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Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes

 
Paladin
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12/28/2005 08:34 PM
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Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
Fact and Comment
Steve Forbes, 01.09.06, 12:00 AM ET


Mushrooming Crisis
Iran's soon-to-be successful push for atomic weapons, not the Iraq war, will be the global hot potato of 2006. All diplomatic efforts to dissuade Tehran from going nuclear have predictably failed. Russia is not going to pull this radioactive chestnut out of the fire, either, even though members of the Bush Administration still pretend it will.

The prospect of Iran's having a nuclear capability is especially frightening because its new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is lethally delusional. He is obsessed with the Mahdi (who is to return just before Judgment Day) and believes he must prepare the way for his reappearance. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly declared that the Holocaust never took place and that Europe and the U.S. should provide some of their own land for a Jewish state. Israel itself should be wiped off the map.

Last month Iran cut a deal with Russia to buy an advanced weapons system that can destroy incoming missiles and laser-guided bombs. Russia also helped Iran launch a satellite that could give early warning of an air attack against Iranian nuclear facilities.

For Iran's black-robed fascists to develop nuclear weapons would be an immense setback in the war against Islamic fanaticism. It would embolden terrorists. Tehran would see itself in a position to encourage the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy--or, at the least, bend it to its will. Is military action the only alternative? Yes, unless somehow internal Iranian pressures (the mullahs are despised by most Iranians), as well as international pressures, force either a fundamental change in this fascist theocracy or its actual overthrow. Iraq's impressive progress since mid-2004 in building an economy in which new businesses are proliferating, property prices are rapidly rising, new schools and hospitals are opening, and a new democratic political order is under way can only undermine the mullahs, who preside over a sick economy kept alive solely by the oil windfall. But time is running short.

Could the Bush Administration summon the internal fortitude to undertake the necessary air strikes and possible ground action to set back Iran's nuclear ambitions for five to ten years? Alternatively, could one imagine the White House giving Israel the green light to launch air strikes?

Alas, the White House has done next to nothing to prepare and persuade the U.S. public of the possible need for stern measures here. Thankfully President Ahmadinejad's consistent public statements on the "myth" of the Holocaust will make clear to not only us but also the European masses and elites that this regime poses an increasingly mortal threat to our safety, that European-style diplomacy (a mechanism for doing nothing) is no longer viable.


Inflated Performance
Inflation is going to make the new year look better than it really will be. Excess money initially induces extra spending and more investment. For much of the year growth will exceed 4%, but by the fourth quarter it will start slowing. The hangover--i.e., much slower growth, if not a stall--will come in 2007-08. The Federal Reserve will continue raising short-term interest rates, but unless it stops printing an excessive amount of money, it will give us a replay, although a milder version, of the dreadful stagnation experiences of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The nominal cost of money went up and up, and so did prices.

Alan Greenspan will have left town by the time his inflationary blunders become all too evident. Greenspan & Co. started to turn out excess money more than a year ago. That's why prices went crazy at the gas pump last year. The higher cost of oil is not the fault of China, India, hurricanes or greedy oil companies. Inflation is the villain, just as rapidly rising energy prices were the result of the Fed's excesses in the 1970s. Prices have soared for a variety of other commodities, such as copper, soybeans and cattle.

The Fed's blunder is a shame. The economy's fundamentals are astonishingly strong--productivity gains of historic proportions, low inventories, growing capital spending and very sound consumer balance sheets (media myths to the contrary).

Ben Bernanke, Greenspan's about-to-be successor, disdains gold as both an indicator and a guide to monetary policy; he won't be prepared for what's going to hit him. He'll look at the Fed's multitudinous measures of money and conclude they haven't grown enough to cause inflation. No one has taught him that he can't just look at supply--he also has to look at demand. The world is flush with liquidity. U.S. corporations have nearly $2 trillion in cash, a record high in absolute terms and proportionally. Banks, insurance companies, equity funds, venture capitalists, hedge funds--all are desperately looking for investment opportunities. They have more money than they can profitably, prudently put to work. Bernanke's explanations for the events that are about to unfold will be interesting. Will he blame Arab sheikhs? Rapacious corporations? Budget deficits? Trade deficits? Hedge funds? Sunspots? All of the above? Or will he have the courage, the understanding to point the finger at the institution he will soon be piloting?

