By: Celia Murray
Integrity, defined as a steadfast adherence to a strict moral code or ethical code, is a rare virtue. It is, perhaps, particularly rare in politics. I’ve no doubt that we, as citizens, desire integrity in our elected leaders, even if we don’t always get it. But, we don’t demand and don’t seem to expect our leaders to insist upon integrity in their advisors or in the cadre of professional pundits, party leaders and political action committee members who make up the face of politics in this country. To possess integrity is the work of a lifetime and is never perfectly achieved. No where is it more difficult to attain or hold on to personal integrity than in the world of politics. Significant personal integrity appears rare in public life, perhaps since political power holds a great attraction for those persons who are easily swayed by inordinate desires, passions and temptations.
by: George Warren
Neil Barofsky, the man President George W Bush named in 2008 to be the Inspector General overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Plan, has submitted a report critical of the Treasury Department in their handling of the funds.
According to Barofsky, under the worst of circumstances, the US taxpayer is on the hook for a maximum exposure of $24 trillion, or $80,000 per person in the nation. Admittedly, this means the loss if every covered mortgage payer defaults, and the government can recover nothing on their property.
Neither does it take into account the fact that the government requires some collateral for some loans. But, when you consider our annual national production is only about $14 trillion, you can see his reason for concern.
On the positive side, since most of the strongest financial concerns have returned their loans in order to escape any supervision over exploding bonus amounts, the $4.7 trillion committed to them has declined to about $3 trillion.
Barofsky aims the most of his criticism at the Treasury Department, now headed by former Fed official Timothy Geithner. He says Treasury has accepted some of his recommendations for more accountability; but has not taken steps to require all TARP recipients to disclose their actual use of those funds.
He also criticized Treasury for not disclosing the values of its investments in financial institutions, disclosed the identity of borrowers allowed to borrow under a non-recourse loan program, and disclose the trading activity taking place under the new Public-Private Investment. Fund (PPIF) established to buy and sell those toxic mortgage assets.
Home. During my five day stint in the hospital this spring, I missed my husband, my children – who behaved as angels my first few hours home, my food, my bed. Though thankful for good medical care, feeling sickly and not with those I loved got really old, really fast.
What if five days turned into five months? Five days in the hospital suddenly appears as serendipitous as an all expense paid vacation to Argentina courtesy of the state of South Carolina.
Fifteen-year-old Madison superstar, Laura Margaret Burbach, finds herself in such a position. She and her mother, Sarah, are at Duke Children’s Hospital while LM gets primed for extra-special new lung parts and long-awaited bone marrow transplant. Though they have a residence waiting for time between medical procedures – this adds up to many months away from home. David, Laura Margaret’s father, travels to Durham most weekends but not having dad around all the time gets tough.
But through www.carepages.com, LM and Sarah visit a virtual Morgan County daily. Each morning my e-mail in box holds a link to Laura Margaret’s new Care Page posting. Through her writing, friends and family read of her progress and treatments, perseverance through trial and of her nurse who’s hooked on the Food Network.
I’m hooked on Laura Margaret’s hope, strength and humor.
When asked about Care Pages Laura Margaret wrote, “Mom and I read all the comments and post the new update each night as the last thing I do before I go to bed every night. The comments help me end each day with a positive note.”
Reading through your wonderful e-notes back to Laura Margaret day after day, I feel closer to all of you, even those friends I’ve never met. It’s a beautiful digital community reaching out from Morgan County in love.
I hope your calculators aren't too rusty, because it's time to do some basic - and not-so-basic - math. This week, our hospital went money-hunting, and they found three companies eager to help, hawking three different ways to get the money they need for the price they can afford.
While it's easy to get over-excited by terms like "interest rebate" and "stimulus funding" and extremely confused by others like "negative arbitrage" and "liquidity covenants," it's important to wade through the jargon and run the numbers on these deals.
Hearing that the USDA wants to give us a $20 million direct loan and throw their federal weight behind backing the rest sounds golden - especially when you hear the words "40-year term." But, as always, it's the fine print that might stick it to you. It is vital to remember that the USDA loan comes with some price tags, one that says there is a chance, however slim, that the money and the rate may not be there after the building is built. And although having longer to pay down the debt is enticing in this economy, it is a double-edged sword that will cost more at the bottom line.
HUD-guaranteed bonds, the other option on the table, aren't fault-free, either. Any debt will, by definition, come with a price tag. The lending term is almost half that of a USDA loan and the interest rates, once attorney fees, issuance fees, preliminary study fees, trustee fees and a host of other related fees and costs come into play, are not as clear cut and may be higher than what USDA offers.
But in this numbers game, the winner is the one who balances risks against rewards, instead of running from one or towards another. In a market situation where no one can tell what's falling next, longer terms and fractionally lower rates are not quite enough to outweigh a guarantee that the money will actually exist in three years.
By: Dick Hodgetts
By: Fred Johnson
The U.S. has the only missile defense system in the world. Shooting a bullet to hit another bullet in mid-flight is basically what an anti-ICBM missile must do. No warheads are involved because the kinetic energy of a collision at 20,000 miles per hour is enough to reduce an incoming missile to dust. Only the United States has the technology to accomplish this.
Our anti-missile program began over 50 years ago in 1963 with the development of a long-range and short-range anti-missile missile. Russia responded by building a few concrete block houses around Moscow and Leningrad and claimed it could also shoot down incoming ICBMs. In 1969 the U.S. signed the SALT I talks began between Russia and the U.S. to stop the development of anti-ICBM missiles.
This treaty was signed in 1969 and the U.S. stopped work on their anti-missile programs, and Russia tore down their empty concrete blockhouses. President Carter signed the SALT II Treaty in 1979. Jimmy Carter said this about the treaty: “Rejection of this treaty would be a devastating blow to the United States…and a massive destructive blow to world peace.” Shortly after signing the treaty, Russia invaded Afghanistan – so much for negotiating “world peace” with the Russians. President Reagan took a different tact after his election. Instead of trying to negotiate peace with Russia he declared that they were an evil empire and that he was increasing our defense spending by 20 percent.