Don’t Print More Money

Leave the printing presses alone! Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has come out in favor of what no rational person would ever endorse: printing valueless money to cover indebtedness. Here are his exact words: “The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default.” Gee, I can remember when the money maestro said the best way to protect our currency was to back it with gold. I still like that solution.

Another really bad idea. The New York Times, which loves to be described as “the most influential newspaper in the world” (I prefer “all the news that’s fit to tint”) has a terrible solution for our debt crisis: Do away with any limits. Yep, an editorial in the grey eminence actually read, “Instead of raising the debt ceiling every few years, it’s time to eliminate this dangerous game once and for all. … The debt limit should ideally be dispensed with, but, at a minimum, it can no longer be held for ransom.”

Governor Christie rejects subsidies for this unreality show. I’ve liked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ever since he stood up to the teachers unions there. But earlier this week, my esteem climbed even higher, when I heard he had blocked a $420,000 tax credit for the so-called reality show “Jersey Shore.” The New York Times reported: “Christie said he was ‘duty-bound’ to see that taxpayers were ‘not footing a $420,000 bill for a project which does nothing more than perpetuate misconceptions about the state and its citizens.’” Good for him.

Let’s give them our seat. Thanks to the alert reader who sent me the best solution I’ve seen about giving the Palestinian Authority a seat in the United Nations. He didn’t bother pointing out that the U.N. has no authority to create nations. He merely suggested that we give them a seat: our seat. I like it. Get the U.S. out of the U.N. — and the U.N. out of the U.S.

–Chip Wood

America’s Favorite Ponzi Scheme

Who talked Rick Perry into grabbing the third rail of American politics?

In case you don’t recognize the phrase, “the third rail” refers to any criticism of the Social Security system or any suggestions on ways to improve it by anyone running for public office anywhere in the United States.

It’s called the third rail because, just like a subway line, touching it usually proves fatal.

In the book Perry published last year, which he called Fed Up!, the Texas Governor referred to Social Security as “a Ponzi scheme.” Nobody made much of a fuss about it at the time. Outside of Texas, who cares what the Governor there says?

But now that Perry has taken the top spot in the Republican race for the White House, the poor guy is really getting pounded for it — and for a bunch of other “crazy, right-wing” sentiments he expressed there as well. Or at least so saith The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Oh, and lest we forget, also so saith Mitt Romney, who just happened to be the front-runner  in the race for the Republican nomination before that upstart Texan entered the race. Romney isn’t content to make sure Perry touches that third rail. He wants to make him ride it like some hapless tourist on the bucking bronco at Mickey Gilley’s place.

I confess, I haven’t read Fed Up!. But I have read a ton of condemnations of what’s in it. And guess what? I agree with Perry’s arguments.

What about you?

Ruth Marcus, one of the less rabid liberals who writes for The Washington Post, told her readers that the book “makes George Bush look like George McGovern.” That’s all the typical Post reader had to read to accept that the Texas Governor is an irresponsible wild man.

What did Marcus find so horrifying? His most egregious sin, she wrote, is that he would repeal the 16th amendment. That’s the one that foisted a progressive income tax on this country in 1913, something that had been ruled unConstitutional for the previous 130 years. Yes, the United States government existed and managed to pay all of its bills without an income tax for more than 130 years.

Knowing how her inside-the-Beltway readers would react (there isn’t a single government giveaway they aren’t convinced deserves more of your money), she wrote, “Raise your hand if you believe, as Perry suggests, that it is wrong to ask the wealthiest to pay a greater share of their income than the poor.”

Remember, this is what passes at the Post for intelligent, fair-minded commentary.

Next on her horror list is that Perry “lambastes the 17th Amendment.” This is the one that “instituted direct election of senators” in each state. Perry rightly says that taking this responsibility from State Legislatures was a “blow to the ability of states to exert influence on the federal government.” Can anyone quarrel with that or argue that this country is better off because of it?

After condemning Perry for his concern about Social Security and other New Deal programs, Marcus goes for the jugular. Here’s how she presents Perry’s most outrageous opinion:

As much as he dislikes the New Deal, Perry is even less happy about the Great Society, suggesting that programs such as Medicare are unconstitutional. “From housing to public television, from the environment to art, from education to medical care, from public transportation to food, and beyond, Washington took greater control of powers that were conspicuously missing from Article 1 of the Constitution,” he writes.

From where I sit, that’s one of the most moderate descriptions I’ve read this year of what Big Nanny government has been doing for most of my life. But to Marcus and her Beltway banditos, they are nothing short of heresy. She went absolutely ballistic, declaring, “Whoa! These are not mainstream Republican views.”

