Unicorns and Rainbows – Part 3

The typical Progressive Liberal confuses me, and quite frankly, I think they are confused as well.  What they say and do are so contradictory to a rational line of thinking leaves me with multiple WTH moments.

This is the third installment of the series.

The Progressive Liberal seems to have a soft spot in their hearts for the poor, the downtrodden, the unemployed.  They have spoken of their undying support to “help” the unfortunate among us.  While this is a noble sentiment, the Progressive Liberal seems to be at odds with what they promise and what they deliver.

Since the Johnson administration declared a “War on Poverty” in the 1960s, has there been much change?  Billions have been spent on this “war” and poverty is still in the United States.  Yes, the rate has risen and fallen over the years, usually tied to the strength of the nation’s economy, but it has not fallen below 11% from the data I have been able to find. 

The billions of tax dollars has been spent for jobs training programs (for those who sign up for them), and Welfare/Medicaid programs.  Over the years, there has been on/off requirements for people who sign up for Welfare enroll in jobs training and drug tests to weed out those people who are not serious in turning their lives around.  Depending on who was in elected office, those requirements were either enforced or removed, and the Welfare roles declined or increased accordingly.  Please note that relaxing the requirements was usually done in the name of compassion.  Remember this last statement…

Likewise, the unemployment rate has also risen and fallen with the strength of the economy.  When the economy is strong, the unemployment rate is low.  Likewise, when the economy is weak, the unemployment rate is high, and the unemployment benefits are at record levels.  Also note that with the last downturn in the economy, employment benefits were extended to a record 48 months (4 years!).  Unemployment rates are dropping, but with the way the data is gathered, it isn’t known if people are finding new jobs or are just dropping off the unemployment roles & not getting new jobs.  With the economy as sluggish as it is, I would think it is the latter.

We now find ourselves in an economy that is barely (and I mean barely) growing.  And what do the Progressive Liberal politicians want to do in the name of compassion (among others)?

Embrace the undocumented worker!

In a time of where Americans are unemployed or underemployed, the Progressive Liberal political elite wish to welcome and legitimize the illegal aliens that are in this country, and encourage others to do the same. 

This is madness!  This is insanity!  Not only will this take away job opportunities for Americans, but increase the burden upon the Welfare system when these people cannot find jobs! 

Yes, I have heard the arguments that these people will do the jobs that Americans will not do.  I have heard the pleas that these people are looking for a better life for their families and themselves.  Fine – I agree to some extent – but let them come in legally!! 

The reality of the above is to keep people on Welfare and dependent upon the Progressive Liberal for their sustenance, and to introduce another class of people into the world of depending upon the Progressive Liberal for their livelihood.

Ironic Lesson

Note:  By no means am I against people who have no other means of support to receive government assistance.  I am, however, against the pond scum who make it their mission in life to scam the system to receive my taxpayer dollars for their livelihood & make no attempt to better themselves nor to earn an honest living.

More in Part 4 of “Unicorns and Rainbows.”

The Pursuit of Happiness

This are the words from the Declaration of Independence that many people seem to think that the Pursuit of Happiness is a guarantee, one that is backed by our government if you believe the Liberal agenda.  Yeah, those are probably fighting words for some Obama supporters, but let’s look at some opinions and facts starting with some personal experience.

I have worked for several different companies over the past 30 years, and they are rather large ones at that.  FMC and ITW were two of them.  I worked for divisions that were profitable, but didn’t meet the corporation’s goals for them.  The companies either closed or sold the divisions.

There wasn’t any calls for government bailouts of the employees, nor the employees demanding compensation.  No, most of us went about our business finding new jobs & careers.  Some were old enough and had enough years with the companies to take early retirement.

Some of you know that I worked for Chrysler for a little over a decade, and took a buyout on the eve of Chrysler’s bankruptcy.  While Chrysler seems to have recovered, it wasn’t without controversy, nor without government assistance.  The working conditions in my former department have deteriorated according to conversations that I have had with friends still at Chrysler.  Yes, it seems it was a good move, but I really have hated starting over.  Thus, I’m still pursuing happiness.

