Leno on Iranian Sanctions: ‘If Anyone Knows How To Cripple an Economy It’s Obama’

As NewsBusters has been reporting, there has been a shift in recent months concerning late night hosts’ willingness to make jokes about the current White House resident.

JAY LENO: One of President Obama’s winning points last night was about how sanctions against Iran are crippling their economy. And believe me, if anyone knows how to cripple an economy it’s President Obama.

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LA’s X-Rated Referendum is an Obscene Attack on Liberty

The electorate of Los Angeles County will go to the polls in three weeks to decide, among other critical questions in a time of economic stagnation, budget deficits, and educational crisis, whether to require the use of condoms in pornography films.

Ballot Measure X–excuse me, B–reads, in part: “The measure would require the use of condoms for all acts of anal or vaginal sex during the production of adult films.”

Thank goodness the voting age is 18.

Measure B appears on the November ballot thanks to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and proponents defend it as a “vote to safeguard public health and for workplace protection.”

The measure would apparently require “on-set inspections.” No doubt LA’s bureaucrats are already lining up for that assignment–but it’s unlikely there will be much left to inspect if Measure B passes.

Love it or loathe it, the U.S. pornography industry is largely based in LA’s San Fernando Valley. Lately, the multi-billion dollar industry has been struggling, and Measure B would likely push it out of California, to other states or Canada.

More jobs destroyed, more tax revenue lost–and yes, perhaps, a few infections prevented, though the industry says it is good at policing itself. And those who join it know what they are (ahem) getting into.

More is at stake in Measure B than economic damage. The greater price is liberty itself.

You don’t have to like or care about pornography to understand that there is something absurd about the government–or even the majority of citizens–deciding that when consenting adults engage in otherwise legal sexual expression, they have to use a particular form of contraception, subject to supervision by the Department of Public Health.

Recall the uproar during the Republican primary earlier this year over the phony issue of contraception. The mainstream media threw a fit over the constitutional question of whether states had the power to regulate contraception, and the left attacked GOP candidates for allegedly wanting to ban it.

Read more here.

More than 50 Million Americans Can’t Buy Food

More than 50 million Americans couldn’t afford to buy food at some point in 2011, according to federal data.

Children in some 3.9 million households suffered from food insecurity last year, with their families unable to provide them with adequate, nutritious food at times.

Nearly 17 million Americans suffered from “very low food security,” meaning they had to reduce the amount they ate, saying the food they bought did not last and they didn’t have the funds to buy more. They typically found themselves in this situation a few days a month for seven months of the year.

The number of people in this category shot up by more than 800,000 from 2010, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Wednesday. Women living alone, black households and the poor and near-poor were affected the most.

Read more here.

U.S. Firms Move Abroad to Cut Taxes

More big U.S. companies are reincorporating abroad despite a 2004 federal law that sought to curb the practice. One big reason: Taxes.

Companies cite various reasons for moving, including expanding their operations and their geographic reach. But tax bills remain a primary concern. A few cite worries that U.S. taxes will rise in the future, especially if Washington revamps the tax code next year to shrink the federal budget deficit.

“We want to be closer to where our clients are,” says David Prosperi, a spokesman for risk manager Aon AON +0.21% plc, which relocated to the U.K. in April.

Aon has told analysts it expects to reduce its tax rate, which averaged 28% over the past five years, by five percentage points over time, which could boost profits by about $100 million annually.

Since 2009, at least 10 U.S. public companies have moved their incorporation address abroad or announced plans to do so, including six in the last year or so, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of company filings and statements. That’s up from just a handful from 2004 through 2008.

The companies that have moved recently include manufacturer Eaton Corp., ETN -1.02% oil firms Ensco International Inc. ESV -2.46% and Rowan Cos., RDC +0.33% as well as a spinoff of Sara Lee Corp. called D.E. Master Blenders 1753.

Eaton, a 101-year-old Cleveland-based maker of components and electrical equipment, announced in May that it would acquire Cooper Industries PLC, another electrical-equipment maker that had moved to Bermuda in 2002 and then to Ireland in 2009. It plans to maintain factories, offices and other operations in the U.S. while moving its place of incorporation—for now—to the office of an Irish law firm in downtown Dublin.

Read more here.

Is America Too Stupid To Survive?

In the end, free societies get the governments they deserve. So, if the American people wish to choose their chief executive on the basis of the “war on women,” the Republican theocrats’ confiscation of your contraceptives, or whatever other mangy and emaciated rabbit the Great Magician produces from his threadbare topper, they are free to do so, and they will live with the consequences. This week’s bit of ham-handed misdirection was “the Buffett Rule,” a not-so-disguised capital-gains-tax hike designed to ensure that Warren Buffett pays as much tax as his secretary. If the alleged Sage of Omaha is as exercised about this as his public effusions would suggest, I’d be in favor of repealing the prohibition on Bills of Attainder, and the old boy could sleep easy at night. But instead every other American “millionaire” will be subject to the new rule — because, as President Obama said this week, it “will help us close our deficit.”

Wow! Who knew it was that easy?

