Yesterday's newspaper told us that the feds have come down on the side of gas producers rather than gas consumers. It was a rare victory against the zombies.
As you know, America is producing a lot more gas than it used to. The drillers want to liquefy the stuff, put it in tankers, and ship it overseas, to be sold to the highest bidder. But large consumers want to keep the price low...but prohibit export. And the feds reserved the right to decide.
Yes, the US economy is so zombified that you can no longer sell your output to whomever you choose. You have to ask permission. In this instance, it looks like the feds agreed with the producers. But only after a 'study' showed that it would be better for the economy to export it rather than keep it within US borders.
Everywhere else, the zombies are gaining. A report in the Wall Street Journal confirmed what we already knew: zombies don't work very hard. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been compiling detailed data on how people use their time. Rather than just ask them...or just rely on how many hours people say they work...the researchers kept track themselves.
They tracked how many hours people slept, ate, watched TV and worked. And guess what? They found that federal government employees put in 3.8 fewer 40-hour weeks a year than employees in the private sector. If they were forced to work the same hours as people in the private sector, the government would save $130bn a year.
Meanwhile, over in the Pentagon, R Jeffrey Smith has his eye on the zombies too:
'Of the many facts that have come to light in the scandal involving former CIA director David H. Petraeus, among the most curious was that during his days as a four-star general, he was once escorted by 28 police motorcycles as he traveled from his Central Command headquarters in Tampa to socialite Jill Kelley's mansion.
'Although most of his trips did not involve a presidential-size convoy, the scandal has prompted new scrutiny of the imperial trappings that come with a senior general's lifestyle.
'The commanders who lead the nation's military services and those who oversee troops around the world enjoy an array of perquisites befitting a billionaire, including executive jets, palatial homes, drivers, security guards and aides to carry their bags, press their uniforms and track their schedules in 10-minute increments. Their food is prepared by gourmet chefs. If they want music with their dinner parties, their staff can summon a string quartet or a choir.
'The elite regional commanders who preside over large swaths of the planet don't have to settle for Gulfstream V jets. They each have a C-40, the military equivalent of a Boeing 737, some of which are configured with beds.'
And then, even after they retire...the zombies keep feeding on the productive sector:
'Updating a 2010 Boston Globe report that documented the practice, CREW found that over the last three years, 70 percent of the 108 three-and-four star generals and admirals who retired 'took jobs with defense contractors or consultants'.
As Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., put it during a 2009 hearing on Obama's nomination of former Raytheon executive William Lynn to become the deputy secretary of defense, 'it's an incestuous business, what's going on in terms of the defense contractors and the Pentagon and the highest levels of our military'.'
for The Daily Reckoning Australia
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