As predicted before the Bank Bailouts:

In an acceleration of a trend that has been underway since the early 1990s, the U.S. lost 932 financial institutions or nearly 13 percent of the total since the onset of the Great Recession, according to the latest data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The vast majority of those closed institutions had less than $1 billion in assets. They were mostly locally-owned, community banks that were often the backbone of small business lending in their communities.

On the other end of the spectrum, the top 106 banking institutions – those with over $10 billion in assets – now hold nearly 80 percent of the nation’s $13.8 trillion in financial wealth. The 116 institutions that qualified as mega-banks in 2007 held just 77 percent of $12.7 trillion in assets. There’s no chance that the trend will reverse itself since there has been an almost total collapse of new applications for bank charters. In the past year there were even two quarters when there were zero applications – an unprecedented event in the 77-year history of the FDIC.

As I wrote in 2008:

Real leadership would have sought to aggressively address the root cause by cutting back on further borrowing, unnecessary spending, easy credit and wasteful excesses. Congress deformed not just authentic prosperity in the near future but for the next fifty years. The market will be plagued with higher unemployment, rising costs of goods: long-term stagflation. In addition, Congress has directed us toward domination by a few huge universal banks and a small number of gigantic corporations, all of them “too big to fail,” under the careful tutelage of a governmental Leviathon dominated by these same cartels.

We know the ultra-conservative think tank, Heritage Foundation, came up with the idea.

We know that GOP frontrunner employed it in RomneyCare and declared it a “fundamentally conservative” idea.

We know Newt Gingrich also advocated for it.

And now. . . Rick Santorum. Per a 1994 Pennsylvania news article:

Santorum and Watkins would require individuals to buy health insurance rather than forcing employers to pay for employee benefits. Both oppose abortion services and support limits on malpractice awards. Santorum says non-economic damages should not exceed $250,000, adjusted annually for inflation, and lawyers’ contingency fees should be capped at 25 percent.

I still ask how Alabama GOPers support these guys after their rhetoric through the years:

So how do Mike Hubbard and Mike Rogers overlook this “push toward a socialistic-leaning government in this country” with RomneyCare and its “socialist” mandates which “will dampen too many employers’ ability to hire and expand” and “threaten job creation and stability across East Alabama” and “which force citizens to purchase something they do not wish to purchase, a mandate which has never been previously demanded of the populace.

Remember this?

This occurred 14 days after the GOP-controlled House blocked an EPA regulation which would treat coal-ash as a hazardous material.

Today the Birmingham News reports that:

Alabama’s coal-fired power plants dispose of almost 15 million pounds of toxic metals in on-site ash ponds, more than plants in any other state. Alabama Power Co.’s Miller Steam Plant in western Jefferson County sends more toxic metals to its ash pond than any other plant in the country, more than 5 million pounds annually. . .

In addition to the assessment EPA made of the condition of ash pond dams across the country, the agency also classified ash ponds by the level of hazard posed if dams were to fail.

All but one of the Alabama Power ponds were classified as a significant risk, meaning that, if a rupture occurred, environmental and property damage would result. One ash pond at the Gaston plant in Shelby County’s Wilsonville is classified as a high hazard, meaning that loss of life could occur if a dam broke. All the ponds lie near waterways that receive treated discharge from the ponds.

But according to ALGOP Congressmen like Mike Rogers, safely regulating these pools is “overreach”:

Even so, one of the EPA’s two approaches would have regulated coal ash under laws treating the byproduct as a hazardous waste, giving federal officials enforcement powers, creating disposal restrictions and effectively phasing out the use of ash ponds and forcing power plants to shift to landfills.

 

 

 

Does this sound like your workplace?

Germans are a lot more sensitive about their working conditions unlike most other countries including the United States. However, German work laws are quite restrictive, allowing employees many perks that people could only dream of in other nations.

For example, every German worker is entitled to 30 days of paid vacation a year. The German workweek is a maximum of 40 hours, and most of the time it is between 35 and 37.5 hours. Every hour of overtime could be taken as extra vacation or compensation later.

German employees cannot get fired from a job, unless they commit mistakes or the company goes bankrupt. Even when a company decides to fire someone, they usually get a three-month notice so that they could have time to look for a new job.

