Category Archives: Economy

You Want a Government Solution or One That Works?

I’m amazed how these politicians, or “activist groups”, get us to think we need another service or law to make our life wonderful. In spite of real world experience, we keep betting on the horse that never seems to win.

Ocasio-Cortez-global-warming
The people we elect, have a variety of ideas, mostly about, how to remain employed by the federal government. If not the federal government, then as a lobbyist to that government. We debate these ideas and listen to candidates on how they will solve our problems.

Climate

Projections of global sea level rise by 2100, these projections range from 0.2 meters to 2.0 meters (0.66 to 6.6 feet) [Melillo et al., 2014]

In the recently updated Copenhagen Diagnosis, the carbon that we are releasing into the atmosphere today is in the process of ‘programming’ a potential 2-5 meters of sea level rise by around the year 2300.

That’s a wide range of predictions.

As you can see from the video associated with the above image, the young, ambitious, political candidate, believes the government will be able to manipulate climate if we allow them. These wonks and wizards can’t even control spending, which is far more tangible and predictable than the global climate. Examine the government’s historical record of managing anything to a degree which could earn them, well done.

What’s their solution? As usual, tax, spend, regulate.

Abortion

We begin the catastrophic tumble, down the bewildering, pandering, deceitful, rabbit hole of political marketing 101.

First, a problem is identified. Next, they advertise they’re the people who are going to solve the problem and give you what you want.

Do you want a safe, clean & Listerine abortion? Then vote for us.

Do you want to stop abortions? Then vote for us.

If you want to be “pro-choice”, they got you covered. If you want to be “pro-life”, they got that covered, too. It’s the complete package.

Now that’s some slick Madison avenue. Better still, if you don’t agree with them then they’re going to get in your face, march down your main street, and call you derogatory names to embarrass you through social media.

I have this crazy idea. How about we quit looking to government to solve our problems? What if we quit blaming each other, and start to do things for ourselves? Sure, it might be baby steps at first, but think for just one moment (maybe two). When have you witnessed a noteworthy, praiseworthy, glad the feds took over responsibility and solved that problem?

I found a relatively simple way to solve the problem of unwanted pregnancy, it’s guaranteed to work. Don’t have sex with someone you don’t want to co-parent. I know, what a crazy, stupid idea, right? Let’s just say, that’s not possible for you. Your impulse control is limited. Then why not get fixed? A vasectomy or tubal ligation. You, thought that’s too much to ask? How about safe sex? You know, when a man simply wears a condom. Wait! That’s not a 100% guarantee. Tell me something, anything in life is guaranteed. If you say there’s anything other than death or taxes, you’re a fool.

Health care

He claims it’s working. Wake up! For who? For example, my family members received their health care through employment and they still do. The shared costs have risen dramatically and the deductibles have as well. I personally tried to get insurance through the government web site and the premium costs exceeded 50% of my gross income. He continues to put forth the number, 44 million people were without health insurance, prior to the ACA. We solved that problem, really? All of these people are covered? The exceptional cost containment we were promised, the keep your doctor, and everyone is covered? Where is this magical solution no one I know is experiencing?

Do you know how well the Feds run the VA? I’ve had a hit and miss relationship with them. Sometimes I’m quite happy, and other times, I’m highly disappointed. It’s generally not top drawer care. To say we get what we paid for, isn’t exactly correct. Some have paid with their limbs or life. None the less, government doesn’t do a very good job with it, and yet people are clamoring for “free” or “single payer” health care. Our government doesn’t handle anything that’s large in an efficient cost effective way. Quit thinking about little countries like Norway, Sweden, or the UK. We have never seen our government demonstrate real concern or efficiency. Look at what the Feds do now with the VA, and tell me you think it’s going to get better on an even larger scale?

