Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘economy’

The Economy WILL Crash. It’s only a matter of “WHEN?”

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Economics has long been called the “dismal science.”¹

Perhaps it’s because they either a.) Tell the truth, or b.) Warn about bad things to come. Either way, it’s hardly a French tickler, and more like a Marquis de Sade.

But, some folks don’t enjoy hearing the truth, or as the actor Jack Nicholson’s character Guantanamo Base Commander Colonel Nathan Jessup raged upon the witness stand in the 1992 motion picture “A Few Good Men,” that “You can’t handle the truth!”

Of course, we’re familiar with how that movie turned out.

Free economies are based upon consumer spending. Period. Full stop.

If consumers don’t have money, they don’t spend. That’s easy enough to understand.

And, if anything, the coronoavirus pandemic has shown up how poorly prepared this president’s administration has been, and continues to be.

Again, those aren’t “nice words” to hear or read, but they are the unvarnished truth.

To say that “the economy is improving” is a mischaracterization of enormous proportion, so much so, and to the extent that, it’s either whistling past the graveyard, or Whistler’s Mother – both of whom are dead.

The economy was “doing well” according to some estimates. Those estimates included the DJIA, the stock indices of various firms and select industries, and some hedge funds. The “essential” worker bees were just hanging on by a thread in their retail, meat processing, and low-paid food service industry jobs. And once they got sick, they were fired, and… BAMMO! The shit hit the high-speed fan.

Suddenly, there were no more “worker bees” and the economic house of cards began to collapse with each puff of wind from COVID-19 patients’ coughs.

Fortunately, Congress (as in the House of Representatives) had the wisdom and foresight to actually bail out THE PEOPLE this time, and to give a much smaller hand-out to industry. The familiar cry “Where’s MY bailout!?!” was the primary sticking point with the previous administration in the process of recovery from “the Great Recession” when Big Business and industry got practically everything their hearts desired, but the people got nothing. Literally, nothing. Bupkis. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Not even a peck on the cheek after they were screwed.

This time, The People who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 were given an extra $600 per week of Unemployment Compensation, which was set to expire July 31. Ever seeking cheap labor to fill their stores, factories and farms, the Republicans decried the matter, but agreed to go along with the plan, hoping that the administration would  have a more cohesively unified plan to stop the assault of COVID-19 upon America’s lives, young and old, alike.

But as it became increasingly clear that nothing of the sort was going to happen, and that an extension of such benefits would likely become necessary because either businesses went belly-up, or couldn’t guarantee their employees’ safety on the job (as protection against COVID-19), the employees, many of whom were already at risk of serious injury from such infection, declined to return to work, and continued to draw their extra $600/week Unemployment Compensation.

But hey! A bright spot!

Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, and other industry monoliths were doing A-okay, and were even increasing profits! So yah… it was all sweetness and pleasantries once again for the Billionaire Class.

But The People.

Those pesky people.

Those essential sacrificial lambs of industry… what to do with them? Those who could – and still had jobs – worked from their residences. Those who, for whatever reason Read the rest of this entry »

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To Reboot the Economy, $pend on Economic Infrastructure!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, June 7, 2020

This is nothing new, per se.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has been saying this for quite some time, as well, which is that throughout America – coast-to-coast – we need to repair, enhance, and expand American economic infrastructure.

And, I’ve been saying that what we TRULY need to reinvigorate the economy since the onset of economic woes via the novel coronavirus, aka COVID-19, began to take its toll on our nation’s economy, is a wholesale reinvestment – top to bottom – in a repair, and expansion of our nation’s economic infrastructure.

While the “bailouts” for the individual citizens was good, and some of the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses was also good, we STILL need to do MUCH, MUCH MORE!

And there’s something else which – of necessity – must be done. And that is, to CHANGE the Income Tax structure for ALL Americans, to expand and increase the Personal and Corporate Income Tax brackets (which since about 1980 has been compressed and reduced, so that now, the net effect is a flat tax), and to increase the rates upon the rich, wealthy, and well-to-do, and to lower, or eliminate them upon the impoverished, and disabled. And that includes ELIMINATING the Income Taxes Reagan imposed upon Social Security, and the “Paris Hilton Tax Cuts.”

Such a measure WILL “pay for itself” through enhanced, and expanded economic capability and capacity, and will prepare America for the next 50 or more years.

Oh!

And one more thing.

In 2016, the ASCE published a document titled “Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future,” which stated in part the following:

“The cost of deteriorating infrastructure takes a toll on families’ disposable household income and impacts the quality and quantity of jobs in the U.S. economy. With deteriorating infrastructure, higher business costs will be incurred in terms of charges for services and efficiency, which will lead to higher costs incurred by households for goods and services due to the rising prices passed on by businesses.

“As a consequence, U.S. businesses will be more inefficient. As costs rise, business productivity falls, causing GDP to drop, cutting employment, and ultimately reducing personal income.

“From 2016 to 2025, each household will lose $3,400 each year in disposable income due to infrastructure deficiencies; and if not addressed, the loss will grow to an average of $5,100 annually from 2026 to 2040, resulting in cumulative losses up to almost $34,000 per household from 2016 to 2025 and almost $111,000 from 2016 to 2040 (all dollars in 2015 value).

“Over time, these impacts will also affect businesses’ ability to provide well-paying jobs, further reducing incomes. If this investment gap is not addressed throughout the nation’s infrastructure sectors by 2025, the economy is expected to lose almost $4 trillion in GDP, resulting in a loss of 2.5 million jobs in 2025.

“Moreover, workers who are employed will earn lower wages, and in the long term, many higher paying jobs in technology and other leading sectors will be replaced by jobs that fulfill needs brought on by the inefficiencies of deteriorating infrastructure.

“Closing each infrastructure investment gap is possible, and the economic consequences caused by these gaps are avoidable with investment.”

You can read that, and other entries associated with economic infrastructure, on this site by searching for the term “economic infrastructure.”

A final, parting thought:

We aren’t out of the woods yet… not by a long shot. Such economic prognostication is shared by many within, and without various universities, educational institutions, economic think-tanks, governmental, and non-governmental agencies throughout this, and other nations. And economic infrastructure spending would be like putting the country on a defibrillator, and giving it steroids, all at the same time.

The Chinese have.


Rebuild the Stalled Economy With Infrastructure Investment

By Scott Paul
Scott Paul is president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

There are two discussion topics that federal policymakers should be having right now: relief and recovery. Relief, for the estimated 40 million people this pandemic has put out of work as well as the millions of others impacted by the steps taken to slow its spread. Recovery, for the day when it’s safe to return to work but the demand for goods and services is still missing.

Some economists predict many jobs will simply disappear as industries use this moment to reorganize, compounding the economic crisis our nation faces.

But, as we all know, this isn’t the first time we’ve faced an economic crisis. In the 1932 presidential election, Franklin D. Roosevelt decisively beat President Hoover because of the latter’s inability to revive the economy in the early years of the Great Depression. Democrats eschewed Hoover’s volunteerism and leveraged the power of government to spur an economic revival, passing a landmark domestic preference bill that the lame duck president signed – the Buy American Act of 1933 – and then cleared the way as FDR expanded the federal response to the crisis.

The banking system was reorganized. Labor protections were established in exchange for regulating industrial production levels and price coordination. Farms were Read the rest of this entry »

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Which is more important – money, or life?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, May 25, 2020

One again, Republicans are demonstrating their lackadaisical reckless attitude toward human life, and thereby proving that they care little, if anything, about Americans of any stripe.

Whether young, old, infant, geriatric, sick, healthy, able, disabled, veteran, civilian, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, well-educated, poorly-educated, gay, straight, bi, gender non-conforming, or anything of all points in between – it makes no difference. Money is their god. The Almighty Dollar rules.

They and their feckless titular leader are forcing ALL Americans to bow before the altar of Mammon, sacrificing our wise elders, children, even the unborn, to the all-consuming selfish fires of commerce.

The radicalized members of the Party of Trump are your “Death Panels.” They are the very thing Republicans warned America which would happen if the PPACA were to become enacted — which is not even anything even remotely close to Single Payer/Medicare For All.

And yet, even though they’ve continually tried their damndest to kill the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), aka “ObamaCare,” and every vestige of it since the day it was enacted on March 23, 2010, they’ve still not managed to come up with any alternative whatsoever.

Nada.

Bupkis.

Not only have the GOP’s dire predictions not come true, nor have they even remotely happened, but they’re still showing America what they think is TRULY important – money, money, money… MONEY!

––//––

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/13/poll-coronavirus-reopen-trump-republicans-252726

Republican voters have undergone a significant shift on the coronavirus in a few short weeks.

A month ago, half of GOP voters said they were more worried about Read the rest of this entry »

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Report: U.S. to LOSE $4 TRILLION GDP, 2.5 MILLION Jobs in 5 Years

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, May 11, 2020

“Over time, these impacts will also affect businesses’ ability to provide well-paying jobs, further reducing incomes. If this investment gap is not addressed throughout the nation’s infrastructure sectors by 2025, the economy is expected to lose almost $4 trillion in GDP, resulting in a loss of 2.5 million jobs in 2025.

“Moreover, workers who are employed will earn lower wages, and in the long term, many higher paying jobs in technology and other leading sectors will be replaced by jobs that fulfill needs brought on by the inefficiencies of deteriorating infrastructure.”

There you have it!

Why focus upon repairing, rebuilding, replacing, and expanding America’s deteriorated economic infrastructure?

Because not only will YOU lose money and unemployment will increase, but American Gross Domestic Product will seriously decline, and that means reduced profitability for businesses of all types and all sizes – from Mom & Pop small and minority-owned businesses, to corporate giants, as well.

That finding is from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and their report “Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future,” which was published in May 2016, as the final update from four previous reports in the Failure to Act series published in 2011 and 2012. In those reports, the ASCE examined 10 infrastructure sectors critical to American economic prosperity.

Those reports were followed by a fifth, comprehensive final report entitled “Failure to Act: The Impact of Infrastructure Investment on America’s Economic Future,” which focused upon the total economic loss which would occur because of America’s failure to act in more than one sector.

The purpose of the report was to provide a total overall analysis of the economic implications of continuing to fail to invest in multiple infrastructure categories.

Even the Central Intelligence Agency sees America’s problems for what they are. It’s as plain as the nose on one’s face. And it’s NOT a partisan, Republican versus Democrat type of issue. It’s a matter of NATIONAL SECURITY.

Even America’s spy agency, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), sees the problem clearly, and has recognized not only it, but the increasing inequities of income distribution, as well.

“Long-term problems for the US include stagnation of wages for lower-income families, inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure…

“…the rise of low-wage producers such as China, has put additional downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on the return to capital. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income.”

Now that we’ve identified the problem, let’s consider a workable solution.

Nothing is free in this nation, nor anywhere else, for that matter. And EVERY government runs on taxes, and has done so at least since the time of the Roman empire. And face it… if the Romans built aqueducts and roads that have lasted for at least 2000 years, we can too – and should.

