Painkillers Kill More Than Heroin And Cocaine Combined

Prescription opioid painkillers are responsible for more fatal overdoses in the U.S. than heroin and cocaine combined, according to a new study out of Brandeis University.

via Business Insider.

I’m fascinated by statistics about how we die.  In Chicago gun crimes get all the media attention however heroin, and now I guess narcotic overdoses actually kill more.  In any given year it is likely that more die in automobile accidents as well; the media doesn’t really cover those either.  This is all media bias against guns.

Where is the 60 mins story on prescription narcotics?  Where are the interviews with the parents of the dead teenager, crying, screaming into the camera?  Why is Mayor Bloomberg silent on this?  Why isn’t there a call for more regulation of these drugs?  Isn’t there a single politician who will stand up and say that it’s all for the children?

Mayor Booker Gives Rahm & McCarthy an Idea

This will be “policy” in Chicago within the next 12 months.

Controversial Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker wants to make an offer to local drug dealers that they can’t refuse.

Cory Booker and former New York Gov. David Paterson spoke Tuesday morning about recidivism and racism at a panel hosted by Stroock law firm.

One of Booker’s most shocking policies is dubbed a “call in,” something he borrowed from High Point, N.C. During a call in, police and other government officials meet with known drug dealers and try to convince them to choose another path.

“What we’ve decided to do in Newark is bring them all in and sit down with them and not have a ‘you’re going to get arrested’ conversation but ‘hey, this is the pros and cons,'” Booker said.

When the suspects come to the meeting, law enforcement has already collected evidence against them, including pictures of them dealing drugs.

“And we basically said to them, ‘you can work with us, we have people here with housing, jobs, everything possible,” Booker said. “Or you can go out and continue doing [crimes], but if there’s one shooting in this area again […] we will come in and find every reason that’s legally allowable to arrest everybody you know.'”

via Business Insider.

Now mind you, I’m not saying that it’s going to be a miserable failure… I’m just saying that Rahm and McCarthy are going to bring this forward as a new and creative idea all their own after the current policy is a demonstrated failure.

Allen West Samples a U.N. Speech

Florida Congressman Allen West had harsh criticism for Barack Obama after the President’s speech at the United Nations today.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, the Tea Party favorite accused Obama of continuing to “offer up apologies instead of defending our hard earned First Amendment right to freedom of speech,” and slammed the President for not referring to the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as a terrorist attack.

Then West offers what his own statement to the United Nations “would have been:”

“The future does not belong to those who attack our Embassies and Consulates and kill our Ambassadors. The Angel of Death in the form of an American Bald Eagle will visit you and wreak havoc and destruction upon your existence.”

via Business Insider.

Yep, that sounds about right.

Embarassing Americans — And These People Vote

I received this via email this morning.  I thought it was timely because just yesterday Howard Stern played audio of his producers in Harlem interviewing Obama supporters.

There is something very very wrong with the educational system in this country whereas so many can be so ignorant of the most basic facts.  There is no way that these people can understand anything about finance, economics, job creation, tax theory, or any other subject that would make them an informed intelligent voter.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJuNgBkloFE?rel=0]

These people do not possess the requisite base of knowledge and analytical skills necessary to determine the implications of their vote.  They ought go into the voting booth and flip a coin.

This is the result of 60 years of modern liberalism governing our schools.  Modern liberalism has created legions of undereducated men and women who can barely take care of themselves.  We’ve told them that they’re “special” and deserving when they are not even average or in fact normal.  They’re unique only in their ability to articulate idiocy and not be even slightly embarrassed.

They are the poster children proving that ignorance is bliss.

This is what the modern unionized public school system has given us.

Two Stabbed Outside Near North Bars

Two men were stabbed, another badly beaten and a fourth arrested early Sunday morning after a fight on Division Street spilled over onto State Street, according to police.

An officer sustained non-life-threatening injuries that didn’t require hospitalization while trying to make the arrest on a 24-year-old man, Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli said.

via Chicago Tribune.

Four people injured by one crazed lunatic with a knife.  When is this town going to get tough on crime and demand common sense knife laws?

Hey Rahm!!  On No one’s talking about banning knives.  But shouldn’t we have a knife registry?  What we need is a CKOC (Chicago Knife Owners Card) to make sure that only people who’d paid their fee are able to buy and carry knives.  We clearly need more common sense knife laws in order to prevent another tragedy like this one.

