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Bill USA

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Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
Number of posts: 6,436

About Me

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that

Journal Archives

IRS puts the amount of tax liabilities which will never be paid for 2006 at $385 BILLION

.. for 2001 the Net Tax Gap (the taxes owed that will never be paid) at $290 Billion.

This is interesting information at a time when much discussion is focused on Deficit reduction. If ten years at a Net Tax Gap of $385 Billion per year, if all the taxes owed our Government were collected, we would have, roughly speaking, an additional $4 trillion dollars of revenues.


WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today released a new set of tax gap estimates for tax year 2006. The tax gap is defined as the amount of tax liability faced by taxpayers that is not paid on time.

The new tax gap estimate represents the first full update of the report in five years, and it shows the nation’s compliance rate is essentially unchanged from the last review covering tax year 2001.

The tax gap statistic is a helpful guide to the scale of tax compliance and to the persisting sources of low compliance, but it is not an adequate guide to year-to-year changes in IRS programs or to year-to-year returns on IRS service and enforcement initiatives.

The following table summarizes the new estimates being released today, as compared to the 2001 estimates, along with the total tax liabilities in each year.

The voluntary compliance rate — the percentage of total tax revenues paid on a timely basis — for tax year 2006 is estimated to be 83.1 percent. The voluntary compliance rate for 2006 is statistically unchanged from the most recent prior estimate of 83.7 percent calculated for tax year 2001.

summary of methods of estimating the Tax Gap: http://www.irs.gov/pub/newsroom/summary_of_methods_tax_gap_2006.pdf

more here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/newsroom/overview_tax_gap_2006.pdf

Krugman on the current Republican Economic Dystopia - The Jobless Trap

Having created the Trickle Down Deregulation disaster, when Obama and the Democrats tried to rebuild the economy the Republicans proceeded to fight them at every turn. The GOP have fought all Obama's economic stimulus efforts saying we must first cut social programs to erase the debt disaster they created (when they were building the public debt they said: "Deficits don't matter.". Thus, the current Republican Economic Dystopia of glacial improvement in unemployment and a lethargic stifled recovery.


F.D.R. told us that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. But when future historians look back at our monstrously failed response to economic depression, they probably won’t blame fear, per se. Instead, they’ll castigate our leaders for fearing the wrong things.

For the overriding fear driving economic policy has been debt hysteria, fear that unless we slash spending we’ll turn into Greece any day now. After all, haven’t economists proved that economic growth collapses once public debt exceeds 90 percent of G.D.P.?

Well, the famous red line on debt, it turns out, was an artifact of dubious statistics, reinforced by bad arithmetic. And America isn’t and can’t be Greece, because countries that borrow in their own currencies operate under very different rules from those that rely on someone else’s money. After years of repeated warnings that fiscal crisis is just around the corner, the U.S. government can still borrow at incredibly low interest rates.

But while debt fears were and are misguided, there’s a real danger we’ve ignored: the corrosive effect, social and economic, of persistent high unemployment. And even as the case for debt hysteria is collapsing, our worst fears about the damage from long-term unemployment are being confirmed.

How the 40 year 'Long Recession' lead to the Great Recession - the Nation

link to a great read over on the Economy forum....


The Excel Depression - Krugman's article re Rogoff and Reinhadt's Excel-lent 'Adventure'


At the beginning of 2010, two Harvard economists, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, circulated a paper, “Growth in a Time of Debt,” that purported to identify a critical “threshold,” a tipping point, for government indebtedness. Once debt exceeds 90 percent of gross domestic product, they claimed, economic growth drops off sharply.


... Reinhart-Rogoff quickly achieved almost sacred status among self-proclaimed guardians of fiscal responsibility; their tipping-point claim was treated not as a disputed hypothesis but as unquestioned fact. For example, a Washington Post editorial earlier this year warned against any relaxation on the deficit front, because we are “dangerously near the 90 percent mark that economists regard as a threat to sustainable economic growth.” Notice the phrasing: “economists,” not “some economists,” let alone “some economists, vigorously disputed by other economists with equally good credentials,” which was the reality.

For the truth is that Reinhart-Rogoff faced substantial criticism from the start, and the controversy grew over time. As soon as the paper was released, many economists pointed out that a negative correlation between debt and economic performance need not mean that high debt causes low growth. It could just as easily be the other way around, with poor economic performance leading to high debt. Indeed, that’s obviously the case for Japan, which went deep into debt only after its growth collapsed in the early 1990s.

