Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pope Bendict Come To Ground Zero

"We ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died here -- the heroic first-responders, our fire fighters, police officers, emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel, along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy simply because their work or service brought them here on September 11, 2001," the pontiff said.
He greeted dignitaries, including New York Gov. David Paterson, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.
He was joined by 24 people he had invited to join him, including family members of people killed in the terrorist attacks and rescue workers who survived the attacks.
"We ask you, in your compassion, to bring healing to those who, because of their presence here that day, suffer from injuries and illness," he said. "Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy. Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope." Watch the pope pray for the grieving at Ground Zero »
The pope also prayed for "those who suffered death, injury and loss on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Our hearts are one with theirs as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering."
He asked God to "bring your peace to our violent world -- peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the Earth. Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred."

He ended the prayer saying, "God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy, we seek your light and guidance as we confront such terrible events. See photos from the pope's visit »
"Grant that those whose lives were spared may live so that the lives lost here may not have been lost in vain. Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all." See how far young people trekked to hear pope »
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said before the event that "it means a lot to the first responders, and it means a lot to the city."
Asked about the pope's inclusion of a prayer for those "consumed with hatred" Kelly said, "The pope is concerned about world peace ... and every pope is attempting to facilitate that."
As a youth in Germany, Benedict -- then Joseph Ratzinger -- was forced to join the Hitler Youth. He has spoken in the past about the hatred represented by that regime. Watch Benedict talk about the 'sinister' regime »
Sunday marks the last day of his trip to the United States. He is scheduled to celebrate Mass at Yankee Stadium before a crowd of 60,000 people.
Benedict's three-day visit to New York is the second leg of his six-day trip to the United States -- his first since he was elected to the papacy. See where the pope has visited »
On Friday, he visited the United Nations, where he addressed the General Assembly and urged diplomats to intervene in nations unable to protect their populations from human rights violations.
He was only the third pope to address the General Assembly. Pope Paul VI visited in 1965, and Pope John Paul II visited in 1979 and 1995."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

We're in a recession

We're in a recession

By Joseph A. Giannone

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, who once led Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, on Wednesday told Reuters the U.S. economy already is in a recession that could persist, and that federal authorities have only taken the first steps toward turning things around.
"I certainly concur with the view that we are in a recession," Corzine said in an exclusive interview at Reuters' U.S. headquarters in New York. "We have pretty strong indications that we have seen a major, major downshift in the economy. I think we'll find we started in the last quarter of last year."

The New Jersey Democrat became governor of the 11th largest state last year after a short stint as U.S. senator and a 24-year career at Goldman Sachs. Corzine rose through the ranks as a bond trader to become chairman and CEO of what is now the world's largest securities firm, and he played a key role in its 1999 conversion from a partnership to a public company.
Corzine spoke the same day a quarterly survey of corporate finance chiefs found 54 percent believed recession has already begun and would last longer than other recent downturns.
The U.S. central bank, eager to stave off an economic contraction, has cut benchmark rates five times by a combined 2.25 percentage points since September to 3.0 percent.
And on Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would lend $200 billion of Treasuries to primary dealers and accept mortgages as collateral to ease liquidity pressures on banks. These efforts, Corzine said, are only a start.

While "$200 billion is a very large number, it is relatively insignificant in the overall scheme: trillions of dollars in the mortgage market," he said. "It's a really good start, but it's probably not going to change the ocean of credit that's extended in the mortgage arena."
Corzine suggested the Fed would cut benchmark rates again next week, lowering yields for low risk assets and putting pressure on investors to buy other assets. He also predicted that the Fed may intervene again to support the banking system, though it tends to take small steps.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Opiate of Tax Cuts

Nothing feels as good as a hit of taxcut.

In 2000, for the first time in a long while, the US government enjoyed a true surplus of revenue. Presidential candidate George W. Bush assured Americans that, under the circumstances, it was their Right to take a hit of taxcut now. They had earned it. And Americans agreed.

In 2001, the US economy started sagging. Now George W. Bush and the Republicans declared that we Needed a hit of taxcut. The nation could not agree more. The US government would lose income it needed to support itself and share with state and local governments, but each hit of taxcut would feel sOooo gOOood!

So why stop at the Federal level? Florida Republicans knew they had a good product to offer. Give Floridians hits of state taxcuts and they would be happy, and they would vote to keep Republicans in power. Sure the State of Florida would have less money to support itself and contribute to local governments and schools. But each hit of taxcut would feel very, very good.

So why stop there? How can you stop there? We still had the taxes for local governments and school districts. Sure the local governments and school districts needed this money to support themselves, especially given the reduced contributions from the State and Federal governments…but we could still get a hit of taxcut out of them! So a cry went up, especially from rich property owners in Florida, that we needed yet another hit of taxcut, this time out of local revenue.

Florida’s Republican governor and legislators heard those cries, especially the cries from the wealthy property owners. With “Amendment 1” and other measures they moved to ensure that Floridians, particularly rich property owners, could get a hit of taxcut out of local government revenue. And it felt so pleasant to get another hit of taxcut.

Unfortunately, the Federal government can no longer fully support itself. The State of Florida can’t support itself, either, and has to continuously slash departments, staff, and services. Now the local governments and school districts have to do the same. We’re going to feel the hurt from lack of services, and soon. And when that happens, people are going to remember who was pushing taxcut after taxcut. I’m betting that the taxcut pushers will be run out of government.

Postscript: Taxes are the “maintenance fees” for governments, like the maintenance fees for condominium associations. Maintenance fees should be set, raised and lowered in a pragmatic manner, according to needs and capacities determined by the community. To lower them for other reasons is irresponsible.