ARTICLES

I offer here my own opinions, overview of interesting scientific developments, investment opportunities, futuristic outlooks, social issues, current events and other insights.




 

Andrea Barone (A NEW DAY)
10/08/13

Did you ever play chicken with your friends when you were a kid, ride your bikes closer and closer together and see who turns first, well that’s what our leaders are doing in Washington over this debt crises and government shutdown. In this case it’s called political chicken – who will hold out the longest and who will look the worst. We can’t afford this kind of behavior!  Many Americans and both parties are responsible for the situation we find ourselves in and all of us will have to endure sacrifice and pain to get out of it. Let’s face it, leaders and policies from both camps have acted out of self-interest, greed, etc. and many voters have been just as irresponsible in voting for people who give them the most for the least. We’re pushing 18 trillion in national debt people, it’s time we take action and show leadership in the matter. Greater principles are taking over. We’ve got no choice but to throw politics to the wind and do what’s best for our survival. Our great country is at stake!

This memorable quotation is from Sir Alex Fraser Tytler

(1742-1813). Scottish jurist and historian, he was widely known in

his time and was professor of Universal History at Edinburgh

University in the late 18th century.

The quotation is from the 1801 collection of his lectures:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent

form of government. It can only exist until

the voters discover that they can vote

themselves largess from the public treasury.

 From that time on the majority always votes

for the candidates promising the most

benefits from the public treasury, with the

results that a democracy always collapses

over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a

dictatorship.

The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been

200 years. These nations have progressed through this

sequence:

from bondage to spiritual faith;

from spiritual faith to great courage;

from courage to liberty;

from liberty to abundance;

from abundance to selfishness;

from selfishness to complacency;

from complacency to apathy;

from apathy to dependency;

from dependency back again to bondage.”

Only a fool fights in a burning house!

8/14/13

As we’re all aware, rising health care costs are a grave concern in the US – no pun intended.

I find it a notable, if not an interesting comparison, just how the justice Dept. broke up AT&T in the mid eighties intending to further competition while the affordable care act, recently imposed, is doing the reverse, causing consolidation in the health care system thus hindering competition.  In the long run as hospitals and other systems consolidate to control costs R&D and innovation will suffer along with the quality of care since the best and brightest will loose incentive and may eventually drop out ————– but perhaps we need more efficiency and less innovation, after all rising Health care costs are due, in part, to the fact that hospitals make more profit by prescribing more procedures and booking more rooms. All of this is compounded by the fact that many people don’t question their care as insurance abuses abound  – but is this the answer.

The break up of AT&T, as anyone who had phone service then would know, sparked innovation and competition leading to many of the gadgets we now enjoy but also caused costs to rise for the consumer as the multitude of competitors that emerged didn’t have the advantage of economies of scale enjoyed by AT&T. Similarly, in reverse fashion, as the health care system consolidates will such savings be passed to the consumer or will the administrative costs and the inherent inefficiencies of delivering such a complex service on such a massive scale absorb or outweigh it? Will a bottleneck in care develop causing delays for critical patients? It remains to be seen.

Insurance companies also contribute to the high costs. We could probably use more regulation in the insurance and banking industries and less for most other business activity but unfortunately politics prevents this. We also need to examine current tort law; is it fair and balanced toward all parties? – Medical mal-practice insurance continues to weigh on costs.

What about the millions of uninsured people using out- patient services at others expense.  Should they be held responsible for abusing the system or should they have been offered affordable insurance in the first place?  Should the young be forced to subsidize the old and the healthy pay for the sick via some form of transfer payment or should it be left to charity? — Let’s not forget, we’re still one of the most generous nations in the world.

Would a serious look into cheaper albeit less sophisticated homeopathic remedies, eastern medicine or alternative therapies like spirituality and mind/body control be worthwhile?  Lastly, Is it fair or reasonable to take from Medicaid recipients?- don’t forget they’ve paid into the system all their lives.

Finally, we cannot ignore society’s voracious appetite for care–fueling the madness. Perhaps we need a renewed mindset toward death and other end of life issues. Consider that the top 5% of such (End of life) patients account for ½ the spending.

In short, should the healthy, the affluent and those of us caring for the elderly be willing to give up the advantages of a private system in the quest for a greater good?

Indeed, some very tough questions for any thoughtful American.

We need not be hasty in our actions, at the very least we should study the success of countries that have already implemented universal care such as Iceland or Switzerland and learn from their failures –then envision a solution with the least economic and social impact as the current law has purportedly caused declines in FT employment as well as business investment.

Included in this should be a reward for taking personal responsibility toward ones own well-being, a quality we should encourage. At present, thirty-two nations have some form of universal care.

In the end – it could be asked – is the affordable care act a reckless seize of power or a sincere effort to deliver, what many believe is every citizens right? — constitutional precepts aside.

You be the judge!

Alone, I can hardly claim the wisdom to answer any of these questions. One thing I do know for sure (like the famous movie quote) lets not pin our hopes to a phone bill.

 

5/2/13

Ml,Every so often we have incidents that happen, be they accident, terrorists, or Mother Nature that bring up issues of safety and regulation in our society. At times we have overlapping agencies involved such as with the Adair Grain explosion in Texas which put the EPA, OSHA and Homeland security in the spotlight.  Questions such as which group could have done more or under what jurisdiction does the responsibility fall have risen.

Perhaps it is simply a matter of enforcing current rules or maybe it simply comes down to the price of doing business. Either way it has become a contentious issue which in the end may cost everybody more.

We have an interesting dichotomy going on. On one side we allegedly have employees failing to follow existing regulations regarding the storage, placement and reporting of their chemicals, on the other side we have initiatives to introduce more bills in the senate to regulate placement and use of substitute chemicals etc. From the business standpoint  we have The chamber of commerce and lobbyists spending millions to  diminish rules that they feel will only inhibit distribution and increase pricing of such products as well as the cost of retailing.

Currently other plants that work with paints, mining, fertilizers and explosives which include more than 400 other facilities around the nation are the focus of attention; DuPont and Dow chemical being the largest.

Bob Bostok, advisor to the EPA during the Bush administration says that the regulation is a good idea and supported it.

Obama introduced legislation when he was a senator as part of the home security initiative to make it harder for terrorists to use these plants as targets because of there vulnerability.

Opponents of new legislation such as the chamber of commerce suggest that instead of new legislation what we need to do is enforce current rules and hold people responsible for their actions.  Unions, environmental groups and safety groups such as OSHA are demanding more efforts on this front. As usual it turns into a political gridlock. In the end I think everybody is interested in learning exactly where the chain was broken, so to speak, which led up to this catastrophe.

4/25/13

  •     Let’s look into the future of video surveillance.  In today’s world with the risk of terrorism and the recent success in capturing the Boston Marathon bombers via store video camera’s it is quite possible that the demand for this technology will be on the rise.
  •      Our laws restricting these cameras in public places are actually quite lax. In fact, in many cases our rights are not violated as long as there are signs in place, like the kind we see in department stores. If there is reasonable cause there usually is no expectation of privacy. Ie. Nobody would contest video surveillance in a government building such as a motor vehicle office.  The police have used night vision cameras to catch crimes in parks and other public places as well. However, The fourth amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches:

 

  • “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

 

  • Let’s go over a few examples:  A couple in an open space may have no expectation of privacy, neither would a person in a public place such as a City Street or around a public building.  In some communities “Traffic Camera’s “are used to watch traffic at intersections, although there has been outcry in some communities about privacy it is generally agreed that it is a reasonable practice for public safety purposes. Our governments increased interest in monitoring its citizens only adds to the argument.

