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Mendocino County Today: February 3, 2012

WITH AT LEAST another week of summer-like weather predicted for this very dry Northcoast winter, the Sonoma County Water Agency has formally declared the Russian River as “dry.” Prior to Wednesday the overdrawn and perennially embattled river’s winter flow had been considered “normal.” Declaring it “dry” means more water will be stored in Lake Mendocino to ensure sufficient water for next Fall’s salmon run.

QUOTE of the day from economist (and former Reagan Administration Assistant Treasurer) Paul Craig Roberts: “The US economy cannot recover, because the US economy depends on consumer expenditures for more than 70% of its activity. The offshoring of middle class jobs has stopped the rise in middle class income and caused a drop in consumer spending power. The Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan compensated for the absence of US consumer income growth with a policy of easy credit and a policy of driving up home prices with low interest rates. This policy allowed people to refinance their homes and to spend the inflated equity in their homes that Greenspan’s policy created. In other words, an increase in consumer indebtedness and dissavings drove the economy in the place of the missing growth in consumer incomes. Today, consumers are too indebted to borrow, and banks are too insolvent to lend. Therefore, there is no possibility of further debt expansion as a substitute for real income growth. An offshored economy is a dead and exhausted economy. The consequences of a dead economy when the government is wasting trillions of dollars in wars of naked aggression and in bailouts of fraudulent financial institutions is a government budget that can only be financed by printing money. The consequence of printing money when jobs have been moved offshore is an inflationary depression. This catastrophe could begin to unfold this year or in 2013. If Europe’s problems worsen, flight into dollars could delay sharp rises in US inflation until 2014.

VETERANS should beware of Mitt Romney for lots of reasons, especially this one: Romney has announced his phony baloney 11-11-11 plan. It’s not a goofy flat tax plan like Herman Cain's, it’s worse. 11-11-11 was the date Romney proposed doing away with VA Medical and replacing it with vouchers for private insurance. Only Veterans wealthy enough to meet the co-pay required to get private insurance would get healthcare under the Romney Plan. Some 500,000 Iraq/Afghanistan Vets have gotten VA care out of 2.5 million who have been deployed. Mitt’s plan is consistent with the Republican Party line that the sick should pay for their own care and only then at huge profit for other Republicans. Mitt did his bit during the Vietnam War via Mormon missionary work in the Provence wine region of France. In the 2008 Iowa primary season he told a Vet who challenged his support for the Iraq war that while nobody in his family has ever served, “my [five] sons are doing their patriotic duty by working on my campaign.”

TOM BIRDSELL is a member of the Mendocino Coast Hospital District Board of Directors. Last week he warned that the County’s only public hospital is facing financial hard times. Hospital CEO, the capable Raymond Hino, the man who restored Coast to fiscal health, said the new crisis has been brought on by “….. expenses rising at a faster pace than revenues, rising debt load, the economy and reduced utilization. For the past two years, we have been able to mask poor operating results with non-operating revenue; we can no longer do that. The affect of non-action at this time will be to jeopardize the future of MCDH. We cannot allow that to happen.” A number of cost-savings steps are being considered.

FOUR MEMBERS of the California Public Utilities Commission have approved a proposal that "allows" PG&E to charge residential customers an initial fee of $75, plus $10 each month, to opt out of the company's controversial $2.2 billion SmartMeter program. CPUC President Michael Peevey, who drafted this little piece of extortion and functions merely as an extension of the power monopoly he allegedly supervises in his public office, described the shakedown this way: “We want to empower customers, and we think this a major step to do so.” Some empowerment. Some 150,000 households led manyy people who consider the Smartmeters a health hazard or an violation of their privacy, are expected to pay up to get out. PG&E will take in $11 million up front plus $18 million a year from the people who opt out. The meters save PG&E many millions of dollars they otherwise paid human meter readers.

ACCORDING to a little birdee

The Supe who’s always so wordy

Will soon leave Mendo behind

Then Mendo will find

That they’re much better off with Dan Gjerde

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