Tuesday, March 31, 2015


      
Today, we're going to follow up an observation we made when we examined the major trends for how the consumer spending patterns of Americans has changed from 1984 through the present, where we observed that since 2009, increases in expenditures for health insurance are being paid for by the reduced consumption of entertainment.

Let's start first by focusing just on the trends in consumer spending for the larger categories of Health Care and Entertainment. The chart below shows that from 1984 through 2009, the share of average annual total expenditures for both these items were less than one percent of total spending different from one another. But after 2009, that difference grew beyond that margin as something clearly changed to cause spending on the Health Care category to increase at the expense of the Entertainment category.

The Consumer Expenditure Survey provides some details on the components of spending that make up both the general Health Care and Entertainment categories. Focusing on the period since 2008, we've identified and broken those items out in the following chart, in which we've calculated the actual change in the dollar values of each of these components since 2008:

 

What we observe is that since 2008, consumer expenditures for health insurance has begun growing at an exponential rate, which we observe in the curving up trajectory of this category of spending, to where by 2013, average consumer expenditures for health insurance has increased by nearly $600 above their recorded 2008 level.

We also see that spending has increased by much lesser amounts in two other components of the general Health Care category, Medical Services and Medical Supplies. Both however are within $100 of what the average expenditures were for each in 2008. Meanwhile, we observe that spending for drugs, such as prescription medication, has been essentially flat since 2008.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) met with Ukrainian officials in Kiev Monday.

"The United States and international community can and should do more to support Ukraine's efforts to stabilize its economy, build democratic institutions, and defend its territory from ongoing Russian aggression," McCarthy said in a statement Monday.

"I believe this international support should include the provision of defensive weapons, training, and intelligence to the Ukrainian military," he added.

American action to arm Ukrainian forces is a fierce debate: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has repeatedly requested U.S. assistance with lethal force to defend Ukrainian territory. While U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and many key members of Congress support the measure, President Obama firmly opposes sending arms, instead implementing economic sanctions against Russia.

"Economic sanctions are ill-advised and counter-productive," German MEP Beatrix von Storch told Townhall. "Political behavior cannot be changed by sanctions. Instead, politicians will be even more firmly in power, because they have the ability to put the blame for the suffering on the 'foreigners' who impose the sanctions."

According to Von Storch, there is much sympathy within the European Parliament toward arming the rebels, even though most members consider themselves advocates for peace.

"The European Parliament has, luckily, neither competence nor power to arm the Ukrainians," Von Storch said. "It could only endorse such an armament by some meaningless resolution. The real power is with the European nation states."

Assad: Turkey “logistically and militarily” supporting Islamic State fighters
 

By Robert Spencer / Jihad Watch

Assad: Turkey “logistically and militarily” supporting Islamic State fighters 

There is nothing farfetched about this claim: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has his own designs on the caliphate. If the Islamic State can fight against some of his enemies, such as Assad and the Kurds, he has no problem with that — he hopes to move in later and reap the benefits. “Assad: Turkey […]

Read in browser »

 share on Twitter Like Assad: Turkey “logistically and militarily” supporting Islamic State fighters on Facebook Google Plus One Button 
Op-ed:
'Operation David'...
a Sensible Peace Proposal
By: Diane Sori and Craig Andresen / Right Side Patriots on CPR Worldwide Media / http://cprworldwidemedia.net/radio

“Those who support Israel should know they have two options left; either to support the king to the end, which is almost impossible now, or to secretly support the secular opposition in Jordan, which has clearly announced it would honor the peace agreement with Israel.”
- Mudar Zahran, leader and Secretary General of the Jordanian Coalition of Opposition

The Israeli's vs. the Palestinians...an on-going battle since the 1960's when the Soviets invented the Palestinians as a Cold War tool to use against the West and Yassir Arafat used them to forward his PLO agenda...an on-going battle that has now turned into statesman Benjamin Netanyahu vs. 'I really don't give a damn about Israel' Barack HUSSEIN Obama with Jordan's King Abdullah II...the man actually holding the trump card...sitting laughingly on the sidelines.

Abdullah II has the U.S. fooled with his Western mannerisms and dress but know in his heart that he is an islamist who will sell his soul to devil if it helps him keep the cushy U.S. financed lifestyle he has grown accustomed to. Abdullah II, who with a swipe of his pen, could end this battle but refuses to do so as he is NOT his own man but is a puppet whose strings are pulled by the Muslim Brotherhood ...a recognized terrorist organization interestingly NOT on Jordan's terrorist list.

