Survey: Gender Gap Wider In Top-Paying Jobs

CHICAGO (UPI) — The balance of genders among top professions leans heavily toward men but women are making strides forward, U.S. employment firm CareerBuilder said.

“While employers have made strides in equalizing compensation for both genders, historical gaps are still present in some organizations today,” Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder said in a statement.

“Also contributing to the disparity in income levels is a higher representation of men working in more lucrative occupations. Fortunately, we’re starting to see that balance out as women account for a larger percentage of the overall workforce and pursue employment in high-paying areas,” she said.

A CareerBuilder survey indicated that four of 15 top-paying jobs are dominated by women. Among oral and maxillofacial surgeons and among orthodontists, 57 percent are women. Among prosthodontists, 62 percent are women. And 66 percent of pharmacists are women, the survey indicated.

Among physicians and surgeons the gender disparity is modest with 45 percent women and 55 percent men. Among dentists, it is close with 49 percent women.

But in most top-tier jobs, men have most of the positions. Among chief executive officers, 83 percent are men, for example.

Men also comprise 97 percent of engineering managers, 77 percent of computer and information systems managers, 72 percent of natural science managers and 90 percent of air traffic controllers.

Men dominate the fields of petroleum engineers, marketing managers, airline pilots, lawyers and general managers’ positions.

Women dominate in the fields of registered nurse — 96 percent women — and psychiatry, 62 percent of psychiatrists are women.

The survey indicated women make up 57 percent of anesthesiologists, 58 percent of pediatricians, 66 percent of probation officers and 70 percent of translators and interpreters.

Claims adjusters, industrial-organizational psychologists, public relations specialist, curators, graphic designers, editors and mathematical technicians are all mostly women, as are bartenders, 59 percent of whom are women, the survey said.

Where is there balance? There is an even split among political scientists, advertising and promotions managers and school bus drivers.

There is only a small gender gap among arbitrators, mediators and conciliators, sociologists, computer operators, bakers, medical scientists, accountant and auditors, statisticians, retail sales persons, optometrists, art directors, post secondary teachers, and training and development managers, CareerBuilder said.

The survey, conducted in March by Harris Interactive, included interviews with 1,746 men and 1,475 women, CareerBuilder said.

Jobless Claims Down Sharply

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. Labor Department said first-time jobless benefits claims dropped by 16,000 to 339,000 in the week that ended last Saturday.

The department revised last week’s estimate from 352,000 to 355,000.

The four-week rolling average for the week fell by 4,500 to 357,500.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending April 13 were in California, with 24,303 additional claims, Texas  with 3,050 and Florida with 2,623.

The largest decreases for the week were in New York with a drop of 14,113, Michigan down by 5,998 and New Jersey with a decline of 4,204.

Mortgage Rates At Or Close To Record Lows

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. mortgage rates hit record lows or close to them in the latest week, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. said Thursday.

Rates slid for the fourth consecutive week with five-year adjustable rate mortgages and 15-year fixed rate loans both hitting record lows, Freddie Mac said.

Average interest rates for five-year ARM loans dropped to 2.58 percent from 2.6 percent with 0.5 point, Freddie Mac said. Average rates for 15-year fixed rate loans fell from 2.64 percent to 2.61 percent with 0.7 point.

Rates for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages slid from 3.41 percent to 3.4 percent with an average 0.8 point to 3.41 percent with an average of 0.7 point, Freddie Mac said.

One point is equal to 1 percent of the amount of the loan and is typically paid up front. It includes a corresponding discount on the loan’s long-term interest rates.

One-year adjustable rate mortgages using 10-year bonds as a benchmark averaged 2.62 percent with 0.3 point in the week, down from 2.63 percent in the previous week.

U.S. Economy Expanded 2.5 Percent In First Quarter

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. gross domestic product expanded in the first quarter but less than expected, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Friday.

The economy grew 2.5 percent January through March, shy of the 3 percent gain economists had predicted but a sizable jump from the 0.4 percent gain of the fourth quarter of 2012.

Economists had expected a pendulum swing forward in inventory buildup and a boost from the housing market.

The 2.5 percent gain is considered an advanced figure that could be revised as more information becomes available.

The bureau said positive contributions were broad in the first quarte, with gains in consumer spending, private inventory investment, exports, residential investment and non-residential fixed investment, which refers to commercial property.