4/16/13

  •       There are similarities between the current fracking debacle and the introduction of pesticides in the 50’s. In both of these issues serious allegations were made about the ethical ramifications of the technology.
  •      In this decade the pesticide industry was in its infancy. The chemicals and techniques that were being used were untested and crude. Contamination of the watersheds as well as the soil and air were being noticed and illnesses were on the rise. Chemicals such as DDT were used either without regard or out of ignorance that were harmful to the environment. Authors such as Rachel Carson (“Silent Spring”,1962) rose up to defend the communities, people and environment. Government research was done which eventually proved her assertions. Pushing the envelope on profits the companies involved fought to keep their operations going. Eventually, new and better chemicals were developed that were focused at destroying the pests with the least amount of collateral damage.  Today we have products such as  “Bayer’s MaxForce roach killer bait gels”, these pesticides can be used in residential areas and/or food processing plants without covering the food, imagine that!  We also have botanical derived products synthesized from plant oils that affect neurotransmitters of invertebrates (I.E. Insects) but are harmless to humans.  Capitalism tends to ruthlessly forge ahead, but this shouldn’t be perceived as unusual  and we have the courts to handle the fallout. Success stories like that of Steve Jobs would be virtually impossible in most any other country –a man who essentially turned a great idea and a few phone calls into a six hundred billion dollar enterprise.
  •       A more recent example is the stem cell debacle.  Ethical questions arose over the destruction of embryonic stem cells that were used in research to grow replacement organs or tissue. In the last few years scientists have discovered a process called parthenogenesis, a type of asexual reproduction not found in mammals but common in fish and insects. Using these methods they may  soon reproduce human organ tissue while bypassing the old ethical issues.
  •      Fast forward to today and we have a different but comparable argument seething between the proponents and adversaries of the fracking process. It’s naysayers claim that the chemicals used in the process contaminate the water supply and encourage earthquakes while certain mining processes contaminate the air. Many small communities in their vicinity are subject to these problems.
  •      My contention is that if the process is proven to cause environmental damage then alternate methods will eventually be discovered. There are already alternative solutions that have been proven  effective but as yet have not been put to use. Companies that supply these new chemicals, tools and techniques are the ones to look at as growth opportunities, in the interim water filtration producers could benefit. Perhaps if our government contributed toward better technology instead of passing laws wholly on the side of short-term industry concerns then many of these issues would subside.
  •      The need for natural gas in the US is high and the beneficial aspects of this cheaper fuel especially in the heating and industrial areas goes uncontested. Lower foreign dependence as well as American jobs are in the balance.
  •      These days people who are affected by the technology are getting instant attention via social media, cable TV, internet etc. I could only hope that this will only expedite the responsible and safe development of the industry, but lets not be so quick to discount all of its benefits in the name of political expediency.
  •      I would encourage you to do more research into these new technologies  as I will be. I will be planning on writing more on this subject in the future. Should fracking continue to cause harmful effects to the enviroment I will have no problem supporting the naysayers.

6/20/13

There is controversy out there accusing  big industry  of touting their GM products without regard for the non-GM techniques that are less expensive albeit less profitable. After all, Most of the lobbying and advertising done is by these cash rich entities. In addition critics point out that crop yields have been questionable given the latest statistics.

Such non-GM techniques  as micro-propagation, anther culture,  micro-spores, invitro culture, embro rescue, molecular markers, DNA and Immuno diagnostic to name a few. In addition there are techniques using bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers that are chemical free to control pests and increase plant yield, which I have gone into in earlier articles. China, Kenya and Vietnam have been successful at using these methods. Taken together these techniques are low cost methods of controlling plant pathogens, combining desirable traits, improving drought resistance and purifying plant lines. They don’t require farmers to purchase expensive seed either.

Will the safety and efficacy of GM crops be proven or will the high cost be their downfall? In the long run it will be interesting to see which way it goes!  We can begin by watching the stocks of these companies. Least wise we have over 6 trillion people to feed.

5/27/13

The labeling of Genetically modified foods has been in the headlines lately.  Proposition 37 which would force companies to label GMFs failed in California last fall in part because of the money put out to fight it among the major producers like Monsonta.  However the media attention has empowered other legislators to put forth such proposals in states like Vermont, New Mexico and Missouri. Groups like the Meridian have defended the right of labeling GM crops with retailers like Walmart and Pepsico coming on board.  Twenty two major companies are lobbying to fight the required labeling of GM foods.

In Europe an uprising against GM food distribution is underway. Most companies are not selling GM foods to overseas customers because of the backlash. Apples, fish and wheat produced in Washington state are sold all over the pacific rim and are labeled as such. Companies are worried that whole foods will begin to get more scrutiny than processed foods which will hurt their business.

GM crops are concentrated mainly in soybean, corn and cotton. The process is focused on altering genes to protect the plants against herbicides and insecticides and sometimes for drought resistance as well. Although currently only 12% of the worlds production is in GM foods.

There was a two million strong march against Monsato in over 400 cities this year as well as 50 other countries to require the labeling and in some cases stop the outright production of GM crops.

Critics claim the process can contaminate other crops by floating seeds to other plantations. There is also the fear of transferring food allergens across crops and the development of “Super Weeds’ 15 new varieties have popped up from only 2 in the nineteen nineties. Not to mention health concerns within the human body as well.

In the meantime companies continue with their research; Orphan crops such as sorgin millet and pigion pea are being researched to feed the poor nations.  23 countries were growing GM crops as of this year. If Europe is ultimately successful in forcing the labeling or baring the distribution of GM crops it is unlikely the US will continue its non-labeling practices. Whole foods allready has brands that deliberately are produced GM free in response to consumers pressure.

2/20/13

Genetically modified crops are the next generation in farming.  Scientists have developed crops that are highly resistant to herbicides, drought and insects. They are also working on introducing pharmaceuticals into food to overcome the problems of drug storage and administration as well as simply adding vitamins and nutrients into staple crops such as rice to overcome health and nutritional issues of people in third world countries. The most common crops their working with are corn, potatoes, soybeans, sugar beets and rice.

  •       There are regulatory steps that must be dealt with for these products to come to market.  The producers must first get permission to introduce the gene to produce the needed proteins on the host crop then they need permission to mass produce and sell the new seed. The process involves using either a particle gun or via agrobacterium.    Some critical of these new techniques contend dangers such as cross pollination, neighboring field contamination,  digestive tract issues etc. Some Other human health issues like allergic affects, chemical or nutritional imbalances and the effects on the products of farm animals such as milk eggs etc.

 

  •  As helpful as science has been in modernizing our lives lets not forgot the litany of failures it has left – Surgical complications such as the popular “surgical mesh” as well as the lethal drug complications caused by diet pills; but what about GM crops–  Are their possible terrorist threats that are borne with the technology? Could the food supply become a method of controlling human behavior? Could infectious diseases be introduced or possibly a virus or some gene that that could permanently alter the way are food digests or the way nutrients are received into the body. Where will this technology lead to? Will we eventually be breeding  livestock with certain qualities? These are some questions that must eventually be answered in order to ensure the safety and success of these methods. If you decide to invest in companies wielding these technologies it may be wise to investigate these issues beforehand.

06/14/13

Another boon to the carbon fiber industry is the recent experiments with offshore wind technology. As part of a 168 billion dollar grant from the government on alternative energies a prototype windmill has been developed capable of producing 20MW, enough to power a handful of homes but simply a prelude to the 6 GW model planned. This design becomes more cost effective since it avoids the high costs of a permanent attachment to the ocean floor but instead floats on the surface, similar to an oil rig. Although tricky in its engineering, since its design prevents it from rocking with the waves, it will take advantage of the winds produced at night caused by unequal heating of the land and sea. This prototype was the first of its kind to be dispatched on our shores. This design will utilize 30-40% more of the winds power. The final version will have blades as long as the wings of a 747 utilizing hollow floating tubs with a lifespan of 60 years.

All of this is good news for the North American markets since many overseas markets have shown sluggishness during the first half of this year.

 

1/31/13

  •        There are many uses for carbon fibers both in the private sector as well as public. Recent reports have indicated that our infrastructure is crumbling, bridges and roads, utility power stations, aqueducts, marina’s and the like. In addition lighter weight and stronger materials have been sought in order to decrease fuel consumption, industrial production costs, mining infringements etc. In the medical field carbon fibers are used in the manufacture of artificial limbs and joints as well as in one of the most breakthrough areas yet– the study of the human brain. Many federal grants as well as regulations have been enacted to this end.  I will go into a little more detail later.
  •      There are National as well as international companies that are involved in these new and developing applications. Three examples are Eternus Inc.for health applications based in India, HJ3 which developes structural composites and Ossur which makes prosthetic limbs.       Polymers are typically made from epoxy; they can also be made of glass, Kevlar, aluminum, polymer, vinyl esters and nylon.     CFRP Carbon fiber reinforced polymer is typically used in the construction industry as a retrofit. It can be used in bridges, (wrapping the beams and columns. It doubles the strength of the concrete while adding only 10 percent to its stiffness since structures need to have some flex in them. It also can be used in large diameter water pipes to help prevent them from succumbing to deterioration from hydrogen embrittlement.