In contrast, let’s take a look at my now deceased former father-in-law.  At the age of 45, after spending 22 years at Anchor Glass, the plant closed.  Rather than look for another job, he decided to sit back, take a reduced pension & Social Security, and do nothing.  He became a bitter, sometimes cruel person with little to do for the next 20 years.  Did he find happiness?  No, he didn’t, not by a long shot.

Let’s be realistic – the Pursuit of Happiness is just that, pursuit – it doesn’t mean that we’re going to catch it.  Some people will, but some won’t.  There is not a guarantee of a happy ending, no matter what reassurances people (i.e., politicians) may make.  This is why I am extremely suspicious of any promises the politician’s make for economic and society’s happiness.

Who out there remembers the talking point for passage of the over $800 Billion “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” would keep unemployment below 8%?  And how well did that work out?  Unemployment skyrocketed, and is now barely above 8% three years later.  And that’s still a bogus number.

This number does not take into account people who are no longer are kept on the unemployment rolls because their benefits have run out, and unemployment numbers only reflect the number of people collecting unemployment.  The number of people who have found jobs are often underemployed because they can’t find anything else.  This leaves a gap of people who have left the job market, i.e., quit looking because they cannot find anything.  The Labor Department or whatever other department that is keeping the statistics never has and never will keep those numbers because they have no way to determine who has given up.  So the figures lie, or at the very least don’t tell the whole truth.

So now the politicians are stating that the economic recovery (and by extension, the good times) is just around the corner.  But is that true?  According to this excerpt from a Bloomburg article:

It’s important to note that historical data collected by economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff show that it takes almost five years for employment to recover from the wreckage of a deep financial crisis.

And a deep financial crisis it was too.  Not a good time for anyone, and there doesn’t really seem to be the quick fix that the President or the opposition keeps thinking there is.  From the same Bloomburg article:

Much of the problem is self-inflicted by Congress. Lawmakers are putting off until after November’s elections a crush of expiring Bush-era tax cuts, the payroll tax reduction and dozens of other tax breaks and spending programs. If they expire, and an approved $100 billion in spending cuts occur at the same time, economic growth would slow to 0.5 percent next year, the Congressional Budget Office says. As Bloomberg View columnists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers write today, last summer’s debt-ceiling fight almost derailed the recovery, and this year’s replay could be worse.

Congress also lacks a plan to attack the long-term problem of entitlement spending and has yet to fix an overly complicated tax code. Worse, lawmakers have purposely built instability into the system by disingenuously adding expiration dates to tax cuts to meet budgetary rules.

Those invoking the uncertainty principle fail to mention that inflation and interest rates are historically low. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has repeatedly pledged not to raise rates at least through late 2014 — a gold-plated certainty guarantee if we ever saw one.

The pledge may be showing up in an uncertainty index created by Steven J. Davis, a University of Chicago business professor, with two others. Using news searches, differences among economic forecasters and other tools, they have measured the level of uncertainty by month, back to 1985. Their research shows that monetary policy and taxes, not regulatory policy, are the biggest drivers of uncertainty.

The Senate has not passed a budget resolution in over 3 years.  That’s uncertainty.

Here’s the bottom line – Neither political party will be able to guarantee your happiness, no matter what the political elite promise.  Your happiness is up to you, because the politicians have a different agenda:

In case any of you didn’t know, a typical politician’s primary job is not to serve the people who elected him. His primary job is to get himself (or herself) elected or re-elected. Second is to reward all those contributors that gave $$ to help him get elected. Third is to get as many perks & benefits as he can while he is in office. Last on the list is the common person like you & I.

And that’s their happiness, not yours…

It’s Been A While…

Looking back over the blog, I find it’s almost hard to believe it has been a month since the last post.  But given the amount of time that has been spent at & on work, it hasn’t been much of a surprise.

