Question of the Day|
The explosion of people on special assistance even a couple years into the recovery smacks of abuse and even more problematic taxpayer funded sloth. What do you think, the surge in food stamp and disability recipients is:
Sign of caring nation
They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob,
When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job.
They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead,
Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?
Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;
Once I built a tower, now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Written by Yip Harburg in 1931, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," became a big hit and a catchphrase still used to denote the plea of downtrodden (Bing Crosby also recorded the song, too, which probably gave it legendary status). It's easy to think of this song these days with record amounts on food stamps and social security disability. Even though the recession has been officially over for a couple of years and the economy has gained strength, people barreling into these programs calls to mind the days of the Great Depression.
There is no doubt people were "victims" of several blunders that created and exacerbated the Great Depression, so those that did everything right couldn't escape the wide fist of economic pain.
The Great Recession swept up a lot of people that were following the mob that was doing the right thing. But there were other mobs in 2007 and newer mobs today that can't lay claim to being innocent victims of an unfair system.
Moreover, there was also the mob that did it all according to the rules and found themselves with a target on their backs.
Through it all what's resulted is a government with an insatiable appetite for money and power and too many Americans asking brother, can you spare a dime, not because it's the only way to get to tomorrow but because it's the easiest way to get to tomorrow.
You don't need diamond rings
Or eighteen karat gold
Fancy cars that go very fast
You know they never last, no, no
What you need is a big strong hand
To lift you to your higher ground
Music superstar Madonna just crossed into the billionaire column with her MDNA tour that was the highest grossing of 2012, bringing in $305,158,363 in receipts, plus $75,000,000 in merchandise and another $10,000,000 in television and DVD rights. Still controversial and obviously popular, the Material Girl got less press from a story about her older homeless brother. Recently Anthony Ciccone told the Daily Mirror he fears he could die.
It's been a rough two years for Anthony since his father fired him from the winery business.
Anthony Ciccone is an alcoholic, arrested recently for being drunk in church and spewing obscenities in front of children. He concedes his younger sister earned her fortune but wonders out loud what happened to old fashion family values like taking care of each other. In his ire he told the reporter: "she lives in her world ... I never loved her in the first place, she never loved me, we never loved each other." Anthony lashed out at his father, saying he "would be very happy if I died of hypothermia" adding "he doesn't want to be bothered ... he doesn't like me."
Interestingly that's the kind of sentiment I hear every time there is a discussion on fixing entitlement programs in America. You people don't like the poor, you people don't like the homeless, you people have no heart.
With the left now promoting the idea children are part of the public domain and thereby (legally) the responsibility of everyone, the notion of being our brother's keeper continues to evolve. Anthony Ciccone asked, "what would you do under these circumstances when your family has stood against you completely?" This is the kind of guilt trip used to overlook the fact all the so-called safety net programs are going bust in part to poor planning and in part to abuse.
But any attempt for healthy younger adults to make small sacrifices now scares the hell out of those that promote entitlements more as a system of sympathetic programs that takes from the rich and uncaring to help the rest. A way to make sure the rich pay up when the chips fall. When initially sold to the public, Social Security and Medicare were promoted as something earned ... now lumped in with food stamps, welfare, special tax credits, and disability these programs are sold as entitlements owed at birth.
Anthony Ciccone says his family provided no backup when the chips fell and holds them responsible for his current plight. Despite the fact Madonna has paid for help in the past and continues to offer such help as conditions for additional financial involvement, Anthony bristles at the suggestion, saying "they" think rehab is the only answer.
From time to time what we all need is a big strong hand to lift us to higher ground. The trick in life is when that hand is attached to your arms and body and mind and internal determination.
On a personal note I understand the story of Anthony Ciccone all too well. Life is a landmine of emotions. You don't need diamond rings or fast cars but you have to get off the sofa and fight this battle for so many reasons including self-respect. And true love comes from helping you with that battle but not letting you watch from the sidelines with disdain and entitlement.
For those actually in the troughs of the day to day battle, sometimes you feel guilt for not doing enough to help and some days you feel anger toward those you love for not doing enough to help themselves. It's not a true tug-o-war because for me it's more of the latter than former yet both reactions leave you with the same emotion in the end - sadness.
The answer is YES ... I can spare a dime, but America can't afford to be a giant welfare state.
The pattern is obvious ... open with indifference or pressure to shake out a few would-be investors and then ramp this baby up into the close. There is now speculation about money pouring in from Japan as well as Europe, while Americans continue to take the bait slowly. Aside from market resolve I like the message of yesterday's action. Sectors moving higher point to a few burgeoning trends.
I know President Obama's budget is dead upon arrival but he is offering enough that there could be some kind of bargain in the end. It wouldn't be grand but would see lots of government spending on stuff like solar power - FSLR was a monster yesterday. You don't have to drink the Kool-Aid to make money.
The Fed minutes were out early today because a handful of people got them yesterday, apparently a mistake. Here are the key points that make me believe monetary policy stays the course.
Meeting participants generally indicated that they viewed the economic data received during the intermeeting period as somewhat more positive than had been expected, but that fiscal policy appeared to have become more restrictive ....
A couple of participants noted that the increase in the payroll tax appeared to have not yet had a material effect on household spending; however, another suggested that the payroll tax increase, along with higher gasoline prices, may be one reason why spending by lower-income households appeared to be depressed, as those changes disproportionately cut into the disposable income of those households.
Rising house prices were strengthening household balance sheets by raising wealth and by increasing the ability of some homeowners to refinance their mortgages at lower rates. Such a dynamic was seen as potentially leading to a virtuous cycle that could help support household spending and financial market conditions over time.
Equity futures are higher, but by no means bucking to get out the gate. I suspect as investors digest the Fed news and President Obama's budget if equities hold up there should be late-day momentum.