Thursday, June 19, 2008

Charles Hugh Smith, polymath California blogger...

Smith is one of the best creators of visual display (charts and graphs) of complex human economic situations. His Blog post for today puts it bluntly and vividly:

U.S. Lifestyle + "Healthcare" = Bankruptcy
How and why is the U.S. going bankrupt? Let me count the ways. There's the debt/housing bubble popping, the inexorable rise in energy and food costs, the trillion-dollar war in Iraq, the Pentagon and Homeland Security budgets, the pork spending, ethanol subsidies, and so on.

But the two 800-pound budget-busting gorillas in the room nobody wants to face are our unhealthy lifestyle and our unsustainable, dysfunctional "healthcare" system...

(read the rest)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A little Progress on Water Utility Secret Meetings...

Waukesha Water Utility Commission meets today at 5:30 PM

Another secret meeting, more finagling, more unwillingness to include the rate-paying public in decisions that will hugely affect future rates.

The "progress"?
It appears that they are under pressure to be more forthcoming about the matters to be discussed in secret--detail highlighted below in blue.

Meeting Agenda
Waukesha Water Commission
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Time: 5:30 P.M.
Place: Water Utility Conference Room
115 Delafield Street
Waukesha, WI 53188-3615
The agenda to date is as follows:



A motion will be made to go into closed session to discuss the following:

a. Pursuant to Sec. 19.85(1)(e), Wisconsin Statutes, discussion of several potential municipal sources of Great Lakes water supplies, along with return flow options, and the potential costs associated with the supply and return flow options.

Upon conclusion of the closed session, a motion will be made to reconvene in open session pursuant to Section 19.85(2) for

possible action on matters discussed in closed session.

Wisconsin Open Meetings Law
Wis. Stat. § 19.81-19.98

19.81 Declaration of policy.

(1) In recognition of the fact that a representative government of the American type is dependent upon an informed electorate, it is declared to be the policy of this state that the public is entitled to the fullest and most complete information regarding the affairs of government as is compatible with the conduct of governmental business.

(2) To implement and ensure the public policy herein expressed, all meetings of all state and local governmental bodies shall be publicly held in places reasonably accessible to members of the public and shall be open to all citizens at all times unless otherwise expressly provided by law.

(3) In conformance with article IV, section 10, of the constitution, which states that the doors of each house shall remain open, except when the public welfare requires secrecy, it is declared to be the intent of the legislature to comply to the fullest extent with this subchapter.

(4) This subchapter shall be liberally construed to achieve the purposes set forth in this section, and the rule that penal statutes must be strictly construed shall be limited to the enforcement of forfeitures and shall not otherwise apply to actions brought under this subchapter or to interpretations thereof.


[This is the text of the exemption the Commissioners traditionally invoke:]

Sec. 19.85(1)(e), Wisconsin Statutes

Deliberating or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing of public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

This isn't anything new...what is fascinating is how it was reported, and by what news agency....(jump to the bottom of the report)

This popped up on The New York Times web page a few minutes ago. Bad enough that bad economic news is everywhere. Now, the reporting of it is being outsourced to Bangalore.
June 3, 2008

Toll Brothers Reports $93.7 Million Loss

Filed at 7:33 a.m. ET

(Reuters) - Toll Brothers Inc , the largest U.S. luxury home builder, posted a narrower-than-expected second-quarter loss on Tuesday, hurt by weakened demand in most markets amid the nation's housing slump.

The net loss totaled $93.7 million, or 59 cents per share, and compared with a profit of $36.7 million, or 22 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 30 percent from a year earlier to $818.8 million. Home-building revenue totaled $818 million, also down 30 percent.

Analysts had forecast a loss of 96 cents per share on revenue of $807.2 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Excluding write-downs, Toll said quarterly profit was $81.3 million, or 49 cents per share. Toll said it posted pre-tax write-downs of $288.1 million.

The U.S. housing market has been in a tailspin as demand falls, prospective purchasers find it tougher to obtain financing, foreclosures soar, and builders cut prices.

"Demand continues to be weak in most markets as our clients worry about selling their existing homes or entering the market before prices stabilize," Chief Executive Robert Toll said in a statement.

To navigate the downturn, some builders have shifted their focus to survival, turning the excess land and inventory accumulated during the boom times of 2002 to 2006 into cash.

Toll said its backlog at the end of the second quarter fell 50 percent from a year earlier to $2.08 billion.

The company also said net contracts signed during the quarter, after cancellations, totaled 929 homes, down 44 percent. In dollar terms, net contracts fell 58 percent to $496.5 million.

In December, Toll Brothers had posted its first quarterly loss in 21 years as a public company.

Toll shares closed Monday at $20.96 on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares are up about 8 percent this year.

(Reporting by Tenzin Pema in Bangalore; Editing by Quentin Bryar)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

He was not in the US Senate at the time, but this is what Barack Obama had to say on Bush's Iraq War Resolution:

He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.
Delivered on Wednesday, October 2, 2002 by Barack Obama, Illinois State Senator, at the first high-profile Chicago anti-Iraq war rally (organized by Chicagoans Against War in Iraq) at noon in Federal Plaza in Chicago, Illinois; at the same day and hour that President Bush and Congress announced their agreement on the joint resolution authorizing the Iraq War, but over a week before it was passed by either body of Congress.

So... what did Senator Hillary Clinton have to say on that very resolution on the floor of the U.S. Senate?


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Of the biblical allotment of three score and ten I have lived only three of them more than a bicycle ride from one of the Great Lakes. I grew up ten blocks from Lake Erie in the (once Irish/Italian ghetto, now newly-hip) "Near West Side" of Cleveland. I can still cycle to the Milwaukee lakefront in an hour and a half; but, a round-trip has always been more than I would (noror ever did) attempt. -0- I'm a "...somewhat combative pacifist and fairly cooperative anarchist," after the example of Grace Paley (1922-2007). -0- I'm always cheerful when I pay my taxes (having refused--when necessary--to pay that portion of them dedicated to war). -0- And I always, always vote.