Work has been an understated insane, chaotic rat’s nest of confusion and business.  I’m submitting reports to four different supervisors (two of which I directly report to) and am involved in one super huge project with several small projects where I report to other project managers.  Without getting into specifics, I am barely treading water, and I’ve let the supervisors know it.  Their response has been to request more people to do the work, which is fine.  The problem is that there is no one available, and if a person is available, it’s either a contractor or a person that I get for an extremely short period of time.  By the time I’ve brought the person up to speed (time that I have to spend away from the other projects to train the person), they are taken away for another project, I’ve lost precious time in getting things done, and probably should have just done it myself.  I have repeatedly proposed that a core group of people be dedicated to the department instead of the current revolving door method, but that seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

The bottom line is that I’m spending huge amounts of time on the weekends doing work, losing sleep, and running my health down.  A trip to the doctor last week stressed that something needs to change, either my attitude from caring to not giving a shit, or someplace else to work.  I’m really considering the last option, and here’s a couple more reasons why.

I just had the one-year anniversary with the company last month, and no review.  I asked about it, and the supervisor stated that we would schedule one later this month.  How much do any of you want to bet that any pay or raise in compensation will not be retroactive to the anniversary date?  Any takers?  (Side note – I quit my first job for this very reason.  Rule number 1 – Never screw around with an employee’s pay.)

Second is the reason I’m writing today.  With Snowmageddon currently in progress, the company wisely closed the building so people wouldn’t risk life & limb to get in to work.  The catch?  In order to be paid for the day, a benefit day (vacation or sick/personal) must be taken.  My wife works for a much smaller company, and they were given the day off with pay without having to burn a vacation or sick day.  (Rule number 2 – Never treat an employee badly.)

Needless to say, I’m not working on anything today, and couldn’t care less.  If I’m burning a personal or sick day, or not getting paid for the day, then I’m not working on anything company related.

Now I already know that the response of the powers that be will say that if you don’t like working here, go find somewhere else to work.  I’m pretty sure that when the economy picks up, there will be a bunch of people flipping the bird to the various powers as they are walking out the door.  And that’s the rub – the economy.

Michigan’s unemployment rate as of December 2010 is 11.7%.  The housing market is crap, so moving out of state is out of the question.  There aren’t many companies hiring in my area, and I’m already driving an hour one way to get to this job.  Just a bad situation, and the company knows it.  They know it isn’t right, but they don’t care – they have their employees over the barrel.

Bottom line is that I’m going to have to hunker down and endure the hell until something better comes along.  But it’s going to be hard.  Very hard.

Hopefully it won’t be another month before the next post.

It’s Still About The Economy

Or rather, jobs…and the lack thereof.

It’s definitely not good if one of the founders of Home Depot, Ken Lagone, had this to say in the Wall Street Journal:

Although I was glad that you answered a question of mine at the Sept. 20 town-hall meeting you hosted in Washington, D.C., Mr. President, I must say that the event seemed more like a lecture than a dialogue. For more than two years the country has listened to your sharp rhetoric about how American businesses are short-changing workers, fleecing customers, cheating borrowers, and generally "driving the economy into a ditch," to borrow your oft-repeated phrase.

My question to you was why, during a time when investment and dynamism are so critical to our country, was it necessary to vilify the very people who deliver that growth? Instead of offering a straight answer, you informed me that I was part of a "reckless" group that had made "bad decisions" and now required your guidance, if only I’d stop "resisting" it.

I’m sure that kind of argument draws cheers from the partisan faithful. But to my ears it sounded patronizing. Of course, one of the chief conceits of centralized economic planning is that the planners know better than everybody else.

But there’s a much deeper problem than whether I am personally irked or not. Your insistence that your policies are necessary and beneficial to business is utterly at odds with what you and your administration are saying elsewhere. You pick a fight with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, accusing it of using foreign money to influence congressional elections, something the chamber adamantly denies. Your U.S. attorney in New York, Preet Bahrara, compares investment firms to Mexican drug cartels and says he wants the power to wiretap Wall Street when he sees fit. And you drew guffaws of approving laughter with your car-wreck metaphor, recently telling a crowd that those who differ with your approach are "standing up on the road, sipping a Slurpee" while you are "shoving" and "sweating" to fix the broken-down jalopy of state.