Given his statements that gold is an obsolete, if not destructive, guide to monetary policy, Bernanke is not likely to recognize the inflation problem until it hits him--and the economy--square in the face. A year from now Greenspan's successor may, unfairly, resemble the ill-starred G. William Miller, whom Jimmy Carter appointed to head the Fed in December 1977 and who proceeded to stoke inflation to record highs.

Bernanke should let short-term interest rates float and simply mop up the excess liquidity until the price of gold comes down to a tad below $400 an ounce, a price still above the average of the past ten years. Sadly, such a timely, sensible approach is so beyond Bernanke's mind-set--not to mention that of most other economists and policymakers--that he'll never do it.

Like booze at a party, easy money should make for a good economic year. The morning-after headaches will start being felt by next Christmas.


Mitigating Inflation's Fallout
How severe the hangover is will depend on what the Bush Administration and the so-far fumbling Republican Congress can accomplish in the new year. Key to mitigating the damage of the about-to-worsen inflation is making permanent the tax cuts of 2003--or at least extending them for a couple of years. The reduction in both the capital gains tax and the personal levy on dividends was critical to the rapid economic growth--not to mention the $4 trillion increase in equity values--we've experienced since those cuts were passed. If markets come to believe that those crucial reductions will expire in 2008, equity prices will begin to be marked down in anticipation of this well before then.

Too bad the Bush Administration has decided to punt on major tax simplification, such as the flat tax. Imagine the benefits to our economic growth and competitiveness if we had a single 17% rate that when applied to personal income would kick in only after generous exemptions for adults and children. A family of four would owe no federal income tax on its first $46,165; there'd be no tax on savings, no Alternative Minimum (read Maximum) Tax and no death tax. For businesses the tax on profits would fall to 17%. And just as exciting, depreciation schedules would be eliminated for tax purposes. If a business made a capital investment, it could expense the outlay in the year in which the investment was made. Any losses could be carried forward until they were absorbed by future profits.

Sadly, the hash the White House made of reforming the Social Security system has turned this Administration and Congress cautious. The mistake here was simple: President Bush never put forward a single, comprehensive plan to transform Social Security from a generational-conflict-fostering economic drain to a capital-generating, wealth-creating, economic-illiteracy-reducing, better-benefits-for-all mechanism. Ideas for particular changes were floated from time to time, but these were never coherently pulled together. As a result people's worst fears festered--taxes would be substantially increased, benefits would be slashed, people would be forced to become speculators in the Enrons of the world, and Grandma would be tossed into the snow. How a once politically savvy Administration could make these fundamental errors regarding such an important, sensitive issue is astonishing.

Trade is another area to watch closely. Turbulent times can destructively stir up protectionist sentiments.

A mammoth Medicare drug entitlement is set to kick in this month. The Administration should propose significant subsidies to help those with low incomes instead of giving this benefit to those 65 and over, including seniors on The Forbes 400 rich list.

Since the Administration is not going to simplify the tax code, it might as well push for allowing individuals a tax deduction on the premiums paid for health insurance plans that have Health Savings Accounts. It should also permit individuals to buy health insurance sold in any state. New Jersey residents, for example, are currently barred from purchasing a policy available to those who reside in Oklahoma, thereby thwarting marketplace pressures that could lead to better insurance policies at lower prices.


We Are There
Rise to Rebellion--by Jeff Shaara (Ballantine Books, $15.95). Shaara's historical novels dramatically bring their characters and eras to life. This one covers the pivotal period of 1770-76, when the American colonies responded to Britain's increasingly heavy-handed attempts to tax them hard and control them ever more tightly, first with protests and then with war. As in his other masterpieces, Shaara gets into the minds of his characters and lets their thoughts move the story forward.

