Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Mother Jones" Theories Debunked

So it's been a crazy few days in my house, from dealing with a break into our car to my son being sick I've been tied up.  For those of you who follow my twitter however, you should know what's coming as I promised Thursday that my post would be dedicated to refuting, point by point, an article written by Kevin Drum, of  This article pushes forward as fact several economic assumptions perpetuated by liberal politicians in an attempt to make the current administration look good.  I have no problem with the current administration (except that their "Jobs Bill" will do anything but create jobs) but I'm also not blindly in favor of them, so I'd like to take a look at these statements without a democratic (or republican) tinted set of glasses on...  So let's look at these "myths' Mr. Drum tries to expose for us, and see what the real truths are.

Okay so first of all Mr Drum asserts that not only is it a myth that the economic stimulus package of Obama's failed, but that it worked and worked well.  This is a fallacy, not only did the stimulus not work on a long term basis-it was never going to, the system simply is no longer constructed for such an idea to work.  Did it create a few jobs?  Perhaps, but what the stimulus did ultimately, was apply a band-aid where a tourniquet was needed.

The writer supports his claims by citing 1937 and how the infrastructure spending worked then, and also uses the graphic displayed to the right.  While this graphic displays a nice bit of "evidence" in favor of Mr. Drum's opinion, it is not fact.  In fact, it is pretty much the opposite of fact, it's damn close to a bald-faced lie.  Let's address the GDP growth here-and pardon me if I don't cite statistics from 70 years ago in support of my point and instead go with actual numbers.  In 2009 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis and this article, real GDP decreased 2.4% in 2009.  Granted the real hard quarter was Obama's first in office, but regardless, this was a direct reaction to the stimulus which was created and passed in his first quarter. Addtionally, Trading Economics shows the US GDP to be growing this year at only a 1.3% rate.

Furthermore, Joe Biden himself this morning on CNN's "State of the Union" claimed 3 million jobs added by the stimulus package.  The huge range of 4.2-11.1 million jobs added should be the indicator-that shows true on both statistics played off as facts here-but the words of the Vice President's own mouth prove it to be inaccurate today.  Furthermore, analysts show that there are actually 1.5 million fewer jobs today than when Obama took office.  Even if one bill created 3 million jobs, if 4.5 million are lost in other places the 3 million jobs created doesn't really mean much does it?

It drives me nuts to keep hearing people refer back to the 1930's and 1940's and the plans that helped usher us from the Great Depression when they talk about why infrastructure spending and stimulus packages will work to turn this economy around.  It's simply not true, when you compare the economies of the 30's and 40's to today's economy you're comparing apples to oranges.  Hell, you're practically comparing apples to...I don't know, hamburgers.  The two simply are nothing alike.  The global economy has changed drastically in the 70 years that have passed since the Great Depression, and with the costs of logistics dropping while regulatory costs and taxes increase exponentially, things simply aren't being made here any longer.  Since that remains true, any money spent here sees only a portion stay here, while other dollars go overseas to pay for the construction of the product you've bought.  The point is, when you spent on infrastructure in the 30's, the greater portion of that money-if not all of it-was injected into the US economy through spending by construction workers involved in the infrastructure spending.  Today only a portion is injected into the economy while the rest goes overseas.  That's just the way today's "global village" works.

The second "myth" Mr. Drum tries to uncover is that the United States' debt is not a real problem, just a perceived problem the Republicans are trying to highlight in an effort to trick us all.  The only question inspired by this statement?  Was Mr. Drum able to type it without laughing?  Because I wasn't.  Mr. Drum even goes on to say "Apparently the financial markets think we're a pretty good credit risk".  Of course that's in lieu of the fact that on August 6 of this year Standard and Poors downgraded the United States' credit rating, and this morning it's being reported by Business Insider that a Bank of America analyst expects the US's credit rating to be downgraded again in the near future.  Now I'm no Wall St. banker, but I'm thinking a downgraded credit rating IS NOT a resounding vote of confidence in how much of a credit risk we are.