1/15/13

  •      Within the health care sector it also can be used to make artificial limbs that are much more realistic, practical and lightweight than metals. Studies have also been done using carbon filament as a type of electrode to monitor the levels of serotonin in the brain as a treatment to depression. These implants can signal extremely slight changes in these levels and signal another device to administer antidepressant drugs. They are highly resistant to rejection by the body and have the capability to measure very small changes in chemical levels due to their size and properties. CONTD —> 2/7    1/10/13
  •      So what are carbon fibers, essentially they are crystals of carbon atoms all aligned in the same axis about 5-10um in diameter. Properties such as stiffness, chemical resistance, heat tolerance and high tensile strength make it very suitable for military applications, motorsports and aerospace. When combined with other materials such as plastic it is called carbon fiber reinforced plastic which is very strong although brittle. When combined with other carbon atoms called carbon-carbon composites they have an extremely high heat tolerance.Graphite and carbon fiber have a similar atomic structure. The main difference is in the alignment of the atoms.It is synthesized by first spinning a precursor polymer such as polyacrylonitrile (PAN) using chemicals and mechanical processes and heating them to approx 300C in air which oxidizes and breaks many of the hydrogen bonds. The oxidized material is then placed into a furnace where it is heated to 2000C which then changes the molecular bond structure into chains side-to-side called (ladder polymers) which form narrow graphene sheets to form a single columnar filament.

1/08/13

  •       I’ve been reporting on conference calls this past month. I thought it would be a good Idea to discuss what encompasses a call and some things that you should be listening for. Aside from the usual financial data given it is important to listen for cues as to where the company is headed and how they intend to accomplish their goals.After going over general market conditions in their specific sector or industry they will usually begin discussing their strategy for different markets or geographical areas. Listen to the growth projections as well as new product introductions in these areas or lack thereof. Often times they will give population projections as well as an indication of class improvements within a market for developing countries such as India. They should give an indication of future marketing techniques and specific product or service innovation to reach more people.
  •      To prevent their products from becoming a commodity companies must extend benefits and value to the simplest items. The IPhone is the most recent example of how a phone can be transformed. Ten or fifteen years ago who would of ever imagined people waiting into the night to get the latest phone model -Innovation such as this forces obsolescence of current products while developing brand new markets. Of course this is an extreme example.
  •      In addition, to get the most money out of every consumer and win the most customers they will develop different services and products at different pricing levels. Listen for these things since that’s what keeps a business growing as well as viable and sustainable over the years.Listen to their take on the competitive environment and determine if it matches with what you have researched after listening to calls from their adversaries. You will become familiar with the speakers as you follow them on successive calls and get an idea from the tone as to their conviction levels, confidence and candor.
  •     Listen to what they have done, if anything, to decrease and/or control costs. Large companies usually have people who devote themselves entirely to this. I’m not talking about firing people and getting rid of valuable practices but simply to always look for ways to improve. Because if they’re not I can guarantee that they have competitors who will.
  •      Finally, as you gather information you can compare the successive calls for each company and across the same industry; by doing so you will ascertain discrepancies and recognize patterns that will be invaluable to your understanding of the sector.

03/29/14

Sparked by the Great recession of 2008 as well as other economic events over the last decade good jobs have become scarcer and wage growth has matched inflation at best while left stagnant at worst. Subsequently some of our younger generations are turning toward a more frugal approach to life. One company taking advantage of this trend is Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. After all, the largest investment for most people is also the first place to start when trimming expenses. A growing trend taking root in California, of course, may be destined to spread across the rest of the country

Essentially a new twist on the trailer park and mobile home industry, at under 500sf these tiny houses gives the consumer the added cost benefit as well as offering the privacy, style and quaintness that many young people demand. In addition, they are made to last as long as traditional homes without the burden of building permits. The proliferation of the do-it-yourself approach (as evidenced by the success of companies like Home Depot and Restoration Hardware)  has only helped the movement. Could these trends have ripple effects throughout the economy, both private and public?–it remains to be seen.

The average size of the the single family home grew from 1,780sf to more than  2,479sf between 1978 and 2007 due not to family size or necessity but simply reflecting increased wealth and prestige. Other countries such as Japan, Spain, Germany and England are also downsizing. Of course the 2 tier nature of American society will assure the continuation of the high end homes but what is now considered average may be changing.

Consider the following, From recent statistics ,fifty percent of real estate transactions have been in cash done by move-up buyers, retirees and investors –first time buyers have decreased.  Real incomes have been falling especially for the 25-35 year old demographic, many are weighed down by student loan debt as well. Last year in the U.S. home prices have risen by as much as 13% do in part to a shortage of lots and a hot luxury market. Rental rates have increased as well.

Another new idea has come up within the restaurant industry. The Idea of Pop-ups, Restaurants that exist temporarily in the most unlikely of locations such as Ferris Wheel cabs, abandoned warehouses and churches. It began overseas in early 2000 but a similar entity called Diner lab, founded by Zach Kupperman in 2012. The idea has been in response to over crowding as well as the high retail costs of real estate. They also give up and coming chefs a chance to test out new ideas.

 

4/22/14

Originally a song by John Denver, now a cliché in the media. We happen to be from the centennial state, and I can assure you that calling Colorado the ‘Stoner state’ is akin to dismissing the U.S. as a plastered nation– when only around seven percent of us are alcoholics. Will legalizing pot yield similar statistics? – I have no doubt, but abuse and addiction abound just about everywhere in life. People who are promiscuous subject themselves to social diseases, chain smokers risk lung cancer, alcoholics –liver disease, gluttons –obesity and heart disease, gamblers ––ruin.  It’s all a matter of freedom, discipline and personal responsibility.

In a free country, once citizens become recognizably healthy adults, all government can offer is national defense, public education and other infrastructure, laws demanding prudent business practices and decent public behavior, beyond that its not societies responsibility to protect people from themselves— nor are we capable of it. Either way, I think its more likely a heavy drinker would switch to pot than an average person would ever have of becoming a new abuser. No one is advocating the legalization of LSD, cocaine, crack or any of the other myriad number of lethal drugs. The slippery slope argument has two sides — think about it!

As a youngster, I learned of the ravages of alcohol abuse from my parents. Has government now become our children’s parents?  Has the demise  of the family become that pronounced? Have our own moral failings as a nation toward future generations come back to bite us inflicting a strange sort of poetic justice? Perhaps a much larger issue is at play here!

Why not funnel some of the profit into noble pursuits instead of the pockets of factory-made criminals? In some localities the tax monies collected are going to schools and low interest remodeling loans–not to mention the new jobs that have been created.

Of course discretion is the best policy, a gathering of unruly seemingly rebellious revelers smoking in a park gives about as cozy a feeling as would a drunken orgy or a couple making out in the canned vegetable aisle. The attitude portrayed obviously does not represent those of most consumers. Don’t let the exploitation of a few rule your vote.

Admittedly,. there are still some loose ends to be worked out, such as the bank-ability of the industry. Banks are reluctant to get involved since the federal government still considers the drug illegal. Since an all cash business would attract criminals, new laws will be needed to streamline transactions so it’s safer for proprietors. The FDA may be forced to get involved if manufactures fail to regulate the potency of their products. Eventually new curriculum’s could be added in schools, just as sex education was in the past to help individuals make their own informed decisions.

Although we don’t have a blueprint going forward, since we are essentially the first state in the U.S., or for that matter –the world– to legalize it’s (over-the-counter) sale, perhaps we can gain a perspective from studying the history of Alcohol Prohibition.
HISTORY OF PROHIBITION

I don’t condone the use of marijuana, nor do I condemn it, I simply think its a personal decision. In addition –if your so inclined — teach your children that legalization should not necessarily be regarded as a supposition of morality, especially when considering the widely diverse culture we live in. Besides, law enforcement efforts have been expensive and ineffective at best –at least in our state.

