Apr 19

Today’s News 19th April 2017

  • Goldman Pours Cold Water On Trump's Fiscal Stimulus Plan

    Goldman Sachs' Chief US Political Economist Alec Phillips writes that tax reform faces a risk of failure, but tax cuts remain likely… in 2018 and investors need to stay realistic about the impact of fiscal stimulus.

    President Trump’s campaign proposals initially raised expectations of several forms of fiscal stimulus, driving investor optimism on both infrastructure spending and various elements of tax reform. However, we expect only tax cuts to have a meaningful effect on growth over the next couple of years. Three risks are behind this view: tax reform failure, fiscal constraints, and delayed enactment.

    Debates, delays, distractions

    First, tax reform faces a real risk of failure. If Republicans pursue revenue-neutral tax reform, they are likely to encounter the same challenges they encountered in passing their health legislation. Inclusion of controversial proposals like the border-adjusted tax (BAT) or even the repeal of corporate interest expense deductibility, for example, could sink the effort. Views on these issues do not follow traditional party lines, which could easily lead to some Republican opposition (we have already seen significant opposition to the BAT, for example). With few if any Democratic lawmakers likely to vote for the tax bill, Republicans would need nearly unanimous support from their own party. Thus, while revenue-neutral tax reform might be preferable from a policy perspective, imposing this restriction would lower the odds of enactment by next year.

    In light of the challenges tax reform faces, we believe that President Trump, who did not emphasize revenue-neutrality during the campaign, is likely to eventually endorse more limited reforms that result in a net tax cut. However, the size of such a cut would be limited by fiscal constraints; centrist Republican lawmakers seem especially likely to balk at large tax cuts that would eventually require deep spending cuts to maintain fiscal sustainability. Dynamic scoring and other budget accounting strategies might provide several hundred billion dollars’ worth of room for a tax cut in 10-year budget projections, but alone would allow for only a very modest cut. Our current expectation is a tax cut of $1.75tn over ten years, taking effect in 2018.

    While Republican leaders have prognosticated that they might take the first vote on tax legislation as soon as May and enact a bill by August, the risk is skewed toward delays, in our view. Enactment of simple tax cuts should not take long—it took the Bush administration until only May to enact the 2001 cuts—but a lengthy debate over complex tax reform that ultimately fails could cause delays. Likewise, an effort to revive health legislation could also push the start of the tax debate to mid-year or later. And, while not directly related, fiscal deadlines such as the April 28 and September 30 expiration of spending authority and the debt limit deadline we expect between August and October are likely to distract from tax legislation.

    A peek at the fiscal impact

    We expect Congress to pass tax legislation sometime between 4Q2017 and 1Q2018. However, the potential fiscal impact is likely to become clear in the next couple of months, for two reasons. First, the White House is expected to submit a budget proposal to Congress in mid-May, and will need to clarify its intentions on the size of a tax cut at that point. Second, in order to pass tax legislation via the “reconciliation” process, Congress must first agree on a budget resolution providing instructions for the tax-writing committees to do so. These instructions must include a specific amount by which revenues should be reduced; once this figure is finalized, which we expect in May or June, a larger tax cut would not be possible without bipartisan support.

    Holding out hope

    While we expect the outlook for fiscal stimulus to become much clearer in the next couple of months, the consensus view is harder to discern. Our basket of high-tax stocks has given up all of its post-election relative gains (see pg. 10). That said, we believe the market consensus view is still for some tax legislation to pass. Prediction markets, for example, suggest around 60-70% odds of individual and corporate tax cuts being enacted this year. And the equity market continues to react negatively to perceived setbacks on tax reform, indicating that hopes of tax reform continue to be at least partly priced in.

    A tax, not a spending story

    Other forms of fiscal stimulus are likely to be fairly minor. The outlook on infrastructure is uncertain, and we expect changes to consist mainly of tax policies aimed at boosting private-sector activity rather than public spending. President Trump has also proposed a $54bn (0.3% of GDP) per year increase in defense spending, but we expect a smaller increase in overall net spending. One potential offset to the stimulus we expect is a reduction in subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but our estimates assume no change in subsidies at this point.

    The economic upshot

    If fiscal policy plays out as we expect, the boost to growth would be worth around 0.3pp each in 2018 and 2019. The effects will likely be concentrated in 2018 but extend into 2019, as the policy changes will likely take more than one year to be fully reflected in the level of spending and tax receipts. All told, market participants anticipating fiscal stimulus will need to look farther out for the positive impact they expect.

  • Run For Your Life: The American Police State Is Coming To Get You

    Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

    “We’ve reached the point where state actors can penetrate rectums and vaginas, where judges can order forced catheterizations, and where police and medical personnel can perform scans, enemas and colonoscopies without the suspect’s consent. And these procedures aren’t to nab kingpins or cartels, but people who at worst are hiding an amount of drugs that can fit into a body cavity. In most of these cases, they were suspected only of possession or ingestion. Many of them were innocent… But these tactics aren’t about getting drugs off the street… These tactics are instead about degrading and humiliating a class of people that politicians and law enforcement have deemed the enemy.”—Radley Balko, The Washington Post

    Daily, all across America, individuals who dare to resist—or even question—a police order are being subjected to all sorts of government-sanctioned abuse ranging from forced catheterization, forced blood draws, roadside strip searches and cavity searches, and other foul and debasing acts that degrade their bodily integrity and leave them bloodied and bruised.

    Americans as young as 4 years old are being leg shackled, handcuffed, tasered and held at gun point for not being quiet, not being orderly and just being childlike—i.e., not being compliant enough.

    Government social workers actually subjected a 3-year-old boy to a forced catheterization after he was unable to provide them with a urine sample on demand (the boy still wasn’t potty trained). The boy was held down, screaming in pain, while nurses forcibly inserted a tube into his penis to drain his bladder—all of this done because the boy’s mother’s boyfriend had failed a urine analysis for drugs.

    Americans as old as 95 are being beaten, shot and killed for questioning an order, hesitating in the face of a directive, and mistaking a policeman crashing through their door for a criminal breaking into their home—i.e., not being submissive enough.

    Consider what happened to David Dao, the United Airlines passenger who was accosted by three police, forcibly wrenched from his seat across the armrest, bloodying his face in the process, and dragged down the aisle by the arms merely for refusing to relinquish his paid seat after the airline chose him randomly to be bumped from the flight—after being checked in and allowed to board—so that airline workers could make a connecting flight.

    Those with ADHD, autism, hearing impairments, dementia or some other disability that can hinder communication in the slightest way are in even greater danger of having their actions misconstrued by police. Police shot a 73-year-old-man with dementia seven times after he allegedly failed to respond to orders to stop approaching and remove his hands from his jacket. The man was unarmed and had been holding a crucifix.