And now with the bad-blood, if you will, between Netanyahu and Obama out in public for all to see...bad blood caused by Obama's blatant anti-Semitic and anti-Israel agenda...it's NO wonder that the Israeli/Palestinian peace talks have fallen flat on their face. And while many think this conflict will never end there is still a bit of hope for peace, and it comes in the guise of Jordan's secular freedom fighters...in the guise of Mudar Zahran, muslim leader and Secretary General of the Jordanian Coalition of Opposition.

918. Emir Faisal I and Chaim Weizmann
(left, wearing Arab headdress as a sign
of friendship)
Zahran, a Jordanian of Palestinian descent, is decidedly pro-Israel and often when speaking references the sadly short-lived but very workable January 1919 Faisal/Weizmann Agreement that encompassed a Jewish homeland in 'so-called' Palestine and an Arab nation in a large part of the Middle East. This agreement committed both parties to conducting all relations between the groups by “the most cordial goodwill and understanding,” to work together to encourage immigration of Jews into 'so-called' Palestine on a large scale while protecting the rights of the Arab peasants and tenant farmers. Simply, this would have allowed 'historic Palestine'...meaning Jordan...to become a 'so-called' Palestinian homeland while affording the Jewish people a rightful homeland of their own.

And now believing that the reign of Abdullah II is coming to an end...maybe even during Obama's last two years in office...Zahran contends that when the monarchy falls it will be the Muslim Brotherhood who takes over the reigns of Jordan's government...with Abdullah's blessings of course. Citing that Jordan was the only Arab nation that recognized the Muslim Brotherhood as a “not-for-profit organization” even before Abdullah became king, Zahran also understands that while the Muslim Brotherhood has been 'in bed' so to speak with the Hashemite regimes for generations, it's been those very regimes that have worked to keep Israel’s borders safe for 40 years.

And herein lies the quandary...meaning Abdullah might appear good for Israel right now, but once the Muslim Brotherhood takes over all cards are off the table...cards that include the 1994 Israel/Jordan Peace Treaty where relations between the two countries were normalized, land and water disputes were settled, and where cooperation agreements for both tourism and trade were put into place. This treaty also afforded for a very important pledge that neither Jordan nor Israel would allow its territory to become a 'staging ground' for military strikes by a third country...equating in today's terms into the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS.

And while Abdullah is now showing but one half of his two faces to Israel...appearing pro-Israel in public while not so privately telling Jordan's Palestinian majority that they have the 'right of return' to their homeland...Palestine...that being Israel as far as he's concerned...the saddest aspect in all this is that this man...this King...considers his own people refugees who have taken up residence in his, and legally their own country...Jordan.

And to this effect, Mudar Zahran and his secular coalition have come up with a plan that builds upon and expands the Faisal/Weizmann Agreement and could very well bring lasting peace to the region. Called 'Operation David,'* this plan faces major hurdles and the first is King Abdullah II who has, for years, been both impoverishing and oppressing his own people to assist in the afore mentioned lavish lifestyle to which he has become accustomed. While mean annual incomes in Jordan remain under $1000.00 U.S. dollars, the King travels the world, stays in five-star resorts or his own homes abroad, and lives free from want in his palace on those rare occasions when he is at home.

The oppression stems from a lack of the sorts of rights we, in this country, too often take for granted. Speak out against the King in Jordan and you face prison. Be a Jordanian Palestinian either living abroad or just away from Jordan for a time and speak against the King or his regime, and you will find yourself unable to return to Jordan, thus being forced to live elsewhere in exile.

As long as Abdullah II remains in power or until he is 'quietly ushered' out of Jordan and into royal retirement elsewhere, a secular government, as proposed in 'Operation David,' would not be allowed as it would act to liberate Jordanians with basic rights and it would severely curtail the well-traveled and well-heeled King.

The second major hurdle should come as no great surprise and that would be Barack HUSSEIN Obama himself.

If Abdullah falls before the end of Obama’s second term it is more than a fair bet that Obama would hasten to install the Muslim Brotherhood into the Jordanian void just as he did when Mubarak fell in Egypt. This is why, as leaked official cables clearly indicate, both Obama’s Department of State as well as the CIA have been in direct communication with the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan for years. On the other hand, neither the Department of State nor the CIA have been communicating with the secular opposition to the King at all.

The situation is clear, Abdullah II is cozy with the Muslim Brotherhood, and for now at least they are allowing him to stay in the seat of Jordanian power all while Obama himself is more than just a bit cozy with the Muslim Brotherhood...'owing them one' as it were after his highly publicized failed installation of the terror organization as the rulers of Egypt.