 

6/12/14

I challenge the entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists – lets not forget our law makers — to think of waste in a different manner, no not just the dirty smelly kind suitable for a landfill — I’m talking about inefficiency that cannot be ignored especially with money being tighter and resources scarcer as the world population increases. Many new opportunities, once only mute ideas have now become possibilities due to the sophistication of internet applications. Perhaps at the very least some of these ideas will spawn others that may be of more use.

Let’s look at some! Electricity, now mostly produced at coal fired plants can be produced using solar panels that have become financially viable. Down from $75 per watt 40 years ago to less than 75 cents today. With a little help from the government in the form of subsidies every new home could not only become self-sustaining but also act as a miniature power plant adding electricity to the grid. The sun is always shining somewhere, with enough participation this would become feasible.

I have always thought of the wasted efforts at health clubs, why not turn those spin classes into charging stations, at any given time there are thousands of these classes going on.

Streetlights that use motion detectors or GPS trackers to operate. No need to light up streets that are not being used especially late in the evenings. Of course modifications would need to be made so that pedestrians as well as cars would be noticed.

Lets take a look at cars sitting in traffic jams. Those idling engines could be putting energy into the grid in a way similar to those cordless charging stations used in driveways, only in reverse fashion. All of this would be complimented by GPS which could track and utilize traffic patterns.

To compliment recycling centers and encourage consumers new kitchen appliances could be developed that would begin the process right at home, kind of like garbage compactors did years ago. This would increase participation and lower the need for more landfills.

Finally, lets look at another form of inefficiency that is already being addressed by companies like Uber and Zipcar.

Uber and ZipCar use driver share applications which enable you to share your car, for a fee of course or to obtain a ride from the nearest car available. It seeks to compliment buses and taxi’s it even offers to replace individual car ownership in some cases. Currently successful operations are only in Europe and a few of America’s largest cities. The concept seeks to make use of the idleness of automobiles in driveways and parking lots (most personal cars are idle more than they are used). If the idea proliferates it has the capacity to revolutionize the way we think about personal transportation, especially in large metropolitan areas.

Of course there are a few issues that must be worked out. Insurance must become accommodative, currently typical auto insurance policies would not insure.  There has also been a backlash from taxi companies.

In the long run it could have the effect of lowering car ownership and giving more disposable income to the average person thereby enhancing other areas of the economy.


6/22/2014

Often we can gain a better understanding of the situation in Iraq and the Middle East by getting perspectives outside of our jurisdiction. After all, American politicians are limited in as much as they not only have to address the violence as a policy of national security but also in a manner acceptable to the public. Such ideologies can limit U.S. actions to the crisis leaving us short of a solution to the bloodshed. In addition, the bi-polar nature of American news agencies often obfuscate the real nature of the problem.

A summary of an article taken from the Pan Arab on the Sunni and Shiite conflict —-portrays America’s current position of using sanctions, as ineffective. Another article written for The Globe (Canada) opposes the hasty solutions, we have made in the past (under the Bush Administration) and suggests more thoughtful solutions. Perhaps the wisest approach would be a combination of these two strategies.

Most of the problems in Iraq are caused by the current leadership of Maliki. He has
essentially hijacked the political power balance between the Sunnis and the Shiites
in favor of the latter. The rebels oppose Maliki and his government, not the
overall political structure as the nation now has a decent democratic system
thanks to U.S. efforts. His opponents are tired of seeking help from their
leaders and have taken up arms in response. The solution is not an all-out
military attack but rather a mix of strategic confrontation to curtail the
violence coupled with a political makeover, possibly replacing Malik or reconciling
the factions through some other means. Remember that the terrorists are (Daesh [I believe the media refers to them as ISIS] and al-Qaida), the Sunnis are the only ones who can confront them because they live in the area and speak their language –so their inclusion in the political process is essential  Let’s hope we have the wisdom to figure out how to do this so we don’t waste the sacrifices already given. —-TBC

8/16/14
Over last the few years president Obama has allowed many of the armaments left from the Iraq war to be given over to local police agencies around the U.S. So much so in fact that it inspired Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia to introduce a bill to stop it– albeit this was partly in response to what many consider an over use of police force in the Ferguson Missouri incident. With the new firepower local forces will not only need training but a new found restraint as well if they expect to be trusted.

Included in the arms given over were machine guns, armored vehicles, night-vision equipment, ballistic helmets. tactical vests and bullet-resistant shields, silencers and even aircrafts.

At this point we’re not sure if these actions are simply a form of recycling, a preparation for civil unrest or a preventative measure against terror attacks. Any way you spin it, it sure is a good argument for the NRA and others who emphasize our right to bear arms.
An interesting E-Book available “Survival Secrets”, may be worth a look.

 

10/31/14

In order to accurately assess the risks associated with the most recent health scare in America known as the Ebola outbreak we must put it in perspective with pandemics of the past. The talk of new cases is coming out at such a fast pace that I believe it’s causing a premature panic in the public.

Of all the major health issues that have surfaced over the years the worse one by far has been the H5N1 virus. It’s ability to mutate (thereby becoming resistant to new vaccines) , travel easily by air and have a large host reservoir ( it has many animal species which It has affected that it can spread from) as well as its high Virulence (ease of which it can successfully attach itself and infect a new host (human or otherwise) are the major factors for its lethality. In addition a highly contagious strain of H5N1 has been discovered, one that can be reached in only a few mutations, and capable for use as a bio terrorism agent. There are multiple companies currently working on vaccines, such as Vaxaart, Newlink Genetics, GlaxoSmithKline and even Johnson and Johnson.

Lets look at some of the characteristics of Ebola as compared to H5N1.

The Ebola virus is known to be transmitted by the fruit bats of Africa as well as several monkey species. These bats can carry the disease without getting sick. No other mammals were proven to serve as hosts however dead and living mammals having had contact with the bat or it’s fluids can be infectious. The African diet includes “Bush meat” (Various wild animals consumed) which must be thoroughly cooked before eating in the event they were in contact with the bats. Earlier outbreaks have been recorded in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 Transmission of the disease is caused by direct contact with blood and body fluids. It can remain infectious and live in the affected host (person or beast) after death. It cannot be spread in the air nor by mosquitos or other insects.

 Once a person becomes sick usually 2 to 21 days after initial infection, recovery can occur between 7 and 14 days or death within 6 to 16 days often due to low blood pressure from dehydration. Internal and external bleeding has also been noted. Rehydration via sugar and salt concoctions as well as intravenous intervention can greatly improve a person’s chances of survival.

 It is recommended that anyone who may be exposed use appropriate protection covering their entire body. With proper interventions and precautions the virus is not expected to easily spread within the population.

Throughout all of this remember that the West African countries have a high population of bats and severely lack the health resources of the U.S. The virus is also not a good candidate for bio terrorism, especially as a weapon of mass destruction because it becomes quickly ineffective in the open air.

However disconcerting  it may be that its now made its debut in America, we should first consider the virus’s limiting factors before overstating its risk of becoming an epidemic .   

12/25/14
I do not deny that racism or prejudice exist in America. Unfortunately there is and always will be enough ignorance to go around in our society. Not only of race but against almost anything you can think of: gender, obesity, handicaps, sexual orientation, looks, intelligence, status – – – – !  Not withstanding the progress we’ve made, It can still occur across all fields, professions and walks of life.

However, let’s call this heinous act for what it was, the actions of a desperate, lonely and disturbed man who failed to get help. A fallout from the system who was left to grapple, a by-product of a society that often focuses on the successful, the beautiful ,the popular—-the dream builders. Incidents like the Columbine massacre committed on (April 20, 1999) where 13 people were killed, or the Sandy Hook event committed on (Dec 14, 2012) in which 28 people were gunned down only show proof of this.