    Clearly, it no longer matters where you live.

    Big city or small town: it’s the same scenario being played out over and over again in which government agents, hyped up on their own authority and the power of their uniform, ride roughshod over the citizenry who—in the eyes of the government—are viewed as having no rights.

    Our freedoms—especially the Fourth Amendment—continue to be torn asunder by the prevailing view among government bureaucrats that they have the right to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

    Forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric databases—these are just a few ways in which Americans continue to be reminded that we have no control over what happens to our bodies during an encounter with government officials.

    For instance, during a “routine” traffic stop for allegedly “rolling” through a stop sign, Charnesia Corley was thrown to the ground, stripped of her clothes, and forced to spread her legs while Texas police officers subjected her to a roadside cavity probe, all because they claimed to have smelled marijuana in her car.

    Angel Dobbs and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley, were pulled over by a Texas state trooper for allegedly flicking cigarette butts out of the car window. Insisting that he smelled marijuana, the trooper proceeded to interrogate them and search the car. Despite the fact that both women denied smoking or possessing any marijuana, the police officer then called in a female trooper, who carried out a roadside cavity search, sticking her fingers into the older woman’s anus and vagina, then performing the same procedure on the younger woman, wearing the same pair of gloves. No marijuana was found.

    Leila Tarantino was subjected to two roadside strip searches in plain view of passing traffic during a routine traffic stop, while her two children—ages 1 and 4—waited inside her car. During the second strip search, presumably in an effort to ferret out drugs, a female officer “forcibly removed” a tampon from Tarantino. Nothing illegal was found.

    David Eckert was forced to undergo an anal cavity search, three enemas, and a colonoscopy after allegedly failing to yield to a stop sign at a Wal-Mart parking lot. Cops justified the searches on the grounds that they suspected Eckert was carrying drugs because his “posture [was] erect” and “he kept his legs together.” No drugs were found.

    Meanwhile, four Milwaukee police officers were charged with carrying out rectal searches of suspects on the street and in police district stations over the course of several years. One of the officers was accused of conducting searches of men’s anal and scrotal areas, often inserting his fingers into their rectums and leaving some of his victims with bleeding rectums.

    Incidents like these – sanctioned by the courts and conveniently overlooked by the legislatures – teach Americans of every age and skin color the painful lesson that there are no limits to what the government can do in its so-called “pursuit” of law and order.

    If this is a war, then “we the people” are the enemy.

    As Radley Balko notes in The Washington Post, “When you’re at war, it’s important to dehumanize your enemy. And there’s nothing more dehumanizing than forcibly and painfully invading someone’s body — all the better if you can involve the sex organs.”

    The message being beaten, shot, tasered, probed and slammed into our collective consciousness is simply this: it doesn’t matter if you’re in the right, it doesn’t matter if a cop is in the wrong, it doesn’t matter if you’re being treated with less than the respect you deserve or the law demands.

    The only thing that matters to the American police state is that you comply, submit, respect authority and generally obey without question whatever a government official (anyone who wears a government uniform, be it a police officer, social worker, petty bureaucrat or zoning official) tells you to do.

    This is what happens when you allow the government to call the shots: it becomes a bully.

    As history shows, this recipe for disaster works every time: take police officers hyped up on their own authority and the power of the badge, throw in a few court rulings suggesting that security takes precedence over individual rights, set it against a backdrop of endless wars and militarized law enforcement, and then add to the mix a populace distracted by entertainment, out of touch with the workings of their government, and more inclined to let a few sorry souls suffer injustice than to challenge the status quo.

    “It is not only under Nazi rule that police excesses are inimical to freedom,” warned former Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter in a 1946 ruling in Davis v. United States: “It is easy to make light of insistence on scrupulous regard for the safeguards of civil liberties when invoked on behalf of the unworthy. It is too easy. History bears testimony that by such disregard are the rights of liberty extinguished, heedlessly at first, then stealthily, and brazenly in the end.”

    In other words, if it could happen in Nazi Germany, it can just as easily happen here.

    It is happening here.

    Unfortunately, we’ve been marching in lockstep with the police state for so long that we’ve forgotten how to march to the tune of our own revolutionary drummer. In fact, we’ve even forgotten the words to the tune.

    We’ve learned the lessons of compliance too well.

    For too long, “we the people” have allowed the government to ride roughshod over the Constitution, equating patriotism with blind obedience to the government’s dictates, no matter how unconstitutional or immoral those actions might be.

    As historian Howard Zinn recognized:

    Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience… Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem… people are obedient, all these herdlike people.

    What can you do?

    It’s simple but as I detail in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the consequences may be deadly.

    Stop being so obedient. Stop being so compliant and herdlike. Stop kowtowing to anyone and everyone in uniform. Stop perpetuating the false notion that those who work for the government—the president, Congress, the courts, the military, the police—are in any way superior to the rest of the citizenry. Stop playing politics with your principles. Stop making excuses for the government’s growing list of human rights abuses and crimes. Stop turning a blind eye to the government’s corruption and wrongdoing and theft and murder. Stop tolerating ineptitude and incompetence by government workers. Stop allowing the government to treat you like a second-class citizen. Stop censoring what you say and do for fear that you might be labeled an extremist or worse, unpatriotic. Stop sitting silently on the sidelines while the police state kills, plunders and maims your fellow citizens.

    Stop being a slave.

    As anti-war activist Rosa Luxemburg concluded, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

    You may not realize it yet, but you are not free.

    If you believe otherwise, it is only because you have made no real attempt to exercise your freedoms.

    Had you attempted to exercise your freedoms before now by questioning a police officer’s authority, challenging an unjust tax or fine, protesting the government’s endless wars, defending your right to privacy against the intrusion of surveillance cameras, or any other effort that challenges the government’s power grabs and the generally lopsided status quo, you would have already learned the hard way that the police state has no appetite for freedom and it does not tolerate resistance.

    This is called authoritarianism, a.k.a. totalitarianism, a.k.a. oppression.

    As Glenn Greenwald notes for the Guardian:

    Oppression is designed to compel obedience and submission to authority. Those who voluntarily put themselves in that state – by believing that their institutions of authority are just and good and should be followed rather than subverted – render oppression redundant, unnecessary. Of course people who think and behave this way encounter no oppression. That's their reward for good, submissive behavior. They are left alone by institutions of power because they comport with the desired behavior of complacency and obedience without further compulsion. But the fact that good, obedient citizens do not themselves perceive oppression does not mean that oppression does not exist.

