'The Big Short' is a great movie and the stars deserve recognition for acting. But the story is spiked with lots of Hollywood fiction that blames Wall Street, while ignoring that Congress was completely responsible for a 15-year policy that created ludicrously a high-risk environment that eventually imploded into the "mortgage meltdown."
Just before the crisis began in 2008, about 31 million loans of 63 million U.S. mortgages were subprime or had some type of elevated risk. About three quarters of these loans were held on the books of government agencies, referred to as government-sponsored enterprises.
The two largest "GSE" were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both entities were created by Congress in 1938 and subject to constant government oversight. Only about 24 percent of these loans were on the books of private sector entities, such as banks, investment banks, insurers, and investment funds of all kinds.
Because of the government backing and ability to borrow at about the same cost as the U.S. government, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dominated the mortgage business and essentially set the rules for the market. Instead of making loans directly to borrowers, they purchased mortgages from banks and other lenders. By extending their Congressional guarantee, GSE loans were sold to investors at very low interest rates.
For the first 54 years in business, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac only accepted prime mortgages with down payments of about 20 percent and solid "FICO" credit score of at least 660. The borrowers also could not have total debt payments after the loan that exceeded 38 percent of income. As a result, the homeownership rate in the U.S. were stable at 64 percent from 1962 to 1992.
The Democrat controlled Congress blamed this GSE stability on keeping millions of lower income Americans that could not qualify for so called “prime loans,” from enjoying the dream of home ownership.
The Democrat Congressional majority in 1992 passed and President George H.W. Bush signed on to a program known as the “affordable housing goals.” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were initially required to set a goal of purchasing an annual quota of 30 percent of their loans from low or moderate income borrowers.
Furthermore, 30 percent of all loans these GSEs acquired in any year had to be made to home buyers who were at or below the median income level where they lived. There were also a number of “goals” that required loans to minorities and borrowers below 80 and 60 percent of median income.
Liberty requires the right to unrestricted foreign travel, so our government generally should have no right to impede that travel. It does have the right to place some reasonable conditions upon that right – but only in those rare occasions in which that travel is for the purpose of causing material harm to our national safety or interests. So today if we want to travel to North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela or virtually anywhere else, as free people we should have the right to do so without any restrictions, much less sanctions.
One of the rare situations in which the government could place restrictions would be for travel to places like Syria, Iraq or Libya to join terrorist forces as they fight against humanity. If those people are not citizens, they should have that right, but with the express condition that they could never return to the United States. Of course it is a violation of international law to prohibit citizens from returning to their own country. So our government would be justified to pass and enforce a law that would impose a prison sentence for a conviction upon our citizens who traveled or attempted to travel to those areas of the world. But that sanction could be avoided by those travelers if they voluntarily renounced their citizenship before they departed. Thus they could be treated as a non-citizen. This overall approach would accomplish two important purposes. First, it would uphold the critically important freedom to travel. And, second, if someone has terrorist tendencies, it would be better for them to be in those other places instead of here. So once again, Liberty works both to our philosophical as well as our practical advantage.
With hopes for a wonderful New Year, it is appropriate to celebrate the great American tradition of the citizen soldier. An amazing example is 60-year-old orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Bill Krissoff, whose 25-year-old Marine intelligence officer son, Lt. Nathan Kissoff was killed in Fallouja, Iraq in 2006.
Rather than just mourning his son's death and becoming bitter, he spent two years trying to get an age waiver to join the Navy medical corp.
President George W. Bush at a personal meeting for parents of fallen combat troops, met Dr. Kissoff and his wife in August 2007. When President Bush asked the Kissoffs, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
Dr. Krissoff told Bush of his wish to honor his son's sacrifice by enlisting. Shortly thereafter, age 61, Krissoff was active-duty Navy medical corp. and headed to Iraq.
Click here for his uplifting story: https://www.youtube.com/embed/7tyT4glkvBs
The intact recovery of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has dramatically improved the economics of commercial activity in space, but it has fundamentally changed the worldwide military balance of power by launching the militarization of space.
Founder Elon Musk said on SpaceX's website, “A fully reusable vehicle has never been done before. That really is the fundamental breakthrough needed to revolutionize access to space.” Given his estimate that it only costs $200,000 to fuel a $60 million Falcon 9 missile, SpaceX ability to reuse its missile probably cuts the cost of launching payloads into space by 80 percent, even after missile recovery and refurbishment costs.
