For the past four years, the U.S. White House has provided a website tool that generates an itemized receipt showing how the taxes paid by any U.S. taxpayer are spent. The taxpayer simply plugs in his or her income and taxes paid, or an estimated income. The resulting receipt shows how much of that individual’s taxes went to fund national defense; health care, education and training; science, space and technology programs; immigration, law enforcement and administration of justice; and so on. As Kelly Phillips Erb writes for Forbes.com, “The federal taxpayer receipt – while not incredibly detailed – does offer a pretty succinct snapshot of where tax dollars go. It’s an interesting conversation starter, too…”
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Apr 18 2014
Apr 11 2014
The United States recently instituted economic sanctions on Russia due to its conflict with Ukraine over the Crimea and is urging other world powers to follow suit.
But do sanctions really work? History tells us they are a passive-aggressive measure, and in the end, they hurt ordinary people while leaving subject governments—composed of a fluid body of individuals—virtually unaffected.
No state (or group of states, in the case of the EU) nor NATO, the 28-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to which Ukraine has applied for membership, have been willing to risk an outright military confrontation with Russia. Earlier this week NATO member nations suspended cooperation with Russia because of the Ukraine conflict, and yesterday Russia recalled its ambassador to NATO, according to CNN.com.
Retired Texas congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul agreed, calling sanctions “acts of war.” He continued:
Apr 05 2014
March 22, 2014, witnessed another oil spill in U.S. waters when a tanker full of marine fuel oil crashed into a barge in the Houston Ship Channel. The spill closed all traffic through the channel for three days. Nearly 12% of the U.S. refining capacity came to a halt during the closure. The spill came as the nation marked the 25th anniversary of the catastrophic Exxon Valdez spill that dumped 11 million gallons of oil on the Alaska coast.
Just a month before, on February 23, an oil barge collided with a tugboat Near Vacherie, Louisiana. The resulting oil spill closed a 65-mile run of the Mississippi River and endangered water supplies for communities along the river. Dozens of critical shipments backed up behind the spill location.
Mar 28 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama’s recently submitted budget proposal for 2015 revisits against U.S. coinage, its composition and cost. The President has shown an interest in updating and streamlining U.S. currency by cutting costs to production or eliminating altogether the smallest denominations since at least 2010, “in order to efficiently promote commerce in the 21st Century.” Both pennies and nickels cost some twice their face value to produce, despite the fact that the amount of copper and nickel contained within has been dramatically reduced. Canada is now a year into the apparently seamless and successful elimination of its penny coin. But the real significance of debasing or eliminating coins is an implicit acknowledgement that the dollar continues to fall in value, as do all fiat currencies in the world, and that no one has any intention of restoring that lost value.
Mar 21 2014
As happened decades ago, a drop in gold prices is having an impact on production. One key factor—difficult, if not impossible—to reverse is a steady decline in ore grade. With consumer gold demand soaring to an all-time high in 2013, the drop in production points to a growing supply shortage and ultimately rising prices. In a cyclic reaction, prices will eventually push production up as well, but restarting idled mines or ramping up exploration and development requires years of lead time. For the ever-declining ore grades there may be no solution.
Twelve straight years of rising gold prices, through 2012, finally kick-started global gold mining operations, which picked up in earnest around 2009 and peaked in 2012 at 2700 metric tons delivered to market, according to an August 2013 report by Scott Wright of Mining.com.
But the 2013 gold panic took a rapid toll on production, Wright continues, causing most miners to delay or shelve development of new mines and to cut back dramatically on exploration efforts.