    Get ready to stand your ground or run for your life, because the American police state is coming to get you.

  • MIT Scientist FURTHER Debunks False Flag: "The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur"

    By Theodore A. Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT.  Postol’s main expertise is in ballistic missiles. He has a substantial background in air dispersal, including how toxic plumes move in the air. Postol has taught courses on weapons of mass destruction – including chemical and biological threats – at MIT.  Before joining MIT, Postol worked as an analyst at the Office of Technology Assessment, as a science and policy adviser to the chief of naval operations, and as a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory.  He also helped build a program at Stanford University to train mid-career scientists to study weapons technology in relation to defense and arms control policy. Postol is a highly-decorated scientist, receiving the Leo Szilard Prize from the American Physical Society, the Hilliard Roderick Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Richard L. Garwin Award from the Federation of American Scientists.

    For background on Dr. Postol’s previous essays on this issue, see:




    This analysis contains a detailed description of the times and locations of critical events in the alleged nerve agent attack of April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun, Syria – assuming that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on April 11, 2017 correctly identified the alleged sarin release site.

    Analysis using weather data from the time of the attack shows that a small hamlet about 300 m to the east southeast of the crater could be the only location affected by the alleged nerve agent release. The hamlet is separated from the alleged release site (a crater) by an open field. The winds at the time of the release would have initially taken the sarin across the open field. Beyond the hamlet there is a substantial amount of open space and the sarin cloud would have had to travel long additional distance for it to have dissipated before reaching any other population center.

    Video taken on April 4 shows that the location where the victims were supposedly being treated from sarin exposure is incompatible with the only open space in the hamlet that could have been used for mass treatment of victims. This indicates that the video scenes where mass casualties (dead and dying) were laid on the ground randomly was not at the hamlet. If the location where the bodies were on the ground was instead a site where the injured and dead were taken for processing, then it is hard to understand why bodies were left randomly strewn on the ground and in mud as shown in the videos.

    The conclusion of this summary of data is obvious – the nerve agent attack described in the WHR did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR.

    The findings of this analysis can serve two important purposes:

    1. It shows exactly what needs to be determined in an international investigation of this alleged atrocity. In particular, if an international investigation can determine where casualties from the nerve agent attack lived, it will further confirm that the findings reported by the WHR are not compatible with the data it cites as evidence for its conclusions.
    2. It also establishes that the WHR did not utilize simple and widely agreed upon intelligence analysis procedures to determine its conclusions.

    This raises troubling questions about how the US political and military leadership determined that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged attack. It is particularly of concern that the WHR presented itself as a report with “high confidence” findings and that numerous high-level officials in the US government have confirmed their belief that the report was correct and to a standard of high confidence.

    Methodology Used in This Analysis

    The construction of the time of day at which particular video frames were generated is determined by simply using the planetary geometry of the sun angle during the day on April 4. The illustration below of the sun-angle geometry shows the Day/Night Sun Terminator at the location of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. The angle of the sun relative to local horizontal is summarized in the table that follows the image of the planetary geometry along with the temperature during the day between 6:30 AM and 6 PM.

    The next set of two side-by-side images shows the shadows at a location where a large number of poison victims are being treated in what appears to be the aftermath of a poisoning event. The shadows indicate that this event occurred at about 7:30 AM. This is consistent with the possibility of a nerve agent attack at 7 AM on the morning of April 4 and it is also consistent with the allegation in the WHR that an attack occurred at 6:55 AM on that day.

    The timing sequence of the attack is important for determining the consistency of the timelines with the allegations of a sarin release at the crater identified in the WHR.

    Assuming there was an enough sarin released from the crater identified by the WHR to cause mass casualties at significant downwind distances, the sarin would have drifted downwind at a speed of 1 to 2 m/s and for several minutes before encountering the only location where mass casualties could have occurred from this particular release. The location where these mass casualties would have had to occur will be identified and described in the next section. If there was a sarin release elsewhere, mass casualties would have not occurred at this location but would have occurred somewhere else in the city.

    Assuming the victims of the attack were exposed to the plume, the symptoms of sarin poisoning would have express themselves almost immediately. As such, the scene at 7:30 AM on April 4 is absolutely consistent with the possibility of a mass poisoning downwind of the sarin-release crater.

    The next figure shows the earliest photograph we have been able to find of an individual standing by the sarin-release crater where the alleged release occurred. The photo was posted on April 4 and the shadow indicates the time of day was around 10:50 AM. Thus the individual was standing by the crater roughly 4 hours after the dispersal event.

    If the dispersal event was from this crater, the area where this unprotected individual is standing would be toxic and this individual would be subjected to the severe and possibly fatal effects of sarin poisoning. As a result, this throws substantial suspicion on the possibility that the crater identified by WHR would be the source of the sarin release.

    At the time of the sarin release, the temperature of the air was about 60°F and the sun was at an angle of only 8° relative to local horizontal. This means that liquid sarin left on the ground from the dispersal event would remain mostly unevaporated. By 11 AM, the temperature of the air had risen to 75° and the angle of the sun relative to horizontal was at 66°. Thus, one would expect that the combination of the rise in air temperature and the sun on the crater would lead to significant evaporation of liquid sarin left behind from the initial dispersal event. The air temperature and sun angle are such that the area around the crater should have been quite dangerous for anybody without protection to operate.

    This is therefore an important indication that the crater was probably not a dispersal site of the sarin.

    The final set of three photographs shows arriving victims seeking treatment at a hospital at some location in Khan Sheikhoun. The arrivals at the hospital are at between 9 and 10:30 AM on the day of the attack. This is perhaps late since victims were seriously exposed by 7:30 AM, but victims could have been trailing in after the initial arrival of severely affected victims. This time is considerably earlier than the time at which WHR alleges that a hospital was attacked while treating victims of the poisoning attack.

    In the next section we discuss the location where mass casualties should have occurred if the sarin release occurred at the location alleged by the WHR.