It cannot be denied that the media is a great force in America — furthering the cause of freedom, but they must be responsible, now more than ever — with the lightning speed of information available through smart phones, social media and cable coupled with its unbridled dissemination and interpretation by special interest commentators who focus on race relations and other highly contentious social issues it can become a recipe for disaster. Not everything involves race and neither should every isolated incident be given the front page. Unfortunately technology is a two-edged sword, guns are no longer the only commodity getting into the wrong hands.

Finally, let me say that not all decisions made in high profile cases are readily accepted and some have been highly controversial, such as the 1995 double murder decision in the O.J. Simpson trial–but they must be respected if our judicial system is to go on functioning.

Our hearts go out to the families of the two police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu who were killed in the line of duty and anyone affected by this terrible tragedy. We also.show our support to police officers everywhere for their service to our nation.

 


4/12/15

California is in the process of constructing plants to desalinate its shore waters. Traditionally performed by reverse osmosis, a process where sea water is forced at very high pressure through filters that separate the salt. Unfortunately, the process requires pumps that thirst for electricity about as much as the state does for water, not to mention the possible environmental impact on the oceans.

Suffering from the worst drought in recent history the states options are few. Climate change may be responsible for such anomalies, could we be making it worse with this solution, but without some type of intervention the state faces a precarious future. Growing populations and increased manufacturing operations are swelling demand.

Extensive studies on the risk/reward nature of the problem have yet to be done.Although this technology has been widely used in the middle-east, it hasn’t in the US.

Some interesting water facts: It takes about 16 gallons to produce an ounce of rice, 7 bottles to make 1 bottle of beer, 39 thousand gallons to produce a car, eighteen thousand and fifty one gallons to produce a barrel of crude oil, two thousand gallons to produce a gallon of milk, 25 gallons to produce 1 killowatt of electricity and twenty four hundred gallons to product a pound of beef.

There are a few different ways to produce fresh water with today’s technology –by using decaying sewage, Nano microfiber’s and even the atmosphere itself. These latter ways require much less energy than reverse osmosis. Companies such as Eco Volt uses electrically active microbes to purify sewage water as well as generate energy producing methane gas, Dais Analytic of Tampa purifies water by filtering it at a parts-per-billion rate and Ambient of Spokane Washington harvests water from the atmosphere.  —>TBC


7/12/15

Calling same sex unions ‘marriage’, is nothing short of a desecration to practicing Christians as well as many other religions. The Supreme Court ruling, ensuring equal rights under the law to same sex couples, is understandably another step for equal rights advocates, adding to the advantages gained by women, minorities as well as the handicapped over the last fifty years. Most people would not disagree with the progress. However, the word “Marriage” is of divine origin, considered a sacrament and should be respected as such.

Wikipedia describes the word ‘marriage’ as “deriving from Middle English marriage which first appears in 1250-1300 CE. This in turn is derived from old French Marier (to marry) and ultimately Latin Maritare meaning to provide with a husband or wife.”

Merriam Webster states as its first definition “(1) :  the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.”

With all the emphasis on political correctness, such as using the word physically challenged for the handicapped, founders for founding fathers and senior citizens for old people, why do we continue to remain insensitive to Christians? After all, since we   respect the average American in all these ways shouldn’t  we acknowledge their beliefs as well.  Are their feelings irrelevant, has their status in our society somehow become lower than non-believers or other practicing religions?  Are they the only group left in America that are free game?

Words are important, nobody would take terms like Freedom or Justice lightly. Words not only define our reality they coalesce our thoughts and delineate attitudes of respect –just as symbols do. Few people would look flippantly upon the burning of an American flag. Most recently the confederate flag was removed from the capital grounds in a gesture of goodwill and acceptance.

Calling this newly guaranteed right a Civil Union or partner would have been more in line with our ideals; considering that the original intent of America’s “Founders” was to base this country on Christian principals– is this not too much to ask?

12/21/15

I find the Google car to be something of an enigma. Driverless, I mean, even the most advanced automation put to use in airplanes and trains require a pilot and engineer to be present, if for no other reason than for unforeseen situations and emergencies. In particular, countless ethical issues come to mind. Never mind a powerless plane being steered into an empty field, how could an barely controllable car decide on its own, whether to hit a light post or a group of children. I just don’t see it.

If one looks at the sophisticated engineering in many modern aircraft, we still find accidents caused by unpredictable or unforeseeable events, like an autopilot miss interpreting a sudden change in direction caused by wind sheer as an evasive avoidance of another aircraft thereby driving it down into the side of a mountain. For engineers to expect laws to allow a driverless car on the road is at best short sighted, at worst arrogant. But as always –prove me wrong!

 


02/07/16 A little history on the years before Prohibition  

In light of the ongoing controversy concerning Marijuana legalization, I thought a little bit of history on the years leading up to alcohol prohibition would be in order:

Jobs lost, life savings swallowed up, children beaten and abused – all because of alcohol. Impassioned sermons were given about the ravages of alcohol. Starting in the early eighteen hundreds it brought a one hundred year argument against the use of alcohol.

The question became, can we regulate the most personal aspects of behavior through government? Eventually, it would pit people against each other about the role of government, about who is and who is not an American. How can a country built on individual rights impose prohibition and limit human rights?

After all, people drank for all kinds of reasons, to rejoice, to celebrate, as a refuge. Liquor was used since the beginning of American history. For thousands of year’s mild alcohol was used as an intoxicant. Even the founders had no problem with its use. Back then It was used by everybody and repudiated by nobody. It was part of night life, for some it was a morning ritual, for others a night ritual. Of course, most of it was only 2%. Hard liquor did not come along until later.

By the late seventeen hundreds hard liquor was introduced. The US government depended on the taxes from it. It was around this time period that the problems it caused became rampant- hurting women and children as some men could no longer hold jobs, they came home late, marital rape became an issue, police protection was now needed.

On April 5, 1840 six men established a society of reformed drunkards. These societies began to spring up across America. The groups signed what was called the Washington pledge. Some called themselves the sons of temperance. Clergymen denounced them as ungodly because they depended upon each other more than they did god. It was a protestant awakening to help abolish every form of sin starting with slavery. They called their movement temperance. Eventually they demanded total abstinence.

Women rose up in influence. Susan B. Anthony became an organizer. Refused to speak at one of their meetings she formed her own organization where men were not allowed. Women suffrage became inextricably linked to the movement. There became a belief that alcohol was the cause of most societal failures including but not limited to poverty, domestic violence and prostitution. It must be eradicated.

Eventually they tried to close down all the liquor establishments. The movement became so powerful that the government needed to intervene.

Fisherman, lumberman, millworks and farmers drank the most. Neil Dows voted to stop the manufacturing and sale of alcohol on June 2, 1851. He led raids, Irish immigrants rose up to protest, in some cases violently. He was called America’s moral compass. Smuggling became common, prescriptions for alcohol became common for various maladies. Their customers called them bootleggers. The country was infiltrated with immigrants that were unwilling to give up their old ways of drinking. A host of German American entrepreneurs became rich satisfying these needs. The brewers became big bringing exasperating the temperance movement.

By 1860 suffrage and prohibition became overshadowed by the civil war. The federal government needed the money for war so they imposed taxes on liquor. A full one third of the federal budget came from taxing alcohol.

In 1873 more women were goaded and took part in the movement. Eliza Thompson led 200 women on Christmas Eve after a church service. They visited the town doctor and pharmacist and made them sign documents to never again make prescriptions for alcohol. The women began praying at saloons and other churches. They used their female persuasion to convert many men. Often they were sprayed with freezing water at their assemblies. The movement spread all the way to San Francisco. Eventually they were successful in shutting down thirteen hundred liquor stores in thirty one states. It was a baptism of power and liberty.

Out of necessity most of the women went back to the home and the saloons re-opened. It turned out to be to much work to fight the men’s temptations. Frances Willard came to command a national army against temperance. She spoke in over one hundred American towns and eventually took her struggle abroad imploring people to support a global ban against alcohol. She forged an alliance between ger group and the women’s suffrage movement. Many other womens causes became part of the movement. The department of scientific temperance instruction was sent to educate girls and boys.