The gains were offset by declines in federal, state and local government spending. There was also an increase in imports, which subtracts from the GDP.

The price index for the quarter, which reflects prices paid by U.S. residents, rose 1.1 percent after rising 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter. Prices excluding food an energy, the category known as core prices, rose 1.3 percent January through March after increasing 1.2 percent October through December.

Personal spending in the quarter rose 3.2 percent after a 1.8 percent gain in the previous quarter.

Spending on goods expected to last three years or more rose 8.1 percent. Spending on non-durable goods increased 1 percent.

Federal spending fell 8.4 percent in the quarter after dropping 14.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. National defense spending fell 11.5 percent after a 22.1 percent drop in the previous quarter.

Canadians To Obama: Put Up Or Shut Up On Keystone

Canadian officials are urging President Barack Obama to move to end delays holding up the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. Canadian natural resource minister Joe Oliver said the President risks damaging relations between the two countries in not doing so.

As the Environmental Protection Agency continues to keep the State Department from approving the project, the Canadian official said that a rejection of the Keystone plan “would represent a serious reversal in our long-standing energy relationship.”

He also wants environmental objectors to know that Canada is going continue to develop and export its available resources regardless of what the U.S. decides.

“Make no mistake,” Oliver said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “Canadian resource development and export, including from the oil sands, will continue, Keystone or no Keystone.”

He later went on, “Anyone who equates the rejection of Keystone XL with some kind of body blow to the oil sands is just plain wrong.”

Sex Offender Caught Showering In Stranger’s Home

HIGHLAND, Calif., (UPI) —  Police in California said they arrested a sex offender parolee who removed his ankle GPS tracker and was found taking a shower in a stranger’s home.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said Gary Bakken, 52, who was on parole for failing to register as a sex offender, removed his GPS ankle monitor and his whereabouts were unknown until a man discovered him inside his Highland home, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Investigators said Bakken walked into the unlocked home around 6:45 a.m. Saturday, arranged his belongings in a bedroom and took a shower before being discovered by the male resident.

The sheriff’s department said Bakken told deputies he thought the home belonged to a relative.

Bakken was arrested on suspicion of being a sex offender out of compliance with his parole and illegally entering a dwelling.

Professor: Booger Eating May Be Healthy

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan,  (UPI) —  A University of Saskatchewan professor hypothesizes a person could benefit from picking his or her nose and eating the findings.

Scott Napper, a biochemistry professor at the Saskatoon school, posed the unsavory hypothesis to his students, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Friday.

“By consuming those pathogens caught within the mucus, could that be a way to teach your immune system about what it’s surrounded with?” Napper asked.

“I’ve got two beautiful daughters and they spend an amazing amount of time with their fingers up their nose,” he said. “And without fail, it goes right into their mouth afterwards. Could they just be fulfilling what we’re truly meant to do?”

Napper said he has an experiment designed to test the hypothesis.

“All you would need is a group of volunteers. You would put some sort of molecule in all their noses, and for half of the group they would go about their normal business and for the other half of the group, they would pick their nose and eat it,” he said. “Then you could look for immune responses against that molecule and if they’re higher in the booger-eaters, then that would validate the idea.”

George Jones, Country Singer, Dies At 81

NASHVILLE, (UPI) —  George Jones, the iconic country music singer known by generations for his distinctive voice and phrasing, died in Nashville Friday at 81, his publicist said.

He had been hospitalized at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for fever and irregular blood pressure, publicist Kirt Webster said.

Jones was in the middle of a tour that he said would be his last when he fell ill. Several dates had already been canceled.

1913 Liberty Head Nickel Sells For $3.1 Million

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., (UPI) —  A 1913 Liberty Head nickel sold for $3.17 million at auction in Illinois Thursday, with a buyer calling it “one of the greatest coins at that price range.”

The coin, one of five known to exist, had been stored away for 41 years because its owner had been told, erroneously as it turned out, it was not authentic.

Melva Givens, of Salem, Va., inherited the coin from George O. Walton, who was killed in a car crash in 1962. Walton, a North Carolina collector, had acquired it in the mid-1940s for a reported $3,750, Heritage Auctions, which conducted the Thursday sale, said in a news release.

Todd Imhof, executive vice president of Heritage Auctions, said the coin was found after a nationwide search and was authenticated “by experts in a secret midnight meeting Baltimore in 2003.”

