Are we all sure this is not already happening in the USA? So easy to do, and so easy to keep under the radar. But if trends hold true, this will soon come to the USA!
The economy is so bad in Argentina that the government recently said it would start taxing overseas credit card purchases. It also demanded that banks report all credit card transactions — foreign or domestic — saying the data would be used to find tax cheats.
Even George Orwell couldn’t have imagined this meeting of Big Brother and Big Data: a handy database of every single purchase made by citizens, ready to be categorized and analyzed by the government. Let your mind wander for a moment and you can imagine the disturbing possibilities of a government so invasive that it knows when and where you buy milk and bread.
The obvious question: Could it happen here? There are grand cultural and economic differences between Argentina and the United States, but if the history of privacy tells us anything, it is this: Governments and corporations can rarely resist the temptation of using technology to gain the upper hand.
“This gives me chills,” said Gartner banking consultant Avivah Litan, who was in Argentina recently consulting with that nation’s government banking officials. “I think it is a reminder that our data can be looked at by anyone and probably is being looked at.”
Argentina is not the first government to examine credit card receipts. In 2011, Brazil began taxing overseas credit card transactions. And Spain recently outlawed cash transactions over $2,500, a tactic that forces consumers to use traceable, electronic purchasing tools for big-ticket items.
Big Brother is not behind these drastic measures. In Argentina, where only about 50 percent of the population buys with plastic, a currency crisis and high inflation have led to a dramatic rise in overseas purchasing. Taxing foreign purchases is an attempt to stem this tide, and encourage domestic spending. Brazil’s motivation is similar.
But once the pipeline for data is established and the database is built, what’s to stop mission creep? Argentina has said it will examine domestic transactions for evidence of undeclared purchases or other signs of tax evasion. What else could a government find in a database of transactions?
“When I first saw the story it kind of took my breath away,” said Bill Hardekopf, who operates the credit card information website LowCards.com “I thought, ‘Oh my, a government can track the purchases of every one of their citizens?’ ”
There is a way to avoid becoming a line item in a government credit card transaction spreadsheet: pay with cash, something one in two Argentinians still does. But in the U.S., cash has become passé. Last year, only 27 percent of point-of-sale purchases were made with cash, compared to 66 percent for credit and debit cards, according to Javelin Strategy and Research, which expects that number to dip to 23 percent by 2017.
Meanwhile, a host of new payment tools — still rough around the edges — are about to find their way into consumers’ pockets and purses. Mobile cellphone payments are coming of age, with a quarter-trillion in annual transactions expected by 2016, according to IE Market Research. And even the simplest of cash transactions — “Buddy, can I borrow $5?” — might not be long for this world. Starbucks recently partnered with Square, a simple tool that allows cellphone users to accept casual payments from friends or small business clients. The convenience of such tools is undeniable; so is their traceability.
Continue reading HERE.
Read more HERE. Heck, read all the stories there!
BIG HAIRY NEWS – Newsweek magazine announced today that it will cease publication at the end of the year.
The magazine, published since 1933, has experienced a sharp decline in readership – roughly proportionate to its increasingly hard left editorial bent. There is no word how this move will affect Newsweek’s roughly 225 subscribers.
One positive aspect of the move is that President Obama and first lady Michelle will now have more free time, thanks to not having to pose for monthly Newsweek cover story photos.
More BHN here.
Hell of a sale people! Can’t wait for this to catch on and get to Iowa!
Early on in the debate, Cayman Islands bank accounts became a hot topic because Mitt Romney had a few that the left quickly confused with Swiss bank accounts (or offshore ones), and determined were unreported tax shelters Romney used to hide his money or, alteratively, fund the construction of a machine that could either destroy the moon or control the weather depending on which James Bond film they’d seen last.
Sadly, Mitt Romney is (1) not that interesting and (2) honest enough to report his “tax shelters” to the IRS in order to get taxed on them appropriately, which means he really needs a new accountant. At any rate, the campaign even mentioned at one point that the accounts functioned as a way for Romney to entice overseas investors to hide their money in American companies, so who knows, maybe the whole thing was a patriotic exercise in bringing super villainy back to the good old US of A where it belongs.
