Warm Southern Breeze

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Posts Tagged ‘investment’

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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German Grocer Aldi To Heat Up U.S. Competition

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, June 12, 2017

German Discount Grocer Aldi Sets U.S. Expansion Plan

Aldi says it will open nearly 900 stores, invest $5 billion over five years

Aldi says it will open 900 stores and invest $5 billion over five years. Photo by Anthony Devlin/Zuma Press

By Heather Haddon
June 11, 2017 9:00 p.m. ET

Competition in the U.S. grocery sector is about to get more fierce.

Discount grocery chain Aldi is expected to unveil on Monday plans to invest $5 billion to open nearly 900 stores and remodel hundreds more in the U.S.

The expansion, over the next five years, puts the German grocer on track to becoming the third-largest food retailer in the U.S. by store count, behind the larger Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger Co., and a growing threat to traditional food retailers.

Aldi said it is expected to have a total of 2,500 locations across the U.S. by 2022. Its plan comes as another German discounter, Lidl, is set to open its first 10 stores in the U.S. on Thursday as part of a multiyear expansion.

Executives at Wal-Mart and Kroger have been preparing for the growth of the discounters for years. Wal-Mart has been sprucing up its stores and slashing prices on some products in select markets, while Kroger continues to drive down costs to compete.

But the discounters could have a big impact on the U.S. grocery market as they did in Europe. Their market share there has steadily grown while traditional supermarkets have seen theirs fall.

Deep discount chains in the U.S. are expected to grow by up to 10% a year through 2020, five times the rate of traditional grocers, according to a recent report by consulting firm Bain & Co.

“It should absolutely be more than scary to traditional grocers and retailers,” said Mikey Vu, a partner in Bain’s retail practice.

Many shoppers in the U.S. are unfamiliar with Aldi. The chain has been in the U.S. since 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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Google Announces $600,000,000 Data Center Investment in Jackson County, Alabama

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, June 24, 2015

This is THE biggest news for Alabama since development of NASA at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville!

JACKPOT!
Google Announces $600,000,000 data center investment in Jackson County, AL
https://www.google.com/about/datacenters/inside/locations/jackson-county/

100% powered by Renewable Energy
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-power-plant-for-internet-our-newest.html

A power plant for the Internet: our newest data center in Alabama

Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Every time you check your Gmail, search on Google for a nearby restaurant, or watch a YouTube video, a server whirs to life in one of our data centers. Data centers are the engines of the Internet, bringing the power of the web to millions of people around the world. And as millions more people come online, our data centers are growing, too.

We’ve recently expanded our data centers in Iowa, Georgia, Singapore and Belgium. And today we’re announcing a new data center in Alabama—our 14th site globally.

This time, we’re doing something we’ve never done before: we’ll be building on the grounds of the Widows Creek coal power plant in Jackson County, which has been scheduled for shutdown. Data centers need a lot of infrastructure to run 24/7, and there’s a lot of potential in redeveloping large industrial sites like former coal power plants. Decades of investment shouldn’t go to waste just because a site has closed; we can repurpose existing electric and other infrastructure to make sure our data centers are reliably serving our users around the world.

TVA Widow's Creek fossil plant will be the site for Google's 14th, and newest Data Center, and represents a $600,000,000 investment in Alabama.

TVA Widow’s Creek fossil plant will be the site for Google’s 14th, and newest Data Center, and represents a $600,000,000 investment in Alabama.

At Widows Creek, we can use the plants’ many electric transmission lines to bring in lots of renewable energy to power our new data center. Thanks to an arrangement with Tennessee Valley Authority, our electric utility, we’ll be able to scout new renewable energy projects and work with TVA to bring the power onto their electrical grid. Ultimately, this contributes to our goal of being powered by 100% renewable energy.

In 2010, we were one of the first companies outside of the utility industry to Read the rest of this entry »

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Georgia Wine Exportation Increases

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, April 17, 2013

While this story is about the nation known as Georgia, given the numerous convoluted and antiquated laws governing beverage alcohol in the Southern United States, it could very well be Georgia… Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, or Arkansas.