A-hem. According to the Congressional Budget Office (the same nonpartisan bean-counters who project that on Obama’s current spending proposals the entire U.S. economy will cease to exist in 2027) Obama’s Buffett Rule will raise — stand well back — $3.2 billion per year. Or what the United States government currently borrows every 17 hours. So in 514 years it will have raised enough additional revenue to pay off the 2011 federal budget deficit. If you want to mark it on your calendar, 514 years is the year 2526. There’s a sporting chance Joe Biden will have retired from public life by then, but other than that I’m not making any bets.

Let’s go back to that presidential sound bite:

“It will help us close our deficit.”

I’m beginning to suspect that the Oval Office teleprompter may be malfunctioning, or that perhaps that NBC News producer who “accidentally” edited George Zimmerman into sounding like a racist has now edited the smartest president of all time into sounding like an idiot. Either way, it appears the last seven words fell off the end of the sentence. What the president meant to say was:

“It will help us close our deficit . . . for 2011 . . . within a mere half millennium!” [Pause for deafening cheers and standing ovation.]

Sometimes societies become too stupid to survive. A nation that takes Barack Obama’s current rhetorical flourishes seriously is certainly well advanced along that dismal path. The current federal debt burden works out at about $140,000 per federal taxpayer, and President Obama is proposing to increase both debt and taxes. Are you one of those taxpayers? How much more do you want added to your $140,000 debt burden? As the Great Magician would say, pick a number, any number. Sorry, you’re wrong. Whatever you’re willing to bear, he’s got more lined up for you.

Even if you’re absolved from federal income tax, you too require enough people willing to keep the racket going, and America is already pushing forward into territory the rest of the developed world is steering well clear of. On April Fools’ Day, Japan and the United Kingdom both cut their corporate-tax rates, leaving the United States even more of an outlier, with the highest corporate-tax rate in the developed world: The top rate of federal corporate tax in the U.S. is 35 percent. It’s 15 percent in Canada. Which is next door.

Well, who cares about corporations? Only out of touch dilettante playboys like Mitt Romney who — hmm, let’s see what I can produce from the bottom of the top hat — put his dog on the roof of his car as recently as 1984! That’s where your gran’ma will be under the Republicans’ plan, while your contraceptiveless teenage daughter is giving birth on the hood. “Corporations are people, my friend,” said Mitt, in what’s generally regarded as a damaging sound bite by all the smart people who think Obama’s plan to use the Buffett Rule to “close the deficit” this side of the fourth millennium is a stroke of genius.

But Mitt’s not wrong. In the end, a corporation doesn’t pay tax. The marble atrium of Global MegaCorp’s corporate HQ is indifferent to the tax rate; the Articles of Incorporation in the bottom drawer of the chairman’s desk couldn’t care less. Every dollar of “corporate” tax has to be fished out the pocket of a real flesh-and-blood human being, whether shareholder, employee, or customer.

And that’s the problem. For what Obama’s spending, there aren’t enough of them, or us, or “the rich” — and there never will be. There is only one Warren Buffett. He is the third-wealthiest person on the planet. The first is a Mexican, and beyond the reach of the U.S. Treasury. Mr. Buffett is worth $44 billion. If he donated the entire lot to the government of the United States, they would blow through it within four and a half days. Okay, so who’s the fourth-richest guy? He’s French. And the fifth guy’s a Spaniard. Number six is Larry Ellison. He’s American, but that loser is only worth $36 billion. So he and Buffett between them could keep the United States government going for a week. The next-richest American is Christy Walton of Walmart, and she’s barely a semi-Buffett. So her $25 billion will see you through a couple of days of the second week. There aren’t a lot of other semi-Buffetts, but, if you scrounge around, you can rustle up some hemi-demi-semi-Buffetts: If you confiscate the total wealth of the Forbes 400 richest Americans it comes to $1.5 trillion, which is just a little less than the Obama budget deficit for a year.

Read more here.

Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs

TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most important investment banks and it is too integral to global finance to continue to act this way. The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief.

But this was not always the case. For more than a decade I recruited and mentored candidates through our grueling interview process. I was selected as one of 10 people (out of a firm of more than 30,000) to appear on our recruiting video, which is played on every college campus we visit around the world. In 2006 I managed the summer intern program in sales and trading in New York for the 80 college students who made the cut, out of the thousands who applied.

Read more here.

Obamanomics

So far, during the presidency of Barack Obama, the price of a gallon of gasoline has jumped 83 percent, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
gas

During the same period, the price of ground beef has gone up 24 percent and price of bacon has gone up 22 percent.

When Obama entered the White House in January 2009, the city average price for one gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $1.79, according to the BLS. (The figures are in nominal dollars: not adjusted for inflation.) Five months later in June, unleaded gasoline was $2.26 per gallon, an increase of 26 percent. By December 2011, the price of regular unleaded gas per gallon was $3.28, an 83 percent increase from January 2009.

The price of unleaded gasoline never reached the 10-year high of $4.09 back in July 2008 under George W. Bush’s administration, but it did get close.

By May 2011, gas prices hit a high under the Obama administration at $3.93, about four percentage points away from the July 2008 high.