In the saloons life was different. Many social interactions came about in the saloons. Despite all of this more and more saloons were opening every day in America. They became a refuge for the men. Anyway you look at it, it became a symbol of manhood. It was essential for survival for them to have “Friday night with the boys”. The saloon was many things to many people, deals were made there, check cashing, poker games– even mail pickup. The profits collected were used for political progress. The majority of the patrons were not drunken misfits, they had their values. Free lunches were served in nearly every saloon. Vice was tolerated, These city centers rose up all over the nation, gambling halls, prostitution, drinking etc.

Carrie Nation gave herself over to the cause of getting rid of salons. On June 6, 1900 she went before god to ask for help. She began smashing saloons. She bid the sheriffs to arrest her but they did not. She moved on to Wichita to continue her quest. Many believed that she was mad. Eventually she was arrested and became front page news. Upon release she had followers in over fifty towns but the movement died out as fast as it started.

Bush was the emperor of beer. He was the first brewer to bottle beer for shipment. He became very rich. Inspired half by passion, half by commerce he bought people out to maintain power. By 1913 laws were beginning to pass in various states. In 1913 the 16th amendment levying income tax on the public came about. The government would no longer have to rely on alcohol to fund itself. The anti saloon movement had won.

Ultimately Senator Morris Sheppard designed the 18th amendment which imposed prohibition upon the people, it would take effect on January 17th, 1920.

“The Donald” March 13,2016

The somewhat wild, bombastic, self assuming even arrogant style of Donald Trump presupposes an eager following of people looking for a savior of sorts– Someone to pull them from a cruel and oppressive economic environment –accepting the bad with the worse in a candidate unlike any other in recent times. Although his discourse is filled with expletives, insults, embellished attacks, even possibly outright lies, his followers instead choose to bank on his business savvy, take charge attitude and outsider status from an establishment that has all but lost its luster and relevance to many.

He came roaring to the stage not with a presidential presence but with the brashness of a used car salesman, the self righteousness of a clansman and the self assuredness of a dictator.

So the question becomes, will he be good on his promises or will his statements fade into the primordial archives of electoral history. He confidently assures us that he will do the following once in office”

 

  • Build a wall on the Mexican border financed entirely by Mexico.
  • Bring back thousands of jobs from Mexico, Japan and China.
  • Stop Muslims from entering the country.
  • Resume water boarding and other divisive measures against terrorist suspects.
  • Simplify the tax code putting places like H&R block out of business.
  • Lower tax rates.
  • Mend relations with the likes of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.
  • Depose of dangerous dictators like Kim Jong-un.

 

Some question his forthrightness on economic policy, after all, he himself has used many of the techniques he’s against within his own business ventures, such as utilizing foreign staffing within his hotels, using the bankruptcy laws multiple times, profiting on questionable casino businesses etc. Some feel that America is heading into an alternate reality, similar to the one depicted in Back to the Future II. One infested with gun touting misfits, drug funded leadership and moral decadence.

Many of our economic woe’s are embedded within a complex matrix in finely tuned areas such as monetary and fiscal policy, interest rates, exchange rates, tariffs, trade, regulations, environmental restrictions and taxes. Attempting to alter any one of these factors is likely to have unintended consequences for the others. Approaching these problems through a series of deals as Mr. Trump would likely disrupt current relationships within the intergovernmental and international realm or at worst cause civil unrest and rioting–especially if undue stress is felt within any sector of the economy. In addition long standing principles this country was founded upon would probably be violated in the name of “closing the deal”.

No one here doubts Mr. Trump’s ability come up to speed with tasks that will be set before him or pick good advisors and hammer out negotiations. Nor do we doubt his skill at coming across as a strong leader to our nations advisories –but will this be enough to make the changes he proposes.

We see a lot of holes in many of Trumps promises. For example, he says he will have the Mexicans pay for the wall by utilizing our trade imbalance with them as leverage within negotiations. But if they agree to the wall that would negate his promise to bring jobs back from the country since the two are mutually exclusive. Will he really be willing to use more expensive American labor within his businesses after sending the illegal’s back. If he is able to get manufacturing and production up and running again within our boarders will people be willing to pay the higher product prices, at least initially. In reality its really a complex system we’ve weaved– a conundrum at best and a catch 22 at worst.

Others may find it interesting, even baffling that so many in the media use the term “The Donald” to refer to him, as if he was an endearing figure or an epitome of showmanship. Trump’s popularity may be less a function of his perceived effectiveness as it is what he represents, that being a proverbial crowbar within the current establishment.

People, especially young people, have been feeling the effects of stagnant wages, part time hours, expensive health care, sky high tuition and obstructive regulation for too long. ”, They were punished by the banks after the real estate bubble burst in 2008-09– Many loosing their homes and unable to get new mortgages while witnessing how the powers responsible were kept insulated from the carnage. The on going exodus of good paying jobs to other countries, tighter restrictions on mortgage lending, a decrease in full time jobs as well as a decline in social and personal responsibility; caused not simply by globalization and automation but from government policy and corporate irresponsibility either directly or indirectly through aggressive lobbying and corrupt practices in Washington—perpetrated by both parties and orchestrated thru backroom deals for the advantage of a few but at the expense of many, backing our economy into what an aviator would call a “coffin corner”. The resistance to the minimum wage increase is just another example of the shortsightedness of modern day business– they seem to forget that Henry Ford’s wage hike to $5.00/day (equivalent to about $15.00/hr today)  ended up a success, enabling his employees to buy there own car, reduced turn over, increased moral, improved quality and ultimately raised profit. To many, conditions like these have given credence to socialistic policies like those proposed by Bernie Sanders.

If Trump should win it would be a definitive loss for the Republican Party establishment. Trump is a poor reflection on much of their ideologies. The party would need to be redefined, most likely at the cost of its top hierarchy. It’s going to be interesting to see if they come up with a plan for neutering his bid. Might this election end up an easy win for Hillary? How far would they go to at least keep a viable adversary to justify their existence!

In the end, it’s anyone’s guess whether Donald’s demeanor is real or simply a political response to the rigors of dealing with the media. At the very least his rampages have the potential to bring more Americans to the forefront of politics, priming an awareness and sparking the beginnings of what some think may be the beginnings of a revolution.

JOBS AND CHINA 06/06/1605/15/2016

Expecting him to bring back industries and jobs that have already shifted overseas may be little more than a pipe dream. If Mr.Trump were to be successful in bringing decent jobs to Americans he would have to lay down incentives (tax and regulatory structure) and develop new industries/technologies. These new companies would then be required, at least initially, to pay a wage based on their future profit projections while remaining on US soil. Barring a full return to ‘protectionism’ policies these products would be sold at competitive prices by having the government subsidize them. These higher wages would pump more money into the economy which would help support more business’s within this model. The top people within the organization would be required to work incognito within the ranks for a pre-set period throughout the year, and profits would be fairly distributed throughout the hierarchy dependent upon an employee’s contribution. Top executive pay would of course be limitless but ultimately dependent upon the company’s profitability and the continued success of the company not by short term gains through unrealistic or deceptive business or accounting practices.  Excessive severance packages called “Golden parachutes” would be kept to a minimum and those that are given would reflect the success of the organization.

As time passed these companies would become independent of the government, increasing our reliance on American made goods. This at least is a better use of tax money then just redistributing it through transfer payments as is currently done.

Executives at the top of our organizations would need to be held accountable for their actions without expecting any federal help. The failsafe environment they’ve made for themselves thru corporate lobbying, political influence using their wealth (especially effective once the corporation was given person hood status) hurts not only the workers but weaken the very fabric of our economic system as well.

We’ve already created a generation of young people who have given up on capitalism all together, as can be seen with their support of Bernie Sanders. They easily fall prey to his teachings because they are not old enough to have lived when capitalism worked for everybody, nor have they familiarized themselves with the failed progress of socialism in the historical context. They’ve only experienced our economy of late and what our education system has taught them.

I’m not such an idealist as to ignore that there  many laws that need modifying and a plethora of private interests in the way for any of this to occur. An entire over haul of the system would have to happen. Admittedly, these changes may border on fantasy.

