Waiting for Cable Guy Costs US $38B; Medicare the True Ponzi Scheme

Sunday, 06 Nov 2011 11:40 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. US Could Defund Nuclear Watchdog Over Palestine Vote
2. Medicare Called the Real Ponzi Scheme
3. 'Birth Dearth' Will Strangle Economies
4. Forbes Announces Hollywood's 'Most Overpaid' Stars
5. Americans Lost $38 Billion Waiting for the Cable Guy
5. College Grad Unemployment Up Under Obama
 

1. US Could Defund Nuclear Watchdog Over Palestine Vote

The vote to accept the Palestinian Authority as a member of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has already cost the agency $80 million a year in U.S. funding.

Now further moves by the Palestinians to seek membership in other U.N. agencies could lead to America's defunding of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which plays a key role in monitoring nuclear proliferation in Iran and other nations.

UNESCO voted overwhelmingly on Oct. 31 to approve the Palestinian Authority's membership. The United States responded by cutting off all funding for the agency, as required by laws enacted in the 1990s barring American funding of any agency that grants membership to the Palestinians.

But after the UNESCO vote, Palestinian diplomat Ibrahim Khraishi said the Palestinians will seek membership in 16 other U.N. agencies. If those U.S. laws are applied to the agencies, they would all likely lose their American funding.

Those agencies could include the IAEA and the World Health Organization, which coordinates international efforts to deal with public health threats.

The Palestinians could also gain membership in the World Intellectual Property Organization, which seeks to curb piracy of American movies and software, triggering U.S. defunding.

"All of this puts the United States in a bind," the Christian Science Monitor observed.

"Though the State Department said it wants to continue to work with UNESCO, even as it cuts funding, it's hard to see how.

"The Obama administration is expected to reach out to Congress to find a way both to continue to fund UNESCO and give the U.S. government flexibility if Palestine is recognized as a member by other, more important U.N. organizations. Whether it will get very far in that appeal is another matter."

Palestinian Authority foreign minister Riyad Malki reportedly said on Thursday that the PA has decided not to pursue admission to additional agencies "at this time," and would instead focus on its bid for full U.N. recognition.

But PA health minister Fathi Abu Moghli has said an application for membership in the World Health Organization was being prepared.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement that it was "smart" for the United States to withhold funding from UNESCO.

She also drew attention to UNESCO's election on Wednesday of Saudi Arabia, Cuba, and "other intolerant regimes" to the agency's Executive Board.

"Just days after admitting 'Palestine' and advancing the Palestinian leadership's anti-Israel, anti-peace scheme, UNESCO has once again welcomed the Cuban dictatorship and other pariah states with open arms, disregarding their human rights violations," Ros-Lehtinen said.

"Cuba and Saudi Arabia will keep working with other repressive regimes on the executive board such as China, Syria, Belarus, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Vietnam to advance an anti-American, anti-Israel agenda."

Editor's Note:



2. Medicare Called the Real Ponzi Scheme

Rick Perry made headlines when he said Social Security was a "Ponzi scheme," but Medicare is even more of a Ponzi scheme for most Americans, according to new research.

And Obamacare will raise the Medicare payroll tax only for those Americans who actually do pay their own way by contributing as much in Medicare taxes as they receive in benefits.

"Even though much vitriol of late has been directed at Social Security, Medicare is arguably far more of a Ponzi scheme than Social Security ever was," said Christopher J. Conover, a research scholar at Duke University's Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Writing in The American, the Journal of the American Enterprise Institute, Conover says his research shows that over a lifetime, Medicare beneficiaries typically receive from two to six dollars in benefits — depending on their marital status and other factors — for every dollar they paid in Medicare payroll taxes.

In contrast, beneficiaries who turned 65 in 2010 paid between 89 cents and $1.51 in Social Security taxes during their working years for every dollar received in Social Security benefits.

"The visceral feeling many retires or near-retirees have about Social Security — that they have 'paid' for those benefits through their lifetime payroll tax contributions — is much closer to being true for Social Security than it is for Medicare," Conover observes.

Workers currently pay a 2.9 percent Medicare payroll tax. But under the healthcare reform legislation engineered by President Obama and the Democrats, beginning in 2013 the rate will rise to 3.8 percent on income above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples filing jointly.

"Ironically, only those who were already paying their own way will see their payroll tax contributions increased by one-third under [healthcare reform]. Unless we address Medicare head-on, everyone else will continue to enjoy benefits that greatly exceed their payroll tax contributions."

Editor's Note:



3. 'Birth Dearth' Will Strangle Economies

The recent announcement that the earth is now home to more than 7 million people sparked new concerns about overpopulation. Yet the real problem ahead is that there are not enough young people, according to a new report.

"To be sure, continued population increases, particularly in very poor countries, do threaten the world economy and environment — not to mention these countries' own people," writes Joel Kotkin, executive editor of NewGeorgraphy.com and an adjunct fellow of the Legatum Institute in London.

"But overall the biggest demographic problem stems not from too many people but from too few babies."

He adds: "This is no longer just a phenomenon in advanced countries. The global 'birth dearth' has spread to developing nations as well."

Of the 59 nations that have fertility rates under 2.1 births per woman — the number needed to maintain population levels — nearly one-third are now developing countries, including Brazil, China and Iran, Kotkin notes.