Simply put, income tax rates WILL Read the rest of this entry »

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Guess What’s a Matter of National Security?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, May 10, 2020

Even our spooks see it.
Why?
It’s a matter of National Security.
Period.
End of conversation.
“Long-term problems for the US include stagnation of wages for lower-income families, inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, energy shortages, and sizable current account and budget deficits.”  
 
“But the globalization of trade, and especially the rise of low-wage producers such as China, has put additional downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on the return to capital. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income.”
The ONLY question remaining is:

What are we Read the rest of this entry »

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Trump Tax Cuts Aided & Abetted Economic Collapse

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, April 20, 2020

The parallels are eerily similar. Republican POTUS, tax cuts, rising stock market, job losses… Great Depression.

Of course, there are other markers along the way, but the primary ones are self evident.

Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase wrote no less than twice that a recession was coming in the company’s April 6, 2020 letter to shareholders. “Recognizing the extraordinary extension of new credit, mentioned above, and knowing there will be a major recession [emphasis added] mean that we are exposing ourselves to billions of dollars of additional credit losses as we help both consumer and business customers through these difficult times.” p10
-and-
“Halting buybacks was simply a very prudent action – we don’t know exactly what the future will hold – but at a minimum, we assume that it will include a bad recession [emphasis added] combined with some kind of financial stress similar to the global financial crisis of 2008.” p15

Bluntly put, it wasn’t China that started this problem.

Just like in the Great Depression, and the “Great Recession,” it was the United States.

Jamie Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, JPMorgan Chase

And the entire world suffered.

Not only did Dimon unequivocally state that we will suffer “a major recession,” and reiterated it writing “the future… will include a bad recession,” but he also identifies problems that most Democrats (Bernie Sanders notably among them) have long identified, which Republicans refuse to even hear – critical problems in health, healthcare, education, (within the purview of domestic security), infrastructure, declining wages, increased poverty, failed immigration policies, governmental inefficiency at Federal and state levels, and more.

Dimon continued by writing,

“Of course, America has always had its flaws. The current pandemic is only one example of the bad planning and management that have hurt our country: Our inner city schools don’t graduate half of their students and don’t give our children an education that leads to a livelihood; our healthcare system is increasingly costly with many of our citizens lacking any access; and nutrition and personal health aren’t even being taught at many schools. Obesity has become a national scourge. We have a litigation and regulatory system that cripples small businesses with red tape and bureaucracy; ineffective infrastructure planning and investment; and huge waste and inefficiency at both the state and federal levels. We have failed to put proper immigration policies in place; our social safety nets are poorly designed; and the share of wages for the bottom 30% of Americans has effectively been going down. We need to acknowledge these problems and the damage they have done if we are ever going to fix them.

There should have been a pandemic playbook. Likewise, every problem I noted above should have detailed and nonpartisan solutions. As we have seen in past crises of this magnitude, there will come a time when Read the rest of this entry »

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“Radical reforms” are needed to stabilize economy.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, April 6, 2020

The Financial Times is no slouch organization – neither are they “left-leaning,” nor “liberal,” per se – at least not in the common, modern political sense.

They’re as “conservative” as they come.

And to read that “an irregular and precarious labour market,” combined with “monetary loosening by central banks [that] will help the asset-rich,” the loss of income by ” the young and active,” multiplied by

In short, nothing but “radical reforms” – defined as “reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades” – will save individual nations’ economies, and the global economy at large.

The “laissez faire” attitude toward business, economy, and finance must be replaced by governments taking “a more active role in the economy,” including making “labour markets less insecure.”

Investing in public economic infrastructure, i.e, considering “public services as investments,” reconsidering the notion of “redistribution” of wealth, in conjunction with eliminating “the privileges of the elderly and wealthy,” and implementing “basic income and wealth taxes” will no longer be “considered eccentric.”

In short, “you must offer a social contract that benefits everyone.”

Suddenly (it seems), Bernie’s ideas aren’t so “radical,” anymore.

Suddenly (it seems), Elizabeth Warren’s ideas aren’t “way out in left field.”

Suddenly (it seems), Andrew Yang’s “Freedom Dividend” isn’t “extremist.”

Suddenly (it seems), everything old is new again.

But, you know the saying,

“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

–– George Santayana (1863-1952), Spanish philosopher, writing in The Life of Reason: The Phases of Human Progress (1905-1906), “Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense”

The post-WWII Bretton Woods agreement, which pegged international currencies to the U.S. Dollar, which was itself based upon the “Gold Standard,” will again be in the fore of discussion, and was unilaterally abolished by then-POTUS Richard Nixon through a series of measures called the “Nixon Shock” which effectively destroyed the Agreement, which was created when the world’s nations assembled in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to establish a globally stabilizing economic system.

The Federal Reserve writes this about the Bretton Woods agreement:

“The international monetary system after World War II was dubbed the Bretton Woods system after the meeting of forty-four countries in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1944. The countries agreed to keep their currencies fixed (but adjustable in exceptional situations) to the dollar, and the dollar was fixed to gold. Since 1958, when the Bretton Woods system became operational, countries settled their international balances in dollars, and US dollars were convertible to gold at a fixed exchange rate of $35 an ounce. The United States had the responsibility of keeping the dollar price of gold fixed and had to adjust the supply of dollars to maintain confidence in future gold convertibility.”

Up until the time of the “Nixon Shock,” employees’ wages in the United States had generally kept pace with increases in GDP, or economic output. But after the “Nixon Shock” in 1971, wages have essentially flat-lined, while GDP has risen.

In response to Nixon’s unilateral decision, the ten leading developed nations in the world – Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States – entered into an agreement monikered as the Smithsonian Agreement which was a temporary agreement negotiated in 1971 which adjusted the system of fixed exchange rates established under the Bretton Woods Agreement and created a new standard for the dollar, to which other industrialized nations then pegged their currencies to the U.S. dollar.

As Certified Financial Analyst Michael Lebowitz, wrote in 2016, “unshackling the U.S. monetary system from the discipline of a gold standard, allowed the Fed to play a leading role in replacing the Virtuous Cycle with an Un-Virtuous Cycle. Eliminating the risk of global redemption of U.S. dollars for gold also eliminated the discipline, the checks and balances, on deficit spending by the government and its citizens. As the debt accumulated, the requirement on the Federal Reserve to drive interest rates lower became mandatory to enable the economic system to service that debt. And this effectively changed the course of U.S. economic history.”

These observations, and others, are, and have been, borne out by others, as well, such as in February 14, 2019, by Bloomberg writer Noah Smith, who wrote about wage stagnation in part that, “Workers lost a lot of ground between 1973 and 1994, and didn’t make up enough of it between 1994 and 2009. Stronger worker representation within companies, as well as government health care, would help restore some of those losses.”

But perhaps the simplest explanation I’ve ever heard, or read, about the value of good, strong and effective regulation is one which I’ve said for many years, which is this:

Regulations strengthen markets the same way that regulations create competitive sports, and operate machinery. Remove regulations and games become a pointless free-for-all, while removing or changing regulations on an automobile engine (such as through changing timing), and it will self-destruct fairly quickly.

But again, it seems that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Are our memories truly that Alzheimered?

Or, do we just not give a damn?

I contend that for some, Read the rest of this entry »

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Enjoying Your Trump Tax Cut? You’re Paying The Trump Tax.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, December 29, 2019

In September of this year alone, Americans paid a record $7.1 billion in Trump Taxes.

That’s tariffs, for those who don’t understand.

And, just to be certain… tariffs are taxes (duties) one nation places upon certain imported goods from another nation(s) which are NOT paid by the nation from where the goods originate (exporting nation), but are paid by the ultimate consumer of the importing nation.

Trump’s little “trade wars” with China, Mexico, Canada, and goodness knows who else, have now been proven to have harmed the American Economy, and the American Employee.

Yes, it’s official – the Federal Reserve published findings of their research “Disentangling the Effects of the 2018-2019 Tariffs on a Globally Connected U.S. Manufacturing Sector” and concluded in part that:

“We find that the 2018 tariffs are associated with Read the rest of this entry »

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Federal Reserve Study: Trump Tariffs Hurt Economy & Employees

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, December 28, 2019

It’s official!

In their research work “Disentangling the Effects of the 2018-2019 Tariffs on a Globally Connected U.S. Manufacturing Sector,” Aaron Flaaen, a Senior Economist, and Justin Pierce, a Principal Economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, make their findings that Trump’s Tax Increase – aka “tariffs” – have actually harmed the Economy, and Employment.

“Since the beginning of 2018,
the United States has undertaken unprecedented tariff increases,
with one goal of these actions being
to boost the manufacturing sector.
In this paper, we estimate the effect of the tariffs
—including retaliatory tariffs by U.S.trading partners—
on manufacturing employment, output, and producer prices.”

“Higher tariffs are also associated with relative increases in producer prices via rising input costs.”
– Abstract; p.1

“We find that tariff increases enacted in 2018 are associated with relative reductions in manufacturing employment and relative increases in producer prices.”
– Section 1; p.3

“Since the end of 2018, however, manufacturing output has declined noticeably and manufacturing employment growth has stalled.”
– Section 2.1; p.5 Read the rest of this entry »

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The United States is Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, November 8, 2019

I considered naming this entry “It’s All Bad: Bridges, Schools, Roads, Dams, Aviation, Drinking Water, Energy, Inland Waterways, Ports, Schools, Wastewater, Solid Waste, Transit, Public Parks, Hazardous Waste, etc.,” but decided to change it.

Perhaps the initial title was some help to guide the reader in the direction the entry would go.

Eventually, it’ll cost you money… but it’s already doing that.

Read on to see how.

Bluntly, America’s Economic Infrastructure sucks, and blows gnarly chunks.

What’s “Economic Infrastructure”?

Glad you asked.

Broadly, “Economic Infrastructure” refers to several categories of physical improvements which facilitate civil society, providing it an opportunity to grow.

Sometimes also simply called “infrastructure,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines 16 categories, or Critical Infrastructure Sectors, including (in alphabetical order):

1.) Chemical – converts various raw materials into over 70,000 different products essential to modern life, including Basic, Specialty, and Agricultural chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Consumer products

2.) Commercial Facilities – diverse sites that draw large crowds of people for shopping, business, entertainment, or lodging.

3.) Communications – provides a critical, enabling function and integral component of the U.S. economy, underlying the operations of all businesses, public safety organizations, and government via terrestrial, satellite, wireline and wireless transmission systems

4.) Critical Manufacturing – metals, machinery, transportation equipment, electrical, appliance, components

5.) Dams – dam projects, navigation locks, levees, hurricane barriers, mine tailings impoundments, and other similar water retention and/or control facilities.

6.) Defense Industrial Base – enables research, development, design, production, delivery, and maintenance of military weapons systems, subsystems, and components or parts to meet U.S. military requirements.