In Tuesdays debate, the subject came up again, not because Obama was attacking Romney’s sin of being wealthy (or putting money into a blind trust that happened to have invested in Chinese companies), but because it appears, Obama might have some overseas investment structures of his own.
Romney: “Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?”
Obama: “You know, I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long. I don’t check it that often.”
Romney: “Let me give you some advice. Look at your pension. You also have investments in Chinese companies. You also have investments outside the United States. You also have investments through a Caymans trust.”
Turns out, Obama has investments made through the Illinois State Board of Investment, which cares for the pension funds of Illinois state employees. Obama was an Illinois State Senator and is entitled to (and did) make investments through this board, in a manner almost identical to Mitt Romney’s own blind trust. In fact, the ISBI even put some of it’s cash into Avent International, a private equity and buyout firm like Bain Capital that puts a percentage of it’s investors money into a Cayamn Islands partnership (sound familiar?). And as part of it’s diversified portfolio, the blind trust also has investments in Chinese companies, presumably some of which have human rights problems. Because pretty much all Chinese companies have human rights problems.
Now, like Romney, Obama has about as much control over which funds Avent selects as he does over what Avent employees have for lunch, meaning he’s pretty distant from his Cayman Islands situation and these Chinese companies that everyone’s freaking out about (and they could both probably get into a pissing match over whose pension fund is actually bigger), but let’s put it this way: maybe Obama should check his retirement portfolio a bit more often.
UPDATE: He really should check his portfolio. As it turns out, Obama has a much larger pension than Romney.
In case you missed it, see the video of Sir Gaffe’s-A-Lot that sparked this piece here.
Via Daily Mail:
The mother of an American diplomat killed during a terrorist raid on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi has hit out at Barack Obama for describing the attack as ‘not optimal’, saying: ‘My son is not very optimal – he is also very dead.’
During an interview shown on Comedy Central, Obama responded to a question about his administration’s confused communication after the assault by saying: ‘If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal.’
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline today, Pat Smith, whose son Sean died in the raid, said: ‘It was a disrespectful thing to say and I don’t think it’s right.
‘How can you say somebody being killed is not very optimal? I don’t think the President has the right idea of the English language.’
Which one is the pessimist here? And which one is the optimist?
MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell seemed to think he was trying out for a part in Martin Scorsese’s Boston-based crime flick “The Departed” during his show on Thursday night.
Putting on his best tough guy act, O’Donnell, with a heavier Boston-Irish accent than he usually sports, called out GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s eldest son Tagg Romney for joking in a radio interview that he felt like he wanted to “take a swing” at President Obama after he called his dad a liar in the second presidential debate on Tuesday.
Just for reference, when asked how he felt when Obama called his dad a liar, Tagg said he wanted to “jump” out of his seat and “rush down to the stage and take a swing at him. But you know you can’t do that because, well, first because there’s a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because this is the nature of the process.”
“OK Taggart. Let’s have a little talk, just you and me. You–” O’Donnell began.
He continued: “When I hear you talk about taking a swing and taking punches, why do I get the feeling you have never actually taken a punch, or thrown a punch. I didn’t have that luxury in the part of Boston I grew up in. But in your rich, suburban, Boston life, with your father filling a $100 million trust fund for you. I don’t know, I just get the feeling things were kind of different for you.”
Taking the high road, O’Donnell then made fun of Tagg Romney for having the name “Taggart,” saying he has the right to be “pissed off” for his entire life because of his name.
But then things got awkward. O’Donnell got up out of his chair, called Romney a “liar” and seemingly challenged Tagg Romney to an actual fist fight.