Mr. Drum furthers defends his position by saying things like "no one turns down free money" and asking if you'd take money if it were offered to you.  This is a foolish point, as the saying goes there is no such thing as a free lunch (or free money).  He says that as a result of the tax income created by spending 1 trillion, the cost would only be $400 billion.  This is faulty.  He actually says 60% of what is spent will be generated in tax dollars.  Really?  I doubt 60% of what is spent even ends up within our borders, let alone being generated as tax revenue.  These figures make zero sense (regardless of the fact they were invented-yes invented-by a Berkley economist, they're senseless, baseless, clearly left-leaning, and designed for one purpose: to further a liberal cause.  The numbers themselves are almost circular, and Mr. Drum doesn't provide a link to the study, I'll have to find it myself and pick that apart someday.

Mr. Drum's third "myth" is that lower taxes generate growth in the economy.  Let's look at this based solely upon logic shall we?  Again, let's remember that we're living in a new global economy these days, that logistics and technology these days make it easier and easier to live wherever you want, to produce wherever you want, it costs very little to move people, products, etc.  Add in our emerging competition in the far East in India and China as the two countries with the world's largest work forces, and increases in taxes and regulatory costs might not only hurt our economy, it could cripple it, causing companies to move in droves overseas where they could be more profitable.  While many hate corporate American these days, corporations bring jobs and bring products, even if they're just jobs in sales or customer service.  The huge problem with our current economy is that jobs have been leaving and going overseas-do we really want to push more out of the country?  Americans seem so set in the fact that we're the top nation in the world, but really how hard would it be for corporations to turn to India or China, move their headquarters there and essentially recreate the 1900's with a much larger workforce and experience in watching one country (us) fail so they know what NOT to do next time?  I'm not saying that's going to happen next week, but what is there to prevent it from happening?

Mr Drum's fourth "myth" is that regulatory uncertainty is clogging the economy.  This makes me wonder if Mr. Drum has ever been involved with any business in any way other than as a customer.  Let's look at a few things here, starting with Mr. Drum's own chart, shown on the left.

While Mr. Drum is correct that based upon this survey the biggest problem small business owners worry about is poor sales, look at the next two concerns: taxes and regulations/red tape.  Combined, 36% of small business owners cited these two issues as their foremost concern, compared to 20% who were worried about sales.  Look, concern about potential taxes and regulation aren't as much of a problem as current taxes and regulatory costs are.  I've personally seen dozens of businesses that have existed for decades pushed out of business due to these increased costs.  Still other companies are reportedly sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash, kind of waiting to see how things play out and not using that cash to create jobs.  So, while I only have a few points written here to point out the inaccuracy of Mr. Drum's points, corporations in America have roughly 1.8 trillion bits of evidence.

Mr. Drum's fifth fact is one that frankly, I'm not ready to refute-or even state whether I think it should be refuted or not-although I suspect I will given the prior points and his defense for this point.  He cites Bernarke's printing of money to the recovery from the Great Depression again, comparing apples and frosted donuts, or hamburgers, or whatever highlights the vast difference between our economy now and our economy 70 years ago the best.  Comparing these two times does only one thing; highlight the lack of knowledge the writer of this article clearly has regarding real business, the economy, and finance.

I want to take a minute to go back to "myth #1" for a second, and talk about the stimulus.  The stimulus was a band-aid, that's all it should have been even designed to be.  It basically enabled the government to extend unemployment benefits and further accommodate those unable to find a job.  It supported people during this record 40 week average layoff from full time work, but hand in hand with that package needed to come a long term plan, and that plan never came, in fact the opposite happened, things got worse as a result of inaction.

I spent last year working with a concrete company.  They were fairly small-about $15-20 million in annual revenue-and depended heavily on government contracts and government projects to operate. After several years of profitability and joyfully seeing Obama's economic stimulus package pass (thinking it was linked to infrastructure spending) the company began to go downhill.  Our biggest problem?  Job quote turnaround time-in other words the time that elapsed from the minute we started talking about a job until when we started pouring concrete-more than doubled from 6 months to 12.  Jobs started drying up, and while we had many jobs lined up, the money from the government to fund those projects simply wasn't there, hadn't been released yet and so we never were able to start them.  Eventually after a year of underemployment for the company as a whole, and gradual crumbling through piece by piece lay-offs, the company folded and was forced to lay everyone off and file for bankruptcy.  Those that we laid off were able to stay on unemployment longer sure, but they'd have preferred that spending actually happened and that we were able to start working again.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts below.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

GOP Presidential Candidacy Debate

night was the second GOP debate in a week and was hosted by CNN in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This Republican class of presidential candidates has looked like a one horse race with the occasional challenger, and the challenge for all the candidates not named Romney to move themselves into being considered a "contender".  I'll go person by person, sum up some key points, and give you my thoughts on their performance, how they helped or hurt themselves tonight, and what their economics look like in my eyes.