7.) Emergency Services – paid and volunteer at the federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels of government, including city police departments and fire stations, county sheriff’s offices, Department of Defense police and fire departments, and town public works departments, including private sector resources, such as industrial fire departments, private security organizations, and private emergency medical services providers

8.) Energy – provides an “enabling function” across all critical infrastructure sectors. More than 80% of the country’s energy infrastructure is owned by the private sector, supplying fuels to the transportation industry, electricity to households and businesses, and other sources of energy integral to growth and production across the nation.

9.) Financial Services – depository institutions, investment products providers, insurance companies, other credit and financing organizations, and providers of the critical financial utilities and services that support these functions, and allow customers to: Deposit funds and make payments to other parties, Provide credit and liquidity to customers, Invest funds for long and short periods, Transfer financial risks between customers

10.) Food and Agriculture – composed of an estimated 2.1 million farms, 935,000 restaurants, and more than 200,000 registered food manufacturing, processing, and storage facilities. This sector accounts for roughly one-fifth of the nation’s economic activity.

11.) Government Facilities – a wide variety of buildings, located in the United States and overseas, owned or leased by federal, state, local, and tribal governments. Many government facilities are open to the public for business activities, commercial transactions, or recreational activities while others not open to the public contain highly sensitive information, materials, processes, and equipment. These facilities include general-use office buildings and special-use military installations, embassies, courthouses, national laboratories, and structures that may house critical equipment, systems, networks, and functions. In addition to physical structures, the sector includes cyber elements that contribute to the protection of sector assets (e.g., access control systems and closed-circuit television systems) as well as individuals who perform essential functions or possess tactical, operational, or strategic knowledge.

12.) Healthcare and Public Health – protects all sectors of the economy from hazards such as terrorism, infectious disease outbreaks, and natural disasters. While healthcare tends to be delivered and managed locally, the public health component of the sector, focused primarily on population health, is managed across all levels of government: national, state, regional, local, tribal, and territorial.

13.) Information Technology – operated by a combination of entities — often owners and operators and their respective associations — that maintain and reconstitute the network, including the Internet, central to the nation’s security, economy, and public health and safety as businesses, governments, academia, and private citizens

14.) Nuclear Reactors Materials and Waste – provide electricity to millions of Americans, to the medical isotopes used to treat cancer patients.

15.) Transportation Systems – moves people and goods quickly, safely, and securely through the country and overseas. Includes Aviation, Highway and Motor Carrier, Maritime Transportation System, Mass Transit and Passenger Rail, Pipeline Systems, Freight Rail, Postal and Shipping.

16.) Water and Wastewater – Safe drinking water is a prerequisite for protecting public health and all human activity. Properly treated wastewater is vital for preventing disease and protecting the environment. Thus, ensuring the supply of drinking water and wastewater treatment and service is essential to modern life and the Nation’s economy.

Altogether, every item in those categories all facilitate commerce, private enterprise, are component parts of a local, and state economy, and as a whole, comprise the national economy. Some of the sectors, such as Food and Agriculture, and Communications, are almost wholly owned by private enterprise. In fact, the only publicly owned, i.e., governmentally-owned, are Government Facilities. There are perhaps a few others, but there are very few, and very far in-between.

Each sector is interconnected; there is not one sector which stands alone, self-sufficient and isolated. Some sectors are more interconnected than others, such as the Communications sector, while others, such as Dams, may not have as many connections. But each one is interdependent upon the others. What affects one, affects all others. It is like a line from the John Donne poem Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII, most often called “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” which states in pertinent part that, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

All of that brings us to our next point.

As it pertains to common use by all, Economic Infrastructure is considered by Engineers, Architects, Urban Planners, Politicians, and even Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders as being – at the most fundamental level – those faculties and facilities which enable and promote commerce, and improve the lives of residents.

Before going further, let me interrupt that train of thought to say this about socialism.

Properly defined, socialism is a condition in which the government controls the means and the method of production – such as with a government-owned factory. The former Soviet Union (now known as “Russia”) had many such government-owned factories.
The United States has NEVER had any such thing.
And, if one considered the coinage and currency in their pockets
– minted and printed by the United States Treasury Department on government-owned machines –
it is STILL not considered an example of socialism.

Why not?

The raw materials – the paper, ink, metals, and machines to make it – all came from the Private Sector via publicly bid contracts.

Continuing…

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) rates America’s Infrastructure a “D+.” https://www.InfrastructureReportCard.org/

The ASCE identifies some 16 very similar categories of capital improvements as being (in alphabetical order):
1.) Aviation
2.) Bridges
3.) Dams
4.) Drinking Water
5.) Energy
6.) Hazardous Waste
7.) Inland Waterways
8.) Levees
9.) Ports
10.) Public Parks
11.) Rail
12.) Roads
13.) Schools
14.) Solid Waste
15.) Transit
16.) Wastewater

About the report, they wrote in part that “Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes The Infrastructure Report Card, which grades the current state of national infrastructure categories on a scale of A through F. Since 1998, America’s infrastructure has earned persistent D averages, and the failure to close the investment gap with needed maintenance and improvements has continued. But the larger question at stake is the implication of D+ infrastructure on America’s economic future. The 2017 Infrastructure Report Card found the national grade for infrastructure remains at a “D+” — the same grade the United States received in 2013 — suggesting only incremental progress was made over the last four years toward restoring America’s infrastructure. ASCE evaluated 16 categories of infrastructure in the 2017 Report Card, with grades ranging from a “B” for Rail to a “D-” for Transit.

Consider also this: “The need for wastewater infrastructure exceeds $271 Billion.”

So… how does this affect you, and your family?

Check this out.

In 2016, the ASCE published a document titled “Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future,” which stated in part the following:

“The cost of deteriorating infrastructure takes a toll on families’ disposable household income and impacts the quality and quantity of jobs in the U.S. economy. With deteriorating infrastructure, higher business costs will be incurred in terms of charges for services and efficiency, which will lead to higher costs incurred by households for goods and services due to the rising prices passed on by businesses.

“As a consequence, U.S. businesses will be more inefficient. As costs rise, business productivity falls, causing GDP to drop, cutting employment, and ultimately reducing personal income.

“From 2016 to 2025, each household will lose $3,400 each year in disposable income due to infrastructure deficiencies; and if not addressed, the loss will grow to an average of $5,100 annually from 2026 to 2040, resulting in cumulative losses up to almost $34,000 per household from 2016 to 2025 and almost $111,000 from 2016 to 2040 (all dollars in 2015 value).

“Over time, these impacts will also affect businesses’ ability to provide well-paying jobs, further reducing incomes. If this investment gap is not addressed throughout the nation’s infrastructure sectors by 2025, the economy is expected to lose almost $4 trillion in GDP, resulting in a loss of 2.5 million jobs in 2025.

“Moreover, workers who are employed will earn lower wages, and in the long term, many higher paying jobs in technology and other leading sectors will be replaced by jobs that fulfill needs brought on by the inefficiencies of deteriorating infrastructure.

“Closing each infrastructure investment gap is possible, and the economic consequences caused by these gaps are avoidable with investment.”

Does that hit home hard enough?

And yet, we’re almost there.

What about the roads in your town, city, state, and nationwide? Are they in pristine condition? I sincerely doubt it. Pothole-filled roads tear up your car, don’t they? That costs you money, and time, because you gotta’ find another way around the rotten roads so your car won’t be destroyed by traveling upon them. But, what if you can’t?

Business Insider magazine recently published a story headlined about America’s most dangerous bridges in all 50 states.
https://www.businessinsider.com/most-dangerous-bridges-america-2017-5

Reckon what it’d cost to fix ’em ALL? Not just to fill every pothole, or fix every cracked roadway, but to (if necessary) rebuild EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY road in the United States? And while you’re at it, expand and build more – and add to it coast-to-coast high-speed, mag-lev monorail trains. China, Germany, England, France, Japan, and other nations already have high-speed trains, and monorail trains are even in Disneyland.

WHY CAN’T WE BUILD A BETTER SYSTEM FOR EVERYONE TO USE?

Imagine what it’d be like to be able to Read the rest of this entry »

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Green New Deal? How about Economic Infrastructure New Deal, instead?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, November 7, 2019

Whether one “believes” Climate Change is “real,” or not, is totally a specious argument.

Specious means “superficially plausible, but actually wrong.”

Why is it specious?

Arguing about what causes rain while your roof is leaking is pretty stupid, don’t you think?

And yet, that’s exactly what’s happening.

This map shows federal flood damage claims from 2008 to 2018. Flood risk in many parts of the U.S. is on the rise, in part because climate change is driving more frequent and intense storms, higher seas and extreme rain. Extreme rain in 2013 caused catastrophic flooding in Boulder County, CO, including dangerous flash floods. Similar storms in 2011, 2014 and 2019 flooded much of Holt County, MO. –– Flood Insurance Claims Per 1,000 People, 2010-2018

Some people (Climate Change Science deniers) are arguing about the causes, while the devastation it wreaks continues UNABATED.

Instead, what we NEED TO DO is REBUILD -and- EXPAND our crumbling national Economic Infrastructure to – as much as possible – reduce the influence these events have upon us.

Even BIG INSURANCE companies all agree that the economic losses our nation is suffering CANNOT be sustained without serious lasting damage to our national economy.

The Geneva Association (properly, The “International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics”) is a leading international think tank of the insurance industry, which detects early ideas and emerging debates on political, economic and societal issues concerning the insurance industry.

In November 2018, they published a research paper titled “Global Weather Catastrophes, Trends, Losses, Insurance Costs Source: Managing Physical Climate Risk—Leveraging Innovations in Catastrophe Risk Modelling,” and in it, wrote in part that,

“Over the last three and a half decades, we have observed a trend of rising economic losses from extreme events globally. Between 1980 and 2017, Munich Re’s NatCatSERVICE reported 17,320 disaster loss events. Of those, 91.2% were caused by weather-related extremes (meteorological, hydrological and climatological events), accounting for 49.2% of the total of 1,723,738 lives lost, 79.8% of the total USD 4,615 billion in reported economic losses and 90.1% of total insured losses of USD 1,269 bn.

“In 2017, weather-related extremes accounted for 97% of total reported economic losses and 98.2% of Read the rest of this entry »

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Try and stop the rain? How about building infrastructure, instead?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, July 27, 2019

Extensive flooding in Muscle Shoals, AL in the NW corner of the state, in the spring of 2019

The news article which flows from the NASA story (I know… bad pun) appears below.

But either way, as usual, I’m eager to know your thoughts.

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/145101/record-setting-precipitation-leaves-us-soils-soggy/

Small Towns Fear They Are Unprepared For Future Climate-Driven Flooding

https://www.npr.org/744203716

—//—

Tennessee River flooding (bottom) contrasted with normal conditions (top) under O’Neal Bridge which joins Colbert (in the south) and Lauderdale (to the north) counties in the Shoals area of NW AL

Some folks talk about a “Green New Deal” as a prospective course of action to remedy (ameliorate) the effects of Climate Change, and to provide economic impetus.