Why are so many jobs still going to China?  -Aside from tax and regulatory conditions as previously mentioned, this may shed more light on the matter:

The Chinese receive US dollars for the exports they deliver. They then sell the dollars they receive to get their currency (RMB) in which to pay their workers. This increases the USD supply and raises demand for the RMB. In order to keep the balance between the Yuan and the dollar equal the Peoples Bank of China buys excess US dollars from the exporters and gives them the required Yuen. The PBOC then prints more Yuan as needed. This process creates enough of a scarcity of dollars which artificially keeps the US rates higher. These monies are called FOREX reserves. Under normal trade conditions between 2 countries the currency valuations between them corrects naturally so imbalances are kept at bay. This keeps the countries purchasing from each other in a somewhat back and forth fashion. If the PBOC did not intervene into this process by imposing price controls and subsidies within its economy our trading relationship with China would be like that.

In the case with China however, they use the FOREX reserves previously mentioned to buy US debt in the form of treasury securities. Buying US debt not only enhances their money supply and creditworthiness while keeping goods flowing to the U.S. but also ‘benefits’ us as well by financing us so we can keep government employees and officials working as well as supplying the needed funds for our infrastructure and populace albeit with borrowed money–A.K.A.–borrowed time.

The statement that China holds us over the fire, so to speak, as well as ‘stealing’ American jobs is not entirely accurate. If China stops buying US treasuries or even begins dumping its FOREX reserves their trade surplus would become a trade deficit –a situation they would never want. So you see, although the situation is terrible for the American worker, (especially those within the private sector) since they are forced to compete with low Chinese wages, it’s essentially a symbiotic one for the country as a whole. The US government wins by getting itself financed, consumers win with cheaper products, wealthy investors win as corporate stocks rise and top executives win with advancing stock options as operations are moved to China, Mexico and India. In the U.S. Illegal immigrant labor is often exploited while the average American worker is left twisting in the wind.

As long as the U.S. continues to pay on its debt and foreign demand remains strong the cycle will continue. A process conceived in greed, perpetuated by irresponsibility and dogma.

Indeed, our own ignorance, both at the private and public level, has come to unwittingly support abusive labor practices as well as empowered China to maintain strict dictatorial controls within its economy. Years and years of officials voting themselves pay raises as well as inflated salaries and personnel within the rank and file, not to mention unneeded expensive government programs like transfer payments would all have to be reversed so our country could operate autonomy and affordably.

The government has kept unrest at bay by funneling money into peoples pockets through the use of various social programs and tax refunds that often exceed what they would make by holding an average job. In this election the powers that be have tried to divide us and place blame to achieve power but in reality many of them were responsible and are now profiting from this malady,

With so many private interests at stake could a president Trump really reverse a situation as embedded and complex as this by simply imposing a tariff on Chinese goods? One man did not get us into this position, can one man get us out? I guess it remains to be seen!
07/18/2016
On the surface the economy and the markets appear to be doing very well; However, according to Andrew Smithers., things are much different then they seem.
Lets take a look at some key economic areas that he discusses. For a complete listing check out his website
ANDREW SMITHERS

The stock market

In recent months stocks have hit all time highs. But these highs have been on very low volume from an historical perspective. Price to Earnings ratios have been averaging around 27. The historical average has never been much higher than 15. Big name stocks have taken the majority of the increase while small and mid caps have actually gone into bear territory. All of these facts should be of concern.

So you may ask how have stocks become so overvalued, simply put it comes from stock buy backs. That is when companies buy back their own stock with cheaper money. They can do this since the cost of borrowing money is still at historically low levels. This artificially raises the price of the stock. The price of the stock increases, not from earnings or public interest but from the buybacks themselves.

Home Prices

In recent years home values have been up substantially yet home ownership is at a fifty year low, how can this be. The reason is because big investment firms like the Blackstone Group have been buying them up and putting them out as rental units. Eventually mortgage rates will have to go up thus bringing down these prices. Consider this, Blackstone says it has spent $8 Billion amassing a portfolio of 43,000 homes.

Wealth Transfer

Baby boomers control 77% of wealth with as many as ten thousand of them retiring every day. No longer working or investing they are taking from the market. This leaves less taxes and more expenses for the government. This is nothing new, ever since the baby boom generation was born they have controlled the economic landscape. They were instrumental in forming the supply and demand aspects at each stage of their lives. The velocity of money is at an all time lows, this is a measure of how fast money changes hands. This is reflective of a stagnant economy.

Short Squeeze on the dollar

Foreign buyers of the dollar will eventually be covering their bets. This will cause everything to go up in price as the dollar gains value.

Unemployment

Despite what the government statistics say, real unemployment is somewhere around 23%. Middle class income is historically low and the student loan bubble is about to burst. One half of professional graduates are working at non-degree jobs. College costs are up over a thousand percent since the 1970’s.

 


09/24/16 2016 Ballet Measures

AMENDMENT 69:  Simply put this proposal would transfer health care costs from insurance carriers and the individual patient to Colorado income tax payers. State tax receipts would increase an expected 25 billion the first year. From a proposed 10% increase workers would be responsible for 3.33 percent and the employer 6.67. This would pose an added burden, especially to small business, handicapping what we believe is an already dubious business environment. The premium would come from salaries, wages and tips, rents, interest and dividends, capital gains, small business as already mentioned as well as social security benefits, pensions and some annuities. Exemptions and discounts would be given to people over 55. This can be viewed as another way to impose an unfair burden on the well off as well, that is, if you choose to call it unfair.

As would be expected, many public workers are in support of the new legislation while independent business owners are not. Arguments for site it would be an example for the nation as to the beginnings of a purely national healthcare system covering everyone in the state and free up emergency room traffic as people would simply use their doctor.

Arguments against the new law site undue burdens on small business, higher income people and young taxpayers as well as delayed care and poor services for all.

At the very least the effects of such legislation should be analyzed beforehand to determine there impact. We have already seen the negative effects and the demise of some aspects of Obama care; let’s make sure we plan things out better before we make any more rash changes.

 

AMENDMENT 70: We will soon be called upon to vote on new minimum wage laws. We don’t think that the wage problem is a simple fix.  Although we believe that many jobs are already adequately paid, like Valet Parker, Table Busing, restaurant servers who receive tips, light assembly workers, janitors, fast food workers, newspaper deliverers etc — there is still room for improvement. Incidentally, these jobs are usually held by youngsters new to the workforce just looking to get work experience. Problems arise when employers fail to pay equitable wages for jobs that do require experience, maturity or reasoning abilities like some financial service positions, higher end retail, tax services, financial services. managerial etc.

   Although excessive regulation and taxes can explain some of the problem, it should still stand as a wake up call to private business. Many people have had enough, the reasoning goes something like this: If you will not give a higher wage where one is due then we will summon local government to raise the wages for all. Unfortunately the current proposals would only displace young people from the job market, which could conceivably increase juvenile delinquency and unduly raise prices –at the end of the day nobody wins. However everybody still realizes that the average city, state or federal job pays more than twice the wage for an equivalent private sector job. Its got to the point where someone utilizing public assistance and other programs such as the child and earned income credits can often make more than many of the private sector jobs offer.  If things continue to go in this direction much of the incentive to work will dwindle as the employment numbers already prove. So what do we do?  

A compromise would be in creating a  2 tier minimum wage law, one for starter jobs and one for jobs that require some level of talent. If this proves not feasible then support a minimum wage law that would only apply to particular positions.  Laws should also be added to make sure only legally eligible people are allowed to work so the people who have gone through the process get a fair shake. Businesses who do not follow proper protocol would be held accountable and the laws enforced  This would be a better answer to the problem we now face allowing the kids to get work experience while being fair to business.

Currently there are many jobs just above minimum wage that offer 32hrs/wk, including a sparse selection of jobs that offer 11 to 12/hr in sales, customer service, graphic arts or web development marketing. Unfortunately, with the new health care tax laws, 32 seems to be the new 40 for many jobs, not unlike orange as the new black or 60 as the new 40 –as modern adages go.  For people with very specific expertise and experience they will find  professional and executive private sector positions that offer higher wages mostly within the health care and technical areas. Unfortunately, they face fierce competition since so many people out there are looking at these upper levels. Lastly you will find government positions that are also well paying but very hard to land. Some of the  jobs are work from home which require self motivation and commitment.