Herman Cain
Cain comes into the debate (somehow) as the new hot ticket in the Republican party, someone people seem to be getting behind who is currently challenging Romney in the surveys.  Cain's catchy 9-9-9 plan was immediately attacked (and it should be, it's ridiculous) by every other candidate.  Bachmann wanted to drive the point home that the tax could be increased, while others wanted to drive the point home that MIDDLE CLASS AND LOWER CLASS FAMILIES WOULD PAY MORE TAXES.  (Whoops, did I hit the caps lock there?  Must have been a slip.)  Cain's defense?  Basically he said "well you should hear how my guys do it".  It's insane, this guy really thinks people are going to buy it?
"The thing that I would encourage people to do, before they...engage in this knee-jerk reaction is read our analysis.  It is available at  It was performed by fiscal associates.  And all of the claims that are made against it...It is a jobs plan, it is income neutral, it does not raise taxes on those that are making the least....The reason that our plan is being attacked so much is because lobbyists, accountants, politicans don't want to throw out the tax code..." Allow me to translate for you (I'm a business man as well, I speak Cain's language.)
"The thing that I would encourage people to do, before they...engage in this knee-jerk reaction" (what he means here is "yea that's true, but here's a cute saying and then I'm going to say it's not true)
"It was performed by fiscal associates." (what he meant to say here was "some intern in my office said this sounded like a good plan")
"It is a jobs plan" (It's not a jobs plan)
"it is income neutral" (it is, flat tax, except that we'll pay more for products cuz companies pay tons more in tax.)
"It does not raise taxes..." (it does)
"The reason that..." (I've gotta try to discredit anyone that says anything against this real quick)

For the rest of the time Cain continued to throw in cute little sayings with very little factual backup.  He admitted this past week that his taxes WOULD increase taxes on lower and middle class families.  There is no exception, so no matter what your income is you're taxed.  Look, I agree with this concept actually, but still he's saying it's one thing when the truth is another.

I truly can't believe people are getting behind Herman Cain, but they seem to be according to reports.  I wonder if channels aren't just bumping the numbers up to try to create the perception of a race, to give Romney some competition.  I mean seriously, did they really listen to his idiotic apples and oranges crap? Perry says "you'll pay the state sales tax plus the fed sales tax on purchases" and Cain says "No, apples and oranges" and then later tells Romney "yea, apples are fed tax and state is oranges, and you have to pay both".  Are you kidding me people?  This cannot really be the guy you're falling for.  WAKE UP PEOPLE.

Moving on...Cain is not a serious candidate.  This guy will flame out unless people are far more stupid than I give them credit for...crap, this guy might get the nomination.

Newt Gingrich

I have the same thought about Newt in every public interaction with anyone, any debate, anything.  He makes GREAT points and is clearly VERY intelligent.  The problem is, he's very unlikeable and he can't really change that.  At least that's the impression I get.  I don't know much about his social policies, but his economic policies and theories make a lot of sense to me.

There's nothing new or exciting about Newt, so his paragraph might be short.  He's not going to get the nomination, and may he shouldn't, I don't know but he needs to have a job somewhere high up for one of these other guys.  He seems too...crafty to me, I don't know.  I feel like he oughta run the CIA or something, I don't know, maybe I've read too many Tom Clancy type books.

Rick Perry

Texas Governor Rick Perry was a candidate many were looking for to separate himself-even if just by partaking a bit more than prior debates-tonight, and while he partook a lot more, he was really batted around pretty badly by Mitt Romney.  Romney put him on the ropes pretty early, and just kinda hammered him for a while.  At one point early on Perry started with the strategy of yelling over Romney when Romney was hammering him, but it didn't work, Romney just kept beating on him all night.