That short-sighted wavering—between condescending encouragement one day and hostile disparagement the next—creates uncertainty that, as any investor could tell you, causes economic paralysis. That’s because no one can tell what to expect next.

A little more than 30 years ago, Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Pat Farrah and I got together and founded The Home Depot. Our dream was to create (memo to DNC activists: that’s build, not take or coerce) a new kind of home-improvement center catering to do-it-yourselfers. The concept was to have a wide assortment, a high level of service, and the lowest pricing possible.

We opened the front door in 1979, also a time of severe economic slowdown. Yet today, Home Depot is staffed by more than 325,000 dedicated, well-trained, and highly motivated people offering outstanding service and knowledge to millions of consumers.

If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it’s a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive. Rules against providing stock options would have prevented us from incentivizing worthy employees in the start-up phase—never mind the incredibly high cost of regulatory compliance overall and mandatory health insurance.

But the shovel-ready jobs (that weren’t) and the (temporary) census jobs with the multi-billion dollar stimulus legislation were to keep jobs and the economy from tanking.  Hah!  From Fortune via CNNMoney.com :

image FORTUNE — Let us tell you an ugly truth about the economy, a truth that no one in power or who aspires to power wants to share with you, at least until after the midterm elections are over.

It’s this: There is nothing that the U.S. government or the Federal Reserve or tax cutters can do to make our economic pain vanish overnight. There are no all-powerful, all-knowing superheroes or supervillains who can rescue or tank the economy all by themselves.

From listening to what passes for public debate in our country, you’d never know that. You’d think that the federal government could revive the economy quickly if only Congress would let it be more aggressive with stimulus spending. Or that the Fed could fix it if only it weren’t overly worried about touching off inflation. Or that the free market could fix it if only we made deep and permanent tax cuts. Watch enough cable TV, listen to enough talk radio, read enough blogs and columns, and you’d think that they — the bad guys — are forcing the country to suffer needlessly when a simple and painless solution to our problems is at hand.

But if you look at things rationally rather than politically, you’ll see that Washington has far less power over the economy, and far less maneuvering room, than many people think. "It’s endemic in our type of society that we always think there’s a person who holds the magic wand," says Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), a fiscal conservative who isn’t running for reelection, so he can, well, be blunt. "But this society and this economy are far too complex to be susceptible to magic wands."

The economy is financed by jobs & investment, not by taxpayer dollars given out by government after they’ve taken their cut.  Standing in the way of the recovery is, dare I say it, the same government that touts the many benefits of its intervention.  Look at Health Care and Cap & Trade legislation, which will cost the taxpayers plenty for questionable benefits while handcuffing business investment.  And a new tax, the Value Added Tax (VAT), which promises to do more damage.  The VAT hosed up Europe, and it promises to do the same here.  From Investors.com:

A new study warns that a value-added tax would kill 850,000 jobs in a year and cut retail spending by $2.5 trillion over 10 years. Sounds too bad for Washington to pass up.

An analysis for the National Retail Federation by Ernst & Young finds that adding a VAT to the U.S. tax system would reduce GDP for years, causing the loss of "850,000 jobs in the first year," plus "700,000 fewer jobs 10 years later."

A VAT imposed in such a way would also cause retail spending to drop by almost $260 billion — or 5% — in the first year alone, according to the study. As a result, "most Americans over 21 years of age when the VAT is enacted would be worse off," and there would be "significant redistributional effects across generations, reducing real incomes and employment for current workers."

A VAT isn’t going to raise much if people aren’t working and spending.  And what is worse is that the government, via rampant & unchecked spending by Congress and endorsed by the President (yes, all of them, Democrat and Republican) is broke.  That, my friends, means we’re broke.  From Investors.com:

imageWe will learn in November just how angry the public is about a lot of things, from higher taxes to massive unemployment. But the popular uproar pales in comparison to the sense of humiliation that we Americans are quite broke.