    Postol 1

    Khan Shaykhun Sun Angles
    Relative to Local Horizontal on April 4, 2017

    Local Time of Day in Khan
    ShayKhun on April 4, 2017
    Surface Temperature
    in Degrees Fahrenheit
    Sun Angle in Degrees Relative to
    Local Horizontal
    6:30 58.16 1.20
    7.00 60.24 8.40
    7:30 62.39 15.60
    8.00 64.55 22.80
    8:30 66.68 30.00
    9.00 68.74 37.20
    9:30 70.69 44.40
    10.00 72.51 51.60
    10:30 74.15 58.80
    11.00 75.59 66.00
    11:30 76.81 73.20
    12.00 77.80 80.40
    12:30 78.53 87.60
    13.00 79.01 94.80
    13:30 79.24 102.00
    14.00 79.22 109.20
    14:30 78.96 116.40
    15.00 78.48 123.60
    15:30 77.81 130.80
    16.00 76.99 138.00
    16:30 76.04 145.20
    17.00 75.03 152.40
    17:30 74.01 159.60
    18.00 73.05 166.80

    Postol 3

    Postol 4Postol 5a

    Identification of the Location of the Mass Casualties

    The figure on the next page shows the direction of the toxic sarin plume based on the assumption that the alleged release point was the crater identified by WHR. The wind conditions at the time of the release, which would have been at about 7 AM on April 4, would have carried the plume across an empty field to an isolated Hamlet roughly 300 m downwind from the crater.

    Although there were some walls and structures that would have somewhat attenuated and inhibited the movement of the aerosol cloud from the release point, the open field would be an ideal stable wind environment to transmit the remaining sarin cloud with minimal distortion and dispersal. As such, it is plausible that the sarin cloud could with the weather conditions at that time have led to mass casualties at the Hamlet.

    The sarin dosage level that results in 50% of exposed victims dying is known as the LD50. The LD50 for sarin is about 100 mglmin/m3.

    The dose quantity mglmin/m3 can be understood simply.

    An exposure of about 100 mglmin/m3 simply means that a victim is within an environment for one full minute when there is 100 mg/m3 of sarin in the air. If the victim is instead in an environment for 10 minutes where there is a density of sarin of 10 mg/m3, they will also receive a lethal dose of 100 mglmin/m3.

    Assuming 5 to 10 liters were aerosolized at the crater as alleged by the WHR, this would have resulted in an average sarin exposure at the Hamlet at 300 m range of about 10 to 20 mglmin/m3, assuming wind and temperature conditions that are near ideal for lethal exposures downwind. This estimate assumes that an individual would be outside and exposed to the sarin as the gas cloud passes by.

    Postol 6Postol 7Postol 8Postol 9

    Since a cloud of sarin would not be uniformly mixed, there will be regions in the cloud that have much higher and lower doses than the average. In addition, as the cloud passes, sarin entering into open windows of aboveground and basement rooms would tend to become trapped inside these rooms creating a significantly longer exposure to the nerve agent, certainly leading to lethal levels if residents did not evacuate the rooms immediately. Also, since the nerve agent cloud would be passing through an area that has buildings, it will tend to flow around, over buildings, and down into open basement windows, resulting in buildups of sarin in some locations and diminished levels of sarin at other locations.

    As such, the Hamlet could well have been within lethal range of the sarin exposure. However, areas further downwind from the Hamlet would be sufficiently far away that the sarin will have dispersed sufficiently that it would not be capable of causing deaths.

    Thus, the Hamlet area 300 m downwind of the crater is the only area where mass casualties could  occur if there had been a sarin release at the crater as alleged by the WHR!

    The selected video frames collected on the next two pages show three important sets of data that indicate the following:

    1. Unprotected civilians with clothing that have logos of the Idlib Health Directorate are tampering with the contents of the crater crater that the WHR alleges was the source of the sarin release. All of the indicators point to a ruptured tube that could have contained no more than 8 to 10 liters of sarin. This is the only container shown in any videos from this scene.
    2. The next collection of video frames shows panoramic views of the target area taken from a drone equipped with a video camera. As can be seen in the video frames, a goat that was allegedly killed from the sarin dispersal is close to downwind of the alleged dispersal site.

    However, the Hamlet that should have experienced major casualties if the alleged dispersal site had been correctly identified is only 300 m down range, and easily reachable by simply walking over to the site.

    Yet none of the video journalists refer in any way to a mass casualty site nearby. They simply focus on a dead goat and present out of context images of a few dead birds. It is remarkable that no video journalists of the many who reported from this crater area referred in any way to the mass casualties that could only have occurred 300 m away if the attack had been executed from this crater.

    1. The last collection of 18 video frames is from the area where mass casualties were piled on the ground haphazardly dead or dying. Among these casualties were infants as well as men and women. This scene clearly could not have been at the location of the Hamlet as one can see that the walls surrounding the area are carved out of rock. Thus, this scene could not possibly have been at the Hamlet.

    These video frames were generated by reviewing hundreds of videos posted on YouTube plus additional videos and video frames found on Twitter.

    Among the hundreds of videos reviewed there seems to be no more than 50 to 60 seconds of actual original scenes like those laid out in the collection of 18 videos below. The vast majority of time in the videos contains the same repeated sequences of the same dead and injured infants and adults that could all be collected into less than a couple of minutes of independent scenes.

    The overwhelming evidence is that these videos repeat nothing more than redundant scenes that suggest one terrible event might have occurred. Almost none of the scenes contain any different information from the others. This raises a serious question about how much real data has been supplied that would indicate an actual significant nerve agent attack.

    What is absolutely clear from the videos is that the location of the sarin dispersal site alleged by WHR and the mass casualty site that would have had to be generated if the sarin dispersal actually occurred, are not in any way related to the scenes of victims shown in the other videos. The conclusion is obvious, the alleged attack described in WHR never occurred.

    Postol 10Postol 12          Postol 13Postol 14

    Final Comments

    This abbreviated summary of the facts has been constructed entirely from basic physics, video evidence, and absolutely solid analytical methods. It demonstrates without doubt that the sarin dispersal site alleged as the source of the April 4, 2017 sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun was not a nerve agent attack site.

    It also shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only mass casualty site that could have resulted from this mass attack is not in any way related to the sites that are shown in video following a poisoning event of some kind at Khan Sheikhoun.

    This means that the allegedly “high confidence” White House intelligence assessment ssued on April 11 that led to the conclusion that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack is not correct. For such a report to be so egregiously in error, it could not possibly have followed the most simple and proven intelligence methodologies to determine the veracity of its findings.

    Since the United States justified attacking a Syrian airfield on April 7, four days before the flawed National Security Council intelligence report was released to the Congress and the public, the conclusion that follows is that the United States took military actions without the intelligence to support its decision.

    Furthermore, it is clear that the WHR was not an intelligence report.

    No competent intelligence professional would have made so many false claims that are totally inconsistent with the evidence. No competent intelligence professional would have accepted the findings in the WHR analysis after reviewing the data presented herein. No competent intelligence professionals would have evaluated the crater that was tampered with in terms described in the WHR.

    Although it is impossible to know from a technical assessment to determine the reasons for such an egregiously amateurish report, it cannot be ruled out that the WHR was fabricated to conceal critical information from the Congress and the public.


