The Corona Effect

Everything that we see on the news is about Corona.  Corona, Corona, Corona!!!  Almost like a bad episode of The Brady Bunch…  It’s effing depressing…

I’ve been thinking about the following, and Douglas Flint over at American Thinker beat me to it.  Some excerpts from the article follow:

I fear Donald Trump has taken the bait and he knows this.  He is trapped in a car barreling down the highway toward economic disaster and a great depression, and he knows it.  He is desperately looking for an off ramp but unfortunately he has turned the accelerator and the wheel over to the “experts.”

The “experts” are people of genuine theoretical scientific knowledge but no real-world experience and no capability of risk assessment beyond the specific risks in their chosen field.  They are focused on the virus and only the virus, because it is not their job to worry about anything but the virus.  They could, without blinking an eye, recommend a six-month in-home lock-down.  You could scream, “But people will starve by the millions!”  That is not their concern.  If they starve to death in their homes, they did not die of corona virus and thus the “experts” have done their jobs.  It doesn’t help that almost all of them are government employees for life guaranteed to receive full pay and benefits until the end of the known universe.  They are not capable of grasping the concept that no work equals no pay, no insurance, no food, and finally nowhere to live.

But there’s another bunch of people in that car.  Malevolent people within the government, federal and state, who would love nothing more than to slam the car into the wall, destroy the economy, the lives of millions of people, and destroy America’s preeminence in the world, and the Trump presidency, in order to give themselves the ultimate power, the power of life or death over each citizen.  They will fight furiously when and if the president tries to take back control of the car.

At some point very soon, Trump will have to accept the fact that the ones he has turned the car over to are not going to stop, slow down, or turn.  There is no incentive or reason for them to do so.  So far, Trump has confined himself to tossing money out the windows of the speeding car hoping somehow this will soften the blow.  It won’t and it can’t.

Insane ideas are being hatched (in a Harvard faculty lounge?) such as loaning businesses money to pay employees when there’s no productive work to do or revenues to collect, with a fingers-crossed promise that the loans will be “forgiven” if certain criteria are met.  But we know our government bureaucrats  all too well.  Contributed to DNC?  Loan forgiven.  Contributed to RNC?  Sorry, you needed to spend 80% of that loan on payroll, but records show you only spent 79.97% on payroll.  Payback in full plus penalty interest.  Don’t have it?  Sell the business to my friend or family or give Uncle Sam a controlling stake.

No, the smart play, the only play for any businessman is to lay off your employees.  No telling how long this will go on, so why burden yourself with an insane relationship with the federal government?  Your employees will probably be better off drawing full unemployment and you’ll probably be able to pick them up at a considerable discount when and if the crisis starts to ease.

And the longer this goes on, the harder the recovery will be.  Inflation will be a major factor if money is continuously tossed out of the car.  States will have to raise the unemployment premiums on the few surviving businesses in order to cover their enormous outlays.  People will not want to, or be able to, go back to life as usual or spending as usual.  After all, what has happened once can happen again.  Better to hunker down, don’t buy that new car, don’t upgrade that house, don’t spend that $150 on a dinner out or a rock concert.  Become more like our depression-era grandparents.

The sad and scary part is that the safe political bet for Trump is to let the “experts” slam the car into the wall, destroy the country and the lives of millions, and rule as a new-era FDR, with the country in permanent depression, the capital hidden in walls, under rocks, or in treasury notes until better times.

The right thing to do, even if it costs him the presidency, is to kick the crazy “expert” driver out of the car and grab the wheel and steer for the off ramp.  It may already be too late.  But it’s the only chance to save the country.

And yes, those he kicks out of the car or subdues will all become his open enemies now with twice the power because of the trust he gave them in the first place, and because of the media’s readiness to embrace them as they trash the president daily on all the networks.

As I start Week 4 working from home, I’m more fortunate than some in my company.  My company is a manufacturing company complete with an engineering department.  Our plants are shut down, and the employees furloughed.  Slowly, the office staff is being furloughed as well as funding for continuing the projects that need to be built (but can’t) dry up.  The engineering department that I am a part of deals with the  designs of products to be built and sold to customers, but that will not last.  While I still have funding, it won’t be forever as that funding will go away within the next 2 to 3 weeks (my guess) because all businesses operate on cash flow.  If we’re not building, we’re not receiving compensation for our work.  No business has an endless supply of money – eventually, it will run out.

Other items that I’ve tried to keep track of is the myriad of executive orders from governors and other officials throughout the country.  One of the most insane are the orders of some governors to release prisoners from jail, their directions to law enforcement to ignore forms of some crime, close gun stores (but let’s keep the marijuana dispensaries and liquor stores open), and plead with the criminals not to commit crimes during this crisis.  I have no idea how that’s going to keep the law-abiding safe, but seems to increase the likelihood of more victims without a means to protect themselves.

But despite this, firearm sales were at an all time high in March, so perhaps some people are getting a clue that government will not keep you safe, but only you are responsible for your own safety.

Regardless, we will not go back to the way things were before.  Our new “normal” may not be to our liking.

Stay safe, my friends.

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:

image