Perry is basically the male version of Palin.  Ultra conservative, not very bright, doesn't really know what he's talking about.  He knows a few talking points-primarily surrounding energy-but that's about it.  Overall he's a pretty unimpressive candidate.  I can't imagine he lasts real long, he can't beat Obama in a debate, on a stage, or any of that.  I could see him literally throwing a fit while Obama knocks em dead with a speech.  Obama's policies might be terrible, but he's a great motivator and a great speaker.  Sometimes issues don't matter so much (sadly).

On the question of children without healthcare Perry oddly sites his own state's serious problem with immigration.  Oddly enough his state's immigration problem is due to their own policies and as Romney pointed out several times his state's problem has increased by 60% while California and Florida's problems have not increased at all.  When Romney talked about the specific program I actually saw a woman in the crowd with her jaw on the floor.  Perry sounded like he was desperately throwing shots with the "hiring an illegal" thing.  I mean that's ridiculous, Romney hired a lawn care service.  Does anyone think he was ever even home when the lawn care service is doing his lawn?  Do you think he's ever seen them?  I doubt it.

Romney had some fun with him, saying things like "It's been a tough couple debates for Rick" and "If you want to be President of the United States you have to learn to listen".  I think the knock out blow came when Romney said something to the effect of "I don't have a record?  You were the campaign manager for Al Gore while a man from Texas ran on the Republican side."  Final nail in the coffin of Perry's presidential chances.

Ron Paul

Paul is another candidate that most of us know very well, like Gingrich.  He didn't put forth much new tonight (except for cutting all funding to Israel) and he also inspires me to think something similar to what I think of Ginrich: he has great ideas, great thoughts, very sound philosophies, but he's not a good enough public speaker and not charismatic enough to beat Obama (or anyone) in a race.  It's unfortunate, I think he'd make a great president with the right VP candidate.  Too bad he and Newt differ a great deal on many topics.

I like Ron Paul, but can't see getting the opportunity to vote for him.  He spoke very wisely about making the right cuts with great specificity, citing stations and programs that were wastes of money and going so far as to say that cutting that defense spending would increase our safety as it would bring troops home from stations in places like Korea, Germany, and other countries.  He also took a strong stance on foreign funding, saying he'd cut ALL foreign aid including all aid to Israel.  He went on (sounding like a parent cutting their child off) to explain that our aid enables Israel.  I really like a lot of what he had to say, but have some questions about wiping out the department of education or energy although to be fair I don't know what these departments really do.

Michele Bachmann

Okay first of all, Michele Bachmann wore the most ridiculously white jacket, it was like she was a walking neon light.  Bachmann has some strong stances, including pledging to build a double walled fence along the entire Mexico border.  I feel like there were a few times-specifically regarding immigration-when Michele got short-changed on opportunity.  I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but it certainly cost her some points.  She had an emotional moment later in the evening, but honestly I don't think that helped her.  At least it didn't with me.

I don't think Bachmann can hang in this group.  She's got a seriously good resume-former tax attorney, congresswoman, conservative.  I've been saying for a while that she'd make a great running mate with Romney, and I'll stick by that.  Romney needs legitimacy with conservatives, he can get it with Bachmann.  A female VP candidate is sure to draw strong female support as well, it would be a smart play and I think a winning ticket.

Rick Santorum

Santorum clearly came into this debate wanting to make an impression.  He made an effort to make his presence known several times, calling out Mitt Romney in the first few minutes of the debate and regularly exceeding his time limits, extending his time on center stage as often as possible.

Santorum rubs me the wrong way with his ultra religious outlook on things.  He keeps talking about things like faith and family, and that bothers me.  I need a focus on economy, I don't want someone telling me how to run my family, my life, any of that.  I feel like this guy would forget about the economy and lead a battle against abortion and gay marriage and that bothers me a great deal.

I don't feel like I heard enough from him on the economy, everything turned into faith and family, or was an attack on someone else it seemed.  When he was asked about the housing issues he turned it into an attack on his opposition regarding TARP-Governor Perry specifically.  Maybe that's just what I heard given my predisposition to disliking him as discussed above.  Either way, I'm moving on, I don't think he's going to be around long anyway.

