth determining how well we are doing. No growth is considered baaaad. I've always been puzzled by that and I think I'm starting to understand it a bit more as I puzzle the Bond insurer issue.

    Our financial house of cards appears to have a foundation based on growth and when growth lags the whole structure gets shaky. This is a long term problem in that I believe growth is primarily a demographic thing and the earths potential is limited for the growth we've seen over the last century.

    Anyway, the bond insurers. Banks depend on capital ratios to determine how much money they can lend, how much they need to have on hand. Pension funds (safe protectors of our future) can only invest in AAA things, good solid things. All these folks need to get a return to fund future and current operations (growth). Municipalities need to issue bonds to cover varying cash flows and they tend to overspend. The bond insurer 'calculates risk' as all insurers do, and guarantees things accordingly. It seems the bond insurers miscalculated. Now their ratings may dip below AAA. If they dip below AAA they have a harder time raising capital. If they can't raise enough capital to cover their bets then the banks and pension funds no longer hold AAA bonds and must divest them. The muni's are no longer a guaranteed bond hence not triple A ect. ect. The house of cards is fragile. Hopefully they can shore these suckers up so we can party for another day or so....

    sorry to bore you with my musings

  4. The "Earth" is limited. What we "Do" with it, Isn't.

    Growth doesn't come from the earth, as much as it comes from the minds of Scientists, Engineers, and Entrepreneurs.

    Think: Sand, Silica, and Laptops.

  5. I wonder if they will call this "The Bread and Circuses Act of 2008"?

    Nah. That's too honest.

  6. rufus,

    I agree totally that productivity gains help but so much of what we've witnessed in the past 50 years or so has been tied to the boomers. Looking in the rear view mirror demographics explains much (Boom Bust Echo). I certainly think that we can live the good life without a dependence upon population growth but there will have to be certain structural changes made. Social Security and the financial problems I've touched upon above being two items that appear to be very dependent upon pop. growth.

  7. Ash, Soc Sec isn't in nearly as bad a shape as the politicians are wont to say. They are, each, and every one following their own agenda. All of the doom and gloom scenarios are based on a 1.9% (if I remember, correctly) gdp growth scenario.

    Given the exponential nature of technology growth, that seems unlikely.

  8. The whole premise of Soc. Sec. has been the current workforce pays the older folks retirement. When you get the boomers retiring with fewer young folk contributing you've got a problem. I'm not up on the details though.

  9. THIS is what you Really have to worry about. The Gospel according to Matthew

  10. $300 bucks? And we call this a government.

  11. I seem to have adopted your optimism and enthusiasm toward human solutions to peak oil. As supplies diminish and costs rise our ingenuity will develop new fuels and better conservation and we'll adapt. Necessity is the mother of invention. There'll painful changes for sure but I don't fret so much as, say, this guy

  12. I'm so pissed off at Uncle Scrooge I'm not even going to spend my money. I can do without the doughnuts, I need to lose some weight anyway.

  13. And Al Gore says global warming is even worse than feared. What a way to wake up in the morning. $300 bucks. Now global warming is even worse. The hell with it all.

  14. and bobal, that's exactly why some urged the money go only to poor folk - those that need good food, like donuts...and beer!

  15. Well, it is 40 or 50 six packs.

  16. Let's see; Global temperatures "Peaked" in 1998, the upper troposhere is getting colder, and it's snowing in Los Angeles.

    Yep, that global warmening's got Me all het up. That's for sure.


    And, to think; we almost elected that tool "President." Makes a good argument for the "electoral college," doesn't it?

  17. While you and Whit have got me going your way, Rufus, I do think the troposhpere cooling is what is predicted to happen if the earth is warming. Has to do with more heat being trapped below, less heat escaping upward. Least, that's what Mr. Wizard told me.

  18. On the other hand, one would think that if the earth is cooling the troposphere would be cooling to, there being less heat to escape upwards.

    Bob scratches head here.

    Unless we had a snowball earth, in which most of the sunlight got reflected back up.

    Bob gives up, here.

  19. Bob, I'll admit, this troposphere deal is quite a bit above my paygrade.

    What I understand is that the lower troposphere (5 miles) is still warming a bit, although at a slower rate, while the upper troposhere (8 miles) is cooling.