    Resource Materials Used To DetermineLocalWeather Conditions andSun Angles
    Needed to Verify the above Analysis

    Khan Shaykhun, Idlib Historical Weather, Syria

    The past date should be after 1st July, 2008 onwards
    Tue 04th Apr, 2017

    Time Weather

    Temp Feels Like Rain


    Gust Rain? Cloud



    00:00 03:00 06:00 09:00 12:00 15:00 18:00 21:00
    10 °c 10 °c 13 °c 21 °c 25 °c 26 °c 23 °c 20 °c
    10 °c 10 °c 13 °c 21 °c 24 °c 24 °c 24 °c 20 °c
    0.0 mm        0.0 mm       0.0 mm      0.0 mm       0.0 mm      0.0 mm       0.0 mm      0.0 mm
    4 mph
    3 mph
    2 mph
    4 mph


    7 mph
    10 mph
    11 mph
    10 mph
    8 mph 6 mph 4 mph 4 mph 8 mph 12 mph 17 mph 20 mph
    0%                  0%            0%             0%           0%

    7%                  2%            1%             1%           6%

    94%                91%          76%            40%         19%

    0%            0%             0%
    20% 25% 21%
    17%           25%          33%
    1022 mb 1022 mb 1023 mb 1023 mb 1022 mb 1021 mb 1021 mb 1021 mb


    Khan Shaykhun Past weather on 04th April

    2mph = 0.9 m/sec
    3mph = 1.3 m/sec
    4mph = 1.8 m/sec

    3 to 4 Minutes from Crater to Residences

    April 2017 — Sun in Damascus

    2017 Apr Sunrise/Sunset

    Sunrise                             Sunset

    Length Daylength


    Astronomical Twilight

    Start                          End

    Nautical Twilight

    Start                  End

    Civil Twilight

    Start                     End

    Solar Noon

    Time                              Mil. mi

    1 6:22 am t (84°) 6:55 pm t (276°) 12:32:44 +2:03 4:58 am 8:19 pm 5:28 am 7:49 pm 5:57 am 7:20 pm 12:38 pm (61.2°) 92.896
    2 6:21 am t (83°) 6:55 pm t (277°) 12:34:48 +2:03 4:56 am 8:20 pm 5:26 am 7:50 pm 5:56 am 7:21 pm 12:38 pm (61.6°) 92.922
    3 6:19 am t (83°) 6:56 pm t (277°) 12:36:51 +2:03 4:55 am 8:21 pm 5:25 am 7:51 pm 5:54 am 7:21 pm 12:37 pm (61.9°) 92.948
    4 6:18 am t (83°) 6:57 pm t (278°) 12:38:54 +2:03 4:53 am 8:22 pm 5:23 am 7:52 pm 5:53 am 7:22 pm 12:37 pm (62.3°) 92.974
    5 6:17 am t (82°) 6:58 pm t (278°) 12:40:58 +2:03 4:52 am 8:23 pm 5:22 am 7:53 pm 5:52 am 7:23 pm 12:37 pm (62.7°) 93.000
    6 6:15 am t (82°) 6:58 pm t (279°) 12:43:00 +2:02 4:50 am 8:24 pm 5:21 am 7:53 pm 5:50 am 7:24 pm 12:37 pm (63.1°) 93.026
    7 6:14 am t (81°) 6:59 pm t (279°) 12:45:02 +2:02 4:49 am 8:25 pm 5:19 am 7:54 pm 5:49 am 7:24 pm 12:36 pm (63.5°) 93.052
    8 6:13 am t (81°) 7:00 pm t (279°) 12:47:04 +2:01 4:47 am 8:26 pm 5:18 am 7:55 pm 5:48 am 7:25 pm 12:36 pm (63.8°) 93.079
    9 6:12 am t (80°) 7:01 pm t (280°) 12:49:05 +2:01 4:46 am 8:27 pm 5:16 am 7:56 pm 5:46 am 7:26 pm 12:36 pm (64.2°) 93.105
    10 6:10 am t (80°) 7:01 pm t (280°) 12:51:07 +2:01 4:44 am 8:28 pm 5:15 am 7:57 pm 5:45 am 7:27 pm 12:36 pm (64.6°) 93.131
    11 6:09 am t (79°) 7:02 pm t (281°) 12:53:07 +2:00 4:43 am 8:29 pm 5:14 am 7:58 pm 5:44 am 7:28 pm 12:35 pm (64.9°) 93.158
    12 6:08 am t (79°) 7:03 pm t (281°) 12:55:07 +2:00 4:41 am 8:29 pm 5:12 am 7:58 pm 5:42 am 7:28 pm 12:35 pm (65.3°) 93.184
    13 6:06 am t (79°) 7:04 pm t (282°) 12:57:07 +1:59 4:40 am 8:30 pm 5:11 am 7:59 pm 5:41 am 7:29 pm 12:35 pm (65.7°) 93.210
    14 6:05 am t (78°) 7:04 pm t (282°) 12:59:06 +1:59 4:38 am 8:31 pm 5:10 am 8:00 pm 5:40 am 7:30 pm 12:34 pm (66.0°) 93.237
    15 6:04 am t (78°) 7:05 pm t (283°) 13:01:05 +1:58 4:37 am 8:32 pm 5:08 am 8:01 pm 5:38 am 7:31 pm 12:34 pm (66.4°) 93.263
    16 6:03 am t (77°) 7:06 pm t (283°) 13:03:03 +1:58 4:35 am 8:33 pm 5:07 am 8:02 pm 5:37 am 7:31 pm 12:34 pm (66.7°) 93.290
    17 6:02 am t (77°) 7:07 pm t (283°) 13:05:01 +1:57 4:34 am 8:34 pm 5:05 am 8:03 pm 5:36 am 7:32 pm 12:34 pm (67.1°) 93.316
    18 6:00 am t (76°) 7:07 pm t (284°) 13:06:58 +1:56 4:33 am 8:35 pm 5:04 am 8:04 pm 5:35 am 7:33 pm 12:34 pm (67.4°) 93.343
    19 5:59 am t (76°) 7:08 pm t (284°) 13:08:54 +1:56 4:31 am 8:36 pm 5:03 am 8:05 pm 5:33 am 7:34 pm 12:33 pm (67.8°) 93.369
    20 5:58 am t (76°) 7:09 pm t (285°) 13:10:50 +1:55 4:30 am 8:37 pm 5:01 am 8:05 pm 5:32 am 7:35 pm 12:33 pm (68.1°) 93.395
    21 5:57 am t (75°) 7:10 pm t (285°) 13:12:44 +1:54 4:28 am 8:38 pm 5:00 am 8:06 pm 5:31 am 7:36 pm 12:33 pm (68.5°) 93.421
    22 5:56 am t (75°) 7:10 pm t (286°) 13:14:39 +1:54 4:27 am 8:39 pm 4:59 am 8:07 pm 5:30 am 7:36 pm 12:33 pm (68.8°) 93.447
    23 5:55 am t (74°) 7:11 pm t (286°) 13:16:32 +1:53 4:25 am 8:41 pm 4:58 am 8:08 pm 5:29 am 7:37 pm 12:33 pm (69.1°) 93.472
    24 5:53 am t (74°) 7:12 pm t (286°) 13:18:25 +1:52 4:24 am 8:42 pm 4:56 am 8:09 pm 5:27 am 7:38 pm 12:32 pm (69.5°) 93.498
    25 5:52 am t (74°) 7:13 pm t (287°) 13:20:17 +1:52 4:23 am 8:43 pm 4:55 am 8:10 pm 5:26 am 7:39 pm 12:32 pm (69.8°) 93.523
    26 5:51 am t (73°) 7:13 pm t (287°) 13:22:08 +1:51 4:21 am 8:44 pm 4:54 am 8:11 pm 5:25 am 7:40 pm 12:32 pm (70.1°) 93.547
    27 5:50 am t (73°) 7:14 pm t (287°) 13:23:58 +1:50 4:20 am 8:45 pm 4:53 am 8:12 pm 5:24 am 7:40 pm 12:32 pm (70.4°) 93.572
    28 5:49 am t (72°) 7:15 pm t (288°) 13:25:48 +1:49 4:19 am 8:46 pm 4:51 am 8:13 pm 5:23 am 7:41 pm 12:32 pm (70.8°) 93.596
    29 5:48 am t (72°) 7:16 pm t (288°) 13:27:36 +1:48 4:17 am 8:47 pm 4:50 am 8:14 pm 5:22 am 7:42 pm 12:32 pm (71.1°) 93.619
    30 5:47 am t (72°) 7:16 pm t (289°) 13:29:23 +1:47 4:16 am 8:48 pm 4:49 am 8:15 pm 5:21 am 7:43 pm 12:31 pm (71.4°) 93.643