Something Old, Something New: Georgian Wines Adapt To Changing Market

April 17, 2013

by Glenn Kates

KISISKHEVI, Georgia — Seven years ago, Burkhard Schuchmann, a retired German railroad executive, arrived for the first time in this lush region, where the snow-capped Caucasian mountains cast a long shadow over the grapevines that line the low-lying fields.It was 2006 and Russia had recently imposed a crippling embargo on Georgian wine.Schuchmann decided to open a winery nevertheless.

“To see it from today’s point of view, Georgians can be lucky that the embargo came,” Schuchmann says. “Because then they were forced to [focus on] quality and to think about marketing. There was no need before.”

After mostly “satisfactory” inspections by Russia’s consumer-rights agency in February and March, Georgian wines will soon be sold in Russia again. But Russians, perhaps expecting the sweet, syrupy taste of years past, may be surprised by the changing nature of Georgian vintage.

Georgian makes new wine

Burkhard Schuchmann opened a winery in Georgia because he thought he could compete outside of Russia by modernizing the industry.

In 2005, Georgia exported 80 percent of its wine to Read the rest of this entry »

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An Encyclopedic Investment

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, March 24, 2013

The word ‘encyclopedic’ is often thought of as meaning voluminous, or containing great, or significant knowledge. However, even a casual examination of the word shows something entirely different.

In the middle of the word is ‘cyclo,’ which as we would imagine, refers to something circular, or round. Who hasn’t heard of a bi-cycle, a cycle with two wheels?

And then, there’s ‘pedia,’ and we’ve all heard of ‘pediatrics,’ the health practice concerned exclusively with children. Children, of course, need instruction and teaching.

Thus, we can Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s not a joke. Republican voting states have lower education & income.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, November 18, 2012

Like it, love it, or hate it… there must be something to 1.) Richard Nixon’sSouthern Strategy,” and; 2.) The line made famous (or infamous, depending upon one’s perspective) by then-Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf in 1993 about being “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.“ And, for the readers’ benefit, in context, he wrote, “Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.”
— Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf in a February 1, 1993 news story.

America’s Best (and Worst) Educated States

Published October 15, 2012

24/7 Wall St., Michael B. Sauter and Alexander E.M. Hess

The number of Americans with college degrees has increased steadily in the last decade. According to the latest government data, 28.5% of U.S. residents 25 or older had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2011, up only slightly from 27.2% in 2005. While the number is relatively unchanged, there are substantial differences across the country. In West Virginia, the state with the lowest graduation rate, 18.5% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. In Massachusetts, the state with the highest graduation rate, the figure is 39.1%.

Best & Worst educated states & voting record

Best & Worst educated states & Presidential voting record

This article was originally published by 24/7 Wall St. 

Based on education data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s’ American Community Survey, 24/7 Wall St. identified the U.S. states with the largest and smallest percentages of residents 25 or older with a college degree or more.

The difference in median income between those with only a high school diploma and a college degree is dramatic. The median pay for U.S. adults with just a high school diploma was $26,699 in 2011. For those 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree, median annual earnings came to $48,309. Residents with a graduate or professional degree did even better; median annual earnings was $64,322.

Differences in poverty rates related to education are just as dramatic. For U.S. adults with at least bachelor’s degrees, the percentage living in poverty in 2011 was just 4.4%. For adults with only a high school diploma, 14.2% were living below the poverty line.

The effects of wage gap by education becomes clear when comparing the states by graduation rate. Of the 10 states with the largest percentage of college-educated residents, eight are in the top 10 for median income. Among the worst-educated states, eight are among the 10 with the lowest median income.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the percentage of U.S. residents 25 or older with at least a bachelor’s degree for 2011 from the annual American Community Survey. From that survey, we obtained Read the rest of this entry »

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Veteran’s Day 2009

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, November 9, 2009

I’m proud to have served my nation in the uniform armed services, having done so voluntarily. I think every young American should do similarly. And, I believe our nation should provide significant benefit to those whom so choose.