Over time, another problem emerged: Other researchers, using seemingly comparable data on debt and growth, couldn’t replicate the Reinhart-Rogoff results. They typically found some correlation between high debt and slow growth — but nothing that looked like a tipping point at 90 percent or, indeed, any particular level of debt.

Finally, Ms. Reinhart and Mr. Rogoff allowed researchers at the University of Massachusetts to look at their original spreadsheet — and the mystery of the irreproducible results was solved. First, they omitted some data; second, they used unusual and highly questionable statistical procedures; and finally, yes, they made an Excel coding error. Correct these oddities and errors, and you get what other researchers have found: some correlation between high debt and slow growth, with no indication of which is causing which, but no sign at all of that 90 percent “threshold.”

Once again, right wing dogma is shown to be pure putrid bullshit. Data inadvertantly left out, a mistake in enterring a formula in an Excel spreadsheet? Uh-huh, and Kim Kardashian doesn't have rugburns on her butt! What's interesting and telling, is that Rogoff and Reinhart took almost three years to allow actual researchers a look at their work. This too was just a coincidence, RIIIGHHHT!

Right wing theology is, as it always has been, based on circuitous, fraudulent arguments. There are no better masters of the dark arts of casuistry than the Right Wing bullshitters (some of whom masquerade as economists).

... from this day forward any argument referred to as a "Reinhart and Rogoff" will be understood to be a fraudulent scam.

The Economic Argument Is Over — Paul Krugman Has Won


For the past five years, a fierce war of words and policies has been fought in America and other economically challenged countries around the world.

On one side were economists and politicians who wanted to increase government spending to offset weakness in the private sector. This "stimulus" spending, economists like Paul Krugman argued, would help reduce unemployment and prop up economic growth until the private sector healed itself and began to spend again.

On the other side were economists and politicians who wanted to cut spending to reduce deficits and "restore confidence." Government stimulus, these folks argued, would only increase debt loads, which were already alarmingly high. If governments did not cut spending, countries would soon cross a deadly debt-to-GDP threshold, after which economic growth would be permanently impaired. The countries would also be beset by hyper-inflation, as bond investors suddenly freaked out and demanded higher interest rates. Once government spending was cut, this theory went, deficits would shrink and "confidence" would return.


So the empirical evidence increasingly favored the Nobel-prize winning Paul Krugman and the other economists and politicians arguing that governments could continue to spend aggressively until economic health was restored.

And then, last week, a startling discovery obliterated one of the key premises upon which the whole austerity movement was based.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/paul-krugman-is-right-2013-4#ixzz2RPpBa400

Who's responsible for the GOP filibuster of Gun Control? - Pres. Obama - of course! per Peggy Noonan


Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan attacked President Obama for "having a problem with the levers of power" after the Senate failed to pass background checks for gun sales despite the legislation receiving majority support -- the final vote was 54-46, with 41 Republicans voting against the measure. Previously Noonan has dismissed concerns about historic Republican obstruction in Congress with a sarcastic "boo hoo."

Appearing on Meet The Press, Noonan responded to the Senate's inability to pass background checks by referring to "a problem" when "90% of the American people" supported it but President Obama "can't make anything move."

Noonan neglected to mention that the measure required 60 votes in response to a Republican-led filibuster, so even though the vote was 54 to 46 in favor, the legislation failed.

Petition to President Obama to Pardon Don Siegelman

[font size="3"]46,749 signatures ..... 53,251 needed.[/font]


Dear Friends,

Five years ago, my dad, former Democratic Governor of Alabama Don Siegelman, was taken away in handcuffs and shackles. Most who learned of his case saw it as a travesty of justice, including several prominent Republicans (see 60 Minutes).

Though released pending appeal for four years and despite unprecedented support, my father was returned to prison on September 11th to complete a nearly 7 year term because the Supreme Court refused to hear his case.

The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox Business News, MSNBC, CBS, Harper's, Time Magazine, The American Trial Lawyers, Huffington Post, The Guardian, 113 former state Attorneys General, top Constitutional Law Professors, and many others say this case is erroneous and Don Siegelman never commited a crime.

He was convicted of an implied quid pro quo, that is an inferred bribe, or a bribe without explicit proof of agreement or self-enrichment scheme. He was never accused of benefiting, at all.

I need your help to free my father. Please sign this petition to President Obama asking him to restore justice and pardon Don Siegelman!

Why Sign?

Gov. Don Siegelman was the 51st Governor of Alabama, serving from 1999 to 2003. He served in Alabama in public office for 26 years and is the only person in the history of the state to be elected to serve in all four of the top statewide elected positions: Secretary of State, Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor and Governor. He was essentially the longest running Democrat in the Southeast.

