1/5/2012 7:23 PM ET|
A wild election that could cost us
Forget the Iowa results or the prospects for a drawn-out GOP primary season. For an imminent election that could really rattle your stocks and the market, look to France.
Ready for a really important (and raucous) election?
And, no, I don't mean Tuesday's Republican primary in New Hampshire.
I'm talking about a race in which one contender has compared his opponent to a sugar cube, another calls the incumbent "the Bonsai," and the incumbent thinks his best hope for re-election might be reversing his no-new-"generalized"-taxes pledge.
The results of that election could throw the eurozone into so much chaos it could lead to the end of the euro.
I'm talking about France, of course, where President Nicolas Sarkozy currently doesn't have a truffle's chance in Lyon of winning the April 22/May 6 double-elimination election.
There's a serious issue beneath the sheer entertainment value of an election where one candidate (Dominique de Villepin) calls his opponent (Sarkozy) an uncultured oaf.
Flirting with a euro fix
Sarkozy is committed to making the euro work, and he has developed a working relationship with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel in crafting the current solution (such as it is) to the euro debt crisis. (For more on the "Merkozy" solution to the crisis and what it would mean for the eurozone if it is implemented, see my Dec. 22, 2011, column, "The euro 'fix' we have to live with.")
His main opponent and the current leader in the polls, the Socialist François Hollande, has made it clear that he thinks Sarkozy has given away too much to Merkel's Germany. Hollande has more than signaled his opposition to the treaty of fiscal discipline that Merkel and Sarkozy worked out at the last European summit, going so far as to say that if he is president, France will not sign.
Hollande's solution to the euro debt crisis is so radically different from Merkel's that it's hard to see how the two countries could bridge the gap.
And without the German-French partnership, it's hard to see the euro surviving, frankly.
Think the markets might freak out over this possibility if Hollande is still leading in the polls in, say, March?
OK, some new taxes
So just how cooked is Sarkozy's oie?
- He's trailing Hollande and barely beating extreme right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen in the polls. On the current polling, Sarkozy would get past Le Pen in the April 22 first round of voting but lose to Hollande in the second round by 10 percentage points.
- The results will be even worse if France loses its AAA credit rating before the April vote. That would be a huge blow to French pride, and Sarkozy would be blamed. You can tell the French president thinks the loss of the AAA rating is a real possibility because in recent days he has been saying that the rating is no big thing.
- Unemployment in France has climbed to near 10% and looks to go higher as the country heads toward recession.
- Did I mention a likely recession? The government is hoping for 1% growth in 2012; it is unlikely to get it.
- Sarkozy's plan for increasing the competitiveness of the French economy -- and thus of upping the country's growth rate -- is something called the "social VAT." This plan, which faces daunting odds of getting past French legislators during the narrow window for action open in January, would turn costs now paid by French companies to costs paid by French taxpayers in an effort to close the company tax gap with Germany and other eurozone exporters. Taxpayers would face a higher VAT (value-added tax, a kind of sales tax).
It's hard to see why taxpayers would decide this didn't violate Sarkozy's oft-repeated pledge of no new taxes. I doubt that the fine print, which reads "no new 'generalized' taxes," would be enough to get him off the hook. (And an increase in the VAT seems pretty generalized to me anyway.)
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So, looks like 1940 all over again, but this time it's Eva Braun gonna tour Paris with the storm troopers! It galls me to think of the socialists taking over there again, but, if that could bring the end of the Euro, a whole lot of nations would be in much better position to survive the Soros-driven disasters yet to unfold. Looks to me like, of all things, a socialist might throw a spanner into the wheels of the globalists instead of aiding their unfolding destruction of the middle class.
And, for those here still dumping on the GOP, please wake up and realize that there are no donkeys and no elephants in Washington. All we have running our mess is a bunch of servants of the highest-paying lobbyists. Party lines are irrelevant. That is why mandatory electronic medical records came in as a statute under Clinton, was untouched by Bush and his Congress, and will not be reviewed by the SC as part of the ObamaCare challenges. EMR's have put small medical practices out of business and under the control of corporations and hospitals. In 2-3more years, virtually no independent MD's will exist and the insurance companies will have their lackeys enact whatever kind of care they choose to let us have thru Congress. Forget socialized medicine - the corporations will decide what you can and can't have done and make it look like the politicians created it. Totalitarianism is not coming from Moscow but from Board Rooms and the CFO's own all the players in DC on BOTH sides.