They aren’t? They are actually pretty moderate, compared to what I hear every day from Republican friends and neighbors. Do you think it’s possible the folks in Washington are out of touch with mainstream America?

Don’t get me wrong; all of this fake controversy still hasn’t made me Perry’s biggest fan. I’m concerned about many of his past actions and attitudes. This is the guy who was Al Gore’s campaign manager in Texas in 1988. That shows a lack of discernment that I find very worrisome.

Having said that, hearing Romney denounce the guy as a flippier flip-flopper is a hoot. Talk about a pot calling the kettle black. I, for one, am glad to see both candidates taking off the gloves and starting to duke it out. This country is desperate for some bold, manly leadership. So far, the closest we’ve come to it is Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.

Ah, well, political contests do seem to bring out the craziness in a bunch of people. One of the shockers I heard last week is that the Barack Obama campaign expects to raise — and spend — more than $1 billion.

Remember, every single penny of that gigantic sum will go into smearing Obama’s Republican opponent, whoever that may be. And it will go toward promoting socialism at home and internationalism abroad. That’s a lot of money to spend on taking us down the wrong road.

There will be no Hillary Clinton around this time, forcing him to spend most of his time, attention and money winning the nomination. I think it’s safe to say he’s got a lock on it this time. So look for a really nasty campaign once it really gets going. A lot of folks who feed at the public trough are desperately afraid that their good times might come to an end.

All of which brings me back to Perry’s description of Social Security as a Ponzi scheme. In the sense that it requires taking money from new contributors today to pay off retirees whose own contributions were spent years and decades ago, of course he’s absolutely right.

But considering that Charles Ponzi’s financial ruse was entirely voluntary, it depended on the greed and gullibility of its participants to make it work and Ponzi wasn’t able to use the threat of force to extract a single dime from his participants, I suggest that Perry owes Ponzi an apology. In his wildest fantasies, Ponzi couldn’t do as much damage to American independence and self-reliance as Social Security has done.

What’s even worse, however, is how demagogues and power-seekers have used this issue to frighten and mislead a huge number of American voters. Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their minions know they can count on the vast majority of their followers to be “too damned dumb,” as one politician put it, to understand how they are betraying the trust they have been given.

Yes, we probably owe Ponzi an apology. He was never this despicable or this greedy. But, oh, how his successors have learned from his example.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood   

Student Punished For ‘Bless You’

VACAVILLE, Calif., Sept. 29 (UPI) — A California high school teacher who reduced a student’s grade for saying “bless you” to another student who sneezed said the punishment was about disruption.

Steve Cuckovich, health teacher at Will C. Wood High School in Vacaville, said he knocked 25 points off a student’s grade for saying “bless you,” but the punishment had nothing to do with religious beliefs, KXTL-TV, Sacramento, reported Thursday.

“It’s got to do with an interruption of class time,” Cuckovich said.

“The blessing doesn’t really make sense anymore,” he said. “When you sneeze in the old days, they thought you were dispelling evil spirits out of your body. So they were saying, ‘God bless you,’ for getting rid of evil spirits. But today, what you’re doing doesn’t really make any sense anymore.”

Principal Cliff DeGraw said he has spoken with Cuckovich and the teacher now understands the punishment was inappropriate.

“He realizes there’s better ways to do that. We don’t condone that type of punishment,” DeGraw said.



Man Shoots Self On First Date

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 29 (UPI) — Police in North Carolina said a couple’s first date was interrupted when a man accidentally shot himself in a parking garage.

Charlotte police said the couple returned to the man’s car after eating Tuesday at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on Fairview Road and the man’s gun, which was in the car, somehow went off and shot the man, The Charlotte Observer reported Wednesday.

His date was not injured and he was treated at Carolinas Medical Center for a non-life-threatening leg wound.

WCNC-TV, Charlotte, said police have ruled the shooting accidental and are trying to determine how the gun went off.

Radio Station Offers ‘Win A Baby’ Contest

OTTAWA, Sept. 29 (UPI) — A Canadian radio station is running a “Win a Baby” contest, with the winner getting three free in vitro fertilization treatments.

The prize offered by CIHT-FM, a hip hop radio station that goes by the moniker Hot 89.9, is worth at least $35,000, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday.

One expert on infertility, Jan Silverman, says the contest highlights the issue of couples not being able to afford fertility treatments but has reservations about way the station is going about it.

“I certainly dislike the commodification of babies, turning babies into products,” Silverman said. “However, I am pleased that it brings attention to the plight, to the expense that infertile couples that require IVF must go through to have a baby.”