Since many are out of the workforce due to retirement, public assistance, disabled, given up etc, many of the lesser jobs can be had quickly. Some jobs that would benefit from the new law would be in management–especially at small shops like convenience stores, fast food and warehouses as well as at call centers,  customer services, sales, collectors, tax preparation etc.

Meanwhile, the unemployed and underemployed face housing costs that have gone through the roof along with many other necessities like food,transportation and medical care. Many twenty and thirty somethings, some trying to start families find themselves in a desperate situation. Many of the altercations with police could, at its core, be fueled by these economic conundrums. Not the media, the pundit’s nor the politicians seem to want to address this. Instead, they blame it completely on racism, illegal immigrants and a poor educational system.

 

 Amendment 72: This is a measure to increase the taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. This proposal actually has many interesting pro and against arguments. It really depends on how well the government will utilize the additional funds, if you use tobacco and if you feel the burden should be shouldered by low income people, (since that group uses tobacco the most. Low income users already spend up to 14% for such products.)
Currently, the federal government collects $1.01 on each pack of 20 cigarettes while Colorado collects 84 cents per pack. This amendment will increase the tax for a pack by $1.75 while other tobacco products will be taxed an additional 22% of the manufacturers list price.

It has already been proven that the tax will discourage young people to take up smoking. It has also been proven that tobacco use directly affects health care costs for society. Since monies from the tax will go toward these areas some feel the tax would only help. Colorado is expected to receive $315.7 million in its first year of the new tax.

In our opinion the one main negative aspect of the measure is the fact that it will lock in state spending that may prove unnecessary as tobacco use dwindles. Monies collected may eventually end up funding other extraneous areas of government.

Bottom line, if the proposal had a built in expiration time limit it might be worth voting for.

 

      Proposition 106: This measure gives “Access to Medical Aid-in-Dying Medication” Essentially it allows a terminally ill individual with a prognosis of six months or less to live to request and self-administer medical aid-in-dying medication in order to voluntarily end his or her life. This proposition hits such a personal part of life I will give it in the first person. Let me begin by stating that I believe life is sacred. The phrase “dying medication” is absurd, poison would be the better noun, let’s call it for what it is.

After listening to my cries I say leave it into the hands of my immediate caregivers. In my opinion they hold a sacred trust, who better would know my condition and my ability to handle it. They have followed the progress and retreat of many such as me. It may be considered the ultimate act of compassion -you know-that one last shot of pain killer.. Barring that scenario — however arrogant it may seem, I prefer to leave the law as it is, extenuating circumstances aside.

A living will is one thing but leaving a decision like this completely up to the patient is dangerous,–forget incompetence–he or she may have many biases against themselves. Leaving it to the relatives is unwise, who knows what agenda they may have. Leaving it to the doctor or clinician is short sighted, what prognosis is fool proof—besides, their oath is to save life not cut it short. Finally, would it not be insidious if an insurance company agreed to the procedure while denying coverage for a more expensive long term therapy.

These type of laws foster a fatalistic attitude toward life, one that is devoid of grace and miracles. They completely remove god from the equation and open the door to all manner of scandal. They give new meaning to the term “Slippery Slope”. In the end formally legalizing this act in any way is a mockery against all of humanity.

As you recall I gave this opinion in the first person, as such you must reach into your own soul and come to your own truth in this matter. I know, I know —- say what you really think.

10/17/16 THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Vote your pocket book and your conscience. Consider who most represents your position for America’s future. It appears that both candidates are embroiled in corruption or scandal of some sort while neither candidate has proven character or temperament. We don’t believe that, privately, Mr. Trump is racist, sexist or mean any more then we believe Hillary is weak, frail or totally incompetent. Life is a motion picture, not a snapshot, all people change, grow and learn and are often too complex to understand. It is interesting how our own technology has taken us to task. Many of the accusations are taken out of context, some are very real, but we can only work with what we’re presented with.

Consider a vote for Trump if you feel the U.S needs to have a larger and more fearsome military, if you want a conservative supreme court nominee, if you feel a need to protect christian freedom’s, if you want to abolish Obamacare and create a Competitive  insurance market to lower costs, if you believe deteriorating race relations is largely a media fallacy, if you are pro-life, if you  are willing to accept a smaller government with the advantages and problems that may come with it, if you own a business or want to start one, if your a high level business executive, if you want an increased police presence and influence, if you want greater immigrant controls (vetting), If you want less gun controls, if you believe there is to much tax & regulation, if you believe global warming is a farce, if your a coal miner and would like to keep your job longer, if your relatively wealthy, if you feel our national debt needs to be reduced to retain America’s financial health, if your poor but are willing to endure while waiting for his policies to take effect– especially in the realm of jobs and small business development, if your believe that a well balanced and properly functioning capitalistic system offers plenty of opportunity for everyone and that this can be achieved through business development by lowering taxes, decreasing regulation,  adjusting trade agreements.and addressing corruption.

Consider a vote for Hillary if your a federal or state worker, if you’re a wall street tycoon, if you want the U.S. to have a gentle world presence and feel we’re all safe enough with her foreign policy experience, if you want socialized medicine (one payer system), if your not that concerned with christian freedom’s, if you believe that deteriorating race relations are real and need a creative solution from government, if you depend on public assistance or expect to be dependent upon it in the form of retirement, child care, health care etc., if you want more public programs and money supporting infrastructure, if you believe there are too many guns in America, if your a career politician or a struggling single parent, if you have a liberal or non-religious bent toward issues like abortion, if you believe global warming is a real threat that we can control, if your satisfied with the level of government regulation & taxation, if you believe that there are many more individual rights that government needs to address, if you believe the 20 trillion dollar debt is not a pressing problem to America’s financial health, if your willing to accept corruption as a normal part of government, In light of the global economy you’ve  given up on traditional capitalistic ideology and feel that the only way most Americans can prosper is through government facilitated redistribution of wealth.

Your race or gender shouldn’t be part of your decision. Look past the rhetoric—If your a responsible law abiding person, immigrant or not, your not likely to be jailed or deported by anyone’s policies; neither is either candidate likely to get us into a nuclear war. The Trump campaign is more concerned with addressing Americas plight than is the Clinton campaign. We believe that Trumps top skill is the ability to recognize and surround himself with good talent, while Hillary has the experience and contacts to continue Obama’s policies. Keep your down ballot choices in line with your ideology. Decide what your values are, you can even pick your candidate on a single issue. Try to look past Trumps outlandish cavalier manner or Clinton’s dubious credibility– see beyond personality and character. A corollary of this race has been a battle of the sexes, at its worst reminiscent of the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs(1973) or at best a vision of mom and dad in the kitchen.

Nevermind the election, some may all ready feel SNL rigged the campaign in a showing that was nothing short of surreal, but what’s at stake is our democracy, the ultimate goal of which is striking that illusive balance between tyranny and anarchy. Let;s not forget this amid all the demagoguery.

 This may well be the most pivotal election ever, for the greatest country in the world,  home to some of the most hardworking, innovative and generous people alive. Check your history– there were actually a handfull of elections that were decided by one vote. Many of our ancestors gave their lives for the opportunity, What kind of America do you want? You — may just be the one who decides!


04/17/17 TRUMP AND DEREGULATION 

Former president Reagan once asserted that “Government is not the solution to our problem, Government is the problem”. We believe this statement to be short sighted. Instead, keeping a delicate balance between government over site in the form of regulation while preserving some market forces, in the form of deregulation, is perhaps a wiser philosophy.

Considering Mr. Trump’s obsession with deregulation I thought this would be a good time to bring up some of the concerns from an historical perspective. The most recent examples would be the financial crisis of 2007 and the California power crisis during 2000.. The financial crisis was caused by lax lending standards and creative derivatives after the deregulation of the banking industry while the power crisis was due to market manipulation after the deregulation of power distributors.

At its peak, the ;power crisis affected over 1.5 million customers via rolling blackouts. The financial crisis caused more than 3 million people to loose their homes

The entities responsible were ENRON and Fannie Mae, Freddie mac,both of which had virtual monopolistic control within their respective industries. There were other political entanglements as well but we’ll leave this for another discussion.

Please Mr. President, lots not turn this into the old baby/ bath water event.

TBC —->


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