Mitt Romney

Lastly we have Mitt, the leading candidate for the last 3 years as the Republican candidate coming in and he comes out as the best looking candidate in my mind as well.  He won almost every point, logically and systematically defeated anyone that challenged him, embarrassed Governor Perry BADLY and really just knocked every answer out of the park in a personable and agreeable manner.  He made some jokes, got some laughs, and was the focus of a great deal of the applause.

Mitt resembles a presidential candidate in every way.  He's got the background as both a politician and successful businessman.  He's been preparing for this for years, and has clearly been polishing his boxing gloves for debates. I think tonight he really showed that he can put someone away with all the pokes he took at Governor Perry before the knockout Al Gore campaign shot.

Romney is the only candidate with an economic plan that makes sense and isn't insulting (ahem, Herman Cain).  I think he could really lead the country to a financial turnaround, and I think his ticket to the presidential race on the GOP ticket is stamped.  His religion could be an issue, but I don't know that it's fair for that to be a problem in a country founded based upon freedom of religion.


Overall I think Romney is the candidate and the only one that can beat-destroy-Obama.  Right now my only question is whether he's picked his running mate already with all his preparation or whether he's auditioning his contenders to be that in these debates.  This thought trend prompted the following two thoughts:

1) Wouldn't it be crazy if Romney was more prepared than it appears?  What if, in all his planning for this presidential race he already picked his VP candidate and it's one of these competitors.  What if it's just a design to gain votes for the ticket later on down the road?

2) I wonder if any of these guys/women are thinking that Romney has the thing tied up and as such they're conciously auditioning-even if he's not looking for it-to be his VP selection.

Random thoughts.  The two best candidates that aren't Mitt Romney are Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, and for some reason these guys never get elected.  Ron Paul has some of the most popular opinions ("Who in Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Wall St have gone to jail..." or talking about cutting foreign spending, bringing soldiers home, keeping everyone he can paying no tax, etc.  Maybe he's swinging for the fences, taking his last shot at the presidency anticipating this to be his last run at it?  I don't know.

Let me know what you think about the whole thing, any of the candidates, or me below.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Providence

I see a lot of one-sided review of the Occupy movement-both ways to be fair.  Some people blindly in approval due to their dislike for corporate America, others against for one reason or another.  I've seen all the descriptions of the group, watched all the videos-okay maybe not all of them, but a lot-and read as many articles as I could on the movement from all over the nation.  From the movement's inception in New York, through their occupation and eventual City Council meeting in LA, to the movement's official entry into what has become my hometown, Providence.

I've seen the brutality of the police, from New York City itself to San Francisco.  I've seen the violence of the crowds in Rome, and the desperation of the crowds everywhere else.  What I've seen more than anything is citizens fed up with their government that despite numbers, are growing to not only be fed up with their government, but to fear it as well.  While the police and protesters have not really crossed paths yet here in Providence, tonight at the General Assembly-and every day since the movement began in Providence-a great deal of fear has been expressed of the police in general, with the very valid point tonight being made that here in Providence, the most dangerous criminals ARE the police.

Regardless of what your stance is on any of the issues-and I've been pretty clear that I disagree with most of the Occupiers regarding the economy-this highlights some very, very sad issues in America that need to be solved.  These are problems that have been building for many years, they won't be solved overnight, but they need to be solved in order for this country to continue to exist as we know it.

The biggest problem of all the occupiers seems to be a lack of trust-particularly in government.  This is the one consensus amongst the occupiers, whether it's Congress being lobbied and not acting on our behalf, the police brutalizing occupiers, or politicians in general lying to us the people don't trust their government-and why should they?  On almost all levels the government has done little to earn our trust.  Go to the DMV, you get some miserable clerk who acts like you just kicked her cat and gives you a massive headache.  Have anything to say to a representative or senator?  Good luck finding one, they're out hosting some fundraiser where the wallets-ahem people-they really care about are.  As for the police?  Well around here every time you turn your head they've shot, beat, or raped someone else.  Hell, there was a faction in Providence that were the drug dealers of the city-and yet anytime you run into a cop they immediately treat you like you're the criminal, no matter who you are.