    Meanwhile, Europe is warm; and, they're freezing their nuts off in Argentina.

    And, it's snowing in LA.

  20. I think the Old Folks used to call this Weather.

  21. Rufus,

    Don't forget, it's...

    "Climate Change" now.

    See, if it gets cold, it's "Climate Change". If it gets hot, it's "Climate Change".

    Either way, it's all more change in AlGore's pocket.

    If I was poor enough to qualify for $300 of someone else's money, I'd buy me some carbon credits.

  22. That's it bro, good idea, heck with the beer, I'll buy me some carbon credits. Though I admit my understanding of the carbon credit market is weak.

  23. Well, that didn't take long. Just bought $300 dollars worth of carbon credits over the phone with a promise to pay, and my position has been wiped out already. Broker called back and said someone named Gore had shorted the market big time, and I had to cover my position, which I wasn't in a position to do.

  24. chuckling

    You're Stroking today, Bob. That was good.

  25. Received in the email today...

    "Dear ---,

    According to our records, no religious affiliation or racial classification is on file for you. In order to collect this important aggregated statistic for the campus, please choose one of the following for your reply..."

    Hrmmm...I don't see Option "NYFB".

    "Pacific Islander"

    Yep. That'll do.

  26. and then some intelligence agency will reject you when a security clearance is performed down the road. better put down Christian ;)

  27. As Dennis Miller would say, "Look at Bob, flickin' the jab."

  28. "better put down Christian ;)"

    But then I'd be lying. :P

  29. Frankly, I'd already decided to just ignore it again, for precisely that reason.

    It is pathetic the little pedantic things that can often make otherwise forward people, quiver and fall in line.

  30. You moron, Cutler!
    There goes any chance you had,
    since "Muslim" in the box is mandatory.
    Outreach program Karen Hughes got the boss to sneak in on the sly.

  31. Scores killed in Pakistan clashes

    The military says troops are 'engaging' the militants
    Pervez Musharraf

    Forty militants have been killed and 30 captured in fighting between militants and security forces in Pakistan's South Waziristan region, the military says.

    Eight soldiers have been killed and 32 others wounded in raids on militant hideouts backed by artillery and helicopters, a military statement said.

    Earlier troops had hit militant positions with artillery fire.

    South and North Waziristan, adjoining the Afghan border, are strongholds of militants allied to the Taleban.

    The military said that the militants had been killed in a series of raids on Wednesday and early on Thursday.

    Thirty militants had been arrested from a number of hideouts near the Afghan border during the raids, the statement said.


    In the latest fighting, militants are reported to have responded to the army artillery attacks by firing missiles at security positions.

    There are reports of people moving out of the area and walking for miles to reach secure zones.

    The government has set up a temporary camp for displaced people in the Tank district of North West Frontier Province, where tents and food have been made available.

    Militant leader Baitullah Mehsud is based in South Waziristan and is accused of leading attacks by tribesmen on forts controlled by the army.

    The authorities in Islamabad also accuse him of masterminding the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto last month.

    On Wednesday, a Pakistani senator said that Mr Mehsud was not involved in Ms Bhutto's killing.

    Saleh Shah, an Islamist senator who represents Waziristan, says Mr Mehsud was not "in any way" involved.

    He also rejected recent claims by the American Central Intelligence Agency that Mr Mehsud is involved with al-Qaeda.

    "I don't know where these stories come from - about foreign fighters in the area," he said.

    "I have never seen any Arab or Uzbeks in the area."

    Story from BBC NEWS:

  32. Adams wrote Thomas Jefferson, “The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite… And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were united.”

    Charles Carroll, a signer of the Constitution, wrote, “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion whose morality is so sublime and pure…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”

    “Year of our Lord” is in the Constitution.

    Christian Nation

  33. NPR reports that the slowdown in the US has hurt Chinese furniture manufacturers who have been forced to layoff workers.

    Heard the other day admitted on the BBC, that the US is the economic engine of the world.

    Too soon to write us off as has beens.