There are people in each political party, despite the lip service, who have raided the Social Security and Medicare funds using them to augment the general fund. They (Congress) continue to give themselves raises and perks, then tell us Social Security and Medicare are in financial trouble. Of course they are. Look who’s in charge! Even though those have been separately collected funds from our paychecks, they call them entitlements, then go on to say, they’ve got to cut back “our entitlements”. I suggest those who are entitled have offices in Washington DC and live very well off the populace.

ox-cart-old-west

We’ve gone from stubbornly independent to stubbornly dependent

This is how you survive the unsurvivable, this is how you lose that which you cannot bear to lose, this is how you reinvent yourself, overcome your abusers, fulfill your ambitions and meet the love of your life: by following what is true, no matter where it leads you.
Augusten Burroughs

Sadly, year after year we fall for this nonsense. We take great pride in our “political utopias”, meanwhile the carrot(s) continue to get dangled in front of our collective noses and we chase after them.

There’s something really wrong with this picture and we never quite seem to catch on. Oh sure, we complain about it, but it’s that other party, race, or age group’s fault.

Rewriting History to Fit Your Ideology

The Suffocation of Democracy

I read a preliminary description of a book as this author has written. I have to wonder, how can he refer to himself as a historian? This book is nothing more than his distorted view of history to fit his politics. Imagine how this would read if the author actually gave a factual explanation of history instead of as a means to bash individuals or political party? I was unable to find this book on Amazon.

Adolf_Hitler_Buckeburg_1937

When I listen, read or watch someone compare the current political climate in the USA to Nazi Germany, this is when almost all credibility of an individual is lost. Plain and simple, we are not living in a fascist state, nor are we in any immediate danger of that being introduced, not from the Trump administration or the current crop of Congressional GOP. To make such a claim is either incredibly naïve or highly motivated deceptive political misappropriation. In fact I’m amazed this person refers to himself as a historian. Hysterical yes, historian no.

The author’s references and description of current USA politics with respect to Nazi Germany is fallacious. The author claims that United States isolationism of the 1920’s & ’30’s can be compared to conservatism today.

Our current Congress and President has nothing in common with Nazi Germany and Hitler. Making these assertions as if they’re facts isn’t harmful, but taken collectively, incite destructive emotional behavior and a disconnect from reality.

Hitlers-manifest-ramblingsIt’s another attempt to tabulate and correlate all of the popular political prejudices. It plays to an audience, like Hitler did in his speeches, with a lack of historical depth to document his incredibly naïve or misleading suppositions.

History is complicated and a detailed topic. I dislike the use of it to portray events and people with incorrect information in order to claim special insight. This author’s technique isn’t unusual, I’ve seen other people take advantage of the lack of knowledge of most people and infuse it with their offbeat pronouncements or comparisons.

The 20th century was one of the worst centuries in recorded history. Scarred by two global conflicts, many violent regime changes, and the displacement of millions of refugees, it was rife with villainy and intrigue. No era, or major human endeavor operates in isolation. In order to dispel some of the myths which this author, Christopher R. Browning begins to weave, I will attempt to explain topics which need much more depth than many will care to read. I’m not going to bother tackling his anti-Trump, anti-GOP, anti-Mitch McConnell statements. To do so really does nothing to get at the core of his writing, and almost anyone that reads this has their mind made up about the GOP and Trump, anyways.

Let’s examine the United States historical position on isolationism. This alone is a huge topic, because much of the stage was set from our previous conflicts, the Civil War, Spanish American War, and World War I. 

The United States has been involved with one war or another since its inception. The Civil War was an unavoidable, bloody conflict, leaving the worst human losses for our country to date. I’m not going to spend time on it’s cause or reasons, just know that many older people, including veterans were still living well into the first two decades of the twentieth century. That left an indelible memory for all those who lived through it.

In the closing period of the 19th century we had the brief Spanish American War. That’s one of those conflicts that should have been avoided, but it gave the US some of that false bravado we liked to get caught up in.  World War I wasn’t anything like the quick and relatively bloodless Spanish American War. The European war started 3 years before we decided to enter it. From our involvement, we gained a taste of what a world wide conflict could begin to look like, and there were a lot of men that came back from that war damaged physically and mentally.

As a response to the horrors of WWI, and the distant memories of the Civil War, many people in the US wanted nothing to do with the insanity of future international conflicts. Japan was soon engaged in their territorial scuffles, and Spain was in full scale revolt in the ’30’s. We had just put behind us, our memories of the conflict with Spain, and here they were, fighting among themselves, which potentially could start another European war. Germany was using this opportunity to perfect tactics they would use in a few more years in eastern Europe. We wanted nothing to do with another war. So, isolationism was the prevalent disposition in Washington.