The U.S. city average retail price for one pound of 100 percent ground beef was $2.36 in January 2009. As of December 2011, that price had risen to $2.92—a 23.7 percent increase and a new peak. (Ground beef prices have risen every month since November 2009 – 26 months of price increases.)

Whole wheat bread prices from January 2009 to December 2011 increased about five percent (5.02 percent) from $1.97 to $2.07. (The inflation rate in December 2011 was 3.0 percent.)

Among the first 36 months of Obama’s presidency, the last four (September, October, November, December) showed the average price of one pound of whole wheat bread hovering slightly above two dollars.

Other refrigerated items like ice cream and bacon have increased by substantial amounts.

Ice cream prices, for a half-gallon, were $4.44 in January 2009 and $5.25 in December 2011, an increase of 19.1 percent.

Read more here.

50 Facts About The U.S. Economy That Will Shock You

1. A staggering 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.

2. Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be “low income” or impoverished.

3. If the number of Americans that “wanted jobs” was the same today as it was back in 2007, the “official” unemployment rate put out by the U.S. government would be up to 11 percent.

4. The average amount of time that a worker stays unemployed in the United States is now over 40 weeks.

5. One recent survey found that 77 percent of all U.S. small businesses do not plan to hire any more workers.

6. There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added 30 million extra people to the population since then.

7. Since December 2007, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8 percent once you account for inflation.

8. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006. Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.

9. A Gallup poll from earlier this year found that approximately one out of every five Americans that do have a job consider themselves to be underemployed.

10. According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.

11. Back in 1980, less than 30 percent of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40 percent of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

12. Back in 1969, 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job. In July, only 81.2 percent of men in that age group had a job.

13. One recent survey found that one out of every three Americans would not be able to make a mortgage or rent payment next month if they suddenly lost their current job.

14. The Federal Reserve recently announced that the total net worth of U.S. households declined by 4.1 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2011 alone.

15. According to a recent study conducted by the BlackRock Investment Institute, the ratio of household debt to personal income in the United States is now 154 percent.

16. As the economy has slowed down, so has the number of marriages. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, only 51 percent of all Americans that are at least 18 years old are currently married. Back in 1960, 72 percent of all U.S. adults were married.

17. The U.S. Postal Service has lost more than 5 billion dollars over the past year.

18. In Stockton, California home prices have declined 64 percent from where they were at when the housing market peaked.

19. Nevada has had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation for 59 months in a row.

20. If you can believe it, the median price of a home in Detroit is now just $6000.

21. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18 percent of all homes in the state of Florida are sitting vacant. That figure is 63 percent larger than it was just ten years ago.

22. New home construction in the United States is on pace to set a brand new all-time record low in 2011.

23. As I have written about previously, 19 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 34 are now living with their parents.

24. Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

25. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5 percent of all personal consumption back in 1980. Today they account for approximately 16.3 percent.

26. One study found that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either have medical bill problems or are currently paying off medical debt.

27. If you can believe it, one out of every seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards.

28. The United States spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.

29. It is being projected that the U.S. trade deficit for 2011 will be 558.2 billion dollars.

30. The retirement crisis in the United States just continues to get worse. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 46 percent of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 29 percent of all American workers have less than $1,000 saved for retirement.

31. Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.

32. According to a study that was just released, CEO pay at America’s biggest companies rose by 36.5 percent in just one recent 12 month period.

33. Today, the “too big to fail” banks are larger than ever. The total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2011.

34. The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.

35. According to an analysis of Census Bureau data done by the Pew Research Center, the median net worth for households led by someone 65 years of age or older is 47 times greater than the median net worth for households led by someone under the age of 35.

36. If you can believe it, 37 percent of all U.S. households that are led by someone under the age of 35 have a net worth of zero or less than zero.

37. A higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty (6.7 percent) than has ever been measured before.

38. Child homelessness in the United States is now 33 percent higher than it was back in 2007.

39. Since 2007, the number of children living in poverty in the state of California has increased by 30 percent.

40. Sadly, child poverty is absolutely exploding all over America. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4 percent of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty, 40.1 percent of all children that live in Atlanta are living in poverty, 52.6 percent of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty and 53.6 percent of all children that live in Detroit are living in poverty.

41. Today, one out of every seven Americans is on food stamps and one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

42. In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7 percent of all income. Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.

43. A staggering 48.5 percent of all Americans live in a household that receives some form of government benefits. Back in 1983, that number was below 30 percent.

44. Right now, spending by the federal government accounts for about 24 percent of GDP. Back in 2001, it accounted for just 18 percent.

45. For fiscal year 2011, the U.S. federal government had a budget deficit of nearly 1.3 trillion dollars. That was the third year in a row that our budget deficit has topped one trillion dollars.

46. If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.

47. Amazingly, the U.S. government has now accumulated a total debt of 15 trillion dollars. When Barack Obama first took office the national debt was just 10.6 trillion dollars.

48. If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.

49. The U.S. national debt has been increasing by an average of more than 4 billion dollars per day since the beginning of the Obama administration.

50. During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.