Tag Archives: recession

Time to mortar a brick

parking-lotI’ve been hearing a lot of hubbub of late about online retail sales overtaking traditional “brick and mortar” businesses.

Boo freakin’ hoo. To my way of thinking that’s like worrying about one turd shitting on another.

Still, I thought it might be a good idea to reminisce a few moments about the proverbial good times of ye olde mom and pop. The good old days and the “little man” of Alan Jackson lore.

Brick and mortar? Mom and pop? Who the hell is in charge of naming this shit? Dr. Seuss? Family jewels are found in aisle 42. Bait and tackle in aisle 69. That reminds me: “Clean up on aisle 69!”

I’ve already written quite a bit about Mr. Online Entrepreneur. He’s slippery, slimy and makes jackals and amebas seem like highly evolved life forms. He lies about everything including – most especially – that the product you want is “in stock.” Then he gets your money and you wait weeks to find out if you’ll ever get the product he just totally lied about or if you’ll ever get your money back. Good times.

How about Mr. Brick Mortar? How does he compare? And who is this guy?

Does the plethora of dings on the side of your car give you any kind of freakin’ clue?
Continue reading →

How can a president create jobs?

A study in subtlety - Rupert Murdoch style. Better read on, because what you don't know could kill you!

Nasdaq OMX's Bob Greifeld

Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld illustrating what we hopes to accomplish by combining his camera with Twitter.

Yep. Another post based on something I saw in the WSJ. (Wealth Stealing Jerks.) Why do I keep looking at that rag, now owned by the honorable likes of Rupert Murdoch and News Corp? Oh yeah. I know. I really enjoy their “We Hate Obama’s Fucking Guts” section, or what they coyly call the “opinion”‘ pages.

Inside the paper the other day, it said something like, “Dear Mr. President: Private Ideas on How to Create Jobs.”

This is something I’ve been very curious about, so I decided to turn to that page and have the mysteries of life explained to me by the WSJ. I prepared myself to be amazed and astounded.

What did I find?

A picture of Bob Greifeld, the CEO of NASDAQ. And what was his advice to Obama? “U.S. companies need the ability to recruit the best workers. … We must increase the number of H-1B visas available and reform the employment-based green card process.”

Holy fucking shit! That’s pure genius!

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States:

Obama: My jobs plan is simple. What we need is more foreigners taking the few jobs that already exist in our country.

Can you imagine a president taking this advice? Then standing up and saying something along these lines? Talk about an express ticket to his own unemployment. You don’t just take a shit on the majority of the population and get happily re-elected.

I’m sure Mr. Greifeld has a point. He sees the recession and unemployment as a function of a lack of skilled workers. Workers that the United States is not producing in sufficient quantities. Perhaps we have a problem with our education system and the number of our young people that are able to access higher education?

I only have a United States education, but I fail to see how Mr. Greifeld’s response addresses the original question, namely: How to create jobs?

I did learn one thing from the WSJ. Obama would be unwise to rely on their advice.

So, what do you think are the things a president can actually do to create jobs? What can be done that is reasonably within the auspices of that office, and what could be effective? Is the solution really supposed to come from the president or should it originate somewhere else?

It seems to me that these are no small questions and how well they are answered will likely determine our leader for the next four years.

One last thing. I know the H-1B visa program is for “skilled” workers, but how have American companies treated other guest workers? Let’s find out.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-h8EBP0JSs]

Overvalued: Oh oligarchy, oh obligations!

The Redistribution of WealthHang on, kiddies. Here we go an yet another rambling, non-cohesive post that travels all over hill and dell and even has a little Octomom thrown in for good measure, if you read all the way to the end…

For three decades, the United States has seen the movement of wealth from the bottom to the top. Thus, this question has to be asked: Is this a good thing?

Not surprisingly, I’m sure most of the wealthy would answer, “Oh yeah. So good. Oh yeah, that’s it. Don’t stop. Uh huh, uh huh.”

That’s just ducky for them!

Those giving up the wealth, however, might not be that eager to agree.

On second thought, the needs of the many can bite me right now.

In my humble opinion, though, the question, “Is this a good thing?” needs to be couched in a broader context. To properly answer a question like that, I suggest that we must consider it on a societal level, not on a per individual basis.

What good is accomplished by shifting wealth from the many to the few? Does it make America stronger? Does it create more jobs? Does it reduce the crime rate? Does it lessen the amount of pain and suffering? Does it put more food in the bellies of undernourished children? Does it improve or hurt the standard of living for the most members of our society?

Wikipedia says an oligarchy is “a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, corporate, or military control.” I suggest that the last three decades have decidedly moved us in that direction.

Even with the last three decades under our belt there is still much debate about the tax rates paid by the wealthy. Earlier today on CBS Sunday Morning I saw someone claiming that multimillionaires in the United States pay about 17% percent in taxes. Down near the bottom of the barrel, I make a few bucks an hour more than minimum wage and can barely afford a new pair of sneakers. Yet my tax rate is double than that. How can that be? How can my rate be double compared to people who own mansions, boats and multiple cars just for fun? That is fucked up.

How about we say, “Fuck higher tax rates for the wealthy? How about they simply pay that same rate as those who have much less wealth?”