In 2008, the public was furious at George W. Bush, not because he was too much of a right-wing tightwad, but because he ran up a series of what were then thought to be gargantuan deficits.

The result was that under a supposedly conservative administration, and despite six years of an allegedly small-government Republican Congress, the deficit nearly doubled from $3.3 trillion to $6.3 trillion in just eight years.

Barack Obama apparently never figured out that he had been elected in part because that massive Republican borrowing had sickened the American people. So in near-suicidal fashion, he took Bush’s last scheduled budget deficit of more than $500 billion — in a Keynesian attempt to get the country out of the 2008 recession and financial panic — and nearly tripled it by 2010.Obama’s new red ink will add more than $2.5 trillion to the national debt — with near-trillion-dollar yearly deficits scheduled for the next decade. All of that will result in a U.S. debt of more than $20 trillion.

Obama’s new red ink will add more than $2.5 trillion to the national debt — with near-trillion-dollar yearly deficits scheduled for the next decade. All of that will result in a U.S. debt of more than $20 trillion.

What exactly is it about big deficits and our accumulated debt that is starting to enrage voters?

First, the public is tired of the nonchalant way that smarmy public officials take credit for dishing out someone else’s cash without a thought of paying for it. Each week, President Obama promises another interest group more freshly borrowed billions, now euphemistically called "stimulus."

But the more public money he hands out to states, public employees, the unemployed or the green industry, the more voters wonder where in the world he’s getting the cash. The next time a public official puts his name on yet another earmarked federal project, let him at least confess whether it was floated with borrowed money.

Is it any wonder that Americans are angry?  Is it any wonder that a movement like the Tea Party is growing day by day?  Is it any big surprise that opposition to the unchecked spending is met with calls of derision by those doing the spending?  Not to me, at least.

In closing, I think this Michael Ramirez cartoon is spot on as to what is going to happen in November:


Legalized Theft And More

Here’s a post from Gunslinger’s Journal via Bad Bad Juju.  No wonder businesses (and people) just can’t seem to get ahead:

This Is Why There Are No Jobs in America

By Porter Stansberry
Saturday, August 21, 2010

I’d like to make you a business offer.

Seriously. This is a real offer. In fact, you really can’t turn me down, as you’ll come to understand in a moment…

Here’s the deal. You’re going to start a business or expand the one you’ve got now. It doesn’t really matter what you do or what you’re going to do. I’ll partner with you no matter what business you’re in – as long as it’s legal.

But I can’t give you any capital – you have to come up with that on your own. I won’t give you any labor – that’s definitely up to you. What I will do, however, is demand you follow all sorts of rules about what products and services you can offer, how much (and how often) you pay your employees, and where and when you’re allowed to operate your business. That’s my role in the affair: to tell you what to do.

Now in return for my rules, I’m going to take roughly half of whatever you make in the business each year. Half seems fair, doesn’t it? I think so. Of course, that’s half of your profits.

You’re also going to have to pay me about 12% of whatever you decide to pay your employees because you’ve got to cover my expenses for promulgating all of the rules about who you can employ, when, where, and how. Come on, you’re my partner. It’s only "fair."

Now… after you’ve put your hard-earned savings at risk to start this business, and after you’ve worked hard at it for a few decades (paying me my 50% or a bit more along the way each year), you might decide you’d like to cash out – to finally live the good life.

Whether or not this is "fair" – some people never can afford to retire – is a different argument. As your partner, I’m happy for you to sell whenever you’d like… because our agreement says, if you sell, you have to pay me an additional 20% of whatever the capitalized value of the business is at that time.

I know… I know… you put up all the original capital. You took all the risks. You put in all of the labor. That’s all true. But I’ve done my part, too. I’ve collected 50% of the profits each year. And I’ve always come up with more rules for you to follow each year. Therefore, I deserve another, final 20% slice of the business.

