James Troutman: ‘Just passing this along FYI, in case you didn’t see it.’

☞ Not to say he will necessarily be wrong; but this analyst seems to know (and care) nothing about the student loan business generally or FMD’s special position in it specifically – only about the shape of its stock chart. Technical analysis, as this is called, has its adherents. But to me, it’s only a half step up from astrology (though, granted, even half a step is something).


Steve MacArthur:Here is a link about dredging – ‘$342 million set aside for newest Soo Lock in House Bill.’ ‘

WASHINGTON – The House overwhelmingly passed a $20 billion water projects bill Wednesday night despite a promised veto by President Bush, who complains the bill is laden with costly pet projects and shifts new costs onto the government.

Within the wide-ranging bill, $342 million was earmarked for the building of a new super lock in the Sault. The projected Soo Lock would be at least 110 feet wide and 1,200 feet long and replace the two northern locks. The mega lock would improve access for large freighters.

Shippers say that if the existing Poe Lock had to close for any reason, it would stop most Great Lakes shipping trade, as only the Poe Lock can handle the 1,000 feet-long freighters.

Funding from the bill also targets the much needed dredging throughout the Great Lakes. The Army Corps of Engineers would get funds to step up navigational dredging at many key points. Low water levels has resulted in Great Lakes freighters being forced to carry lighter loads, which reduces the money they make for moving freight. Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers Association, said that dredging is ‘critically important’ to the freighter industry and that dredging of the lakes has been ‘underfunded for decades.’

Shepherded by Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the bill was seven years in the making and finally passed the House on a 381-40 vote after it was agreed upon by House-Senate negotiators. He said he expected Congress would quickly override any veto by the president.

‘There is urgent, pent-up demand to address the nation’s water resources needs,’ Oberstar said. ‘Divide the cost by the number of years that have passed since we last passed this critical legislation, and the cost is understandable.’

Earlier Wednesday, administration officials said Bush will veto the bill if it isn’t pared down. ‘Indeed, it seems a $14 billion Senate bill went into a conference with the House’s $15 billion bill and somehow a bill emerged costing approximately $20 billion,’ complained White House budget director Rob Portman and Assistant Army Secretary John Paul Woodley Jr.

This year’s bill includes some $3.5 billion for Katrina-damaged Louisiana, plus more than $2 billion for projects in California and $2 billion for Florida, mostly for restoring the Everglades. Another $1.95 billion is included for seven new locks on the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers and $1.7 billion for repairing the region’s ecology.

In May, the Senate approved its version on a 91-4 vote. The House passed a similar bill in April on a 394-25 vote. Even if a final bill becomes law, the money must be appropriated later.

☞ Urgent, pent-up demand can’t hurt.


LJ Kutten: ‘My insurance company is always denying my claims. Numbers 1-3, below, always fix that:

  1. Read your policy carefully and follow its exact terms.
  2. Appeal the decision internally. Normally this works.
  3. If #2 fails, file a complaint with your state’s insurance commissioner.


  1. Buy a copy of Make Them Pay by Rhonda Orin.
  2. Next time, have the hospital/doctor (not Charles’s assistant) call for the approval. There is always a way around the waiting time. You just need to make the case in appropriate medical terminology.’

Gray Chang: ‘Excruciating, intractable back pain is sometimes triggered by emotional conditions. Did anything stressful happen to Charles when the back pain started, such as the death of a parent, or problems at work? Before he agrees to surgery, please have him take a look at the book, Healing Back Pain by John Sarno, MD. Just go to and see what the reviewers have to say about the book. A member of my family was helped tremendously by it.’

☞ Life with me can be a little stressful. I’ll get him the book.

Gary Diehl: ‘Clearly Charles needs to print out and carry a SiCKO card.’ ‘


Joel Margolis: ‘Too bad you guys don’t live in Canada. The average for MRI’s in Canada is over 10 weeks (not a measly three days). Of course, if you lived in Canada you could always find a physician in the US who could provide an MRI more quickly.’

Thor: ‘Michael Moore suggests we be more like Canada. A filmmaker I know made a bunch of shorts that I think you should watch – here. The testimonies in this and his other films are astonishing. Healthcare in the U.S. may be messy but socialized/single-payer systems are a lot messier.’

☞ If Canada decided to spend anywhere close to the same proportion of its GDP on health care that we do – and if it decided to allow the rich to pay to fly “first class’ on elective stuff(at a nice high rate that helped subsidize everyone in the back of the plane) – it would not take 10 weeks to get an MRI.

I think this is a pretty crucial point. Sure, Canada’s not perfect. But they spend half what we do. Imagine if they were rich enough to spend as much as we do. That could go a long way, no?


Prasanth Manthena: ‘I don’t know if you have the time or inclination to comment on Jeremy Grantham’s latest newsletter (available with free registration).  His take on a global asset bubble is interesting.  I think it came out before the recent correction; but considering that the ‘correction’ only takes us back to levels seen back in May, I think his very bearish outlook remains pertinent.  I’ve followed your advice and Less Antman’s ever since I got a real salary (I’ve made a lot of money going 50/50 domestic/international while dollar cost averaging along the way), but given the fact that I don’t see anything out there that really can be considered a ‘value’ buy – and the dependence of this economy on consumers who now have a net NEGATIVE savings rate – I’ve slowly moved what was a nearly 100% equity asset allocation into about a 35% split btw muni’s/treasuries/international bonds.  I can’t fully describe the ludicrousness of a housing market that forms the backbone of this consumer economy: I make a ridiculous amount of money and I barely could afford a starter home here in LA if I were dumb enough to buy right now.”

☞ Jeremy Grantham is as smart as they come.  Hope this doesn’t ruin your weekend.


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