In Germany, it is illegal to work two full-time jobs at the same time, and if a full-time employee wants to have a part-time job, he needs to get permission from his workers’ council and manager. It is common that managers in German companies are often confronted and sued by workers’ council if they make their employees work overtime.

In Germany, when a female employee gets pregnant, she is not allowed to work the eight weeks before the expected birth and during this time she will get her full salary. Up until one year after the birth, a woman will receive 66 percent of her salary, if she decides to stay at home. If a woman has a permanent job contract and decides to stay home for three years after the birth of her child, the company is required to keep her job place secure. However, after the first year, she will no longer receive 66 percent of her salary, but will only get 184 euros in Kindergeld (child allowance) per month until the child is 18 years old.

To make matters more equal in Germany and to encourage fathers to take care of children, the same rules apply to fathers. Many couples interchange their roles, as women take the first six months off, and then as a baby gets older, the father will take the remaining six months off and stay at home.

If, after pregnancy a woman decides to work part time, a company cannot deny her request and by law will provide her convenient working time ranging anywhere from 5 hours to 40 hours per week.

Are these economy killing regulations?

Although it seems that Germans wouldn’t produce much with such restrictive working laws, the opposite seems to be true. Germans take pride in delivering high-quality goods.

Even though Germans work fewer hours and have more vacations than most other countries worldwide, the German economy is the most stable in the European Union, and it is considered a powerhouse capable of carrying the whole EU with its massive productiveness.

According to a new analysis from Bloomburg News:

This month, as the last U.S. combat forces left Iraq, the holiday parade in Hickory, North Carolina, featured a first: marchers carrying the names of all the state’s troops who died in that war and in Afghanistan.

“The older men stood and saluted; some people cried,” said Mike Beasley, an ex-Marine who organized the display through his church. “It opened a lot of people up to what had happened.”

Places like Hickory, with a population of 40,010, bore much of the burden of Iraq war casualties. Roughly half of those who died came from towns with fewer than 50,000 people, and of those, about a quarter were from places with less than 10,000, a Bloomberg analysis of U.S. Census figures suggests.

The all-volunteer military gets many front-line troops from rural areas, where there’s a culture of patriotism, a tradition of service and often limited economic opportunities, said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow in defense policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

“Infantry forces, which take the brunt of a lot of the casualties, do tend to draw predominantly from these regions,” O’Hanlon said.

This statistic is even more telling when you consider that while one-half (1/2) of the troop that died came from rural areas; only 10% of the US population lives in such areas. In other words, one-half of the deaths came from just 10% of the US population.

And yet, most Congresspersons representing rural areas  like Alabama Cong. Mike Rogers (see here and here) seem to agitate for more war & any war.

The Alabama Homeland Security Department expects massive budget cuts this upcoming year due to a reduction in flow of federal dollars.

“It will be about a 40 to 50 percent cut in the state’s homeland security budget,” says John Scripture, spokesperson for the head of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security Spencer Collier (ADHS).

Accordingly, DHS expects to greatly reduce its programs and projects:

These cuts and reduction in funds for functioning programs will be a blow to the ADHS. However, the ADHS will require more funds from the state’s general fund to fulfill its newly bestowed duties. According to the Alabama’s new immigration law, the state’s homeland security department is responsible for maintaining the E-Verify system. This will require a 25 percent increase in general funding for the department to run the citizenship authentication system.

For an already cash-strapped state budget, this could pose a problem. Nevertheless, Scripture is assured the funding will be there. “Until the legislature changes its mind, we will require an increase in funding from the general fund.”

For you see, DHS had a fairly large responsibility placed upon it by the Alabama Legislature. In an effort to be sly, the Legislature converted DHS into the Human Resources/Personnel department of every small business in Alabama: all 80,000 of them. (See here and here)

 

Mitt Romney stated today:

“What we did was right for the people of Massachusetts,” he said on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning. “It is fundamentally a conservative principle to insist that people take personal responsibility as opposed to turning to government for giving out free care.”

A more full video can be found here which also includes Newt admitting that he supported an individual mandate but has now changed his mind.

I cannot wait until Romney’s Alabama campaign chairpersons Speaker Mike Hubbard, Cong. Mike Rogers, and Lt.Gov. Kay Ivey publicly agree that the primary plank of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate, is “fundamentally a conservative principle.” I’m on pins & needles.

 

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