We haven't even gotten to the bailouts yet, we haven't gotten to the economic downturn, the job loss, the housing crisis, none of that-just the government in general as we've all known it, our whole lives.  I mean think about it-who likes going to the DMV?  When was the last time you saw a cop and actually felt safer?  Your first instinct when you see a cop is to protect yourself-check your speedometer, whatever it is.  Your first instinct is not to feel safer, it is to protect yourself from what you instinctively perceive as your enemy.  This is just a microcosm of how the government operates as a whole.  You-the citizen-are a nuisance to them, you're an annoyance, something they don't want to deal with.  Something their job would be perfect without.  In some cases you're even a criminal-just because you're not one of them.  This is not an atmosphere that breeds trust.  This is not an atmosphere that inspires confidence.

The first step governments MUST take is to realize this, to recognize that there is a problem.  Maybe there needs to be massive turnover within governmental bodies, maybe there needs to be citizen review boards added for authorities, maybe there need to be many changes, but they all must originate from a trust that the government reaches out to build, for it is them who have failed us.  It is they who have violated our trust, it is they we elect into office to represent us, we pay through taxes to protect us, who have abruptly forgotten about us, who treat us as nuisances, as lesser human beings.

Critics of the movement would have you blame the occupiers themselves-and in some cases that may be appropriate, I'll give you that-but in many it's not, and it's unfair to characterize the entire movement as such. Is it the machinist, or the tool makers' fault when they come into work and find the factory has gone bankrupt?  When they walk out and realize they're 53 years old, have been working in that same factory their whole lives, and have almost no real options now?  That same person has been told their whole career that every week they pay into a pension and they'll have that, but they then find out it's gone, and the Wall St. executive who pissed it all away just walked away from his company with millions, is that his fault as well?  Just because a person has become homeless does not make them a bad person, it does not invalidate their opinion, it does not take away from their humanity and who they are as people.

Basically, writers, analysts, politicians, and leaders need to stop looking at this movement and trying to find a way to blame them, to criminalize them, or to demonize them in the same way they need to stop looking across the proverbial "aisle" and doing the same thing to one another.  They need to focus on how to get this country back on track, how to win back the trust of the people, and how to move our country past this time in a positive direction before we become what Rome and other places around the world have become already.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy Providence/Occupy Wall St.

Yesterday I spent some time at Burnside Park in Providence, RI with our local "Occupy Wall St." branch.  I'd seen all the video from New York, read the stories from Boston, and watched the City of LA hearing online, and I wanted to form my own opinion, experience first hand myself.  I brought my family down to the park, and spent several hours down there with my disabled 5 year old son, my fiance, and our 3 year old Boston Terrier. I was able to take some video, some pictures, some audio, experience first hand a very impressive march, and speak to several people.

Overall, my impression was very favorable of the movement.  I don't agree with all of them on all the issues, but I believe something needs to be done, and that's all these people are saying.  To me, the movement is great because it's chameleon-like.  Whatever your issue is, whatever your gripe, you're coming to protest because you want it to be talked about.  You want people to think about it, to talk about it.  The people of Occupy seem to want three fairly simple things-to be heard, to be represented, and for bi-partisan progress to be made.  Basically, put aside your differences, stop wasting your time looking for birth certificates or arguing about whether Dick should marry Jane or Bob, and get this country on track.

Critics would have you believe this is a movement of hippies.  Of dirty, uneducated, homeless hippies looking for a free handout, looking to live off our hard earned dollars.  This is a movement that finds it strength in the disenfranchised, in the downtrodden of society, those that have been chewed up and spit out by the economic machine.  Yes, some of those people are homeless now, but that doesn't make them bad people.  That just makes them people who weren't lucky enough to land on their feet when the mortgage crisis hit.  Did that stop them though?  Did the loss of millions of jobs stop them?  Did it stop their hope?  Their drive?  Their purely American spirit?  No it didn't, it hardened their resolve.  They learned to live, they learned to adapt, they learned to get together and challenge the system itself as so many groups have at so many turning points throughout American history.

All throughout history there have been many movements by the people.  The Civil Rights movement in the 60's, Women's Suffrage before that, the American revolution, and on and on.  Throughout all of those movements there has been one common theme: protesters are painted as the scourge of society by those with the power, those that are being protested against.  They have to do this, that's all they have going for them.  They don't have numbers, they don't have logic, they don't have humanity, they have none of these things going for them.  Therefore they must paint the protesters as insurgents, as malcontents, as mutinous, traitorous, enemies of the state that must be destroyed-or at lest ignored.  For this is how the politics of these things work.  The critics build a smokescreen of stereotypes and false accusations, and if the protesters can outlast that, if the public can see through it to the truth, the protesters win and it goes down in history as a moment of change.