Watch the bizarre clip via msDNC here:
“You’re mad at President Obama for calling your father a liar?” O’Donnell asked rhetorically, a very heavy Irish-Boston accent suddenly present in his voice. “Let’s get something straight. He didn’t call your father a liar. I did. I’ve been saying all year that your father is a liar. I’ve repeatedly said that your father lies and is trying to lie his way into the White House.”
“So, you want to take a swing at someone for calling your old man a liar? Take a swing at me. Come on. Come on,” O’Donnell challenged. “And don’t worry. There won’t be any Secret Service involved. Just us. And I’ll make it easy for you. I’ll come to you. Anytime, anywhere. Go ahead, Taggart. Take your best shot.”
There’s a scene I love in the movie Batman Returns from the early 90s where Bruce Wayne and his butler Alfred completely derail The Penguin’s mayoral campaign in Gotham by sitting at their computers and making all Hell break loose. I couldn’t find it exactly as I remember it on YouTube (because the version above is actually of someone doing a Rick Roll) but it’s close enough. In the actual film, Bruce plays a mashup of all the lies Penguin’s told so that voters know — at last — who this man really is. Soon thereafter, the bird’s pelted with tomatoes and rotten cabbages (which people just happen to bring to a political speech).
I want to talk personally to you for a moment so that you understand something I think is pretty obvious: YOU are the key to winning this election and defeating not just Barack Obama, but the entire political Left. We are on the precipice of handing these Marxists and lunatics the most crushing defeat imaginable…to the extent that the talking heads on MSNBC really will need to be on suicide watch on November 6th.
As I write this, Democrats are moving the firewalls back into uncharted territory. The Obama campaign has already abandoned North Carolina…and Virginia and Florida are next. Mitt Romney is going to win all three of these states. Surprisingly, as of today, Obama’s also given up completely on Colorado too. I think the Frank Luntz focus groups in Las Vegas after the second debate are a good indication that Nevada is lost to Obama as well. The political maps are still giving New Mexico to Democrats but I have a hard time buying that…I think Governor Susana Martinez will deliver her state to Romney in the end.
My own home state of Ohio is not a tossup. I’ve written before that the thing you need to know about Ohio is that is has correctly voted with the winner of the presidential race in every election since 1960. Ohioans vote with the zeitgeist…and that energy is all going towards Mitt Romney. Ohio, the heart of it all, the Buckeye State, will be in Romney’s column just under three weeks from now.
That means Democrats’ new firewall of defense against a complete and total blowout are pushed back to Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. If what I’m hearing is true from black voters (about how blacks are not enthused this year and are in fact angry about the big push Democrats made on abortion and gay marriage…because the Left thought blacks would happily eat whatever slop sandwich was served to them and like it since there was a black candidate running in this race) then Democrats could very well be in danger of not just losing Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin but states even deeper behind the firewall. Could Barack Obama really lose New Jersey, Oregon, or…brace yourselves…Illinois?
Remember how stunning it was to see John McCain lose Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Iowa, etc. just four years ago? If the pendulum has indeed swung in a corrective action to remedy all the ills of the last four years then it’s indeed possible that Democrats will suffer stunning losses on an even bigger scale here in 2012.
This is where you come in.
I have a request for Whoopi Goldberg. I wish that she would go back to using her birth name Caryn Johnson, at least the Johnson part. Because of her adopted last name, some people may think she may be Jewish. To be perfectly honest there is enough Antisemitism in the world without people ascribing her statements to Jews.
Yesterday Ann Romney appeared on “The View” and Whoopi attempted a gotcha” moment with Mrs. Romney based on what she thought was commanded by the Mormon Religion. Goldberg tried to score a political point by that Mitt Romney should be unqualified to be Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces because his religion forbade him to serve in the military. After all it would be a conflict if she and her husband had to comfort people coming home in body bags.
Rather than smack her in the face and reminding her that the last two Democratic Party presidents did not serve in the military, Romney nicely explained that Mormons have no restriction against serving in the armed forces of the nations in which they live. And her husband served a mission for the Church in his early twenties, which was during the Vietnam War.
More including the video HERE.