Melva Givens had “kept the nickel in a box with family items in the closet, and it stayed there for four decades,” said her nephew, Ryan Givens — who consigned the coin to Heritage Auctions with his two sisters and his brother.

Ryan Givens and his siblings took it to the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Baltimore after a $1 million reward was offered.

“This is one of the greatest coins at that price range,” said Jeff Garrett, of Lexington, Ky., who bought the coin in partnership with Larry Lee of Panama City, Fla.

Principal Said Kids Would Be Forced To Eat Meat

SEINE-SAINT-DENIS, France, (UPI) —  A French elementary school principal has backed off earlier statements saying children would not be able to abstain from eating meat “for religious reasons.”

The principal of Jules-Ferry de Bondy primary school in the Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis sent a letter to parents recently saying students would be compelled to eat the meat served for school lunches regardless of their religious beliefs, The reported Thursday.

“I remind you that, conforming to local regulations, and school rules, every child will be served meat. The children must eat their meat,” the letter read. “If, for religious reasons, you don’t want your child to eat meat, I invite you to meet with me, because we will not accept that situation.”

“I remind you that your child is being educated in a school in the Republic, and that secularism — one of the foundations of the Republic — must be respected in its entirety,” the principal wrote.

The letter quickly spread online after parents posted it on Twitter and the school has since said students will not be forced to eat the meat.

Florida Bans Use Of Drones Without Warrant Signed By Judge

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., (UPI) —  Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a ban on the use of drones by law enforcement agencies without a warrant from a judge.

The legislation, signed Thursday, says camera-carrying surveillance drones can only be used in cases of “imminent danger to life or serious damage to property” or when “credible intelligence” from the federal Department of Homeland Security points to “a high risk of a terrorist attack.”

A drone may also be used to stop a suspect from escaping, prevent the destruction of evidence or search for a missing person, the Orlando Sentinel reported Thursday.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron of Stuart and Rep. Ritch Workman of Melbourne, both Republicans, was passed unanimously by lawmakers earlier this year, CNN reported.

The law “maintains a balance between the need for law enforcement to protect our citizens against credible threats and imminent danger while ensuring that the privacy of Florida families is protected,” Scott said.

“I believe the real need for this is we want our own privacy; we believe in the Fourth Amendment,” he said.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office had asked for permission to use its two drones to monitor crowds at large events like football games, the Sentinel reported. The request was denied.

Boston Marathon Bombings Suspect Transferred To Detention Hospital

BOSTON, (UPI) —  The surviving suspect in the twin blasts at the Boston Marathon has been moved to a federal detention hospital, a federal law enforcement official said Friday.

Meanwhile, the parents of the bombing suspects left their home in Dagestan for another part of Russia, the suspects’ mother, Zubeirdat Tsarnaev told CNN Friday.

She said Anzor Tsarnaev, father of suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, has delayed his trip to the United States indefinitely, citing health reasons.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed last Friday in a gun battle with police. Hours later, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was captured in Watertown, Mass., after a massive police manhunt in Boston and surrounding suburbs.

The two are suspects in the two explosions that killed three people and injured more than 260 others April 15 at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. As of Thursday evening, 34 remained hospitalized, one in critical condition.

“Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been transported from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and is now confined at the Bureau of Prisons facility FMC Devens at Fort Devens, Mass.,” the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement.

Anzor Tsarnaev agreed to come to the United States after FBI agents and Russian officials spoke with the couple this week at their home. CNN reported the mother won’t be coming to the United States where she is wanted on felony charges of shoplifting and destruction of property.

Russian authorities had expressed suspicions Zubeirdat Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were following radical ideologies.

The brothers spontaneously decided New York would be their next target, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators from his hospital bed. He said they had several bombs but a botched carjacking dashed the plans. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a shootout following the carjacking.

While there wasn’t evidence New York was a target arising from the Boston bombings, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said authorities were investigating two visits the surviving suspect made to the city last year.

During one trip, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was photographed in Times Square. Another person in the photo has been in federal custody for seven days for alleged visa violations, CNN said.

The man was originally detained with another person April 19 when federal agents stormed a residence during their search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a federal law enforcement source said.

Officials haven’t linked either of the two men — foreign exchange students from Kazakhstan at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was enrolled — to the Boston attack but say they hope they can learn more about the suspects’ movements before and after the marathon, the source told CNN.