    * All times are local time for Damascus. Time is adjusted for DST when applicable. Dates are based on the Gregorian calendar. Today is highlighted.

    Time Determined by Planetary Analysis

    Sunrise ~ 6:25 AM

    Sunset ~ 6:56 PM

    Postscript: Here is the .pdf version, with the best layout:

    The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur__Analysis of the Alleged Nerve Agent Attack at 7 AM on April 4_2017 in Khan Sheikhoun_Syrian_(April18,2017)_Optimized_

    In a cover letter to his report, Dr. Postol also sent us the following Summary of Findings:

    This analysis contains a detailed description of the times and locations of critical events in the alleged nerve agent attack of April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun, Syria – assuming that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on April 11, 2017 correctly identified the alleged sarin release site.


    Analysis using weather data from the time of the attack shows that a small hamlet about 300 m to the east southeast of the crater could be the only location affected by the alleged nerve agent release.  Video data of suffocating and dead victims lying on the ground shows a different location from the predicted sarin dispersal site if it had been correctly identified by the White House.


    The conclusion is that the nerve agent attack described in the White House Intelligence Report did not occur as claimed. 


    There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR.


    The findings of this expanded analysis can serve two important purposes:

    1. It shows exactly what needs to be determined in an international investigation of this alleged atrocity.

    In particular, if an international investigation can determine where casualties from the nerve agent attack lived, it will confirm that the findings reported by the White House Report are incompatible with its own cited data.

    1. It also establishes that the White House Report did not utilize simple and widely agreed upon intelligence analysis procedures to determine its conclusions.


    This raises troubling questions about how the US political and military leadership determined that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged attack.  It is particularly of concern that the White House Report presented itself as a report with “high confidence” findings and that numerous high-level officials in the US government have confirmed their belief that the report was correct and executed to a standard of high confidence.

  • Tucker Carlson Takes on Mark Cuban Over H1B Visa Laws

    The minimum wage for H1B visa recipients is $60,000, unchanged from 1989. Let me emphasize that for you. Our government is permitting companies to bring in foreign skilled labor at 1989 wages, completely undercutting the American workforce and driving down wages.

    Today President Trump signed an executive order to reform the program.

    “Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery — and that’s wrong,” said Trump.

    Annually, there is a quota of 85,000 new visas, with 20,000 reserved for master’s degree holders. To give you an idea how voracious an appetite American tech firms have for foreign labor, this was the fifth year in a row the cap had been met within 5 days.

    The order was seen as a ceremonial media event, having little to no bearing on actual law. In order to effect real change, congress will need to change the law.

    Tucker Carlson took on Mark Cuban to discuss the law — who is supportive of the H1b visas because MUH American exceptionalism and MUH capitalism. While against ‘hoarding’ visas, Cuban is supportive of the program because it allows American companies to hire skilled labor.

    Tucker retorted, ‘that’s the talking point, and it makes sense […], but the reality, as you know, is 80% of foreigners admitted under H1b make less than the median income in which the work.  In other words, they’re being brought over, not because of their skills, but because they save labor costs. That’s a subversion of the idea.’

    Cuban’s reply was to blame the visa hoarders on causing the problem, saying ‘that’s wrong, that’s not at the core of the H1b visa.’

    Then Cuban twisted himself into a pretzel, saying ‘But when it comes to competing for the best talent around the world, I’m a big believer in American exceptionalism. I believe we can compete. When we can’t get the job, we get smarter. Work harder, get smarter, you’ll get it the next time around. I think that’s good for everybody.’

    WTF? What sort of bullshit was Mark chewing on before spewing out this nonsense? But what about the wage gap, Mark?

    Tucker weighed in, ‘except in a lot of those cases, we don’t get smarter, we get unemployed.’ Tucker went on to explain that over 40% of college graduates describe themselves as underemployed. He added, ‘so we have a massive labor pool that’s educated in our system (Cuban nodding), and yet they’re being turned away in favor of people who are being educated abroad. That does not help America in any way.’

    (awkward silence, death blow delivered)

    The government has an obligation to protect American jobs. By plainly stating that the religion of capitalism can do no wrong and that ‘market forces’ will lead the path towards utopia is rhetoric. By creating loopholes that lower wages, literally taking away jobs from skilled American labor, is the very definition of abdication of duty, in some cases treasonous.