BTW — Kudos to the police for not just shooting this idiot and sending his to his eternal rest.  CPD shows incredible restraint under tough circumstances.

Legislative Change Means $670 million More for Teachers’ Pensions

The state will have to come up with another $670 million for the teacher pension system in the next budget after a retirement fund panel crunched the numbers and adjusted its assumptions.

The Teachers’ Retirement System lowered what it expects from investments from 8.5 percent to 8 percent. The pension fund’s leadership also increased a variety of other assumptions, including how long it expects retired teachers to live. The fund covers teachers outside Chicago.  …

The state is paying $2.7 billion into the fund in its current budget. Without any adjustments, the state would have owed about $2.89 billion in the new budget year that begins next July 1.But the changes approved Friday increased that price tag to $3.37 billion. All told, the state will have to pay $670 million more than this year.

via Chicago Tribune.

Consider, we’re going to pay $3.3 billion into the teachers pensions and another $3 billion on debt service.  That’s $6 billion next year that could have gone to pay for services for the poor and the elderly but instead are going to the politically connected and union members (… I realize that’s redundant.)

But this may be the best line of all:

Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan, both Chicago Democrats, recently suggested that changes to the pension system would have to get done in January at the earliest. That’s a post-election period when more lame ducks are freer to take politically risky votes, and the bar to pass legislation with an immediate effective date drops from three-fifths to a simple majority.

Allow me to translate:  Fixing the pensions is going to be very unpopular and thankfully our experience is that voters have short memories.  We also don’t care how much more money this costs the state (after all, all the bond holders and the teachers unions are our buddies.) We’re also not sure that we can get all the Democrats to go along.  So we to avoid any embarrassment — and to make sure the unions make the campaign donations they promised before the election — we’re going to put this off until next year.

The Machine is like a casino… the house never loses.

Streetwise Launches Neighbor Carts

Rick Jones’ booming voice makes him hard to miss on the corner of Broadway and Wilson Avenue, where he shouts “fresh fruit” to passers-by rushing to and from the nearby Red Line station.

Neatly displayed apples, bananas, plums and strawberries line the stainless steel cart that sits behind him. Jones, a struggling veteran, was recruited by StreetWise — the ubiquitous street magazine sold by the needy — to help operate the cart as part of its latest program for at-risk Chicagoans.  …

Jones is one of seven trainees selected for Neighbor Carts, a new program designed to help unemployed, underemployed and other at-risk Chicagoans earn a paycheck while learning entrepreneurial business skills. StreetWise and Neighbor Capital, nonprofit organizations that focus on Chicago’s homeless and at-risk population, launched the program this summer.

via Chicago Tribune.

I’ve always liked Streetwise as an idea and as a company.  My understanding is that they are a little top-heavy; that too much money is spend on admin and offices, etc.  But they do good work.

Kudos to Mr. Jones and the Streetwise team.  Best of luck on your new endeavor.

No Street Money in Chicago; Could Obama Lose Illinois? Cook County?

A lot of anger in the rank and file because Barack Obama is not handing out the typical “street money” to hire thugs to work the precincts and intimidate black voters into showing up at the polls. Obama’s balking at the $2 million that would cost because the campaign can’t afford to spend it.

This could cost him enough votes in Cook County for Romney to win it…and thus the state.

Sound incredible? It is. That’s true. But a lack of street money makes this possible if not probable.

via Kevin DuJan @ Hillbuzz.

This is not exactly a shakedown but it is another common occurrence on the Chicago’s West Side (and I understand the South too.)  I’ve seen it first hand in a local race… it’s bizarre.

Kevin DuJan has excellent sources.  If he says this appears to be a problem then it’s going to be a problem.

Quick Pension Analysis

Ok, so I was getting asked about this the other day both in person and in the comments about why the pensions are really in such bad shape and what the latest GASB positions mean to the funds.  GASB first.

GASB Changes
I did some poking around and the recent GASB changes really mean nothing.

After six years of research and about 400 pages of text, GASB’s statements 67 and 68 do little to provide enough meaningful information about the potential retirement costs faced by the taxpayers. The statements will force the worst of the worse, such as Illinois, to recognize a much larger liability.

That’s like throwing the zombified Walking Dead under the bus to give the appearance of taking a serious step in providing transparency. Zombies are already dead. You can throw them under a bulldozer; it doesn’t make them more dead.  …

The new standards still allow most pension funds to choose their discount rates when determining their pension liabilities. In other words, the sworn and civilian plans of the City of Los Angeles can wantonly throw caution to the wind and assume a 7.75% earnings assumption going forward, avoiding any consideration of risk.

via City Watch LA.

You can read the policy papers.  It’s pages and pages of nonsense summarized nicely with the zombie analogy above.

But what the lastest GASB changes point out to us is the danger regarding the assumed internal rate of return.

Interest Rate Issue
For giggles I found the 2011 annual report of the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund.  It’s 116 pages detailing a underfunded, mismanagement, no financial understanding pension time-bomb with some lipstick.

From page 13:

As of June 30, 2011, investments at fair value plus cash totaled $10,456,912,118. This reflects a 16.8% increase from the $8,949,590,783 value of June 30, 2010. The Fund’s investment performance rate of return for the year ended June 30, 2011, was 24.8%, exceeding the projected return of 8% and reflecting a 82.3% increase from the 13.6% performance rate of return as of June 30, 2010. The ten-year rate of return posted by the Fund for the period ended June 30, 2011, was 5.7%, and fell short of the actuarial assumption of 8%.

That’s a lot of information.  I draw your attention to the incredible swings in the rate of return of the fund over the years.  24.8% one year, 13.6% another, however the 10-year average is a mere 5.7%.   On page 25 we learn that the 5-year average is only 4.7%.  Yikes!!  But the fund assumes that over the long term it will average 8%.

But what does that mean? So what?

Well, the fund currently has net assets of $10.344 billion.  When invested at the given rate of returns at the end of 5 years we have:

Year Value @ 4.7% Value @ 5.7% Value @ 8%
0 $10,344,100,000.00 $10,344,100,000.00 $10,344,100,000.00
1 $10,830,272,700.00 $10,933,713,700.00 $11,171,628,000.00
2 $11,339,295,516.90 $11,556,935,380.90 $12,065,358,240.00
3 $11,872,242,406.19 $12,215,680,697.61 $13,030,586,899.20
4 $12,430,237,799.29 $12,911,974,497.38 $14,073,033,851.14
5 $13,014,458,975.85 $13,647,957,043.73 $15,198,876,559.23

If the next 5 years are like the past 5 years the fund will earn 4.7% on its assets.  So in 5 years it will have $13.014 billion.

In the next 5 years are like the past 10 years the fund will earn 5.7% on its assets.  So in 5 years it will have $13.646 billion.

However the plan assumes that over the next 5 years it will follow the 8% column and have $15.1 billion.  History is against them.

If the fund earns 5.7% over the next 5 years it will be $1.55 billion short of projections.  That’s 10% less money available.

If the fund earns 4.7% over the next 5 years it will be $2.18 billion short of projections.  That’s 14% less money available.

If all the assumptions go on for 10 years:

Year Value @ 4.7% Value @ 5.7% Value @ 8%
10 $16,374,178,752.54 $18,007,050,537.73 $22,332,136,064.29

Earning 5.7% the fund is $4.33 billion short or 19.3%.

Earning 4.7% the fund is $5.95 billion short or 26.6%.

So if the next 10 years are anything like the past 10 years from an investment standpoint we can expect the all the state pension funds to have about 20% less money than they’re projecting.  That could easily be another $40-50 billion that someone’s going to come looking for.

– – –

Now in all fairness, a historic average suggest that a return rate of 8% could be reasonable.  i.e. These funds may be able to earn an 8% return in the next 5 years.  Why?

Interest Rates & Inflation.  In the last 5 – 10 years there has been very little inflation and interest rates have been low.  That’s generally accepted to be a good thing.  However it messes with the long-term analysis as to what something will be worth in the future.

Given the amount of debt carried by the Feds, and the quantitative easing (a/k/a money printing) that been happening, it’s safe to say that very soon interest rates are going to start going up… fast and dramatically.

When interest rates go up, the rate of return on these pension funds should go up as well.  If they get close to the 8%, then we’ll only have to worry about the current short fall of billions and billions and billions.

Any questions?