SpaceX’s accomplishment reinforces Stratfor Global Intelligence’s recent argument that ‘The Battle to Militarize Space Has Begun.’ SGI warns that “as existing technologies proliferate and new developments provide greater access to space, Cold War frameworks for the peaceful sharing of Earth's near orbit will erode.”
SpaceX's Falcon 9 precision intact rocket landing after an orbital flight is the breakthrough technology that will facilitate the militarization of space. By radically bending down the cost curve for launching and providing maintenance to space-based weapons and manned bases.
Space was first militarized by Germany's World War II advances at the Peenemünde Army Research Center. The development and launch of V-2 ballistic missiles that crossed the Karman line — 62-mile altitude boundary that separates Earth and space before plummeting down on their targets.
Manned and unmanned space launches were a key Cold War competition as the Soviets and Americans sought to dominate the battlefield “high ground.” Intercontinental ballistic missiles were designed to project an arc that temporarily went into space before returning to to deploy re-entry vehicle warheads aimed at terrestrial targets.
Hillary Clinton has received more money from arms and military service companies than any other candidate during the 2016 presidential campaign, data from Open Secrets shows.
All but one of the world’s 10 biggest arms producers have contributed to Clinton’s previous campaigns, giving her — along with the top Republican receiver Ted Cruz — a significant margin over the other candidates.
The numbers, collected by the Federal Election Commission and compiled by Open Secrets, also reveal that Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders make the list of top 20 senators and top six presidential candidates to receive money from arms and defense companies.
Most of the funding is channeled through Political Action Committees, which have no limits to how much they donate. About 18 percent comes from individual contributions, totaling almost US$10 million between all of the companies.
The biggest donors — Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing — devote about a third of their funds to Democrat candidates. In the last presidential elections, Barack Obama won more funding than his contender John McCain, though McCain is the top-earning senator this year.
Undoubtedly Donald Trump ruffled a lot of liberal-progressive feathers when he declared that he is more like President Franklin Roosevelt than any other leader has been. The truth oftentimes hurts, but actually Trump is right.
One can easily imagine a President Trump ordering the Pentagon to round up Muslim-Americans and foreign Muslims living here in the United States and put them into U.S. concentration camps for the duration of the “war on terrorism,” just as Roosevelt did to Japanese-Americans, German-Americans, and Japanese and German citizens who were living here in the United States at the outbreak of World War II.
It actually could be worse under Trump. He believes in torture, which does not bode well for people in concentration camps run by the U.S. military and the CIA.
Leftists might respond to Trump’s comparison by pointing out that FDR was a socialist while Trump hews to a fascist economic philosophy.
Of course, we libertarians would say: Isn’t that a distinction without a difference?
Nonetheless, Trump is an ardent defender of Social Security, the socialist program that FDR foisted onto the American people during the Great Depression. In fact, like all other Republicans, he is a defender of the entire welfare state, which is based on the socialist principle of taking money from people to whom it belongs and giving it to people to whom it does not belong.
That’s not to deny, of course, Trump’s fascist proclivities. One could easily imagine Trump following in the bootsteps of Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet by converting America’s Social Security system to the fascist model, whereby the government permits people to keep their own money but then forces them, on pain of fine and imprisonment, to place savings into government-approved retirement accounts.
Even though Trump avoided military service during the Vietnam War, I don’t think it would surprise anyone if he modeled his presidency on Gen. Pinochet’s military regime in addition to that of FDR. Don’t forget that Pinochet also rounded up tens of thousands of innocent people and put them into concentration camps and military dungeons, where they were tortured or killed. In fact, I would think that Trump, like most conservatives, would hold Pinochet in high regard for doing his best to cleanse Chile of communism.
Are any taxes voluntary? Certainly not the income tax. Although Senator Harry Reid believes it is. No, almost all tax schemes eventually involve some form of coercion. As Mao Zedong said, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” and there’s nothing that gives a government more power than the laying and collection of taxes. But is there a way to collect taxes for public works without doing violence?
Every libertarian has heard the question: If not for coercive taxation, how would society ever maintain infrastructure and provide services? In other words, “Who would build the roads?”
Click through to read six methods of taxation or revenue collection that could implemented without force.