So the debate rages on. Those on the right say we need to cut government spending (but hold steady or increase defense) while reducing taxes on the wealthiest among us as a way to reduce the deficit. Those on the left say than an increase in the tax rate on the wealthy is needed.

In the past the top marginal tax rate on the wealthy was high, at or above 90% in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. But it has declined ever since. By the time of Nixon it was down to 70%. Under Reagan it dropped to about 50%. The George W. Bush tax cuts kept it around 35%.

The results of the last 30 years are now known. The rich are richer and the poor are poorer. Is this a good thing? I think the results speak for themselves. The U.S. unemployment rate is too damn high. Too many American jobs have been outsourced. We’ve had the recession, the mortgage crisis, and the bailouts. And the debt is out of control. Things are clearly not working as they should.

I don’t know a lot about money. I find economics too abstract and confusing beyond a very simple level. When I was in the first or second grade, I remember wanting a book called “Money.” My teacher told me if I read enough books I’d earn the book I wanted. I read those books, and I remember winning my prize. Unfortunately, I no longer remember what was in it.

What I know about money is that it is paper. Beyond our belief that it has value, money is basically meaningless. I’m reasonably certain, however, if you give me $4 U.S. dollars, there is a very high probability I can take those four pieces of paper to my nearby Carl’s Jr. and trade them for a delicious turkey hamburger. That is, if they are dumb enough, like me, to believe those pieces of paper have actual value. They will agree to that trade, and give me the hamburger, if they expect to trade the pieces of paper for something they want, and so on and so forth.

I’ve heard that money used to be backed by gold, something known as the gold standard. But I’ve heard that money is no longer backed by gold. I know that a dollar bill used to say “United States Note” but now it says “Federal Reserve Notes” but I’m too fucking stupid to know what that really means. I’ve been told that means each dollar bill I receive is actually a debt (or liability) that I now owe to the Federal Reserve. I think. But I don’t even really know what that means. One of my favorite movies is Zeitgeist and a portion of the film is dedicated to this sort of thing. They sure make it sound ominous as shit, and I feel bad I don’t really know what it all means.

It’s a lot like The Debt. I know, as a country, that we have debt. And I know it is large. I’m not economist, but I know what happens when people have too much debt. They declare bankruptcy and the creditors generally take it on the chin. I can’t help but wonder: What will happen if our country does that, too? It seems to me that if you have a system that is unsustainable, eventually it will fail.

Will we all have to speak a foreign language? Will we be herded into camps? Will there be war on United States soil? Perhaps Americans will be the latest people to work for a few dollars a day while people in other countries specialize in drinking Starbucks and buying expensive toys? Maybe the United States will someday become the trendy country to outsource jobs? At this point, there is probably literally nothing that would surprise me. Let’s just say that these are confusing times and I, for one, am glad to be on the backside of 30. I’m not so sure I want to hear how the story ends.

I do know this: I’ve worked all of my life since the day I was 16. During that time, I have been forced, by the terrible power of government, to pay, against my will, into a program known as Social Security. My understanding of this program is that I pay in to help other people retire, and on the day I retire, the program will automatically end and I’ll get absolutely nothing back. When that happens, I will feel … irritated. To say the least. My situation will no doubt be bone-chilling compared to someone like Ida May Fuller, the first ever recipient of a Social Security check back on January 31, 1940. She shrewdly paid $24.75 into the system but took back out $22,888.92 in monthly benefits. Now that is one whopper of an investment!

Octomom

Apparently Octomom makes a great Halloween costume

In other news, for all you sadistic get-to-the-bottom readers out there…

Octomom. Gone but not forgotten. At least by me, and certainly not on the day of the “O” post. What’s she been up to?

By the way, did you know she had six children before giving birth to octuplets? Words fail me. That’s a lot of poop!

Anywho, I hear that Octmom is facing the possibility of being evicted from her $585,000 California home. Apparently she needs money. A couple of web sites have reported that she’s considering using a dating service that will pay her $5,000 t0 $10,000 for each “first date” that she goes on.

So listen up, people! If you’ve been saving up your money for a rainy day, this could be it. Blow it all on a first date with a woman who has 14 children.

I can see the personal ad now. “Must love octoforms.”

This is my “O” post for the April 2011 “A to Z Blogging Challenge.”

Taking more nibbles at giving

OK it has been a couple days so it’s time for an update on this whole “giving” thing.

I’ve been close to throwing in the towel because it is so hard to think of something to give every … single … day. But, as of now, I’m still hanging in there by the skin of my teeth. However, I reserve the right to Palin this task at any time. 🙂

Here is an update on how I handled the 2nd and 3rd days of the month.

I have started a humble canned food drive in my home town. Nothing major, but we’ll see what we can bring in for the local food bank. I’ll be working on this the rest of the month.

Also in my home town, I decided to do something to support a local restaurant. The weakened economy has hit our local restaurants hard and several good places have closed, including some of my personal favorites. I think that when discretionary funds get squeezed in the budget by an economy like this, eating out must be one of the first things to take a hit. So I selected one of my favorite local restaurants at random and fired up my Photoshop and made them a web banner. I then arranged for that advertising to be shown on a popular local web site at no charge. Hopefully they will like my creativity on their banner and it send them much-needed business.

Now all I have to do is think up something to give for today. I can’t handle the pressure! Argh! 🙂