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The New Kid On The Bourse
Ask someone what bourse is and chances are he'll say it's the Jewish "chicken soup" made with beets and matzo balls. But that's borsch and it's healthful; the other bourse (pronounced boorse) is one that's being cooked up in Iran and this "soup" can be as deadly as any WMD.
Currently, there are only two international markets, or exchanges, where petroleum and natural gas (NG) can be purchased: in London it's the IPE and in New York it's called the NYMEX. These exchanges are owned by United States corporations. In effect, we have a petroleum and NG monopoly traded only in dollars.
The Iranian bourse, or petroleum and NG exchange, is the new kid on the block and it will sell petroleum and NG only in euros. Ordinarily, this would present little threat to the U.S. economy except for the fact that we import about two billion dollars a day more than we export. This trade deficit must be borrowed from individuals and nations willing to buy government IOUs called Treasury notes, Treasury bills, and Treasury bonds in exchange for repayment plus interest at a later date. Last year the trade deficit was a record 726 billion.
The world has an increasing appetite for oil and must have our dollars to buy it. This made the dollar valuable. Foreigners lined up to buy our Treasury paper because it was in effect backed with gold – black gold. Washington took advantage of this easy credit accumulating an enormous federal debt. The U.S. government spent with the abandon of an alchemist who had discovered the secret of transmuting base metals into gold. In fact, we had surpassed the alchemist's feat by turning paper into gold.
The debt for all those Treasury IOUs that the government has been handing out like Marti Gras beads now totals five trillion. Add to this another three tril in debt for trust funds, pensions, and social security. That's brings our national debt up to a tidy eight trillion dollars – about ten times the amount of U.S. currency in circulation.
But not to worry. As long as dollars are needed to buy oil, the currency will have real value, foreigners would continue to buy our IOUs, and we shall be able to continue borrowing and spending.
Now all that may change.
If the Iranian bourse is successful, the other ten members of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) may go along in partial cooperation with Iran and sell some of their oil on this euros-only bourse. Purchasers of petroleum and NG will sell off reserve dollars to buy the needed euros. The dollar will deprecate in value as fast as a morning newspaper. The effect of this could be a severe worldwide recession with the possibility of slipping further into a global depression.
Take a look at just one nation's power to undermine the dollar: Iran. What happens when – not if – it demands euros as payment for oil? This nation exports about four million barrels of oil a day. At 60 euros per barrel that adds up to about 87 billion a year in new demand for the euro and a correspondingly diminished need for dollars.
Saddam Hussein tried something like this in the year 2000, demanding euros for his oil instead of dollars. A second Iraqi invasion in 2003 quickly reversed this. The euro was dethroned and the dollar once again reigned supreme.
The Bush administration sees sabotaging the new exchange as an alternative to thirties-style soup lines in the U.S. But how? With the only way the Bush administration knows: military might. But overextended as the military is in Iraq and Afghanistan, how can he (1) justify yet another invasion, and (2) do so against a country that's almost four times the size of Iraq? Simple.
First, How can another war be justified? The tried-and-true WMD bombs-for-peace ploy. President Bush will brush aside the International Atomic Energy Agency's assessment that it "will take Iran a decade before it produces an A-bomb." Iran will be portrayed as a threat to world peace and its president as a mad fanatic. The President will also point out the danger that Iran poses to Israel. But he will omit any reference to the open secret that Israel has between 200 and 400 nuclear weapons, more than enough to defend itself against several Irans.
Second, How can he muster the military capability to occupy another nation? President Bush has no intention of occupying the entirety of Iran, just one small province, Khuzestan. This province produces 90% of Iran's oil. Moreover, Khuzestan in on the eastern border of Iraq. One step over the Iraqi border and the Marines have landed. Occupy this sliver of land and the Iranian bourse is a bust.
On the other hand, another pre-emptive strike against another Muslim nation would be like playing soccer with a hornets' nest – a "nest" with the world's one billion Muslims using the United States as a bull's-eye.
Since the assassination of Caesar, the Ides of March have been associated with ominous warnings. Curiously, the opening date for the Islamic bourse is March 20, just five days after the Ides of March. Betty Davis' famous line in the 1950 film "All About Eve" fits 2006 even better: "Fasten your seat belts; we're in for a bumpy ride."
New Milford, PA
Aims To Empower The People
It was 40 years ago that the Federal Government enacted the "Open Meetings‚ Open Records” laws. The people demanded the right to know what their elected officials were doing, or not doing, and where the tax money was going. Then these wonderful laws were passed. Each state has it’s own state sunshine laws, whose effectiveness varies from state to state.
Pennsylvania has the “Right to Know law‚” it mandates all public records be open for inspection and that copies are available. The “Sunshine Act” insures the public and press the right to attend meetings of the various boards and agencies throughout the state and guarantees an opportunity to ask questions and offer input.
When it comes to ranking the effectiveness of each State's laws, Pennsylvania doesn’t fare too well. (But, then again, PA is the ONLY State in the country without a lobbyist disclosure law.) Our sunshine laws are certainly better than nothing, and improvements have been made from time to time. For instance, at one time you had to have a “vested interest” to view certain documents. Not any more. Now, any citizen can see and receive a copy of any public record without needing or giving any reason.
The sunshine laws are the most important tools in your box. Representative democracy needs a free flow of information to prosper. These laws open all the doors. Up until about ten years ago the Susquehanna County Commissioners would never reveal payroll records. I can only guess that they didn't want us to know how much we were paying them. When it was pointed out by some citizens and reporters that the open records law applied to payroll, they complied.
I can’t praise these laws too much. A transparent government is a healthy one. Vigilance is required to keep these laws strong. Unfortunately, the federal government has lately been reclassifying documents that once were public and calling them secrets. And doing so at a rate faster than any other time in our history. The feds cite “national security” but those in the know say many documents are being reclassified to keep us in the dark concerning someone’s malfeasance or nonfeasance.
The second annual “National Sunshine Week” will be observed from March 12-18. Sunshine Week aims to empower the people by demanding our government remain transparent. Celebrate!
I am writing this letter in regards to the letter Kelly Iveson spoke about in the February 8 County Transcript. I have to agree with Kelly. The fire and ambulance departments are not shown the respect that they deserve.
When the volunteers are called out for these calls, nobody takes into consideration this is a life or death call they are going out to. The volunteer drivers do have “flashing emergency lights” on top of the cars or trucks they drive to get to the station. Nobody pays attention to those “flashing lights”; I myself have seen it happen.
There was an emergency call about two, maybe three weeks ago and nobody pulled over and out of the way to let the emergency volunteers’ vehicles by. There were cars stopped at the red light in front of the Town Restaurant. Cars in the left-hand lane and a car in the right-hand lane; that car sitting in the right-hand lane had decided to move over to the left-hand lane while the light was red. Behind all those cars at the red light was volunteer emergency driver waiting to get to the station.
I personally know who the driver was. Nobody showed him any respect. They let him sit there until the light changed to green. He did have his flashing emergency lights on the dashboard flashing. Come on, people, let’s have respect for the volunteers. That call could have been going to your house, or my house. We all have to do better to show respect to the fire and ambulance company. Who knows, maybe someday we all will be a volunteer.
Note To Catholics
On the weekend of the 4th of March a song was sung at Mass which said, "Return to me, with all your heart, don't let foolish pride keep us apart. Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life."
I couldn't help but think of the latest census which said many Catholics are not attending Sunday Mass. The reasons for leaving the Church are many and individual but if you are thinking of coming home for the great Easter Triduum I would like to ask you not to let the sins of the world, of the Church or of your own making keep you away from Christ. God's great mercy only rules as long as we have life. Once we have crossed over into eternity, God's justice reigns supreme. Ample opportunity is given to anyone looking for a way to return. If you have forgotten how to confess, the priest is only too happy to help. Simply tell him you need help and have been away a long time. There is no sin God will not forgive if we ask in faith and repent. The Deanery Penance Services for Easter are: St. Martin of Tours, Jackson, 4/ 2 - 4:00 PM; St. John the Evangelist, Susquehanna, 4/2 7:00 PM; St. Lawrence, Great Bend, 4/6 7:00 PM; St. Joseph, Friendsville, 4/9 4:00 PM.
You may be happy to know that the abuses of indulgences in the past have not made them obsolete. The 1991 book, The Handbook of Indulgences - Norms and Grants, page 36 tells us, (No. 5) Worth special mention are those grants which list works by which the Christian faithful, by performing any one of them can obtain a plenary indulgence every day of the year: adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for at least one half hour (no. 3); devout reading of Scared Scriptures for at least one half hour (no. 50); the devout performance of the Stations of the Cross (no. 63); and the recitation of the Marian Rosary in a church or oratory with members of the family, in a religious Community, or in a pious association (no. 48). These acts must be accompanied by confession, and prayers for the Holy Father - a simple Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be suffice. A plenary indulgence returns one's soul to the state it was in at baptism.
When it is so easy, why deny yourself this great opportunity. St. Martin's has the Stations of the Cross each Friday night at 7:00 PM during lent. All are welcome to join.
We’re “Addicted” To Oil
We maybe addicted to oil, that may be true. Why does the oil that we are addicted to have to come from below the ground?
Fortunately, I’ll say that with tongue in cheek, we are also a world market and can buy or sell anything at world market prices. (I fought hard to stop the world market pricing of milk.) Oil or a form of oil comes from renewable resources such as corn soybeans and other grains sold on the world market.
The world needs to see that farmers across the globe can produce these grains year round abundantly and continually, and we can make ethanol from these grains. If the world can be told that and if we need so much oil, we would eliminate the need for the big oil cartels to dictate prices and hold us "over the barrel".
Over the barrel is what the cartels want so we can fight over oil, and it's all over wealth. Sure the food supply as we see it today is at about 30 days’ supply, that is because more than half of all American grain farmers have lost their farms because of low prices paid at the time of harvest. But if there was a way that all of America and the other countries of the world would invest in the production of more grains to produce OIL and suddenly the growers were making money on growing more grain and turning it into oil, the great hold on all of us and the cost of human lives would practically be eliminated.
We need this letter and millions of letters like this to go out to every available grower across our world; we could have more food on the table and enough money to live without the oil cartels dictating and killing thousands of people over our “oil addiction.”
I know many farmers here in Pennsylvania that would borrow money now to plant, fencepost to fencepost, if they knew for sure that at harvest time they could sell their grains and feed their families and pay less for oil because they still have the desire to succeed and do good for mankind.
Please, let’s educate everyone we can, in every newspaper and the internet and lobby in every state and country of our world, to make sure enough oil from renewable resources is produced and added to our existing supply of world oil.
We need to all work together on this because the big boys will be crying in their oil when they see that we may still be addicted to oil, but not the "black gold, or Texas tea"! Or, the blood red oil from Iraq, or ruin Alaska's beauty.
It is not going to be easy, I can assure you because once this snowballs the lobbies in Washington and all over the globe will be trying to stop it.
Every man and woman and child needs to fight to make laws permitting ethanol to be used in the world market and added to the reserve supply of every country around the world.
Now is the time to act, our elections are coming up soon. We need every group to organize and forget their other woes for now until we get our world supply of oil stable! Remember, it does not have to come from the ground any more. Our number one priority and fight should be "our addiction to oil." All the rest are small potatoes right now.
Please send this to everyone that you know.
Peter A. Seman
TO THE EDITOR POLICY
Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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