While there may be some merit to some aspects of that now-nebulous idea, there is a much more immediate and concrete need we have in response to Climate Change.

And that is, to build, expand, and repair our Economic Infrastructure in order to reduce – as much as humanly possible – the costly continual damages that are now occurring, and which will continue to occur, because of Climate Change.

When faced with flooding, a proper response is not to try and stop the rain;

it is to build levees, dams, waterways, sluices, ponds, and other hydrological management resources – including pipelines, and other such mechanisms – to prevent the damage that would otherwise occur without implementation of such measures.

Here’s a very real case in point to illustrate that very matter – the North Sea Flood of 1953.

Buid Zeeland, Netherlands 1953 North Sea Flood
Image made by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from a U.S. Army helicopter of the 1953 North Sea Flood in the Netherlands.

Described as the worst natural disaster in Europe in modern times, the flooding occurred over a two-day period January 31 – February 1, and affected Netherlands, Belgium, England and Scotland, with a total of 2551 lives lost, and 1836 in the Netherlands alone.

Dutch losses were particularly enormous, principally because Read the rest of this entry »

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Economic Fundamental

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, July 5, 2019

California United States Senator Kamala Harris

There is something FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG in a nation when its largest supermarket chain by revenue – which is also the second-largest general retailer and the eighteenth largest company in the nation – finds it necessary, and plans to Read the rest of this entry »

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POTUS Obama: Sen. Warren is “absolutely wrong” on Trans-Pacific Partnership. But is she?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, May 2, 2019

Editor’s Note: This article was originally written 11 May 2015, though unpublished. The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), is/was a “free-trade” pact among the nations of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and United States signed on 4 February 2016, though it was NOT ratified, and thus, did NOT take effect. All 12 members nations signed the TPP 4 February 2016.

However, because it was NOT ratified by all signatories before 4 February 2018, it will become effective ONLY after ratification when at least 6 nations with a combined GDP of more than 85% of the GDP of all signatories have signed.

Further, because the United States withdrew from the TPP, it also significantly and adversely affected it. The TPP agreement will become active only after all signatories have ratified it within two years of signing.

—//—

President Obama recently criticized Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) for her clarion call warning of the potential damage the Trans-Pacific Partnership could do to United States’ economy.

Sen. Warren has said that “This is hardly a hypothetical possibility: We are already deep into negotiations with the European Union on a trade agreement and big banks on both sides of the Atlantic are gearing up to use that agreement to water down financial regulations.”

The President countered saying, “This is pure speculation. She and I both taught law school, and you know, one of the things you do as a law professor is you spin out hypotheticals. And this is all hypothetical, speculative.”

President Obama further dismissed her criticisms out of hand saying, she’s absolutely wrong,” about the concerns she and others have raised, and appeared to throw down the gauntlet for open, frank discussion of the still-secret trade pact which would include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

The President gives the USTR broad power to keep secret information about the trade policies it advances and negotiates.

United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said, “More than two months after receiving the proper security credentials, my staff is still barred from viewing the details of the proposals that USTR is advancing.”

A Senate bill – S. 3225 – which would require the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to disclose all its TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) documents to every member of Congress was introduced May 23, 2012 by Sen. Wyden, who is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness. In that capacity, his office is responsible for conducting oversight over the USTR and trade negotiations.

Speaking from the Senate floor, Sen. Wyden said the purpose of the bill was “to ensure that the laws and policies that govern the American people take into account the interests of all the American people, not just a privileged few. Congress passed legislation in 2002 to form the Congressional Oversight Group, or COG, to foster more USTR consultation with Congress. I was a senator in 2002. I voted for that law and I can tell you the intention of that law was to ensure that USTR consulted with more Members of Congress, not less.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Government Spending

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, April 24, 2019

About that “government spending” thing being a boost to the economy:

Yes, it’s true. We found that out early on, which was how our nation recovered from the Great Depression.

So… here’s the spending we need now (no, it’s not the “Green New Deal”) – INFRASTRUCTURE!!

Oh, and EVERY red cent that “we the people” spend through our government comes from the Private Sector.

Every material – raw or finished – and all manpower comes from the Private Sector; and only after public notices via competitive open (public) bidding.

Yeah. Think about that one for a while.

There is NO “government factory” in our nation. Never has been, never will be.

So, yeah… every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers rates the overall quality of American economic infrastructure “in the familiar form of a school report card—assigning letter grades based on the physical condition and needed investments for improvement.”

In 2017, American Economic Infrastructure’s quality was graded as Read the rest of this entry »

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Make America Great Again: A How-To Guide

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Jim Cooper, a Democrat, is the US Representative for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District.

Jim Cooper, who represents Tennessee’s 5th Congressional Distict, and is a Democrat, is also a Rhodes Scholar (economics & politics, Oriel College), and Harvard JD grad, after earning the BA in economics from UNC Chapel Hill.

He’s a fiscal conservative, and has long said that, because our government uses a cash accounting system (which is ILLEGAL for businesses to use), our government’s debt is very likely much larger than is estimated.

For that reason, he’s also long advocated changing the accounting method the United States government uses.

TN CD5 is essentially Davidson County (metro Nashville), and includes the adjoining Cheatham & Dickson counties to the WEST.

See:
https://www2.census.gov/geo/maps/cong_dist/cd113/cd_based/ST47/CD113_TN05.pdf

Oh… and as you might surmise, cutting taxes is NOT how to stimulate the economy. It is by government spending. Which is also why cutting taxes is a very bad idea, since it kills the goose that laid that golden egg. (This Internet thing came about by government spending, which has created an entirely new economy, and billionaires… and, it began as a DARPA research project. Just like GPS.)

As I continue to maintain,

our government is NOT “too big,”
it is MUCH TOO SMALL to be
either efficient,
or effective.

Think about what it’d be like going to a restaurant with a 100-seating capacity, finding it filled with patrons, and only one waiter and one cook. No one would get any service, and they’d be a fool to think otherwise.

That’s what has happened, and is continuing to happen to our government.

With very nearly 329,000,000 people, we are the THIRD LARGEST (most populous) nation on Earth – China ( 1,419,124,987) and India (1,365,986,094) are 1st & 2nd, respectively.

The GOP’s “starve the monster” approach to governance, i.e., kill/reduce/eliminate the source of the “monster’s food,” e.g., taxes, and you’re well on your way to a privatization scheme the likes of which neither our nation, nor the world has ever seen. Hopefully, that won’t happen. But, that’s what you get when Grover Norquist has said, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
– from an interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, May 25, 2001. Read the rest of this entry »

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Narcotrafficking: The Last Truly Free Market

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, April 14, 2019

Think about it… a massive global industry and multi-cultural international enterprise with tens, hundreds of thousands or perhaps even millions of employees, producers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and customers with ZERO Government regulation of any type, on anyone for any reason – no taxes, no regulatory oversight, nor requirements of any kind whatsoever, where a willing buyer and a willing seller meet each other.

And yet, the government seeks to eradicate it (even though their “efforts” have done exactly the opposite), by strengthening Read the rest of this entry »

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Data: Legalized Marijuana Does Not Increase Alcohol Sales

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, March 16, 2019

Good news for cannabis legalization advocates!

“In the three states with the longest history of legalized recreational marijuana sales – Colorado, Washington state and Oregon – there is no evidence that legalization has had any impact on spirits sales, nor is there any evidence that it has impacted total alcohol sales.”

That’s according to research conducted by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).

In other words, cannabis legalization – neither recreational (nor medical) – has had no effect, either positive or negative, upon beverage alcohol sales in states were cannabis is legal, either for recreational, or medical purposes.

David M. Ozgo, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the Distilled Spirits Council analyzes market trends for DISCUS, and said in part that, “The data show there has been no impact on spirits sales from recreational marijuana legalization.”

David M. Ozgo, Senior VP and Chief Economist, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States

Mr. Ozgo also produces an annual spirituous beverage industry review, and provides tax and regulatory effect analyses, including Read the rest of this entry »

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Economic Infrastructure Strained By Severe Weather And Climate Change

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, February 10, 2019

Increasingly, there’s a political tie-in to almost every news story published these days. And frankly, I’d much rather write about other, more benign, or even pleasant topics. But, these matters affect us all, and our very lives and livelihoods are at stake. So, because these are pressing matters, I give heed to them, as I hope you do also.

Recently, NPR News published a story while our nation was in the throes of the “Polar Vortex,” which is the name now given to a severe “cold snap” which plunged much of the Midwest and East into literally Arctic temperatures. In fact, as we we’re told by numerous meteorologists and other weather / climate scientists and researchers, the Arctic was actually warmer than many places affected, most notably including Chicago, the Twin Cities (Minneapolis–Saint Paul), Iowa, Pennsylvania, and other states up through the area, with some locales suffering from temperatures which dipped down into the -23ºF range, or lower. Many Low Temperature records were surpassed, and when combined with Wind Chill Factors, temperatures feel like at least double that (-40ºF), and more.

A Minnesotan is extremely bundled up protecting every square inch of exposed skin while awaiting public transportation outdoors during extremely dangerous cold conditions which occurred during the 2019 Polar Vortex.

By all estimates, it was one of the most severe such events in recorded history, and was also the cause of numerous deaths of people of all ages and sexes (21 at last count, not all who were homeless), due of course, to cold temperature extremes. Homeless shelters throughout the affected areas were literally accepting anyone and everyone, and numerous other organizations and agencies created emergency shelters for others to avoid the deadly conditions. Area residents were severely warned to avoid going outdoors at all costs, simply because inadequate dressing, or any exposed skin would certainly suffer frostbite, or worse.

But there was another, largely overlooked problem which was only given cursory attention. And that was the effects and strains the severe climatic conditions placed upon infrastructure, which is often called economic infrastructure.

Essentially, infrastructure describes a nation’s internal facilities that enable business activity, which are fundamental requirements for economic development, which is vital to improvements in a country’s standard of living, and consists of facilities, activities and services that assist to increase overall economic productivity at a national level.

Infrastructure has two broad component parts: 1.) Social Infrastructure, consisting of basic services such as education, training, including health, sanitation, potable water supply, housing, sewerage, etc., while; 2.) Physical Infrastructure directly supports economic production, and consists primarily of supporting the production and distribution of products and services including agriculture, industry, and trade, supports, and directly increases productivity.

An example of Physical Infrastructure would be the production of hydroelectric dams by the Tennessee Valley Authority, creation of electrical power, communication, and natural gas delivery grids, roads, waterways, airports and railways for transportation, and potable water and waste treatment plants and their related delivery mechanisms and systems.

All those components must not only be created and developed, but they must be continually maintained, and improved as necessary, to continue to provide services vital to the economy. And it is maintenance which proves frequently to be the Read the rest of this entry »

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Does This Trump-Caused Market Slump Foretell Recession?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Of course, the Stock Market is NOT the economy, but for many, it’s the easiest touchstone to consider approximating the economy. And because most Americans are NOT heavily invested in Wall Street, its performance only nominally and indirectly affects them.