Some years ago, I envisioned what I called a “234 Plan,” which would:

  1. Double pay grade for two years up to pay grade E-3 for initial enlistees;
  2. Require a minimum of Four Years of service;
  3. Pay for four years of higher education, up to and including Ph.D., with the ability to transfer benefits to first-degree relatives;

and perhaps most importantly,

4. Provide such income as federally Tax-Free, forever.

At current pay rates, that would be slightly under $76,000 for a period of two years at pay grade E-3 – not a bad nest egg. And then, there’s the 30 days paid vacation, head-to-toe health care, incentive/bonus pay for skills, BAH (basic allowance for housing), and a host of other remunerations and fiduciary potential – all of which are added to Basic Pay, thereby increasing take-home pay. Potentially, managing money wisely, a young enlistee could emerge from a four year commitment with very nearly $125,000 in pocket, VA health benefits, GI Bill benefits, and more.

The money could be used wisely, or squandered. But the principle would forever be federally tax-free – and I think it should be at the state level, as well. It’s well known that young enlistees have high levels of “disposable” income. But WISE fiscal management could yield significant benefits to them individually, and by extension, to our nation.

Part three of the plan I envisioned – higher education – was implemented when President Obama signed the Post 9/1 G.I. Bill, providing the most comprehensive expansion and provision of educational benefits our troops have received since F.D.R.’s presidency.

I recollect a report entitled “Young Virginians: Ready, Willing, and Unable to Serve,” having read and saved it September 2, this year. It was authored and advised by an impressive cadre of Generals, Admirals, field-grade officers, and senior executive NCOs, from all branches of the service, and “supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and Pre-K Now, campaign of the Pew center on the States.”

Interestingly, NPR has only recently reported on it.

The problems the report addresses are from a thorough examination of Virginia, though it’s findings can be extrapolated to the United States at large.

According to the report, the three greatest problems disqualifying American youth from service to our nation include:

1.) Criminality – felony and serious misdemeanor offense;

2.) Education – failure to graduate high school, and low achievement in reading & math, 30% unable to pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test; and

3.) Health – specifically obesity, although asthma, eyesight, hearing, mental health, ADHD and additional health problems factor in, thereby disqualifying over half of all young adults.

Additional disqualifiers include single custodial parenthood, and drug or alcohol abuse.

These are all social ills.

Mission: Readiness – Military Leaders for Kids is a bipartisan, nonprofit, national security organization of more than 80 retired generals and admirals,” whom “accept no funds from federal, state, or local governments,”  and “call on all policymakers to ensure America’s security and prosperity by supporting interventions proven to help America’s youth succeed academically, stay physically fit, and abide by the law. Pre-K Now collaborates with organizations and policy makers to lead a movement toward high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-olds.”

In recent political history, social programs have been an “easy target” for many of the Republican stripe whom have seriously reduced or eliminated such programs’ funding, effectively or outright killing the very programs that could have done much to have prevented these anathemas.

Ironically, prison construction and maintenance is a capital expenditure. And of all the world’s nations, ours has more incarcerations per capita than any other, having exploded (doubling 2.5 times) since 1980 (though incarcerations remained relatively stable since 1920, according to the U.S. Department of Justice).

How’s that THAT for the so-called “Reagan Revolution?” It sounds more like a “Contract on America” rather than “with America,” to me.

Wonder why no more.

Governance is much more than infrastructure expenditures, and military readiness includes a strong social component.

Our Constitution calls it providing “for the common defense,” by promoting “the general welfare,” to “secure the blessings of liberty.”

Healthcare is an integral and unequivocal part of that equation… as we can now painfully, and plainly see.

I suppose it would be apropos and germane – though perhaps trite – to conclude with a line from advertising: “You can pay me now… or, pay me later.”

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