“These guys are not being cut loose immediately, and there’s a reason why,” the federal law enforcement source said.

Senate Approves Bill To Ease Air-Travel Delays

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  The U.S. Senate Thursday passed a bill to ease air-travel delays by ending air traffic controllers furloughs caused by across-the-board federal spending cuts.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was approved by unanimous consent. It would give the Federal Aviation Administration greater flexibility to move funds internally, instead of applying spending cuts uniformly throughout its budget.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., had offered a competing bill similar to Collins’ bill and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., had proposed a bill to raise taxes on corporate jet owners to generate revenue for the FAA, The Hill reported.

The air-travel problems arose as a result of air-traffic controller furloughs tied to $85 billion in across-the-board cuts known as the sequester. The furloughs, which started Sunday, require a day off without pay for every 10 workdays, or a total of 11 days off, through the end of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

While some senators focused on aiding air passengers, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., renewed his effort to repeal the sequester altogether and urged Democrats to support a plan to replace sequester cuts with money saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reid said his plan would give Democrats and Republicans time to work out a longer-term fiscal deal, The Wall Street Journal said.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in February cutting the number of overseas troops could save Washington $582 billion between 2014 and 2023.

Republicans call revenue from that savings a budget gimmick because it’s based on not having spent money that wasn’t going to be spent anyway.

Any new bill targeting air-travel woes would likely come to the Senate floor no earlier than the week after next, a Senate Democratic aide told the Journal.

The Senate is in recess next week.

Some Democrats don’t want to wait until after the break.

“It is better to do a big deal. But as we work toward it, we have to admit that some things are very problematic,” Klobuchar told the Journal.

The aviation agency has said, at present, it can’t avoid furloughs because of the way the mandated budget cuts are written into the Budget Control Act of 2011.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the Obama administration supported Reid’s plan to end the sequester but would be open to legislation aimed specifically at fixing the FAA problems.

“If Congress wants to address specifically the problems caused by the sequester with the FAA, we would be open to looking at that,” he said. “But that would be a band-aid  measure.”

The White House has argued Congress should replace the sequester with a mix of spending cuts and tax revenue increases.

Falls Church, Va., Exempted From Voting Rights Act

WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  Falls Church, Va., will no longer need U.S. Justice Department approval to make changes in voting procedures, department officials said Thursday.

The department announced it had granted Falls Church and the Falls Church Public School District exemption from the preclearance requirement in the Voting Rights Act. The act requires states with a history of denying blacks the right to vote, and local governments in those states, to get advance approval for changes in election procedures and eligibility.

Falls Church is a wealthy Washington suburb in Fairfax County. The entire state of Virginia has been seeking exemption, arguing its recent history — including the election of Douglas Wilder in 1990 as the nation’s first black governor — shows it has moved beyond its segregated past.

Lawyers: Suit Against Pawn Shop Not About Gun Rights

OXFORD, Miss., (UPI) —  Lawyers suing the Mississippi pawnshop that sold a gun used to kill an off-duty Chicago police officer say the case has nothing to do with gun rights.

Richard Barrett, who is representing the family of Thomas Wortham IV with his father, Don, told the Chicago Tribune they are both gun owners. He said the issue is not the Second Amendment but the irresponsibility of a store that sold a Smith & Wesson pistol and other firearms to a straw purchaser.

The lawsuit names Ed’s Pawn Shop and Salvage Yard in Byhalia, Miss., as a defendant along with Michael Elliott, the young man who purchased the pistol and two other guns, and Quawi Gates, a college student who sold guns on the side but was unable to buy them because of his criminal record. It was filed Wednesday in Oxford.

“Just because people like guns around here and enjoy hunting doesn’t make them devoid of common sense,” Barrett said. “We’re not bringing this case to change laws. We are bringing this case because Thomas Wortham IV is no longer with us. His family lost him because a pawnshop here in Mississippi put profits over people.”

Elliott bought the gun at Ed’s in 2007. It resurfaced three years later in Chicago after Wortham was shot outside his parents’ home on the South Side, allegedly by gang members trying to steal his motorcycle.

Gates was convicted of illegal gun sales. Four young men are awaiting trial in Illinois on murder charges.