However, for those traders whose livelihood depends upon its gains or losses, such as corporate and investment banks, and brokerage houses, speculators, derivatives traders, hedge and other type funds, and the like, it doesn’t portend well.

And then, Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, while vacationing in Mexico, decided to call on Sunday the CEOs of 6 of the largest banks in America (Brian Moynihan of Bank of America; Michael Corbat of Citi; David Solomon of Goldman Sachs; Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase; James Gorman of Morgan Stanley; and Tim Sloan of Wells Fargo), and then Twitterized it ex post facto. The media managers at Treasury decided to inform the public that… “The CEOs confirmed that they have ample liquidity available for lending to consumer, business markets, and all other market operations. He also confirmed that they have not experienced any clearance or margin issues, and that the markets continue to function properly.”

The Current White House Occupant is Mad at Mnuchin, and wants to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell, ostensibly because Mnuchin told POS45 that Powell would be a good choice for Fed Chairman. That’s according to four anonymous people, who were described by Bloomberg News as being “four people familiar with the matter” and speak “on condition of anonymity.” Where I come from, and live, that’s called cowardice. It might be called something else in Trumpanzeeville.

In the days ahead, POS45 will Read the rest of this entry »

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How Has the GOP Improved Alabama Quality of Life?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, August 31, 2018

In almost every measure of the quality of life, Alabama comes up short. Seriously short. Or, to couch it in somewhat Biblical terms (which most Alabamians of any political or religious stripe would understand… and, which most any reasonably well-read person would as well), “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” ref: Daniel 5:27 (NIV)

This is not a Republican thing, per se, nor is it a Democratic thing. It is an ongoing statement of the poor quality of of almost EVERYTHING in Alabama. The root of most every problem plaguing Alabamians lies with the state’s 1901 Constitution which, among other things, FORBIDS local self-governance known as Home Rule – the basic principle upon which our democratic republic was founded – which is that EVERY person has a voice, a vote, and a say-so in how things are run from the grass-roots level, and that all are equal under the law, which is no discriminator of persons.

That is in large part why on almost every statewide ballot there are questions pertaining to counties or cities, and why the entire state must vote on what people in the opposite sides of the state do, and why they have a say-so in other towns and cities governance. Think of it as allowing your nosy neighbors a say in how you do things in your house.

Yeah, I know… weird, isn’t it? Maybe “stupid” would be another, better, or more accurate choice of words.

In Montgomery, when the part-time Legislature with full-time pay convenes (total compensation for legislators approximates $50,000/year), they are constitutionally required and mandated to legislate local matters, because the constitution literally FORBIDS local people from making local decisions.

The legislature is further hamstrung, and the people are thereby harmed, by the inordinately short period of time to which they are similarly constitutionally constrained to meet – 30 meeting days in a  105 calendar day period. Who could get ANYTHING done for 4.8 million people in such a short period of time? Seriously… WHO?

Consider public corruption as an example of how problematic the 1901 Alabama State Constitution truly is. Most recently, the GOP-dominated Legislature, Governor’s office, individual legislators (predominately GOP), and other ancillary agencies (Alabama State Troopers/Department of Public Safety, later known as ALEA, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, etc.) were involved in corruption scandals, the likes of which the state hasn’t seen in, like… FOREVER! Seriously. The extent and degree of severity of corruption which has recently plagued Alabama is unparalleled.

Once the GOP-dominated Legislature was in power, they promptly set about improving the practically toothless Ethics Laws which many of them promised to change, if elected. Ordinarily, that’d be a good thing. Mike Hubbard became Speaker of the House, and the state’s top executive branch offices – Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor, State Treasurer, and Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries – were all filled by Republicans.

Now, here’s where the problems begin.

All THREE branches of government – the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial – were touched by serious corruption. As a natural consequence, the people’s business was impeded and damaged, which also wasted the taxpayers time, money and resources to investigate and prosecute.

But perhaps the MOST costly price paid was continued damage to the state’s already tarnished image in the public eye, nationally and internationally… as if it could get any worse.

Governor Robert Bentley was the subject of Federal and State investigations over whether he misused public funds, and violated campaign finance law to further his extra-marital involvement with a female aide. Corollary to that, he was also facing impeachment… the first ever Alabama governor to face such serious public scrutiny and reprisal.

The Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and other legislators were facing investigations and indictments by the Attorney General for possible violations of ethics laws, and other related laws. Named as witnesses were many well-known, high-powered big business lobbyists, and their clients.

The State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was facing a SECOND investigation in his second elected term over his refusal to obey and uphold Federal Law, and a Federal Judge’s court order to obey the law, which meant he could face public trial by the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission (his peers), and a SECOND possible expulsion from the bench.

The Governor accepted a plea deal to two lesser misdemeanors, resigned from office, repaid monies, performed community service, and promised to never again hold public office.

The Chief Justice was found guilty and removed from the bench – a SECOND time.

The Speaker of the House and other legislators were all found GUILTY of violating the very Ethics Laws they passed – which were all felony violations.

As well, over a dozen current legislators and others (high-powered attorneys, former legislators, lobbyists, business owners, etc.) are STILL being found GUILTY of, or pleading GUILTY to violating Federal and/or state law, including bribery, mail fraud, Medicare fraud, misuse of public office, and various other forms of abuse of public trust.

And then, there’s the sheriff from Etowah County, Todd Entrekin, who was found to have LEGALLY redirected funds which were to have been used for feeding inmates (three-quarters of a million dollars), to his own personal use, to, with his wife Karen, purchase a luxurious beachfront house on the Gulf Coast.

All but one of those identified are Republicans.

But again, this is not an “Us versus Them” or “Republican versus Democrat” problem. It’s a corruption problem, the predominate root of which lies with the 1901 Alabama State Constitution. Consequently, the entire state suffers.

Harvard University’s Center for Ethics researched Legal and Illegal corruption in all 50 states three branches of government, and found Alabama wanting by most measures.

Of course, it neither helps that Alabama has a continuous and ongoing history of voting for one party, or the other – so that there’s rarely if ever a mix of parties in power. It’s quite literally, a bipolar type of operation, which goes from one extreme, to the other.

Alabama has had SIX constitutions, and the one under which it now labors is not even the best of the five which preceded it.

The state’s present constitution – the 1901 Constitution – has well over 900 amendments. That one thing alone makes it the most bloated and inefficient of any such type of governing document in the entire world – hands down, bar none.

The Dictionary of Alabama says this about Alabama’s 1901 Constitutional Convention:
“Called primarily to establish White supremacy by disfranchising Blacks, the Constitutional Convention of 1901 continues to shape Alabama politics in the twenty-first century. The convention also concentrated power in the state legislature, decreased opportunities for Home Rule, and established voter requirements that even many White men could not meet, reducing the political influence of the state’s many poor Whites. The 155 delegates to the Alabama Constitutional Convention of 1901 codified Black disfranchisement and increased the political power of the state legislature at the expense of local government.”

So when combined with the fact that it STILL contains racist language, and provisions which have been Read the rest of this entry »

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Deceit And Treachery Continue In #ALpolitics

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, May 21, 2017

In case you’ve been under a rock for the past 4 years or more, Alabama’s two-term Republican Governor Dr. Dr. Robert Bentley, M.D. was forced to resign from office amidst ongoing impeachment proceedings resulting from a sex & corruption scandal in which he significantly abused the power of the office for personal gain, then under pressure, and facing possible felony charges, entered a plea agreement in which he pled guilty to two misdemeanor campaign finance violations, agreed to other court-ordered stipulations including never again to “seek or serve in any public office,” pay fines & court costs, surrender campaign funds, render Community Service as a physician, submitted his resignation, whereupon Republican Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey – formerly State Treasurer – took office as Governess.

It seemed most everybody was happy as a lark.

Until…

Until those damn pesky reporters started snooping around the back door.

Then, it turns out, they found evidence that strongly suggests she isn’t in good health, and so much so to the extent that her ability to govern and think clearly may be called into question.

According to an investigative report and story by Josh Moon, a Journalist with Alabama Political Reporter, “Gov. Kay Ivey’s office declined to confirm on Thursday that she had been admitted to a Colorado hospital for “stroke-like” issues in April 2015, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency all but did. Read the rest of this entry »

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Free Enterprise And #Beer

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, February 6, 2017

I am a FIRM PROPONENT of ENTREPRENEURSHIP, FREE ENTERPRISE, and FAIR COMPETITION.

budweiser-beer-original-logoabinbev-china-logoFor that reason, and others, I have NOT purchased an AB-InBev product in quite some time, not only because of the inferior quality of their products, but because it is a greedy, global, monolithic oligopolic (virtually monopoly) enterprise.

It is NOT an American company, and ceased being an American company when it SOLD OUT to the Belgian brewing company InBev for around $52 billion in 2008. From then, the company was named AB-InBev.

Molson Canadian Lager beer, original bottle, brewed in Montreal, CanadaTo add insult to injury, the U.S. Department of Justice OK’d a deal in 2016 in which AB-InBev BOUGHT SABMiller’s U.S. business which in turn, would allow Molson Coors to Read the rest of this entry »

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Reinvigorating Our Workforce

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, February 7, 2016

Youth employment apprenticeshipsI have long advocated some type of national service for ALL – and ALL means ALL – for ALL have something to contribute.

Whether that service is by a paraplegic youth with computer skills, or a high school footballer with a strong back, or an art student with creative skills, every high school graduate can and should be expected to contribute to our nation through service to our local & state communities, and to our nation.Disabled-youth-can work

Were our nation to become serious about infrastructure repair & expansion, were our nation serious about jobs & employment, were our nation serious about economic vitality & personal responsibility, we would put our money where our mouth is by Read the rest of this entry »

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What Underutilized Renewable Alabama Resource Could Catapult The State Economically?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, January 14, 2016

Soon, the Alabama state legislature will reconvene, and soon enough, they will – once again – be faced with enormous fiscal shortfalls.

And, once again as well, the Republican super-dominated Alabama state legislature will be reticent, reluctant, and recalcitrant to raise taxes… except upon those least capable of paying them. I refer, of course, to the impoverished, which – according to the United States Census Bureau – comprise nearly 20% of Alabama’s population. And with a population estimated at 4,849,377, that’s 901, 984 people, who annually, according to the research, Read the rest of this entry »

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Sodomy: A prime example of what’s wrong with #ALpolitics

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 12, 2015

A dear friend who is a long-time retiree, aged 78 years, entire subsistence is from a meager pension (earned from a lifetime of work in a unionized organization), supplemented with a paltry Social Security check.

She’s lived through breast cancer surgery (mastectomy) & reconstruction, other major surgeries (knee replacements) and procedures, and lives in a trailer which she owns, situated upon a lot which she rents. She has resided there many, many years.

To save money, she recently Read the rest of this entry »

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If Alabama Was A Loaf Of Bread

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, May 31, 2015

If Alabama was a loaf of bread, candy canes and root beer floats.