Shaara, a superb storyteller, easily shifts from the lofty to the mundane, as in his description of John Adams trying to prepare a cup of coffee. Bureaucratic intrigues, political maneuvering, debates and bloody battles all unfold seamlessly and credibly. Individuals are superbly drawn--and not only the biggies, such as George Washington, John Adams and Ben Franklin, but also others, like Sam Adams, John Dickinson, Joseph Warren and Massachusetts' pro-English governor, Thomas Hutchinson. Early battles, particularly the one at Breed's Hill (known to us as Bunker Hill), are described vividly and dramatically. The book ends as Washington eyes the British fleet coming into New York Harbor with thousands of troops shortly after we declared independence.

This is epic, heroic history, rendered brilliantly.



[link to www.forbes.com]
Chaiyah
User ID: 55975
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12/28/2005 08:42 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
Woo whee. Whose war-profiteering defense payroll is this guy on?

Seems to me, the more sabre rattling Bush does, the more sabre rattling small nations are going to do.

Doh.
fnord
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12/28/2005 09:07 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
We already listened to Bushbutt's claim that Iraq was gonna nuke us.

Now he's tellin us Iran is gonna nuke us.

Hell, I lived through 50 years with the threat of nuclear annihilation from Russia.

A few Iranian nukes is nothing to be afraid of.

What we should be afraid of is Russia and China's response to our unleashing nuclear weapons on Iran without provocation.

What we should be afraid of is one more minute with the madman Bush in the Whitehouse.
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 09:09 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
"What we should be afraid of is Russia and China's response to our unleashing nuclear weapons on Iran without provocation."

Don't fret, because the U.S. won't be unleashing squat on anyone.
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 09:10 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
its the oil bourse opening in march that has the financial boys worried.

This means Countries that currently have to buy oil using DOLLARS will have another source using a different currency.


countries will not need to purchase dollars to buy oil.

bad news for the value of the Us dollar.

that means bad news for the economy in a lasting way.
Die BunkerModerator
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12/28/2005 09:12 PM

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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
"What we should be afraid of is Russia and China's response to our unleashing nuclear weapons on Iran without provocation."

I certainly agree with this. The whole pre-emptive paradigm shift is very troubling. In fact due to this policy it becomes apparent that Iran could attack the US or Israel right now and justify it.
savetata


Favorite Quote - "I just fucking love outer space, it has all those planets and stars and shit." - Mister Obvious 2009
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 09:20 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
We already listened to Bushbutt's claim that Iraq was gonna nuke us.

Now he's tellin us Iran is gonna nuke us.

Hell, I lived through 50 years with the threat of nuclear annihilation from Russia.

A few Iranian nukes is nothing to be afraid of.

What we should be afraid of is Russia and China's response to our unleashing nuclear weapons on Iran without provocation.

What we should be afraid of is one more minute with the madman Bush in the Whitehouse.

bingo! enough said.
Paladin
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12/28/2005 09:20 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 52913
(snip)
its the oil bourse opening in march that has the financial boys worried.

This means Countries that currently have to buy oil using DOLLARS will have another source using a different currency.


countries will not need to purchase dollars to buy oil.

bad news for the value of the Us dollar. .......

gwdance



this is great..


has anyone seen..

the FED will stop reporting the M3 Money supply....

the same time as the Bourse comes online?????
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 09:28 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
Forbes coyly acts as if the Bush
administration doesn't have plans to
bomb the shit out of, and perhaps nuke
Iran.

Prepare the american people for the Iran
threat? Could it be it hasn't been done
in earnest because they know most of the
american public is sick of being
bullshitted by the adminstration?
Especially when it means the death of
their sons and daughters for Israel.

Cut taxes again? Sounds good, nobody likes
taxes (except the gov), but it seems I
never benefit from these "tax cuts". I
guess you gotta have more money than me
to benefit.
Paladin
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12/28/2005 09:35 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
has anyone seen..

the FED will stop reporting the M3 Money supply....

the same time as the Bourse comes online?????
Die BunkerModerator
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12/28/2005 09:38 PM

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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
"Prepare the american people for the Iran
threat? Could it be it hasn't been done
in earnest because they know most of the
american public is sick of being
bullshitted by the adminstration? "

No it is because such an attack will come without warning. It is necessary if they hope to succeed.
savetata


Favorite Quote - "I just fucking love outer space, it has all those planets and stars and shit." - Mister Obvious 2009
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 09:39 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
"has anyone seen..

the FED will stop reporting the M3 Money supply....

the same time as the Bourse comes online?????"