¡Orden En La Courte!, DHS Munitions Stockpile, Feminist Afraid Of Dogs, Elderly Senators Join Forces To Make Stupid Suggestion For War And TSA Pilfers Traveler Meds: TGIF Morning News Roundup 4-26-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • Sería terrible tener un jurado de sus pares que no entendía Inglés. The California Assembly passed a bill Thursday that could make the State the first in the Nation to allow illegal aliens to serve jury duty. But the good news is that the new bill doesn’t do away with the requirement that jurors be proficient in English.
  • Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have joined forces as a weird, elderly, out-of-touch legislative super duo in declaring that the “red line” in Syria has been crossed and calling for “strong” U.S. intervention. The Senators’ call for war is based on unsubstantiated reports that chemical weapons are being used in the country.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

The Coming Flu Tax

Besides the fact that it doesn’t work and carries harmful side effects, Congress is now poised to give you one more reason to avoid taking a seasonal flu vaccine: a 75 cent per-dose tax.

This tax — now being discussed in Congress — will not be put in place to fund a government program to make sure poor children are healthier or for any other reason that could be considered “palatable” by collectivists and other supporters of wealth redistribution. The money will go to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund, a program that absolves Big Pharma of any consequences of the harmful poisons it foists onto an uneducated or often duped public.

This tax, projected to add $100 million annually to a fund with a balance of more than $3.5 billion, is supported by both Democrats and Republicans and certainly Big Pharma. And, by the way, the fund has paid out only $2.5 billion in damages in the 25 years of its existence on claims for all vaccines, despite the thousands of harmful events (including deaths) caused by Food and Drug Administration-approved Big Pharma vaccines.

And just who is it that will get hit with this tax? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continually frightens the elderly and parents with small children with a marketing campaigned that predicts certain death on those who aren’t vaccinated against the seasonal flu, despite the fact that research shows the vaccines are 99 percent ineffective and cause Gillian-Barré syndrome at a rate of one case per 1 million vaccines.

Avoid the flu vaccine at all costs. To avoid the flu, load up on a natural vitamin D supplement. It’s much more effective and safer to boot.

Bone Up On Your Rights Before Encountering A Bad Cop

A helpful video produced by Flex Your Rights, an educational nonprofit that seeks to inform Americans about their Constitutional protections against state infringement, offers some invaluable advice on how to handle an encounter with a police officer who has more on his mind than protecting and serving.

The video enacts 10 different dramatic scenarios portraying encounters with aggressive, mean and just plain crooked cops that illustrate — frighteningly, at times — how innocent people have very little wiggle room when a bad cop with a sense of entitlement throws them off their guard. Aside from the immediate danger a cop with evil intent presents, victims face an equal danger in defending their actions, in the aftermath, when they have to explain their side of the story in court.

Explains narrator Billy Murphy, criminal defense lawyer and former judge:

There are lots of good police out there doing what needs to be done – and I don’t need to tell you that there are also a few too many cops who don’t respect the basic rights of innocent people…and even the nicest cop will use your mistakes against you. That’s precisely why every citizen – every one of you – must possess the tools to confidently assert your rights if you have to.

The video, which has been in circulation since 2010, can be bought directly from the organization’s website.

Or you can check it out on YouTube. Just be sure to share.



Stop Washington’s Latest Tax Grabs

Some 21 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court did us all a huge favor. It ruled that states don’t have the legal authority to tax purchases you made from an out-of-State retailer, unless the retailer had a “physical presence” in your State.

Back in 1992, most of us didn’t purchase all that much from out-of-State companies, so the loss in tax revenue wasn’t significant. But, boy, how times have changed. Today, we buy more than $250 billion worth of stuff from online retailers each year, and that number is expected to rise to $370 billion by 2017. On most of it, we pay no sales tax.

With local and State sales taxes averaging about 10 percent, that’s $25 billion that stays in consumers’ pockets now. Needless to say, there are an awful lot of politicians who want to get their greedy little hands on those funds. You won’t be surprised to learn that the Administration of President Barack Obama wants to make it happen.

In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is so eager to get an Internet sales tax bill passed that he has skipped the normal committee process and is bringing the bill directly to the Senate floor. Word is that he’s lined up several moderate Republicans who will vote in favor of the measure so the big spenders can claim that it has bipartisan support.