Pineapple ice cream cotton candy, pecan pies, Festhalle chicken, eggs ample, cinco de mother may I?

Johnny Monkeyshines, Goat Hill Hamburger Helper, largely poor, uneducated and easy to barbecue.

W.C. Keller, Bellingrath Handyman, Werner von Read the rest of this entry »

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The U.S. Economy In 6 Simple Pictures

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Picture #1:

It’s fairly explanatory. American corporations are making profits hand over fist. They’re making more profit now, than before the “Great Recession.” In fact, they’re making more than DOUBLE from their lowest during that time.

Corporate Profits After Tax

Corporate Profits After Tax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the rest of this entry »

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How Successful Is It To Drug Test Public Assistance Welfare Recipients?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, October 5, 2014

UPDATE: 07February2016
http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2016/02/07/drug-testing-benefits-tennessee-yields-only-65-positives/79776756/

Since implementation of a law began July 1, 2014, the Tennessee Department of Human Services found only 65 out of 39,121 people who applied for a cash assistance program known as “Families First in Tennessee,” tested positive for illegal substances, or medicines for which they had no prescription.

That’s less than 1% of all applicants who tested positive.

That information was provided provided to The Tennessean by the Tennessee DHR.

An extra 116 refused to participate in an initial drug screening questionnaire, which automatically disqualified them for benefits.

The average monthly benefit of the cash assistance program was $165 per month in December – or $1,980 per year. If they otherwise would have qualified to have received assistance, the total value of the benefit to the 116 people who refused to take the test would have been $230,000 annually – if they had otherwise qualified for benefits.

Since the law began, 609 people have been asked to take a drug test: 544 tested negative, and 65 tested positive. Of those who tested positive, 40 were referred for substance abuse evaluation, and 13 enrolled in a drug treatment facility or recovery support group as a condition of receiving benefits.

The total cost to Tennessee taxpayers so far has been $23,592.

There’s a meme which circulates on FaceBook and presumably, in other places as well, which appears similarly as this:

Drug Test Public Assistance Recipients

Drug Test Public Assistance Recipients Meme

Honestly, the idea is a failure.

But you’d rarely – if ever – hear about it’s failures.

Florida was the first state to tread that path. What they learned was surprising. And then, the law was struck down by a Federal court. The states that embark upon Florida’s path will be wa$ting their citizen$ taxe$.

Only 2.6% of Florida applicants failed the drug test.

“Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test. As a result, the testing cost the government an extra $45,780.”

The purported savings in Florida’s program will be negligible after administrative costs and reimbursements for the drug tests are taken into account.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/us/no-savings-found-in-florida-welfare-drug-tests.html

But it wasn’t limited to Florida. Read the rest of this entry »

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Misplaced American National Priorities: Fraud in the Department of Defense

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Department of Defense is a bloated organization, rife with fraud, waste and abuse.

Even then-Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) Donald Rumsfeld remarked on Monday, September 10, 2001, that, According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions. … We maintain 20 to 25 percent more base infrastructure than we need to support our forces, at an annual waste to taxpayers of some $3 billion to $4 billion. Fully half of our resources go to infrastructure and overhead, and in addition to draining resources from warfighting, these costly and outdated systems, procedures and programs stifle innovation as well.”
ref: http://www.defense.gov/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=430

More recently, on December 21, 2010, the Governmental Accountability Office wrote that they “cannot render an opinion on the 2010 consolidated financial statements of the federal government, because of widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations.”
ref: http://www.gao.gov/press/financial_report_2010dec21.html

In his capacity as Acting Comptroller of the United States, Gene Dodaro wrote that, “(1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD) that have prevented DOD’s financial statements from being auditable, (2) the federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and (3) the federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.”
ref: http://www.gao.gov/financial/fy2010/10gao1.pdf

Included in that scathing report of fiscal recklessness and laziness were “material weaknesses involving an estimated $125.4 billion in improper payments, information security across government, and tax collection activities,” which were rife in “three major agencies— DOD, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Labor— did not get clean opinions. Nineteen of 24 major agencies did get clean opinions on all their statements.”
ref: http://www.gao.gov/press/financial_report_2010dec21.html
ref: http://www.gao.gov/financial/fy2010/10gao1.pdf

No entrepreneur, accountant, fiscal analyst, businessman or Chief Financial Officer in their right mind would tolerate what has been allowed to happen with it. Consider the F-35 Lightning II aircraft as a case in point.

At a cost now exceeding $400,000,000,000 ($400 Billion – that’s very nearly 1/2 Trillion), it is by far, THE most costly program EVER to have emerged from the DoD. Among the numerous reasons why it is THE most expensive program ever, are Read the rest of this entry »

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Pitchfork in the Road: America’s Economic Future – Poverty & Insurrection, or Abundance & Peace?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, June 28, 2014

“How much is enough?” is a qood question to ask many folks, especially some among the Wall $treet crowd.

And to be certain, the two principles of “the worker is worthy of their hire,” and “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain” are equally compelling ethics.

As those two ethics concern our nation’s economy, we can point to times in history where various nations suffered revolution, and the most common causes of revolution.

In fact, I wrote at length about it in this blog in 2011, and observed in part that, “…it’s not as if uproars have never happened before. They happen with great regularity and frequency. In fact, they’re quite predictable. Yes, predictable. It’s called “history.” The maxim goes something like this: “Those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.” And so, any reasonable or prudent person should ask, “What are the lessons of history?””

Just remember this: Food, Clothing, Shelter. If you can’t get them with what you have, you’ll fight, kill, go to war, or civil insurrection, to obtain the basic necessities of life.

The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats

By NICK HANAUER
Nick Hanauer is a Seattle-based entrepreneur.

July/August 2014

Memo: From Nick Hanauer
To: My Fellow Zillionaires

You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor. Then I founded aQuantive, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all this to demonstrate that in many ways I’m no different from you. Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc. You know what I’m talking about. In 1992, I was selling pillows made by my family’s business, Pacific Coast Feather Co., to retail stores across the country, and the Internet was a clunky novelty to which one hooked up with a loud squawk at 300 baud. But I saw pretty quickly, even back then, that many of my customers, the big department store chains, were already doomed. I knew that as soon as the Internet became fast and trustworthy enough—and that time wasn’t far off—people were going to shop online like crazy. Goodbye, Caldor. And Filene’s. And Borders. And on and on.

Nick Hanauer

Nick Hanauer
With over 30 years of experience across a broad range of industries including manufacturing, retailing, e-commerce, digital media and advertising, software, aerospace, health care, and finance. Hanauer’s experience and perspective have produced an unusual record of serial successes. Hanauer has managed, founded or financed over 30 companies, creating aggregate market value of tens of billions of dollars. Some notable companies Include Amazon.com, Aquantive Inc., (purchased by Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion), Insitu group (purchased by Boeing for $400 million), Market Leader (purchased by Trulia in 2013 for $350 million). Some other companies include Marchex, Newsvine, Qliance, Seattle Bank and Pacific Coast Feather Company. – Photo by Robbie McClaran

Realizing that, seeing over the horizon a little faster than the next guy, was the strategic part of my success. The lucky part was that I had two friends, both immensely talented, who also saw a lot of potential in the web. One was a guy you’ve probably never heard of named Jeff Tauber, and the other was a fellow named Jeff Bezos. I was so excited by the potential of the web that I told both Jeffs that I wanted to invest in whatever they launched, big time. It just happened that the second Jeff—Bezos—called me back first to take up my investment offer. So I helped underwrite his tiny start-up bookseller. The other Jeff started a web department store called Cybershop, but at a time when trust in Internet sales was still low, it was too early for his high-end online idea; people just weren’t yet ready to buy expensive goods without personally checking them out (unlike a basic commodity like books, which don’t vary in quality—Bezos’ great insight). Cybershop didn’t make it, just another dot-com bust. Amazon did somewhat better. Now I own a very large yacht.

But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are Read the rest of this entry »

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Is a college education ~really~ all it’s cracked up to be… anymore? Or, why has tuition increased 300% in 30 years?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, June 24, 2014

College costs expose the false meritocracy of the American dream

The cost of an education in America has risen so much that only the wealthy and indebted can attend. The system doesn’t work

Post by Chris Arnade Photography.

 Chris Arnade received his PhD in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1992. He spent the next 20 years working as a trader on Wall Street. He left trading in 2012 to focus on photography. His "Faces of Addiction" series explores addiction in the south Bronx neighbourhood in New York City. Follow him on Twitter: @Chris_arnade


Chris Arnade received his PhD in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1992. He spent the next 20 years working as a trader on Wall Street. He left trading in 2012 to focus on photography. His “Faces of Addiction” series explores addiction in the south Bronx neighbourhood in New York City. Follow him on Twitter: @Chris_arnade

theguardian.com, Wednesday 18 June 2014 07.30 EDT

watermelons

As a college student, Chris Arnade picked Florida watermelons to pay for school. His daughter can’t do the same.
Photograph: Alamy

When I entered Wall Street in 1993 with a PhD, I was an anomaly. One of my bosses was a failed baseball player, another a frustrated jazz musician. One of the guys running one of the most profitable businesses, in both my firm and all of Wall Street, was a former elevator repairman. Their college degrees – if they even had them – were from all sorts of schools, not simply the Ivy leagues.

By the time I left Wall Street a few years ago, the only people being hired were the “play it safe kids”. The ones with degrees from Princetons and Harvards. You know, the ones who had organized a soup kitchen in eighth grade (meaning, really their parents had) to load their resumes. The ones who had gone to the state science fair (meaning their parents or nannies had spent many weekends and nights helping with a science project).

 Few of these hires where rags-to-riches stories. Most had parents very much like those already working on Wall Street – wealthy and dedicated to getting their children whatever they needed, regardless of cost. Many were in fact the children of Wall Street parents.

It is not just Wall Street. Most of the best paying jobs now require a college degree, or post-college degree, and still rarely hire from state schools. They want Ivy schools, or similar. That feels safe.

This is a problem. Businesses have abdicated their primary role in hiring, handing it over to colleges, which have gladly accepted that role, and now charge a shit-load for it. Want a job kid? Pay $60,000 a year for four years. Then maybe pay for another two to get a MBA.

Yet, those best schools do not teach kids anything radically different from what the average colleges do. They do not prepare them better for the day-to-day work of Wall Street. Those finance skills are learned with experience and instinct after two years of training – on the job.

Rather, a prestigious education is a badge given to students who can follow the established rules, run through the maze, jump through hoops, color between the lines, and sit quietly. It shows that they really, really want to be a grown-up. For that, they pay $60,000 per year.

It has become a test. Are you part of the meritocracy?

It also has become a barrier of entry to professionalism – a very costly barrier of entry.

Harvard University
A rigid system of ‘feeder’ schools is in place for parents who want their children to attend schools like Harvard, which have a reputation for then ‘feeding’ major Wall Street firms. Photograph: Porter Gifford/Corbis

Read the rest of this entry »

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Who Pays Unskilled Labor US $80,000/year?!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, June 22, 2014

“For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
-1Tim5:18

Lately, much has been made of raising the Minimum Wage, which does nothing more than establish a minimum standard.