Yes I believe, unless they have been
living in a cave, all interested are
aware of that fact.
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 09:41 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
"No it is because such an attack will come without warning. It is necessary if they hope to succeed."

If the Iranians are not aware of the
distinct possibility of an attack, they
have their heads in the proverbial sand.
Naturally we are not going to send them
a message "attack coming in 30 minutes".
Die BunkerModerator
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12/28/2005 09:43 PM

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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
Playing it up in the media to 'prepare' the public will not happen. Also those who are unaware of this possibility also have their head in the sand.
savetata


Favorite Quote - "I just fucking love outer space, it has all those planets and stars and shit." - Mister Obvious 2009
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 09:47 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
cheer Go Iran Go! cheer

This side of the globe is safe from Irans "possible weapons" It would be hard for them to get a nuke over here.

Israel is screwed though. cheer
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 09:50 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
in another odd twist I believe that the bourse and the cessation of the M3 reporting start on the same day. March 16 perhaps
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 09:51 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
If anybody in the world who attempts to
keep informed about the world situation,
is not aware of our desire to attack
Iran, please show yourselves.

Does anybody think it's lost on the
Iranians that our CIA director went to
Turkey to seek support for our attack?
Whether the story is actually true or
not doesn't matter, they, having any
sense at all have to believe in the
possibility.

The Iranians have a satellite now that
should give them more warning that ever
before. They should be ready, as ready
as a little backward country can be,
against a colossus like the U.S.
Die BunkerModerator
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12/28/2005 09:52 PM

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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
Coincidence?

pennywise
savetata


Favorite Quote - "I just fucking love outer space, it has all those planets and stars and shit." - Mister Obvious 2009
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 10:24 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
The biggest threat to the U.S. is sitting in the White House.
AnyMouse

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12/28/2005 10:27 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
Is there an address I can write to, to tell bush to push the button?
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 11:26 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
>They should be ready, as ready
as a little backward country can be,
against a colossus like the U.S.<

Zackly. Bush thinks everybody is a complete moron for buying into the idea that Iran could ever be a threat to the US. FEAR is a poerfull thing.
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 11:34 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
Do you fools and idiots REALLY understand what happens when formerly rock-throwing fanatics come into possession of nuclear arms and start throwing THEM around willy nilly?

If you can't understand WHY we have to attack instead of sit back on our haunches... well, that is why we will continue to elect Republicans who DO understand the urgency of this literal life-or-death struggle.

End the Arab madness. NOW.
Anonymous Coward
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12/28/2005 11:40 PM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
Idiot, why do you think they're 'rock throwers'? Persia is the birth place of medicine and mathematics, without them, you'd be throwing rocks. Where do you war-mongers get your understanding of Middle East intellect, World Net Daily? lol
Anonymous Coward
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12/29/2005 12:02 AM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
"Do you fools and idiots REALLY understand what happens when formerly rock-throwing fanatics come into possession of nuclear arms and start throwing THEM around willy nilly?"

Well you messianic ninny, you do know the
only country that has EVER used NUKES
against another country don't you?
Someone
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12/29/2005 12:05 AM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
Didn't ANYONE ELSE notice the date of Jan 9, 2006 on this post??

Not real, just more of the same MADE-UP bullshit you see every day here...


sigh



.
Anonymous Coward
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12/29/2005 12:09 AM
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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
"Didn't ANYONE ELSE notice the date of Jan 9, 2006 on this post??"

Sure I noticed it, it is an opinion piece
that will appear in the Forbes magazine
that he publishes. It is online now.
Die BunkerModerator
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12/29/2005 12:10 AM

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Re: Mushrooming Crisis......Steve Forbes
Look at the link. It is Forbes Magazine.

Also if you want to see what a mushrooming crisis looks like : [link to media.urbandictionary.com]
savetata


Favorite Quote - "I just fucking love outer space, it has all those planets and stars and shit." - Mister Obvious 2009

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