On this note I urge you, don't write these people off.  These are the people in society that need to be heard. Over the weekend we saw dangerous demonstrations break out in Rome, and massive demonstrations break out all over the globe.  I read reports that cited crowds in the hundreds of thousands in various parts of the world, and in the tens of thousands in many others cities across the globe.  We were and are one of the richest countries on the planet, so naturally it'll take us longer to get there than other countries but we will get there, mark my words.  If the hundreds of thousands across our nation protesting are ignored it's just a matter of time before they turn into millions, and then tens of millions.

Things aren't getting any better, they're getting worse.  The average term of unemployment is now 40 weeks.  Ten months it can take you to get a job.  What's worse is there are currently no plans on the table for long term job growth.  None whatsoever.  The "American Jobs Bill" Obama is trying to push through right now is a very short term answer at best-and even that's being optimistic-and won't encourage long term growth.  Many in the nation think the answer is to tax the top earners and the companies a lot more-another unwise decision.  That will just push companies out of this country and into others.  With logistics these days it wouldn't be hard.  Very little is based off natural resources earned here, and at some point it makes more sense to transport goods than it does to make them here.  And even if you jack up tariffs on imports, you risk isolating the country from the rest of the world.  With something in the neighborhood of 6 billion people between China and India it wouldn't take much for the countries to work out a free trade agreement-if they don't have one already-and utilizing the massive work force and resources they have there, recreate America's 20th century in Asia.

I know that's a drastic result, but honestly-how far off do you think it is from what could be reality? America likes to think of itself as this peak marketplace, but is it any longer?  Wouldn't countries with billions of residents and a fraction of the regulatory and tax cost be better hosts to huge corporations?  While the popular thing may be to hate huge corporations, they are the people with the jobs are they not?  There's nothing forcing companies to stay here, haven't we driven enough away already?  Okay, I've followed this tangent longer than I'd intended.  There will be other posts for this discussion-believe me, lots of other posts for this discussion.

The now international Occupy movement cannot be ignored.  While the Tea Party had higher profile, higher earning members and followers, the Occupy movement has many more numbers-and those numbers will only increase as more and more of the middle class is hammered down to join the ranks of the poverty stricken.  The stories at the movement were all similar in nature, frustration by the jobs market (or lack thereof) and frustration that while companies continue to get bailed out, the government seems to be doing very little to solve the problems of the people, and this whole trickle down theory just doesn't work when you're talking about literally handing money to banks and large corporations.  That just allows them to continue floating along, it doesn't get to the root of the problem and provide a long term fix.  This is what we need our representatives to talk about, and this is what the movement is doing-sparking conversation.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Using Tax to Redistribute Wealth?

In recent years-even more so in recent days as inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement-there has been increased talk about using taxes to redistribute wealth.  Those opposed to the idea say that they've earned it.  One presidential hopeful on the campaign trail actually said recently that if you're not rich you should blame yourself.  While I certainly understand this point of view-particularly if you're the one with the money-but I can understand a different point of view as well.

The people of the Occupy Wall St movement protesting.
Let me preface this by saying; I"m a business guy.  I'm a business mind who fully intends to make millions in his lifetime.  I plan on being part of that 1%, I do.  That is where my skill-set lies, that's where my talents allow me to excel.  Every day I come home and see my fiance who works as a daycare teacher and a nanny.  She's a full time mother to our 5 year old disabled son as well.  I can't help but marvel at times at how she does something I could never do.  I could never sit in a classroom of ten 3 year old toddlers and keep my sanity, much less teach them anything.  I can't even imagine having the patience.

I guess what I'm saying is this; who are we to say that because your skill set lends you more to a job on wall st., and my fiance's skill set lends herself to guiding a child that the Wall St. person is more valuable to society.  Teacher salaries nationwide average somewhere around $55,000 per year.  The average Wall St. salary-or at least the most recent I could find-was $340,000.  Why?  What makes these Wall St. executives worth 7 times as much as a teacher, or a police officer, or a firefighter?  There are people in this country that VOLUNTEER to run into burning buildings and save other people, yet the guys that lead the charge for our country into the greatest depression of my lifetime are the ones that deserve several hundred thousand dollars a year?