But who cares about minimums?

We should strive to exceed!

Some well-known, publicly-traded, highly profitable firms, however, revel in greed, and wallow in the slop, when they can do far better for the employees who operate their businesses.

The question is often asked “why pay unskilled workers $10 or even more per hour?”

It’s a valid question, and deserves a genuinely thoughtful response.

So, let’s pose that question to BIG OIL COMPANIES in Williston, North Dakota, where…

“oilfield companies pay unskilled 19 year-olds $80,000 a year.”

 

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/mall-middle-what-used-be-nowhere

by Dan Weissmann
Monday, June 16, 2014 – 15:21

Williston, North Dakota, has the nation’s highest rents. Thanks to the fracking boom, a basic apartment in Williston costs more than something similar in New York or San Francisco. And it comes with a lot fewer amenities.

For instance, shopping. If Walmart doesn’t have it, the nearest outlet is at least two hours away. Now, a Swiss investment firm has announced plans to Read the rest of this entry »

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Bureau of Labor Statistics Labor Force Participation Reports May 2014: Don’t Believe the “Spin”

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, June 8, 2014

This will be of interest to the curious, especially those who seek and search for the truth.

Asserting to cite data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CNS News recently reported that the Labor Force participation rate was at a 36-year low.
The headline to that story reads:
37.2%: Percentage Not in Labor Force Remains at 36-Year High
http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/ali-meyer/372-percentage-not-labor-force-remains-36-year-high

Upon examination of the BLS website, the data was found to be honest and accurate.
http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000

Information on the data set presented is:
Data extracted on: June 8, 2014 (4:07:31 PM)
Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey
Series ID: LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title: (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status: Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data: Percent or rate
Age: 16 years and over

Following is the chart as shown on the BLS website:

Chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Labor Force Participation, Seasonally adjusted http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000

Chart #2: From the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Labor Force Participation, Seasonally adjusted http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000 Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate, age 16+

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the information is accurate – that is, if it accurately represents the thing it purports to represent – then there is a genuine cause for concern, perhaps even alarm. But first, sometimes, information has to pass the “smell test.” If it just doesn’t sound right, dig a little deeper.

However, there is a DEFINITE skew which, when considered, renders the interpretation of the findings questionable, at best.

Since there are TWO separate entities reporting the SAME information, how could it possibly be inaccurate, or incorrect?

Let’s consider further, to determine if such alarm might be genuinely warranted.

Searching for Labor Force Participation Rate datasets from Read the rest of this entry »

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Fun-n-Easy Guessing Game… of International Intrigue

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, April 28, 2014

Hey kiddos!

Here’s a funneasy guessing game!
(Emphasis on “easy.”)

Don’t be scared or intimidated by the fill-in-the-blanks.
(Which appear as _?nation?_.)

It’s really only two answers.
(The other answer is _?currency?_.)

HINT: (None of which are “United States.”)
FROM:

The CIA World Factbook

The _?nation?_ economy has experienced continuous growth and features low unemployment, contained inflation, very low public debt, and a strong and stable financial system. By 2012, _?_ had experienced more than 20 years of continued economic growth, averaging 3.5% a year.

Demand for resources and energy from Asia and especially China has grown rapidly, creating a channel for resources investments and growth in commodity exports. The high _?currency?_ has hurt the manufacturing sector, while the services sector is the largest part of the _?nation?_  economy, accounting for about 70% of GDP and 75% of jobs.

_?nation?_ was comparatively unaffected by the global financial crisis as the banking system has remained strong and inflation is under control.

_?nation?_ has benefited from a dramatic surge in its terms of trade in recent years, stemming from Read the rest of this entry »

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Analysis – Examining the Record: Is Alabama Governor Bentley a “Jobs Creator” or a Drag on the State Economy?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 12, 2014

When campaigning for the office of Alabama’s Governor, Robert Bentley – a retired dermatologist physician who at the time was an elected representative from Tuscaloosa County – promised if elected governor that, “I will forgo a salary as state representative for the rest of my term and will not accept a salary as Governor until Alabama reaches full employment.”
ref: http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/06/robert_bentley_extends_no-sala.html

When pressed on the matter, he later defined “full employment” as having state unemployment somewhere around 5%. It is a promise to which, as of the date of this entry – 12 April 2014 – he has kept. In other words, Alabama has NOT reached “full employment,” and he has not been paid a salary. He has, however, been compensated for out-of-pocket expenses (the governor’s office has a budget, so why would he personally have any such expenses for work in an official capacity?), though he has received – as legislator, a legally-mandated $1.00 per month salary. Since his election to the governorship, he has not received a salary.

Let’s examine Governor Bentley‘s employment record.

During Governor Robert Bentley’s watch, International Paper – the large paper mill formerly known as Champion Paper, in Courtland, and the largest employer in Lawrence County – closed and cost the area economy & state 1100 jobs. Those jobs were Read the rest of this entry »

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Historical Audio: Reagan supported increased wages & labor protection

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, April 11, 2014

Seems as if everything old is news again.

Of course, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

GOP Panics As Audio Emerges Proving Their Hero Reagan Would Oppose Current GOP Policies

Author: April 9, 2014 6:49 pm

A 1948 audio recording of Ronald Reagan shows that he would have opposed the GOP’s policies today. In fact, if the GOP actually knew anything about Reagan’s history, they’d wonder how he even ended up in the party to begin with. The right-wing lunatic fringe runs today’s GOP. Back when this recording was made, Ronald Reagan sounded far more like one of today’s liberal Democrats than a Republican. The difference is astonishing.

Ronald Reagan on the 1946 GOP’s plan to increase people’s real incomes:

“The profits of corporations have doubled, while workers’ wages have increased by only one quarter. In other words, profits have gone up four times as much as wages. And the small increase workers did receive was eaten up by rising prices, which also bored into their savings.”

Gee, that sounds an awful lot like what’s happening now. Soaring corporate profits should mean that workers’ wages go up, also. Instead, more people than ever live paycheck to paycheck, and fewer have any savings to speak of, let alone enough to pay six months of living expenses in case of an emergency. But the stock market has reached record highs several times. So everything’s cool, at least as far as the GOP is concerned.

Ronald Reagan on the “free market” and rising prices:

“High prices have not been caused by higher wages, but by bigger and bigger profits. The Republican promises sounded pretty good in 1946. But what has happened since then? Since the 80th Congress took over? Prices have climbed to the highest level in history, although the death of the OPA was supposed to bring prices down through ‘the natural process of free competition.’”

So, even back then, the Republican ideal of the free market didn’t work the way they insisted, and Ronald Reagan could see that. These days, they still want the government to stay out. They want competition to work for lowering prices and creating jobs. However, the so-called “free market” that they want tends toward monopolies and/or price collusion, which both drive prices up. These two situations prevent new businesses from entering the market to compete, and hurt consumers and workers, while driving profits sky-high.

Ronald Reagan on working Americans: Read the rest of this entry »

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No More Alcohol in Gasoline?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, March 17, 2014

Recently, I received an email message from a friend, one who is highly intelligent, and who has a phenomenal diversity of life experiences. The item had a video to a Faux News video segment, which is included in this post, at the conclusion.

My response to the half-truthed item follows.

Here’s hoping you and others find it informative, and helpful.

While I have neither been the type to proclaim THE SKY IS FALLING! THE SKY IS FALLING! nor believe there is conspiracy against me, nor the paranoid type that imagines “the government” is out to get me (and therefore neither view nor read Fox News), I do think there is some credence to the item. (Of course, a “Snopes check” shows a mix of half-truths. But, if it ain’t all true, it ain’t true – kinda’ like the gas, you know.) More details on that follow.

In a story published published Saturday, February 1st, 2014, the Chattanooga Times-Free Press wrote how some motorists in that area are preferring 100% pure gasoline over the 10% Ethanol blend. (I happened to read that story at the time it was published.)
http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2014/feb/01/some-motorists-want-their-gasoline-corn-free/

While residing there, I also noticed the same, and noticed that the price for 100% pure gasoline is higher than for the 10% ethanol blend. One day, while pumping the 100% gasoline at a Chattanooga gas station, I happened to speak with a gent at the adjacent pump about the difference. He shared an observation with me which I thought quite interesting, and one which certainly seemed reasonable.

He said that in an “accidental” experiment, he purchased some 10% ethanol blended gasoline for use in his lawn mower. He then poured some of the 10% ethanol blended gas into a glass jar, and let it set out at least overnight (or a bit longer). He observed that it had become cloudy from the accumulation of humidity.

While I’ve never tried such an experiment, I do note that many years ago, on occasion, I would run my little carbureted Toyota’s gas tank empty, and would then fill it up with 1 gallon each of Methanol, 100LL, Toluene, Xylene and Methyl Ethyl Ketone. I did so for at least two reasons: 1.) to get any water in the fuel tank & system out, and; 2.) to “clean out” any deposits that may have formed in the fuel system.

Of course, Gasoline and Water are different for several reasons, not the least of which is that Read the rest of this entry »

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In Defense of #Infrastructure Spending

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, February 22, 2014

At the federal level, TEApublican types have decried our national deficit, much – if not most – of which came about as a result of placing the price of a decade of warfare on a proverbial credit card. I refer, of course, to the Persian Gulf War, Gulf War II, Operation Desert Shield/Storm and the invasion of Afghanistan, etc., all of which occurred during the previous administration.

Compounding that problem was that corporate and personal income tax rates upon the wealthiest was cut, while simultaneously, the veritable house of cards was crumbling, having been built upon the miry, sinking sands of Wall Street deregulation & greed gone wild.

Nevertheless, as our nation has struggled and clawed its way back to some semblance of fiscal sanity, there have been voices arising whom assert that the federal government’s “bailout” of banks & other large, corporate enterprise has been a gross mistake, and that such a bailout should have never occurred. And, while there will doubtless be volumes written, and debates held about the good and the bad of the ordeal, what’s been done, has been done, and it’s practically all over, but the crying. So the only thing we can do now, is live & learn, and move on.

And yet, respecting one underlying problem which arose corollary to the matter, is the loss of jobs here at home. Again, it was complicated by ‘globalization,’ which – good, bad, or indifferent – is Read the rest of this entry »

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Government Spending

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, September 14, 2013

More than a few folks recall the significant benefit the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provided this nation, and how our nation’s infrastructure (roads, waterways, electrical power grid, etc.) grew during that time. In Monte Sano State Park, in Huntsville, Alabama, there are cabins which are STILL standing, and which are in EXCELLENT repair, that were constructed by the CCC. It is testament to their quality, and to the effort to put people to work in this nation in the aftermath of the Great Depression.

Sadly, this largely Republican-led, “just-say-no” congress has done NOTHING to produce or encourage any type of jobs. That is to say, they have written NO BILLS to promote, encourage or stimulate hiring. NONE.