Oh… and one more thing…

Even after you’ve sold the business and paid all of my fees… I’d recommend buying lots of life insurance. You see, even after you’ve been retired for years, when you die, you’ll have to pay me 50% of whatever your estate is worth.
After all, I’ve got lots of partners and not all of them are as successful as you and your family. We don’t think it’s "fair" for your kids to have such a big advantage. But if you buy enough life insurance, you can finance this expense for your children.

All in all, if you’re a very successful entrepreneur… if you’re one of the rare, lucky, and hard-working people who can create a new company, employ lots of people, and satisfy the public… you’ll end up paying me more than 75% of your income over your life. Thanks so much.

I’m sure you’ll think my offer is reasonable and happily partner with me… but it doesn’t really matter how you feel about it because if you ever try to stiff me – or cheat me on any of my fees or rules – I’ll break down your door in the middle of the night, threaten you and your family with heavy, automatic weapons, and throw you in jail.

That’s how civil society is supposed to work, right? This is Amerika, isn’t it?

That’s the offer Amerika gives its entrepreneurs. And the idiots in Washington wonder why there are no new jobs…

If, after reading this, you think that every business owner, especially the small business owner (the “mom & pops”) have it made and don’t need relief from the tax burden of the government, then you are truly drinking government-branded Kool-Aid. 

What many people do not realize is it is the small businesses making the products for the larger businesses to either sell or incorporate into their own products.  And it is these businesses that provide the majority of jobs throughout this country.  For instance…

My wife worked for a small cosmetics company for a while that sold their products to Walmart for Walmart to resell.  The company is constantly teetering on bankruptcy between the pressure of the government taxes & regulations and Walmart’s aggressive buying practices.  That company has less than 25 people in it, which is defined by the government to be a small business. 

Think of how many other companies are in the same situation, and now it becomes easier to understand why so many larger businesses are fleeing this country and setting up shop in places like China and Mexico.  Hell, look at the exodus of companies from California because of that state’s tax structure (Bloviating Zeppelin has a great post on this).

Companies & businesses do what they do for one reason only – to make money (profit) for the owners or shareholders.  It is not, as some believe (like Obozo), to create that money for the government to take & spread around to the rest of us.  Remember – Socialism and Communism have been spectacular failures when applied to governments and countries.  Why anyone in their right (or left) minds would want to put a similar system in place in the United States is beyond my comprehension.

We all know that government is one of the worst money managers around.  If they were running a business with their fiscal policies, they would have been bankrupt many, many years ago.  Yet they spend money, our tax money, without regard to the burdens that is placed upon the citizenry.  And mostly, they are doing it without any consequences.

Our national debt is screaming along, increasing by staggering amounts every second as the interest piles up.  With companies & businesses abandoning this country for better tax rates elsewhere, the burden of this debt now falls upon the people, the average taxpayer, who is struggling to keep whatever job, home, & life that they may have.  The burden doesn’t fall on the morons that put us in the debt to begin with.  Perhaps if our duly elected leaders spent that money as if it was coming out of their own pockets, this country wouldn’t be heading down this economic road to ruin.  Unfortunately, it’s going to come out of the pockets of generations to come.

And that’s the real tragedy, the real decimation of the American Dream by the power-hungry politicians that we have allowed to put us in this mess by our own inattention and indifference.  We have bought into the premise that government has our best interests in mind, only to find that that is far from the truth.  Government, as it is now, is ruled by the political elite that has their own power-grabbing agenda, supported by a lapdog media promoting “social justice” through government control, and elected by a population that increasingly has its hand out for sustenance because they do not have any other choice! 

If anyone paid attention in ancient history class, this is a variation of the situation ancient Rome found itself in, and that civilization collapsed.  And it didn’t collapse in a graceful manner, either – history shows that it was the beginning of an ugly, violent period that affected the direction of the world.  With the economic situation of the world as it is now, and Radical Islam fulfilling the role of the Barbarians, the pieces are in place for the United States, that grand experiment in government by the people, to follow Rome.  And that, dear readers, doesn’t bode well for our progeny.