And, of course, many State governors love the idea of collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes. Many State budgets are already perilously close to bankruptcy, thanks in large part to the incredibly generous pensions and other benefits that State and local government employees have extracted over the years.

In an editorial supporting passage of the Internet tax bill, USA Today complained that its lack “forces cash-strapped states to raise other taxes, or go into debt, to compensate for the $23 billion in annual uncollected e-commerce sales taxes.” Got that? Forget any nonsense about reducing spending. The only choices those poor States have if this measure isn’t passed is to “raise other taxes, or go into debt.”

But an Internet sales tax is just one of the schemes Washington has come up with to extract more money from you. Several others can be found in the new Federal budget proposal that the White House finally released this month.

The English newspaper the Daily Mail had the best description of Obama’s budget I’ve seen. It called it a mixture of “bad math, phantom revenues, imagined spending cuts and a middle-class tax hike.”

It’s all of that… and more. Among the budget’s optimistic forecasts is that Federal revenues will more than double over the next decade, rising 113 percent by 2023. During the same period, spending will go up “only” 60 percent. But even if both were to happen, deficits would not be eliminated. That’s why the budget calls for the debt ceiling to be raised by another $8 trillion, to $25 trillion.

While we were promised that the long-overdue White House proposals would be replete with “big ideas,” the sad truth is that they are the same old solutions we’ve heard for many years: bigger and bigger government, only partially paid for by higher and higher taxes. Rather than see any reduction in Federal debt, Obama wants to increase it by another $8 trillion.

When he released his budget, the President claimed, “I am willing to make tough choices that may not be popular within my own party, because there can be no sacred cows for either party.” What a bunch of baloney!

The White House claims that the budget contains $2 of spending cuts for every $1 in new taxes. But it’s all a bunch of smoke and mirrors. The so-called spending cuts are a cruel illusion. They are achieved by allowing minor reductions to previously proposed increases. Spending doesn’t go down one thin dime in Obama’s new budget. Instead, it will increase by at least $680 billion over the next five years.

Maybe figures don’t lie. But liars sure can figure.

Yes, there’s a lot not to like in Obama’s budget for fiscal 2014. One of the sneakiest proposals it contains is for the Federal government to change the way cost-of-living increases are calculated, by switching to something called a “chained CPI” (Consumer Price Index). Here’s how the Daily Mail describes the effect of this sleight of hand:

The chained CPI signals a shift in how the federal government will calculate everything from Social Security payouts and congressional pensions to college students’ Pell Grants and veterans’ benefits. Anything tied to cost-of-living increases would be subject to a new formula.

The White House’s budget blueprint suggests that these programs would see $230 billion in costs savings over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office puts the number at $216 billion.

Does anyone believe that today’s calculations for the consumer price index are anywhere close to being correct? Most of us who live in the real world know that the prices we pay for most things are going up by a heck of a lot more than 2 percent a year.

Now Uncle Sam wants to change the formula to reduce the payouts even further. That doesn’t sound very fair to me. But wait, it gets worse. Switching to a chained CPI will also hit the middle class with a huge new tax increase.

How is that possible? Here’s how the Daily Mail explains it:

The money will come pouring in because the consumer price index also controls income tax brackets, tax filers’ standard deductions, nontaxable contribution limits for 401(k) retirement plans, and more.

So millions of individual Americans will see themselves moved involuntarily to higher tax brackets, and middle-class taxpayers in particular will lose some of the tax credits and deductions that they count on.

Forget all of Obama’s blarney about only the rich being hit by these higher taxes. The brunt of these increases will fall squarely on the middle class. And, of course, the same thing will be true of the costs of Obamacare, which will be fully implemented next year.

Do you remember when Nancy Pelosi said “we have to pass” the badly misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to see what’s in it? Pretty soon, we’ll all get to see the higher costs and increased regulations this monstrosity will produce. It won’t be pretty.

So now Congress has three different budgets for 2014 to consider: one passed by Democrats in the Senate, one approved by Republicans in the House and one presented by the White House. All of them call for increased government spending next year. None of them will reduce the deficit by one penny over the next decade.

Margaret Thatcher famously observed that “the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” The big spenders in Washington seem determined to speed the day when that happens in this country.

It seems to me this could be a mighty good time to trade some of your rapidly depreciating dollars for assets of enduring value. I hope you noticed that gold and silver have been on sale recently.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood