-Hate to call ex-con Paris Hilton a liar, but when she told Larry King that she had never taken drugs, it seems that the heiress somehow forgot about the marijuana, hashish, mushrooms, and Quaaludes. Hilton's, um, familiarity with illegal substances was memorialized on home videos she shot over the past several years in various cities.
USA Liability $516,348 per U.S. household USA Today Jun 17, 2007
Rules 'hiding' trillions in debt Liability $516,348 per U.S. household
By Dennis Cauchon USA TODAY
The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year — far more than the official $248 billion deficit — when corporate-style accounting standards are used, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
The loss reflects a continued deterioration in the finances of Social Security and government retirement programs for civil servants and military personnel. The loss — equal to $11,434 per household — is more than Americans paid in income taxes in 2006.
"We're on an unsustainable path and doing a great disservice to future generations," says Chris Chocola, a former Republican member of Congress from Indiana and corporate chief executive who is pushing for more accurate federal accounting.
Modern accounting requires that corporations, state governments and local governments count expenses immediately when a transaction occurs, even if the payment will be made later.
The federal government does not follow the rule, so promises for Social Security and Medicare don't show up when the government reports its financial condition.
Bottom line: Taxpayers are now on the hook for a record $59.1 trillion in liabilities, a 2.3% increase from 2006. That amount is equal to $516,348 for every U.S. household. By comparison, U.S. households owe an average of $112,043 for mortgages, car loans, credit cards and all other debt combined.
Unfunded promises made for Medicare, Social Security and federal retirement programs account for 85% of taxpayer liabilities. State and local government retirement plans account for much of the rest.
This hidden debt is the amount taxpayers would have to pay immediately to cover government's financial obligations. Like a mortgage, it will cost more to repay the debt over time. Every U.S. household would have to pay about $31,000 a year to do so in 75 years.
The Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Board, which sets federal accounting standards, is considering requiring the government to adopt accounting rules similar to those for corporations. The change would move Social Security and Medicare onto the government's income statement and balance sheet, instead of keeping them separate.
The White House and the Congressional Budget Office oppose the change, arguing that the programs are not true liabilities because government can cancel or cut them.
Chad Stone, chief economist at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says it can be misleading to focus on the government's unfunded liabilities because Medicare's financial problems overwhelm the analysis.
"There is a shortfall in Medicare and Medicaid that is potentially explosive, but that is related to overall trends in health care spending," he says.
The cost per U.S. household of unfunded promises made by federal, state and local government:
Medicare $255,280 Social Security $144,251 Federal debt $43,380 Military benefits $25,863 State and local debt $17,537 Federal civil- servant benefits $14,374 State and local retiree benefits $13,114 Other federal obligations $2,548 Total $516,348
Here's a weird study that sometimes gets a mention in ethical discussions about psychology, and it's not hard to see why. Middlemist, Knowles & Matter (1976) designed an experiment to test how the speed and flow of men's urination in a public lavatory was affected by invasions of personal space.
Piss pilot To gather some preliminary data on men's toilet habits, a pilot study stationed an observer in a public toilet at a US university. He was instructed to look like he was grooming himself in the mirror, but was actually keeping a record of which urinals men stood at and their patterns of urination.
Timing them on his wristwatch, our intrepid toilet researcher measured the onset delay in micturation along with persistence of flow. If you're wondering how our correspondent measured these, it was by sound - which must have been no mean feat when there was multiple micturation in progress.
Sure enough the pilot study revealed men prefer not to stand next to each other in the urinals, and the closer other men are to each other, the longer it takes for them to begin urinating, and the shorter the persistence of their stream.