And yet, there is a sure-fire, time-tested way to get folks back to work – and what is being done about it?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Global Educational Attainment, 1950-2010

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, August 4, 2013

Educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010

Robert Barro, Jong-Wha Lee, 18 May 2010

Empirical investigations of the role of human capital require accurate measures across countries and over time. This column describes a new dataset on educational attainment for 146 countries at 5-year intervals from 1950 to 2010. The new data, freely available online, use more information and better methodology than existing datasets. Among the many new results is that the rate of return to an additional year of schooling on output is quite high – ranging from 5% to 12%.

It is widely accepted that human capital, particularly attained through education, is crucial to economic progress. An increase in the number of well-educated people implies a higher level of labour productivity and a greater ability to absorb advanced technology from developed countries (Acemoglu 2009). Empirical investigations of the role of human capital require accurate and internationally-comparable measures of human capital across countries and over time.

Our earlier studies (1993, 1996, and 2001) constructed measures of educational attainment of the adult population for a broad group of countries. This column introduces a new data set (available at barrolee.com) providing improved estimates for 146 countries at 5-year intervals from 1950 to 2010. The data are Read the rest of this entry »

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President Barack Obama to visit Chattanooga, Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chattanooga is an old, old, old, old city.

It’s older than Civil War old.

Throughout the city there are narrow streets, many (if not most) of which need widening and repaving. Interstate 24, which leads into the city, is in sore need of widening. Because of the twisting, winding route it takes as it leads into, through and around the city and it’s numerous mountains and hills, it can be treacherous. When any slowdown for any reason occurs, traffic can be backed up for 15-20 miles, or more. When wrecks occur on that route, they’re often fatal, and create even longer delays. The only other major route into the city is US Highway 72. There is no bypass. If there are problems on either of those two routes, significant delays can take hours. (See a Google Map of the area.)

It has a university – University of Tennessee, Chattanooga – with other smaller colleges & universities nearby (Lee University, in Cleveland & Southern Adventist University, in Collegedale). One of three hospitals in the area (each which has numerous campuses) Erlanger, is a Level One Trauma Center, and teaching hospital for the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Memorial Hospital, is part of the Catholic Health Initiatives system, and is a teaching hospital, while Parkridge Hospital is operated by TriStar Health.

Because of industrial waste released by area manufacturing, in 1969, Chattanooga had the filthiest air in the nation. The Tennessee River which serves as a boundary for the area was equally polluted. For many years, troubles GALORE plagued the city, including economic inequality, poor race relations, deteriorating economic infrastructure, rapid population decline, and departure of industry.

Recognizing that the city and area residents were suffering a slow suicide, officials and interested citizens embarked upon a plan to revitalize the area, including cleaning up industrial waste, reinvigorating the economy with employment opportunity, and looking forward, rather than backward.

EPB (Electric Power Board), one of the public utilities in the area, came upon an idea to infuse their power grid with Fiber Optic cable to enable better response times, to pinpoint areas of concern, and to re-route electricity during power outages when lines were downed by trees or severe weather. They faced stiff opposition in the form of legal fights by Comcast (principally), yet were successful in overcoming. In turn, they sold High Speed fiber optic Internet Connectivity to area residents at a significantly reduced cost in comparison to the Wall-Street-traded Comcast. They also provide better service.

While the area’s renaissance is by no means complete, it has advanced with enormously significant strides.


 

Obama to visit uneven Chattanooga area recovery


published Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Mike Pare, deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Mike Pare MPare@TimesFreepress.com phone: 423-757-6318

Mike Pare, Deputy Business Editor, Chattanooga Times Free Press; MPare@ TimesFreePress.com phone: (423) 757-6318

by Mike Pare
view bio

When President Barack Obama flies into Chattanooga on Tuesday to tout new economic initiatives, he’ll see a city recognized in a national study as a metro area emerging from the recession as an “economic frontrunner.”

Area Development, a national business magazine covering site selection and relocation, ranked metro Chattanooga at No. 86 — in the top quarter — among 380 metro areas examined for the study titled “Leading Locations for 2013.”

While in Chattanooga Obama is expected to unveil new ways to spur the nation’s sluggish economic recovery.

At the Amazon distribution center at Enterprise South industrial park, the president will see a growing, state-of-the-art distribution facility with 1,800 full-time jobs created since 2011. The Chattanooga facility, along with Read the rest of this entry »

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The GIANT SUCKING SOUND South of the Border. -or- Ross Perot was right.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ross Perot was right.

Scene: 1992 Presidential Debate: Former Arkansas Governor William Jefferson Clinton – D, President George H. W. Bush – R, and Ross Perot – I.

White Male Audience Member: Yes, I’d like to direct my question to Mr. Perot. What will you do, as President, to open foreign markets to fair competiton from American business, and to stop unfair competition here at home from foreign countries, so that we can bring jobs back to the United States?

Ross Perot: That’s right at the top of my agenda.

We’ve shipped millions of jobs overseas, and uh… we have a strained situation because we have a process in Washington, where after you’ve served for a while, you cash in, become a foreign lobbyist, make $30,000 a month, then take a leave, work on presidential campaigns, make sure you got good contacts, and then go back out.

And if you just want to get down to brass tacks, the first thing you ought to do is get all these folks who got these one-way trade agreements that we’ve negotiated over the years, and say ‘fellas, we’ll take the same deal we gave you.’ And they’ll gridlock right at that point, because, Read the rest of this entry »

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Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book” shows improving economy

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Federal Reserve regularly publishes a summary of economic activity in the 12 Federal Reserve Districts in the United States.

It is important to note that “This document summarizes comments received from businesses and other contacts outside the Federal Reserve and is not a commentary on the views of Federal Reserve officials.”

Much, if not most of the news was promising.

Summary highlights from this Beige Book 2013-01-16 are that:

• “Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity has expanded since the previous Beige Book report, with all twelve Districts characterizing the pace of growth as either modest or moderate.”

• “All twelve districts reported some growth in Read the rest of this entry »

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December 2012 Jobs Picture

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Employment Situation in December

January 04, 2013
09:30 AM ES

While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007.

With the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act earlier this week, more than 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses now have certainty that their income taxes will not rise. Additionally, unemployment insurance was extended for two million Americans who are searching for a job, and companies will continue to receive tax credits for the research that they do and continue to have tax incentives to accelerate investment in their businesses. By allowing income tax cuts for the top two percent of earners to expire, this legislation further reduces the deficit by $737 billion over the next decade. It is important that we continue to move toward a sustainable federal budget in a responsible way that balances revenue and spending while protecting critical investments in the economy and essential support for our most vulnerable citizens.

Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector businesses added Read the rest of this entry »

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Could the Price of Milk go to $13 per gallon? If the “Fiscal Cliff” is not avoided, yes.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, December 31, 2012

This Do-Nothing Congress is, without question, the absolutely WORST Congress EVER!

More filibustering & taxes, less law-making, less-governance.

That must be what they mean when they talk about “smaller government,” or “less laws.”

Farm-State Lawmakers Back Plan to Avoid ‘Dairy Cliff’ Price Jump

By Alan Bjerga & Derek Wallbank – Dec 31, 2012 12:01 AM ET

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow are backing a short-term extension of a farm law that lapsed Sept. 30 as the Obama administration warns that without congressional action, retail milk prices could almost double.

“I would hope that as soon as is humanly possible, a decision will be made to allow us to take action” on the extension, Lucas told reporters off the House floor. “We need to take positive action, put this issue to rest, and make sure that it is clear to everybody in this country that the farm bill policy has certainty and that we will not have $8 or $9 milk.”

The proposal is one of three farm-related draft bills released over the weekend in the House of Representatives; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse tomorrow. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The proposal is one of three farm-related draft bills released over the weekend in the House of Representatives; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse tomorrow. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The proposal is one of three farm-related draft bills released over the weekend in the House of Representatives; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse tomorrow. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The draft bill would extend current law, along with disaster aid for producers affected by this year’s U.S. drought and changes to current milk policy, through Sept. 30. It would reduce mandatory outlays by $30 million through fiscal 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The bulk of the spending would come in the first year, and as such it would actually increase spending by an estimated $555 million through fiscal 2017.

Other Bills

The proposal is one of three farm-related draft bills released over the weekend in the House of Representatives; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse tomorrow.

The second measure would extend most of the current law through Jan. 31, and the third would protect only against possible dairy-price spikes. Those two are opposed by House and Senate Democratic agriculture leaders. Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, called a 30-day extension a “poor joke on farmers that offers no certainty.”

The most recent farm law, enacted in 2008, expired after attempts to pass a new five-year proposal failed. Without that plan, agricultural programs automatically return to rules passed in 1949, the basis of all subsequent legislation.

The effects of that transition have been delayed because of the growing seasons of different crops. Dairy production, a year-round business, is the first major commodity affected. In November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Business Profit Model Harms Long Term Profitability

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Perhaps the most telling rationale, or motivation for the course upon which corporations have set is explained in this statement by ANDREW SMITHERS: Yes, the current way in which managements are rewarded is perverse from an economic viewpoint. Adam Smith pointed out that some characteristics of human beings such as greed, which are often unpleasant at a personal level, can nonetheless bring social benefits. But this is not necessarily the case under current remuneration systems; greed is increasingly the cause of harm rather than help to the economy.

The long and short of it, is greed. And in that paragraph is the solitary mention of the word or practice.

Philosophically, this time, this period in our nation’s history – and in the history of the world, and in the greater, long term picture of humanity – is yet another prime example, and case in point illustrating why and how the selfishness of greed is unsustainable and genuinely evil.

Capital Wins, Labor Loses, But Andrew Smithers Says It Can’t Go On

MAKING SENSE — December 26, 2012 at 4:48 PM EDT

BY: PAUL SOLMAN

Warehouse manager at operations desk on computer. Photo courtesy of John McBride & Company Inc.

Warehouse manager at operations desk on computer. Photo courtesy of John McBride & Company Inc.

Paul Solman: Jon Shayne is not just the world’s No. 1 econo-crooner, belting out economics tunes of his own invention under the stage name Merle Hazard at his own website and for the PBS NewsHour audience on inflation, on the Greek debt crisis, on the euro crisis in general, on too-big-to-fail banks, and most recently, on the fiscal cliff.

No, Shayne/Hazard is no one-trick pony. He is also a noted money manager, recently highlighted by Forbes magazine for his perspicacity in stock-picking. Wrote Forbes: “If you follow the stock market, Jon Shayne is worth a good, long listen. Especially now.”

Having listened to Jon plenty over the past few years, I agree, especially with his emphasis on the increasing share of national income commanded by the owners of capital, in contrast to labor. This angle is the focus of Forbes’ story as well.

So I asked Jon to elaborate for the Making Sen$e audience. He has done so by interviewing the person who inspired his thoughts on the subject, British economist Andrew Smithers, who formerly ran the asset management business of S.G. Warburg, and now Read the rest of this entry »

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