My dad was wrongfully convicted in 2007 in a case that Pace Law Professor Bennett Gershman called "one of the most egregiously bad faith prosecutions by the Justice Department ever.” Numerous public servants such as Al Gore, John Kerry, and Wesley Clark believe my father was wrongly prosecuted and wrongly convicted.

The American Trial Lawyer Magazine has called Dad America's "Political Prisoner #1." The New York Times said my dad was charged with something that has never even been considered a crime in America, and CBS’ 60 Minutes reported that the prosecution team coached key witness Nick Bailey more than 70 times and offered him a deal to testify against my father.

Conservative columnist George Will expressed in The Washington Post, “Everyone who cares about the rule of law should hope the Supreme Court agrees to hear Don Siegelman’s appeal….today’s confusion and the resulting prosecutorial discretion kill the exercise of Constitutional right, of political participation and can imprison people unjustly.”

More than 100 state Attorney Generals, both Republican and Democrat, many law professors, and thousands of people like you, have tried to help, garnering the attention of the media, organizing letter campaigns, and writing excellent articles, but ultimately the case was left to the courts. Even Fox Business News sympathized with Dad!

113 current and former state Attorney Generals from across the U.S. signed a brief to the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court saying, “There is reason to believe that the case brought against Governor Siegelman may have had sufficient irregularities as to call into question the basic fairness that is the linchpin of our system of justice.”

Fred Gray, attorney to Rosa Parks, and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, both close companions to the late Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., came to court to hold my mom's hand the day of sentencing in 2007. They wrote letters to the Department of Justice, to Congress, and to the President to convey that Don Siegelman is the “target of the Bush Justice Department, which has now endangered the style of government we fought so hard for.”

However, this is not about Democrats versus Republicans, far from it. It is simply about what's right and wrong, what is fair and what is not. As Thomas Jefferson said, "A prosecutor who alleges enough wrong doing will always get a conviction." Former U.S. Attorney General Robert H. Jackson said, "If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows that he can choose his defendants. Therein is the most dangerous power..."

This petition is much more than just one man's freedom. It is about American freedom. If this can happen to my dad, as governor, it can happen to anyone. The law is so unclear, all it takes is a prosecutor with a vendetta against you. As Dad explained when the surprise verdict came in 2007; “This is dangerous to our democracy and it is wrong. If this ruling stands, rogue prosecutors or a rogue Justice Department can prosecute contributors and elected officials they simply do not like.”

Please join me in asking President Obama to pardon my dad and let this issue stand before Congress and the Supreme Court.

Al Gore appealed, "Don Siegelman isn't just fighting for his freedom - he's fighting for the integrity of our democracy... As Americans, we have a responsibility to protect our democracy from those who would take advantage of it and abuse their power.”

Please sign and share my petition asking President Obama to grant Don Siegelman clemency!

The Supreme Court has denied my dad’s appeal, and he has been re-sentenced to more than five years in prison. At this point, my dad’s only hope is a commutation of sentence or pardon. Our hope for truth lies in holding our elected officials accountable. Our hope for justice is a great public outcry. Please join me in asking the President of the United States for clemency in my dad’s case by signing the petition on Change.org and sharing this message publicly however you can. By doing so we may one day clarify the law and keep our democracy and freedom intact.

Thank you so much for considering the facts and helping me free my dad!

With the greatest appreciation,

Dana Siegelman

[div class="excerpt" style="padding:30px;"]To:

The President of the United States
The President of the United States of America

[font size="3"]We the undersigned believe that a grave injustice has been done in the case of Don Siegelman that taints the very fabric of our democracy.[/font]

We, along with 113 former Attorneys General, both Republican and Democrat, top Constitutional Law professors, and former presidential candidates Wesley Clark, John Kerry, and Al Gore question the irregularities in the Siegelman case that, the Attorneys General say, “call into question the basic fairness that is the linchpin of our system of justice.”

Governor Siegelman was convicted of bribery, involving a contribution to a referendum advocacy campaign to establish free college education for Alabama’s underprivileged children. The courts concluded that Mr. Siegelman did not pocket a penny and the agreement between he and his contributor was an implied “explicit” quid pro quo. This is a first in U.S. jurisprudence.

What’s more, Siegelman was indicted by the U S Attorney’s Office in Alabama’s Middle District where the U.S. Attorney was the wife of his opponent’s campaign manager! That is correct; Siegelman’s prosecution started at the hands of the U.S. Attorney whose husband was running Siegelman’s opponent’s campaign (See CBS’s 60 Minutes, February 24th 2008).