    The biggest H1B visa sponsors are:

    Cap Gemini
    Tata Consulting
    Tech Mahindra
    HCL America
    Ernst and Young
    UST Global
    Larsen and Toubro

    It’s worth noting, many of those companies are consultants, who then used the skilled labor to work on projects on behalf of their fortune 500 clients. In others words, they’re merely gatekeepers, obfuscating the true nature of how pervasive this program is in the American workforce.

    Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

  • They Have No Proof: MIT Professor Explains Why The Assad Gas Attack Was A Sham

    Authored by Daniel Lang via SHTFplan.com,

    The mainstream narrative surrounding the sarin gas attack in Syria simply doesn’t add up. Even if you assume that Assad is nothing but a vile monster who would have no problem with gassing his own people, the attack still doesn’t make sense. That’s because even monsters have a sense of self-preservation.

    Just days before the attack, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced a reversal of a longstanding policy in Washington. He said that the US was no longer absolutely determined to oust Assad. America’s six year war against his regime was basically over. So why would Assad reignite a conflict with the world’s preeminent superpower with a chemical weapons attack? A conflict that I might add, would greatly reduce the chances of him remaining in power?

    Assad is by no means a good guy. He’s not even an okay guy. He is definitely a despot who relies on violence to suppress the population. But he’s never shown any signs of being suicidal. Six years of fighting to maintain his rule proves that. What’s much more likely is that Assad is being set up.

    Don’t believe our government’s claims about satellite photography catching Assad’s aircraft dropping the sarin. In fact, the little evidence that has been provided falls on its face once you take a closer look. That’s the determination of Theodore Postol, a physicist and professor at MIT, who reviewed documents released by the White House regarding the gas attack.

    Postol said: “I have reviewed the [White House’s] document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria at roughly 6am to 7am on 4 April, 2017.


    In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document point to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of 4 April.

    That evidence is a photograph of the shell that delivered the sarin gas, which according Postol, shows signs of having explosives set on top of it before being detonated on the ground.

    That sounds a lot more like the work of the rebels, not the Syrian government.

    “The explosive acted on the pipe as a blunt crushing mallet,” Postol said. “It drove the pipe into the ground while at the same time creating the crater.


    “Since the pipe was filled with sarin, which is an incompressible fluid, as the pipe was flattened, the sarin acted on the walls and ends of the pipe causing a crack along the length of the pipe and also the failure of the cap on the back end.”

    Keep in mind that Postol is an expert in this field. He’s been advising our government on weapon technologies since the Gulf War. He’s not some armchair scientist. More importantly, after working with our government for so many years, he’s all too familiar with how unreliable intelligence reports from the White House can be.

    All of these highly amateurish mistakes indicate that this White House report, like the earlier Obama White House Report [from Ghouta in 2013], was not properly vetted by the intelligence community as claimed.


    “I have worked with the intelligence community in the past, and I have grave concerns about the politicisation of intelligence that seems to be occurring with more frequency in recent times – but I know that the intelligence community has highly capable analysts in it.


    “And if those analysts were properly consulted about the claims in the White House document they would have not approved the document going forward.”

    Once again, our country has made an attack against a sovereign nation without any justification.

    As Liberty Blitzkrieg's Mike Krieger so eloquently concludes:

    Pretty much every official statement emanating from the U.S. government these days is a deception, fabrication, or outright lie. I understand that this is a hard thing for a U.S. citizen to admit, but as James Baldwin so accurately stated: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

    So let’s go ahead and face the facts. Governments lie. Governments have always lied. Extremely corrupt, imperial governments overseeing societies in deep economic and cultural decline lie even more. This isn’t conspiracy theory, it’s what obviously happens when you combine tremendous power with human nature.



    The U.S. government is completely rogue and determined to drive the U.S. into an unwinable war based on false pretenses, which doesn’t serve the national interest. These lunatics must be stopped.

  • Harvard 'Shock' Study: Each $1 Minimum Wage Hike Causes 4-10% Increase In Restaurant Failures

    A ‘shocking’ discovery was made when a pair of researchers at Harvard Business School decided to analyze the impact of higher minimum wages in San Francisco on restaurant failures…hint:  they went up. 

    Entitled “Survival of the Fittest: The Impact of the Minimum Wage on Firm Exit“, this latest study on the devastating consequences of minimum wage was conducted by Dara Lee Luca and Michael Luca and concluded that each $1 increase in the minimum wage results in a roughly 4-10% increase in the likelihood of a restaurant going out of business. 

    In this paper, we investigate the impact of the minimum wage on restaurant closures using data from the San Francisco Bay Area. We find suggestive evidence that an increase in the minimum wage leads to an overall increase in the rate of exit.


    This paper presents several new findings. First, we provide suggestive evidence that higher minimum wage increases overall exit rates among restaurants, where a $1 increase in the minimum wage leads to approximately a 4 to 10 percent increase in the likelihood of exit, although statistical significance falls with the inclusion of time-varying county-level characteristics and city-specific time trends. This is qualitatively consistent but smaller than what Aaronson et al. (forthcoming) find; they show that a 10 percent raise in the minimum wage increases firm exit by approximately 24 percent from a base of 5.7 percent. Differences in sample and specifications may account for the differences between our study and theirs.

    Min Wage


    Moreover, as we’ve pointed out the past, it’s the low-income workers, the ones that minimum wage hikes are intended to help, that end up getting hurt the most when misinformed liberal politicians decide to meddle in labor markets.  But, as this new HBS study points out, low-income workers don’t just lose their jobs when minimum wages are hiked…they also lose access to cheap casual dining options as lower-rated, cheaper restaurants are much more likely to fail when their costs are artificially raised.

    Next, we examine heterogeneous impacts of the minimum wage on restaurant exit by restaurant quality. The textbook competitive labor market model assumes identical workers and firms who therefore are equally likely to share in the minimum-wage generated employment and profit losses. However, models that depart from the standard competitive model to allow for heterogeneous workers and firms suggest that a minimum wage increase would cause the lowest productivity firms to exit the market (Albrecht & Axell, 1984; Eckstein & Wolpin, 1990; Flinn, 2006). We show that there is, in fact, considerable and predictable heterogeneity in the effects of the minimum wage, and that the impact on exit is concentrated among lower quality restaurants, which are already closer to the margin of exit. This suggests that the ability of firms to adjust to minimum wage changes could differ depending on firm quality. Finally, we provide evidence that higher minimum wages deter entry, and hastens the time to exit among poorly rated restaurants.

    Min Wage


    And while we enjoy the affirmation of a conclusion that we’ve presented multiple times from such a reputable organization as Harvard, one which pretty much anyone could deduce with the application of just a moderate amount of common sense, for some reason the following scene from “Good Will Hunting’ comes to mind.