As a result, these countries during the next two or three decades will have to care for growing numbers of the elderly and suffer from labor shortages.

Adults over the age of 65 already make up more than 20 percent of the population in Japan and much of Europe, including Spain, Portugal, Greece, Germany, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe, and their numbers could double by 2030. (In the U.S., the figure is 15 percent.)

"By 2030 the weight of an aging population will strangle what's left of these economies," according to Kotkin, author of "The City: A Global History" and "The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050." His article on the birth dearth appeared at NewGeography.com and at Forbes.com.

Germany, Japan, Italy, and Portugal, for example, will have just two workers for every retiree. The U.S. will have three. Shrinking labor pools and an aging population will also afflict South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia.

Fueling the growing birth dearth is the rise of childlessness. In increasing proportions, young women in countries as diverse as Japan and Italy are claiming that they do not intend to have even one child. In Japan today, one-third of women in their 30s are unmarried and childless.

Among the factors likely responsible for the childlessness phenomenon are urbanization, high housing prices, rising employment prospects for women, and secularization of society, according to Kotkin, who observes:

"If this trend gains momentum, we may yet witness one of the greatest demographic revolutions in human history. As larger portions of the population eschew marriage and children, today's projections of old age dependency ratios may end up being wildly understated."

Editor's Note:



4. Forbes Announces Hollywood's 'Most Overpaid' Stars

The envelope, please. Forbes magazine has announced the Hollywood star with the dubious honor of topping its list of "most overpaid" performers, and this year's "winner" is Drew Barrymore.

Forbes looked at the 40 highest-earning stars in cinema and estimated their earnings for each of the last three movies they starred in, then compared the figures to the films' operating income — box-office receipts plus DVD earnings minus estimated budget.

The final number represents an average of how much a studio earned for each dollar paid to the star.

Barrymore easily topped the list, earning her studios a paltry 40 cents for every dollar she received. Her 2009 movie "Everybody's Fine" brought in only $16 million globally, and "Lucky You" also crashed at the box office, earning just $8 million.

Eddie Murphy was in second place, bringing in $2.70 for each dollar paid. His movie "Meet Dave" earned $50 million on a budget of $60 million, and "Imagine That" brought in just $22 million on a budget of $55 million.

Will Ferrell, who topped the 2010 list, was in third place this year, with a $3.50 return for every dollar he received. "Land of the Lost" had a $100 million budget but earned only $70 million.

He was followed by Reese Witherspoon, who returned $3.55 for every dollar she was paid, and Denzel Washington, who brought in $4.25 for each dollar.

"Washington is an actor who can command as much as $20 million per film. At those prices, movies have to do much better than Washington's have at the box office in order for him to offer a solid return on investment," Forbes observed.

Rounding out the list of 10 are Nicolas Cage ($4.40 earned for each dollar he received), Adam Sandler and Vince Vaughn (both $5.20), Tom Cruise ($6.35), and Nicole Kidman ($6.70).

Editor's Note:



5. Americans Lost $38 Billion Waiting for the Cable Guy

Waiting for a visit from a cable TV service person or other at-home appointment cost American workers nearly $38 billion in lost wages during the last year, a new IBOPE Zogby poll reveals.

The survey of more than 1,000 adults found that 58 percent of Americans waited for a delivery man or technician to pay a visit, with an average total waiting time of four and half hours on three separate occasions.

Half of those polled said they used a sick day or vacation time to wait for the visit, and the average customer lost $250, according to the poll conducted on behalf of TOA Technologies, a software firm that has partnered with cable companies to provide alerts to consumers waiting for a visit.

The chief culprit was the cable guy, the survey disclosed. And Americans voted Comcast Corp. the worse company in the nation last year, AOL's Daily Finance website reported. Comcast has vowed to reduce its repair and installation windows from four hours to two hours or less by 2012.

The number one reason Americans believe companies don't show up punctually is that they "don't care about my time," according to the Zogby poll.

The survey also found that 70 percent of respondents would recommend a company simply for showing up on time.

Editor's Note:

  • The 'Unthinkable' Could Happen — Wall Street Journal
    50% unemployment, 100% annual inflation, a 90% stock market crash by 2012. See the Evidence


6. College Grad Unemployment Up Under Obama

While the overall U.S. unemployment rate dropped slightly in October, the unemployment rate among college graduates went in the other direction and continues to be a problem under President Barack Obama.

The seasonally adjusted U.S. rate went from 9.1 percent in September to 9 percent in October, but the rate among graduates rose from 4.2 percent to 4.4 percent.

In January 2009, when Obama took office, there were about 1.76 million unemployed college graduates in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In October of this year, there were 2.05 million — an increase of about 300,000.

When Obama was inaugurated, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate among graduates was 3.9 percent, but since then it has never dropped below 4.1 percent.

College graduates still have significantly lower unemployment rates than other Americans. Among those without a high school diploma, unemployment now stands at 13.8 percent. For high school graduates without college, the figure was 9.6 percent in October.

Nearly 14 million Americans were unemployed in October, and 42 percent of them had been out of work for 27 weeks or more.

Editor's Note:



Editor's Notes:

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