Maybe that's how America is, maybe that's what capitalism has turned us into, I don't know.  I do know this; that's not the America I want to live in. That's not the America I want to raise my son in either.  It simply amazes me that the people that have literally ruined so many things in our country are the highest compensated.  And it doesn't stop with Wall St. either.  I mean think about it, lawyers have lead the charge to crazy lawsuits everywhere and they make some pretty good bank.  The least important workers in our country in my opinion, the athletes make more than anyone.  The average NBA player works like 9 months a year and makes $5 million per season.  Seriously?  These are the people we don't think should pay extra taxes?

Honestly, the people that educate and protect us make chicken scratch compared to the people that ruined our housing market, demolished our economy, basically stole billions from our tax funds while we were already in an economic crisis, have lead the charge to frivolous lawsuits, and hit baseballs or throw basketballs particularly well.  If you don't have a problem with a system like that, I just don't know what to say.

Look, nobody is saying take 50% of their money and give it to welfare cases that just don't feel like working, that's not what is being suggested.  (Although would you honestly have a problem if Ron Artest earned $3 million this year instead of $6 million?)  Or how about CEO of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein, who was GIVEN A RAISE last year to a total salary of about $15 million-this despite his banks' profit line falling 38%.  Oh yeah-but those Wall St. guys deserve it.  After all, I don't know a single teacher who lost $5 billion for their employer last year.  God knows they don't deserve it.

Get your priorities straight America.  America was created as a country where all men were created equal, where everyone stood an even chance to succeed.  Can we really say that's true?  If your natural skill set lends you to being a teacher, as opposed to a Wall St. trader don't you inherit one heck of a low income ceiling along with that skill set?  Is that right?

Beyond that, let's face it-there may be some exceptions but most of these guys who get high profile jobs get them because they know somebody (or more specifically Daddy knows somebody).  They get a job they're unqualified for, eventually get comfortable with it and appear to be successful but what they're really doing is destroying everything our forefathers built.  We've enabled them-and in some cases forced their hands-but I'll get to that on another post.  The fact of the matter is, these guys aren't good at what they do, and what they do isn't all that special anyway.  Give me someone capable of teaching my son to read, a physical therapist capable of teaching him to walk, they deserve 6 figure salaries long before some guy who knows how to lose my life savings.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

First and foremost, I’d like to welcome you to my new blog.  I thought I’d take the first post’s space to introduce myself to you.

For years I’ve sat on the sideline of economic debate as well as political discussion. While I’ve spent years studying and analyzing business and economic theory, I find political debate to be nearly pointless and thus boring and a waste of time.  I really only pay attention during presidential runs, during which I’ll debate the issues-but not really the candidates-although I may support one candidate more than others.  What I mean is, I’ll align myself with a candidate based upon their stances on the issues, not based upon ridiculous arguments regarding their birth certificates, or concerns about their religions, races, or gender.

My specialty is in manufacturing accounting, cost accounting specifically.  Along the way to where I’m at today I’ve spent years working with small businesses, seeing how the economy effects them, seeing the consequences real people suffer due to the economy.  That time has helped me to understand the problems people at all levels of income and small businesses are experiencing and trying to solve.  I’ve worked hand in hand with small business owners trying to save their businesses from destruction by the economy, watching many wilt in front of my eyes, helpless to do anything to stop them from their inevitable demise.

I’ve developed some interesting views, some original theories, things I think should be discussed and considered, thoughts I wish I had the proper platform to share with the right people.  I hope this can develop into some sort of platform to do just that.  A sounding board even, where we can all freely debate economic and political topics and positions.

I’ve spent a great deal of time in my life analyzing and covering sports, all the transactions, the stats, watching the games, etc.  I’ve done this professionally for several years on the side of working with small businesses, mostly for my interest in analysis, my interest in breaking things down.  I plan on channeling all of that energy, effort, and focus into the political and economical scene from hereon out.  I hope that energy coupled with my unique experiences in life can provoke interesting, thought provoking, and intelligent discussion and debate throughout this blog.