A third hurdle is just under the Western media radar and that of course is ISIS. That terrorist faction of islam has been, according to reports from journalists inside Jordan, marching through the streets of Jordanian cities parading their black flag of death and destruction and showing off their weapons…many of which we now know to be U.S. weapons.

However, under 'Operation David' certain key hurdles could easily be overcome with the first and most important being that there would be no civil war in Jordan...no violent uprising or bloodshed... just a peaceful transition to an interim secular government. However, should the Muslim Brotherhood be installed as the rulers of Jordan there would be the expected very violent clash between them and ISIS as both jockey for power and control...with much Jordanian blood spilled...while Obama, should he still be in office at the time, obviously siding with whomever comes out on top.

Another important component of 'Operation David' is that it is very advantageous towards the U.S. and its interests...especially its Middle East interests...while at the same time not requiring an excess of tangibles from the U.S. Basically needing just public support for the plan...little or no monies would have to come from U.S coffers as our Arab allies...especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)... would willingly foot most of the bill for this peaceful transition of power as both countries have much to lose if the Muslim Brotherhood takes control of Jordan. Already not happy with Jordan's King for his refusal to both ban the Muslim Brotherhood and for his cooperation with and support of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad's government, neither country wants the power-hungry Muslim Brotherhood in their neighborhood for after taking control of Jordan they would logically try to expand their reach into both these countries as well.

And while an interim Muslim Brotherhood-free Jordanian secular government...and later a freely elected Jordanian government...will not per se be a democracy as we know it, 'Operation David' will allow for a gradual move towards democracy, including the application of a modern constitution and an all-important bill of rights. Adding to that is that all international treaties with Israel signed by Jordan under the Hashemite Kings will be honored and adhered to, allowing for increased cooperation with and between Jordan, the U.S., the U.K., and Israel. And in this time of increased islamic terrorism 'Operation David' proposes a defense cooperation agreement between all four countries...an agreement which would obligate said countries to assist one another against mutual threats...including acts of terrorism...an important component as the ISIS killing machine continues to spread throughout the Middle East.

While 'Operation David' is, for the most part, a comprehensive 'common sense' plan for peace and the creation of a homeland for those relegated to refugee status by the King of Jordan and would bring a much greater degree of stability to the Middle East region, we feel it is not without a few drawbacks…found primarily in the plan’s economic proposal.

'Operation David' puts forth a basic economic proposal that is, for our liking, too close to the design of the U.K. in that it relies far too heavily on socialism.

The plan outlines welfare programs, state employment with high salaries, extensive benefits, free health care, free education (though it does not identify to what level of education), and government secured loans...all as a means to draw today's Palestinian refugees from the West Bank and the Palestinian territories back to Jordan but...as Margaret Thatcher so eloquently stated...“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.” 

How exactly a new Jordanian government could afford to provide these programs to the extent the proposal outlines without taxing its people excessively is unclear.

Under the proposed 'Operation David' economic structure, while it is for now only a proposal...a work in progress...eventually Jordan's new government would find itself unable to meet their promises with reality at which point the people could well ignite revolution. This economic system would only be sustainable for the short run and would lead to long term problems, and islamic ideologies held in check during the short term are patient and once the opportunity to fill a vacuum presents itself... Jordan would find itself worse off both economically and with even less freedoms for its people than it has today.

It seems much of this economic proposal would rely heavily on tourism and cooperation in that regard from historical allies such as the U.S., the U.K., and Israel, but the prospects for enough tourism to keep the coffers full while the rest of the Middle East remains embroiled in the struggle between the caliphate building of islam, the nuclear ambitions of Iran, and the destructive nature of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Hezbollah, is optimistic at best.

Therefore, it seems to us as the authors of this article, that an instant welfare state is not in the best interests of a newly formed government.

So while 'Operation David' does have some areas that need refining it is for the most part the most comprehensive and workable solution for bringing peace to that particular region of the Middle East. But remember that King Abdullah II remains the lynch-pin to either a solution being reached or to this current animosity continuing on for many years. Also remember that adding another secular government to the region...with Israel and now Egypt being secular...will increase both security and stability relating directly to U.S. national interests and those of our allies.

And that in and of itself makes 'Operation David' the most viable and workable solution to the Israeli/ Palestinian quandary.

************************** 
* To read the full text of 'Operation David'...Bringing Peace and Stability to Israel and the Palestinians
By: The Jordanian Coalition of Opposition (JCO) click on the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/operationdavid/posts/366518486886800