"fishing fool" - totally agree with your suggestions. However, unless I'm greatly mistaken, and I don't think I am, I believe all congress persons elected since 1984 are required to participate in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), which was implemented that year for all federal employees as a replacement for the Civil Service Retirement System. Under FERS, their retirement system has 3 components: first, they contribute and participate in Social Security; second, they contribute and participate in the Thrift Savings Plan (comparable to private sector 401k plans); and third, they contribute and participate is a very modest pension plan.
Most people believe the federal government is still under the old Civil Service Retirement System. Just not true.
People, instead of 'voting' on the dating ads, just move you cursor onto it like you would to vote, and click the word 'spam' when it appears in the bottom right corner of the post. Enough people do that and not just the post, but the whole profile gets deleted. Meaning, no more spam! Delete them often enough and they will stop. maybe, lol
Merkel's plan is wrong headed on so many levels as it has been consistently proven that government needs to provide stimulus in cases of recession/depression. Austerity begets austerity. It has became a cat and mouse game with the Eurozone preaching austerity and then giving money at the last minute when all else fails. If the money had been provided from the very beginning then the problems would never have occurred.
The Eurozone problem is you have different economies and one currency. That can never work. EIther the entire process of monetary business goes under the Eurozone or it needs to break away. Part of the challenge fixing the problem is that you have all these different economies doing their own thing. I think that the euro experiment has failed and that in the long term the best decision is to break this sucker up and let countries do their own thing. This will allow each country to steer their own ship and not bring other nations down the drain when they have problems. It will also simplify the strategy as far as dealing with crisis and opportunity versus having conflicting wants based on other countries situations.
I haven't really cared about politics since Reagan left office. But it seems to me When who wins an election decides our fate: you have to ask; How did we get here? and Why are we here?
There was a book written back in 1987, by Alfred L. Malabre, Jr.; I forget the title of the book. Probably something like "living beyond our means". At the time it was read and reviewed to not much attention, other than that the author worked for the Wall Street Journal. There was a lot of detail in the book of how we were living beyond our means; with huge federal government deficits of 3 or 4% of GDP, and a then considered huge trade deficit more or less $150 billion or so.
Maybe it is as simple as that; we just lived beyond our means, and we need our nanny aka government to protect us from our parent aka whoever was in charge when they left; and is going to be mad as hell at us when they get home. I got to tell you I'm not looking forward to that experience. And I don't think we have truly experienced it yet!
zdoc1962: You have no idea what you are talking about. The electronic records piece of the legislation you referred to is not a mandate, it is a goal.
Yes, there are small doctor's offices that need to upgrade their systems, and some may choose not to implement them (most practices can afford it...just a matter of biting the bullet in that area of their budget). However, the Insurance Companies themselves are the people paying lobbyists to stop enforcement of this part of the legislation. The private insurance companies do not want to invest in upgrading their systems.
I have worked in the Health Care Industry for 15 years, in many different segments…including three private health insurance companies, two of which are very large, multi-billion dollar organizations (Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Tufts Health Plan). Even today, both of these companies store some of their data on MS DOS systems. Their member service departments need to toggle back and forth between newer systems, and older ones (think green fonts, black background…circa 1984, still being used now…I’m not joking). These organizations have figured out that it is cheaper to train workers to use old technology, rather than paying to upgrade their systems. They will have to eventually upgrade when it gets to the point that they cannot find, or it becomes too costly to hire, someone who is able to fix 30 year old technology.
This is a typical example of the vaunted “private sector,” refusing to invest in their own company now because of high short-term costs that will result in savings later. The longer they wait to upgrade, the more expensive the upgrade will be.
The Irony is, the legislation you cited was aimed at modernizing medical records so that they can be shared seamlessly with care providers. Unfortunately, what has happened, the private sector health insurers are up in arms about hitting their bottom line, with regard to systems used by insurance companies, when their bottom line would actually benefit from more efficient communications between providers, as well as more efficient practices at their own companies. They just refuse to pay for it now, so we ALL wind up paying for it in the end. Unfortunately, these companies are able to pay lobbyists, who are able to convince Politicians that their position is right (and most elected officials do not have much knowledge of how our health care system operates).
We could help tackle this problem by providing public funding for these initiatives (aiding smaller operations upgrade their systems, for example)….but that is not possible in today’s political climate.
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