    “You dropped $150,000 on a fucking education you could’ve got for a $1.50 of late charges at the public library.”


    The full study can be read here:

  • Japan's 10Y Yield Drops Below Zero Again: All Eyes On The BOJ

    With every other asset class roundtripping the November election outcome, it was only a matter of time before Japan’s 10Y JGB – which on February 2 briefly peaked above the BOJ’s “yield curve controlling” 0.10% yield ceiling, rising as high as 0.15% to the shock of a market ready to declare that Japan had finally lost control of its bond market – retraced the entire “reflationary” move from 0.0% to 0.1%. And, sure enough, following today’s violent deflationary capitulation moments ago Japan’s JGB 0.1% of 2027 once again dipped back under 0%, sliding as low as -0.003% on Wednesday morning in Japan.

    What happens next?

    According to traders, focus will turn to whether the BOJ, in pursuing “yield curve control”, will reduce the amount of JGBs it monetizes.  “Amid favorable environment for bonds, focus is on BOJ as whether there will be a reduction in purchase amounts will test the bank’s tolerance for 10-year yield falling into negative,” Katsutoshi Inadome, senior bond strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, wrote in note according to Bloomberg.

    As a reminder, in the BOJ’s latest “rinban” or open market operation, it bought around 280bn yen of 1-to-3, 350bn yen of 3-to-5 and 450bn yen of 5- to-10-year maturities at previous operation. And material declines from these amounts may lead result in the market roiling again, on fears the BOJ is being forced into an involuntary taper by external deflationary forces.

    Meanwhile, the USDJPY continues to track treasury yields tick for tick, and as Yujiro Goto, senior FX strategist at Nomura in London said, the “dollar/yen remains top-heavy with yields falling and weak U.S. economic data. It’s hard to take risk aggressively ahead of the French election, keeping it in 108-109 range.”

    Which means that while continued declines in Japanese yields are virtually assured all else equal, it will be up to the BOJ to telegraph to the market just how low it will let the 10Y drop. Should Kuroda unveil another “taper”, the result may be the uncoordinated move in global bond markets, leading to a negative feedback loop of JGB selling and TSY bond buying, which incidentally is the worst case scenario for global central bankers whose primary intention over the past year has been to achieve as much rate coordination as possible.

  • Busting The "Free College" Myth

    Authored by Jonathan Newman via The Mises Institute,

    A new program just passed by New York’s state government promises “free tuition” for middle-class students to attend a public college or university in the state. While there are similar programs elsewhere in the US, this is the first to include four-year schools.

    All of the headlines include some variation of the term free college, which makes this a great opportunity to discuss what actually happens when a government provides something for “free.” Let us consider this program from three different perspectives.

    From the student’s perspective, this is another scholarship program. Indeed, it is called the “Excelsior Scholarship,” and students may apply for it to cover any tuition not already covered by other forms of financial aid. It does not cover other fees, room and board, or books, so any headline advertising “free college” is misleading. One estimate based on the cost of attending a State University of New York campus says that the new program would pay about $26,000, leaving $60,000 for the students and their families to pay.

    Nevertheless, before any further increases in non-tuition prices, this may encourage more students to apply and attend. SUNY has seen enrollment increases every year at least since 2002, which is the earliest data at data.ny.gov. The question, however, is whether using government policy to funnel even more students into four years of public education is a good idea. Nationwide, enrollment has recently dropped, but this has mainly been in for-profit and community colleges. Public schools have seen steady increases in enrollment, tuition, and borrowing.

    From the university’s perspective, the Excelsior program is a large third-party payer. In a 2016 NBER paper, Grey Gordon and Aaron Hedlund found strong evidence for the Bennett hypothesis: increases in financial aid lead to increases in college tuitions. The authors’ quantitative model showed that increases in financial aid accounted for 102% of the 106% total increase in tuition.

    In 1987, then Secretary of Education William Bennett made this prophetic observation: “increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase.”

    This became known as the Bennett hypothesis. Considering the rise in tuition since then, even relative to CPI, he may have been onto something (data from CollegeBoard.org and BLS.gov).

    From the taxpayer’s perspective, this is what Bastiat called “legal plunder.” Governments have nothing they did not first extract from their citizens. Bastiat argued against any law that “performs, for the profit of one citizen, and, to the injury of others.”

    The Excelsior Scholarship funds were not donated voluntarily by generous alumni or an organization whose members value higher education. The funds were taken from hard-working New Yorkers. Families had to forgo more or better education. Businesses had to employ fewer people. Grocery store carts had to be less full at the checkout. Tourists stayed for the weekend instead of a week, or chose not to travel to New York at all.

    Is it worth it? In one sense, we can’t know. It’s impossible (and therefore arrogant) to say that one person is better off with some amount of money compared to another person. Also, government programs are not subject to any sort of profit and loss test. Even when a program is a clear failure, more funds and resources are usually allocated to it.

    In another sense, we can say absolutely that New Yorkers will be worse off. The way we know that resources are used in the best possible way is that an individual has to voluntarily dedicate those resources to his or her most important goals. When funds are taken from individuals and used in a way those individuals would not have used them, then we can say for sure that those people are worse off. There are only two possibilities for the goal that is pursued with the stolen funds: (1) it is less important to the taxed individuals than what they would have done with the money, or (2) it is something the taxed individuals would not want at all.

    Said another way, if and to the extent that New Yorkers wanted to help students by paying for their tuition, they would have done so on their own.


  • Bernie: "'I'm With Her' Slogan Is So Phony!…I'm Not Saying That"

    In a new book about the failed Clinton campaign entitled “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign,” Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen reveal a story that confirms what most of us already knew about that whole Bernie endorsement of Hillary, namely that it was a complete and utter farce. 

    As the story goes, members of the Clinton campaign reached out to Sanders aides in late September 2016 to share a script of an ad they wanted the Vermont senator to record on Hillary’s behalf.  Unfortunately, Bernie wasn’t feeling Hillary’s “I’m With Her” slogan and refused to recite it for the ad, saying:

    “It’s so phony!” Sanders said. “I don’t want to say that.”



    As The Hill notes, The Clinton campaign eventually decided not to use the ad on television, after learning that voters found it completely obvious that Bernie didn’t actually support Hillary’s nomination.

    “People felt that it was him delivering his message, not Hillary’s,” said one Clinton aide familiar with focus group responses.


    “People didn’t feel that it was an authentic pitch for her and what she wanted to do. It even had some backlash in folks saying that he’s not really supporting her.”

    Perhaps being sabotaged by his own party so that Hillary could claim her birthright left a mark after all.

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