Siegelman has served over nine months in prison, one month in solitary confinement, and three weeks in a maximum-security prison. He has lost his law license, most of his assets, his reputation, and freedom. We believe serving more time in prison serves no public purpose, and we respectfully request that you grant Don Siegelman clemency.

Thank you for your immediate attention and action!


(Your name)

Deforestation of the Brazilian rainforest down 80% since 2004.

[font size="3"]Since 2004 the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen nearly 80 percent to the lowest levels recorded since annual record keeping began in the late 1980s[/font]. Importantly, this decline has occurred at the same time that Brazil's economy has grown roughly 40 percent, suggesting a decoupling of economic growth from deforestation.

While this is welcome news for Earth's largest rainforest, it is nonetheless important to understand why more than 580,000 square kilometers (224,000 square miles) of Amazon forest has destroyed in Brazil since 1980. Why has Brazil lost so much forest? What can be done to stop deforestation?

In the past, Brazilian deforestation was strongly correlated to the economic health of the country: the decline in deforestation from 1988-1991 nicely matched the economic slowdown during the same period, while the rocketing rate of deforestation from 1993-1998 paralleled Brazil's period of rapid economic growth. During lean times, ranchers and developers do not have the cash to expand their pasturelands and operations, while the government lacks funds to sponsor highways and colonization programs and grant tax breaks and subsidies to forest exploiters.

But this has all changed since the mid-2000s, when the link between deforestation and the broader Brazilian economy began to wane.


Today deforestation in the Amazon is the result of several activities, the foremost of which include:

Clearing for cattle pasture
Colonization and subsequent subsistence agriculture
Infrastructure improvements
Commercial agriculture


Scientists describe new species of see-through fish from the Amazon


Scientists have documented an entirely new genus of fish from a river in the Amazon rainforest.

The fish, dubbed Cyanogaster noctivaga or the blue-bellied night wanderer, is described in the journal Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters. The species may have gone undiscovered in one of the Amazon's most studied tributaries — the Rio Negro — because it is nocturnal, tiny and transparent. With a maximum length of 17 mm, it is one of the smallest known vertebrates, measuring only 7 mm more than the world's tiniest fish.

"It is a strange little animal, completely transparent with an otherwise unique color pattern," said study co-author Ralf Britz, an ichthyologist at London's Natural History Museum.

Another reason the night-active Cyanogaster noctivaga may have been undetected is its habitat: the highly acidic blackwater of the Rio Negro. The river is so dark due to dissolved tannins that it is often likened to a cup of well-brewed black tea.

Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0402-new-fish-cyanogaster-noctivaga.html#sK9GUWvTR5Kev65q.99

What The Austerity Paper’s Intellectual Collapse Tells Us About Modern Journalism


Tuesday afternoon, Mike Konczal transformed the debate over austerity and growth by reporting new study finding that a paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff that served as one of the principal intellectual justification for austerity turns out to be have been fatally flawed. Its conclusions, for example, were based in part on an elementary Excel coding error (Reinhart and Rogoff, for their part, aren’t conceding the game).

This error is obviously of immense economic and political importance; Matt Yglesias rightly calls it “literally the most influential article cited in public and policy debates about the importance of debt stabilization.” But the young controversy also says something interesting about the way that modern journalists do business, especially as arguments over academic papers becomes a bigger and bigger part of public debate, particularly over economics.

The Reinhart/Rogoff paper wasn’t just influential for self-described deficit hawks like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) or the Washington Post editorial page; it got serious play in an astonishing array of media outlets. Because Reinhart and Rogoff were eminent economists who had written a widely-praised history of financial crises, their work was generally treated very respectfully by the mainstream press, often invoked totemically as proof that the United States couldn’t cross the 90 percent debt-to-GDP “threshold” without dire consequences for growth.

But let’s be honest: most journalists had no real way of knowing whether or not Reinhart/Rogoff had actually provided *good* proof of the 90 percent theory. The reason economists tend to have PhDs is that economics is a difficult, technical profession; assessing the robustness of any individual finding requires a degree of econometric expertise, background knowledge, and free time that the vast majority of journalists simply don’t have. That goes double for the evaluation of disputes between leading economists. As Tim Harford, a seasoned economics journalist with an Oxford Master’s in the subject, put it when confronted with an early critique of Reinhart/Rogoff: “this is beyond my pay grade.”
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