Five finalists will be culled from those who enter the contest and tell their personal stories on air. Listeners will then vote online before a panel of judges selects the winner, the CBC said.

Tiger Removed From Egyptian Home

NEW CAIRO, Egypt, Sept. 29 (UPI) — Authorities in Egypt said a tiger was confiscated from a man who allegedly allowed the animal to roam freely in his yard.

The New Cairo Police Department and the General Department for Environmental Police said the tiger was taken from a Saudi man living in the Rehab development after complaints from neighbors about the wild animal, al-Masry al-Youm reported Thursday.

The tiger was anesthetized and taken to the Giza Zoo.

Police said the case has been referred to prosecutors.


Two-Faced Cat Sets Longevity Record

WORCESTER, Mass., Sept. 29 (UPI) — A Massachusetts woman said her 12-year-old cat made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the longest living cat born with two faces.

Marty, the Worcester cat owner who asked for her last name to be withheld, said her feline, which she dubbed Frank and Louie, made it into the 2012 record book for being the longest living cat with the condition, which is known as Janus, The Boston Globe reported Thursday.

Frank and Louie has three eyes, two noses and two mouths. However, the cat, which has only one brain, only uses one of the mouths for eating.

“Frank does the eating,” Marty said. “He only has to eat for one cat body. He’s just one cat body with an extra face.”

Marty said she was working at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University 12 years ago when someone brought Frank and Louie in to be put to sleep. Marty said she decided to take the animal home and has been caring for him ever since.

“He’s acclimated very well,” Marty said. “He doesn’t know he’s any different. He thinks he’s a normal cat.”

OnStar Backs Up On Tracking Ex-Clients

DETROIT, Sept. 28 (UPI) — U.S. automobile navigation service OnStar said it would reverse direction concerning a policy of keeping track of former customers.

OnStar, which is owned by General Motors, wrote to customers that it would track former clients unless they notified the company they preferred not to be tracked, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.

But the policy provoked a political backlash with Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Al Franken, D-Minn., and Christopher Coons, D-Del., speaking up against the policy, which would have affected 6 million subscribers.

Privacy advocates also voiced disapproval, the newspaper said.

Schumer had gone so far as to ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the matter.

But OnStar changed course. OnStar President Linda Marshall said, “We realize that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers.”

The new policy requires customers to take the first step, notifying OnStar first that they have permission to monitor the customer.

The system can track a driver’s speed and location. It can also relay information on whether or not the driver is wearing a seat belt.

In a statement, Schumer said, “This announcement puts decisions about personal privacy back where they belong, in the hands of individuals.”


Lawsuit Filed Over Obese Worker’s Firing

HOUSTON, Sept. 28 (UPI) — A U.S. worker fired because of his obesity was terminated illegally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says in court papers.

BAE Systems, which manufactures vehicles for the military, fired material handler Ronald Kratz II in October 2009 after noting that he was having trouble walking from the parking lot to the plant, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday.

At the time, he weighed 600 pounds, the newspaper said.

Kratz had been working at the plant for 15 years before he was fired. In 2008 and 2009, his work performance was rated as “very good” in annual evaluations, court papers said.

The lawsuit also says Kratz was not offered “reasonable accommodation,” which is a broad term that relates to the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding reasonable changes in a job to allow a worker to maintain a position.

BAE said it would comment on the case “at the appropriate time and manner.”

EEOC attorney Kathy Boutchee said the company noted that Kratz was having trouble bending and stooping, but his job did not require he do those activities, as he sorted parts at a raised platform.

Nevertheless, he was told that, “the company had reached the conclusion that he could no longer perform his job duties because of his weight and he was therefore terminated,” the lawsuit said.

GDP Back At 1.3 Percent For Second Quarter

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 (UPI) — The Commerce Department revised the U.S. real gross domestic product for the second quarter back to show 1.3 percent growth on Thursday.

The department started with an estimate of 1.3 percent growth in July, then revised that down to 1 percent growth in August.

Thursday’s estimate is the final estimate in the trio of reports issued by the department.

Economists had expected a bounce back to 1.2 percent, which is higher than the 0.4 percent growth of the first quarter, but not a strong enough showing to indicate a reduction in the unemployment rate is imminent.

The figure, however, wards off any immediate forecasts that the U.S. is headed for a second double-dip recession.

In the final estimate, consumer spending was revised at 0.7 percent growth from a previous estimate of 0.4 percent. Exports rose 3.6 percent quarter-to-quarter, a figure revised from a previously reported 3.1 percent.

Imports growth was also revised. The final report puts import growth at 1.4 percent, down from 1.9 percent.