Of course, in a libertarian republic, government would not hold a monopoly on lotteries, but nonetheless lotteries could be used to generate revenue through voluntary participation. Government could use a specific proportion of a lottery’s revenue for funding and one or more lucky participants could win the rest. The founding fathers used this method. George Washington signed lottery tickets to raise money for public infrastructure.
#2. Consumption Tax
A tax on spending on goods or services. A Value Added Tax is a tax which is based on the value added to a product at each stage of production. For examples, if a retailer were to buy a shirt for $5 and sell it for $10, the tax would apply to the $5 difference. Each stage of the production process would incur tax, leaving a final product with a price incorporating those taxes. A Sales Tax is simply a tax on the consumer at the point of purchase of goods or services. An Excise Tax applies to the sale of a specific good or service by quantity—such as a per gallon gasoline tax. In each instance the consumer is choosing to buy the good or service.
#3. Voluntary Tax
In a community, town or city, a voluntary per person tax may be implemented. Services provided by the town such as fire and police services could only utilized by persons who had paid the tax. Those who choose not to would be left to fend for themselves, hire private services or depend on volunteer services. With such a system an introductory tax rate could be implemented and, with time, as more people joined the cost per person would decline.
A group of Harvard professors who criticized the campus rape documentary “The Hunting Ground” are being menaced with the possibility of a Title IX sexual harassment investigation intended to silence their criticisms.
“The Hunting Ground,” released early this year, portrays American college campuses as hotbeds of sexual assault where administrators routinely allow perpetrators to get off scot-free. The film has attracted a great deal of criticism, though, both for the data it relies on and for the individual stories it uses to portray the campus rape epidemic. (RELATED: CNN’s New Rape Documentary Relies On Myths, Not Facts)
Last month, a group of 19 Harvard Law School professors published an open letter denouncing it as a “propaganda” film in advance of its airing on CNN. In particular, the professors criticized the film for its treatment of Brandon Winston, a Harvard law student whom the film treats as almost certainly guilty of raping fellow student Kamilah Willingham. In fact, a criminal grand jury failed to even indict Willingham of a sex crime, indicating a severe lack of evidence against him. (RELATED: Harvard Profs Denounce CNN Rape Documentary As ‘Propaganda’)
Now, though, activists appear to be searching for a way to have the professors silenced by the federal government for criticizing their film.
The Christmas Truce of 1914 was a spontaneous cease fire and day of Christian Brotherhood for both sides of the No Man’s Land along the Western Front. The event was kept secret by senior military officers and government censors as an embarrassing breakdown in military discipline.
Military recruiters from both the Triple Entente and the Central Powers promised recruits that they would be “Home for Christmas.” But after five months of war, the Western Front became an entrenched battlefield running almost 600 miles from Belgium Switzerland.
Most of the soldiers were young men from rural villages that had never been away from home. They were cold, miserable and disillusioned in their three rows of trenches on Christmas Eve of 1914. All the hype about God and Country were interrupted by the reality of rats, lice and endless artillery duels.
While senior officers billeted in snug and warm country estates were enjoying fine wine and good meat safely out of range from artillery barrages, lower-ranking officers stayed with in the trenches and suffered just as much as the enlisted soldiers.
It was these junior officers that permitted a Christmas lull in the fighting. But once the lull started, soon there was singing of religious hymns on both sides. After a while, men in a many of the front line locations left their weapons and came out of the trenches to fraternize in No Man’s Land with the same enemy soldiers the propaganda machines had demonized.
There had already been a million casualties in the short war and the front lines had not really moved in three months. The troops were coming to realize that the “War to End All Wars,” would be a protracted game of attrition.
Many of the men who experienced the Christmas Truce were emotionally overwhelmed with Christian love and respect for their fellow man and refused to fight and kill when senior officers came to the trenches and ordered a re-start of hostilities. Some soldiers were punished for disobedience and many had to be replaced with fresh troops who had been in the reserve trenches the day before. Corporal Adolf Hitler was among the soldiers who did not experience the front line fraternization.
The Christmas Truce of 1914 never was a threat to actually ending the war. For the next four years, new military technology and logistics resulted in unprecedented destruction and the death of 9 million soldiers killed by November 1918. The vast majority of the soldiers who experienced the unauthorized truce fought on and many did not survive the war.