Friday 13 September 2013
Photo, above: American crops. See: Hour 2, Block C, David Lynch, Bloomberg, on farm insurance – what can go wrong and why. Fraud Stealing $100 Million Shows Flaws in U.S. Crop Insurance –
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Emily Lakdawalla, Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist, Planetary Society, in re: LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer), pron. "laddie." LADEE science objectives are: determine the global density, composition, and measure any spatial and temporal variability of the moon's fragile atmosphere
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution & Chicago Law, in re: [Ronald Harry Coase was a British economist and author, and the Clifton R. Musser Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Chicago Law School.] . . . Sadly, in death, Coase is being swept into today’s overheated political vortex, most notably in a graceless column written by John Cassidy of the New Yorker. The column, “Ronald Coase and the Misuse of Economics,” castigates conservative intellectuals for using Coase’s insights to promote a slavish adherence to market solutions when it comes to the environment, leading, in Cassidy’s view, to “a conservative counter-revolution that turned the United States (and many other countries) into a coarser, less regulated, and less equitable direction.” [more]
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution & Chicago Law, in re: . . . Cassidy’s uninformed and overwrought criticism cries out for a response. Let’s start with the simple question of influence. Coase’s seminal intellectual contribution was his 1960 article, “The Problem of Social Cost,” which is apolitical. It has proved so influential over the last 50-plus years because it offers a coherent approach to environmental harms of use to liberals and conservatives alike. Coase is taught regularly not only in environmental law courses, but also in courses like contracts, torts, property, and corporations. He is without question the most influential economist for lawyers who work on understanding property rights, liability rules, and, yes, government regulation. His work stresses the importance of transaction costs in dealing with social organization. Two Parties, Zero Transaction Costs Coase’s initial question asked how to treat pollution and similar externalities in a world with zero-transaction costs. His now paradigmatic case involved harmful interactions between a farmer and a rancher who are . . . [more]
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 2, Block A: Sebastian v Gorka, FDD, in re: Could Obama's Syria Diplomacy Lead to War? Meanwhile, in New York, the five members of the United Nations Security Council debated a draft resolution calling on Syria to relinquish its ...
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 2, Block B: Marian Wang, ProPublica, in re: Public universities were founded (and funded) to give students access to an affordable college education in state. ProPublica has found, however, that these very schools are increasingly leaving poor students behind in favor of their higher-income and higher-achieving peers who can pay more and boost rankings. "Private colleges have been using such tactics aggressively for some time. But in recent years, many public colleges have sought to catch up, doing what the industry calls 'financial aid leveraging,'" Wang writes. "The math can work like this: Instead of offering, say, $12,000 to an especially needy student, a school might choose to leverage its aid by giving a $3,000 discount to four students with less need, each of whom scored high on the SAT, who together will bring in more tuition dollars than the needier student. Those discounts are often offered to prospective students as 'merit aid.'" Industry consultants who help schools leverage financial aid say their clients at public universities are trying to offset budget cuts by using aid to enroll students who can "positively impact the bottom line." So where are all the needy students going instead? To community colleges and for-profit schools, Wang writes, leading critics to compare higher education to "hospitals for healthy people" -- competing for the easiest-to-treat, most lucrative patients rather than taking on cases of those who stand to benefit the most. Wang goes on to note that, "While colleges strive to enroll wealthier and better-performing students, the demographics of the nation's high-school graduates are moving in a different direction: As a group, tomorrow's high-school graduates will be more racially diverse and more low-income than today's." [more]
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: David Lynch, Bloomberg, in re: Farm insurance – what can go wrong and why. (1 of 2) Fraud Stealing $100 Million Shows Flaws in U.S. Crop Insurance – Harry Dean Canady will learn next month whether he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison for cheating taxpayers of more than $1 million and threatening to kill the U.S. agents who brought him to justice… His thieving was just a sliver of the largest fraud in the program’s 75-year history, a case that so far has ensnared 41 North Carolina tobacco farmers, insurance agents and claims adjusters whose law breaking cost taxpayers close to $100 million, federal prosecutors say.
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 2, Block D: David Lynch, Bloomberg, in re: Farm insurance – what can go wrong and why. (2 of 2) A Depression-era program intended to save American farmers from ruin has grown into a 21st-century crutch enabling affluent growers and financial institutions to thrive at taxpayer expense. Federal crop insurance encourages farmers to gamble on risky plantings in a program that has been marred by fraud and that illustrates why government spending is so difficult to control. And the cost is increasing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture last year spent about $14 billion insuring farmers against the loss of crop or income, almost seven times more than in fiscal 2000, according to the Congressional Research Service. The arrangement is a good deal for everyone but taxpayers. The government pays 18 approved insurance companies to run the program, pays farmers to buy coverage and pays the bills if losses exceed . . . [more]
Crop Insurers’ $14 Billion Some See as Money Laundering Former American International Group Inc. chief Maurice “Hank” Greenberg has a new business partner: the U.S. taxpayer. Greenberg’s Starr Indemnity & Liability Co. is one of 18 companies approved to get federal cash for insuring farmers against loss of crops or income. Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), the nation’s fourth-largest bank by assets, Zurich-based Ace Ltd. (ACE) and units of American Financial Group Inc., (AFG) Deere & Co. (DE) and Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) all enjoy similar public backing. The government subsidies show how a program created to safeguard the nation’s farmers has evolved into a system that in most years all but guarantees profits for insurers. The government subsidies show how a program created to safeguard the nation’s farmers has evolved into a system that in most years all but guarantees profits for insurers. In 2012, taxpayers spent $14 billion paying more than 60 percent of farmers’ insurance premiums, the companies’ operating costs and the lion’s share of claims triggered by a historic drought, according to . . . [more]
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Michael Vlahos, Naval War College, in re: Syria Talks Yield Plan to Discuss Peace Conference Friday's talks followed Secretary of State John Kerry's insistence that Syria quickly disclose data about its chemical arsenal and that Russia . . . [more]
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 3, Block B: : Michael Vlahos, Naval War College, in re: The United States in the Barbary War. Edward Preble (15 August 1761 – 25 August 1807) was a United States naval officer who served with great distinction during the 1st Barbary War, leading ... [more] Early life and Revolutionary War - United States Navy service - To the Mediterranean
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Jessica Silver Greenberg, NYT DEALBOOK, in re: Invasive Tactic in Foreclosures Draws Scrutiny Property-management companies are coming under fire for using questionable and possibly illegal tactics in their work for banks.
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Steven Greenhouse, NYT, in re: A.F.L.-C.I.O. Has Plan to Add Millions of Nonunion Members ... Richard L. Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., has a bold plan to reverse organized labor's ... "The Ecumenical Union"
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi by Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz (1 of 4)
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi by Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz (2 of 4)
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi by Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz (3 of 4)
Friday 13 September 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi by Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz (4 of 4)
.. .. ..