  34. Whit, NY Times has a story on the new Army Chief:
    Sposed to be a big improvement over Mush.
    We shall see.
    Mat and I have unanswered questions in this abandoned Outback

  35. One Audacious Dude!
    Fraud Costs Bank $7.1 Billion

    Published: January 25, 2008
    PARIS — Société Générale, one of the largest banks in Europe, was thrown into turmoil Thursday after it disclosed that a rogue employee executed a series of “elaborate, fictitious transactions” that cost the bank more than $7 billion, the biggest loss ever recorded by a single trader.

    Jerome Kerviel
    Daniel Bouton, Société Générale’s chairman and chief executive, said the employee, later identified by other bank employees as Jérôme Kerviel, had confessed to the fraud, although he did not appear to have profited personally from the trades. The bank has started legal proceedings against the employee, whom Christian Noyer, the governor of the Bank of France, said was “on the run.”
    - NY Times

  36. Société Générale also said Thursday that it would take a write-down of 2.05 billion euros in the fourth quarter, including 1.1 billion euros related to the United States housing market and 550 million euros related to American bond insurance companies. It said it was setting aside an additional 400 million euros in provisions against the risk that losses in those two areas would grow.

  37. Ha!

    No Whit, I missed that one. Thanks. That's pretty funny I dug up similar stuff to you and decided to post.

  38. Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, plans to start its first sovereign wealth fund with about $6 billion, channeling surplus crude-oil revenue into investments in foreign companies.


    While smaller neighbors such as Abu Dhabi and Kuwait have set aside surpluses in sovereign wealth funds for decades, Saudi Arabia has spent billions paying off debt and building roads, power and water desalination plants for its 27 million people. Government debt will fall to 267 billion riyals ($71 billion) at the end of 2008, or 19 percent of gross domestic product, from 28 percent last year, the Ministry of Finance said in December.


    U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox said in December that the growth of state-run investment funds may lead to an increase in political corruption because governments might abuse the funds' leverage over markets and companies.

    Wealth Fund

  39. I bet they wish they had all that money they decadently squandered in past decades.

  40. In the tech sector, Dow component Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) shares added over 4% for the day, ahead of the software giant's earnings report. Recent tech earnings have been marked by disappointing guidance from companies like Apple (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ) and Motorola (nyse: MOT - news - people ).

    Apple extended its decline on Thursday, shedding nearly 3%, after losing more than 10% on Wednesday.

    Meanwhile, financial firms were in focus, after a statement from New York's insurance regulator dashed hopes of a quick rescue for major bond insurers, like Ambac Financial Group (nyse: ABK - news - people ) and MBIA (nyse: MBE - news - people ). The regulator said a rescue will “take some time.”

    Stocks Up

  41. Cutler, tell 'em you're descended from the Martians, and send them to Hoagland's 'Enterprise Mission' website as proof.

  42. What Republican voters said their reaction would be if the following Republican candidates were elected president in November:

    Excited/pleased Disappointed/afraid
    Giuliani 64% 33%
    Huckabee 49% 34%
    McCain 51% 44%
    Romney 53% 40%

    Source: Gallup Poll of 344 Republicans taken Dec. 10-13. Margin of error: +/7 percentage points.

  43. "Cutler, tell 'em you're descended from the Martians, and send them to Hoagland's 'Enterprise Mission' website as proof."


    "Don't oppress my culture. What, you hate Red people? ... Yeah I'm not red now - so what, I would be if not for bigots like you. McCarthyite."

  44. Hello Everybody,
    My name is Mrs Sharon Sim. I live in Singapore and i am a happy woman today? and i told my self that any lender that rescue my family from our poor situation, i will refer any person that is looking for loan to him, he gave me happiness to me and my family, i was in need of a loan of S$250,000.00 to start my life all over as i am a single mother with 3 kids I met this honest and GOD fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of S$250,000.00 SG. Dollar, he is a GOD fearing man, if you are in need of loan and you will pay back the loan please contact him tell him that is Mrs Sharon, that refer you to him. contact Dr Purva Pius,via email:( Thank you.


    1. Name Of Applicant in Full:……..
    2. Telephone Numbers:……….
    3. Address and Location:…….
    4. Amount in request………..
    5. Repayment Period:………..
    6. Purpose Of Loan………….
    7. country…………………
    8. phone…………………..
    9. occupation………………
    11.Monthly Income…………..

    Email Kindly Contact: