The Thursday Note

The biggest problem with the Medicare Drug benefit is the “doughnut hole” where after X amount of coverage, sick people have to pay a few thousand dollars of drug coverage themselves before the plan kicks in again. There are some plans that cover that hole for the most popular prescription drugs, but it seems that 13 states won’t be offering them next year, and those plans that do will be rising an average of 87% in price. No, no, the medicare drug benefit isn’t broken and wasn’t designed primarily to pump up drug profits. Why do you ask?

Yesterday the New York Times leaked a chart showing the military knows exactly what’s wrong with Iraq. Today Glenn Greenwald discusses how the Pentagon is investigating the leak with an eye to charging the leader. Remember boys and girls – the truth won’t set you free, no matter how much the public needs to know – but it may well get you locked up and waterboarded.

Mish wonders why the ISM Manufacturing report finding that construction is declining and manufacturing growth is slowing is somehow a surprise to so many people. Let me answer Mish – because most economists are paid for happy talk, not for analysis, and the worst thing you can do is not be wrong, but be wrong in a different way than the crowd is wrong. Roubini takes a swing at the ISM here as well. My take? Surprise? What surprise? The economy is in decline. 2007 will suck, and Bernanke will ease interest rates. The only question is how fast this face dive goes, and how aggressively and soon Bernanke slams his foot on the gas. And yes, Mish is right, slamming on the gas, with outsourcing increasing and housing declining, will send a huge flood of jobs off to China and other outsourcing and offshoring destinations.

Gazprom (Russia’s oil company) says it’s going to more than double oil prices for Georgia next year. That sound you hear, dear reader, is the sound of Georgia’s skull cracking under the Russian boot. And that sound from Washington, which spent the last decade and a half encouraging Georgia and other ex-Soviet republics to defy Moscow? Silence. Let this be a lesson to future American governments – don’t buy countries you can’t afford.

More Stories After the Jump

Britian’s information comissioner reports that Britain is no longer “becoming” a surveillance society, it has become one. This, by the way, is Blair’s real legacy – the steady attempt to erode Britain’s liberties, because government knows best. Personally I prefered the days when government screwed with economics and didn’t spend all day taping what I was doing, but I guess socialism was the bigger danger. Right?

This video of a Haliburton supply convoy getting ambushed will give you a little taste of what war is like – and how Haliburton treats its own employees.

David Maister discussing the difference between firms which have a culture of teamwork and strong behavioural expectations against those which motivate people with money and fear, comparing the first to the marines, and the others to mercenaries. This may seem like a business post, it isn’t, it’s a political post. Go read it.

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Ian Welsh

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  • I can see the headline “President Bush to Send Aid to Georgia” with the sub title “Large scale scale unrest grips frozen Georgian population. Reports of Russian Paramilitary operatives destabilizing Georgia’s struggle for Democracy prompt Vice President Dick Cheney to dispatch limited assistance to the Georgia” The article will go on to explain how “No U.S. Military Troops will be used, this will be a force of contractors to help train the local police and assist the Georgian self defense forces in security operations guarding the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan Main Export oil pipeline”. Then VP Cheney will go on to explain how private companies like Blackwater Security of Moyock, North Carolina, provide cost effective deployment of American Foreign Policy.

    Blackwater marshals for what is perhaps its most controversial plan ever: the creation of a brigade-size armed force – about 1,700 troops – that could be deployed on “peacekeeping” or “stability” missions in world trouble spots, such as the Darfur region of Sudan.

    “Takes a bucket of blood for a barrel of oil”

    Steven Bruton

  • looking for the “if the Dems win, it’s the end of the world!” meme. What I mainly found was two days of “KERRY INSULTS TROOPS!” and the latest meme, “TREASON AT NEW YORK TIMES!”. The Mighty Wurlitzer is running at full blast.

    “If you can’t trust a Methodist with absolute power to arrest people and
    not have to say why, then whom can you trust?” – Garrison Keillor

  • A brigade. Jesus. This is getting out of control. If it were up to me I’d shut these fuckers down tomorrow. They’re just damaging the moral and retention rate of the armies own elite forces, in any case. Ten times as much money to do half as good a job.

  • Yesterday I was traveling by car, and that is when I sample the Mighty Wurlitzer in operation on the AM radio. The Mighty Wurlitzer was the loudest ever, I heard one freaking out talk radio wingnut do an in depth psychological analysis of Kerry that lasted for 23 minutes, that ended with linking Kerry to pedophilia. Not a good Idea to bring up pedophilia with Foley in hiding to remind people. On other Corporate Radio stations the Kerry speech was all that was being talked about.

    “Takes a bucket of blood for a barrel of oil”

    Steven Bruton

  • (Sorry–I had trouble finding this box, first time–you’ll get this in private msg. as well.)

    I wonder if the USA will encourage the export of alternative energy technology to Georgia? Or even the development of native manufacturing capability? It’s perfectly feasible–Georgia is far enough south so that it isn’t even that difficult, and would make a lot of sense.

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