Trying to discuss 20th century trade wars, and place them in context with current policies isn’t relevant. What was important, and set the stage for the world wide depression in the late 1920’s and 1930’s is where politics and economics came together and added fuel to the hate cauldron of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler was the perfect scoundrel to take advantage and replace a broken democratic republic with a fascist regime.

For reasons he doesn’t indicate in this write up (click on link at top of this post for reference), we might see some form of totalitarianism in this country if we continue to add annual deficits. The financial disarray is only part of the conditions which beleaguered post WWI Nazi Germany. 

Hitler achieved power and control for several reasons. If you wish to make comparisons to contemporary USA, you would have to understand the vast differences, as well.

1 – Germany was in financial ruin from World War I. The repayments demanded of it through the League of Nations, Treaty of Versailles, plus their own inability to recover through their own initiatives signaled their downward spiral. They diluted the currency, and ended up with hyper inflation. “Quantitative easing” is a favored technique of our central bank and endorsed by elected officials.

Their, “economic easing” began with more Reich Marks put into circulation. This came to a horrible end, as all of these inflationary death spirals do, hastened by over speculation and a collapse in trust of the currency. People were literally using wheel barrows filled with currency to buy bread.

2 – From the ashes of crisis the “savior arises”. As many times as these comparisons emerge, Trump and Hitler are not even close to the same person. So, if you can’t or won’t see the obvious differences, then no amount of reading or reasoning will work for you, and I’m truly sorry. For the rest of those who care to read on… Adolf Hitler came from a broken home. Never really became educated, and usually never finished what he started. He failed at labor, no craftsmanship. He had limited artistic skills, and he seemed to even have problems with obtaining and sustaining male & female relationships. In short, he was a born loser. For all you Trump haters out there, and those of you who want to believe the lopsided view of his business skills or his male & female relationships, he’s really a polar opposite of Hitler. Then, because conditions were just right, Hitler became a phoenix. Germany was a proud state, still had many veterans who believed their country sold them out. Many believed in the myth that the only reasons they lost WWI was due to their political leadership giving in to the people who wanted peace. Adolf_Hitler_politician_1921

3 – This is where we are much different in the USA from Germany in the 1920’s & 30’s. The country was broke, both in spirit and in economics.

Hitler’s behavior was closer to what we see from Antifa, or these other groups protesting with vagina hats. Crazy, rabble rousing behavior. Speaking at first to anyone who would listen in bars. He eventually caught the eye of another dysfunctional but wealthier and more influential man.

Hitler joined the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, later known as the Nazi Party. This political party was formed and developed during the post-World War I era.

It, along with Hitler rose to power very slowly at first throughout the 1920’s. Hitler was even arrested and imprisoned for his participation in a failed coup. The Germany of 1930’s was in a huge mess, and the vacuum of power permitted the Nazi’s to become participants in the national government. It’s difficult for anyone to watch him now, in those old propaganda films, but Hitler was considered a great orator. He knew how to wow the crowd. Yes, Trump has the ability to communicate, but he’s not in the league of spell binding speeches which Adolf Hitler could muster. Adolf_Hitler_Paris_1940

4 – Identify scape goats or shift the blame. Current politics in the US is in a free fall. There’s a definite crisis of leadership. I recognized it and saw it in the 2016 election process. If you’re honest, you should have seen both parties brought forth two candidates who for different reasons, should never have been the top of their party’s ticket. Well, that election happened, and despite the constant outcry from the die-hard Democrats, it’s over. They can look forward to midterms and 2020. Each party is blaming the other, and neither is acting in any mode other than trying to make the other team look bad and themselves look good. 

None the less this is not Germany in 1933 & ‘34. When Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933, his rise to the top was meteoric. The Enabling Act passed in March 1933 gave Hitler total authority, and thereafter constitutionally exercise dictatorial power without legal objection. He had ultimate executive authority, because of their crisis. This is when and where you can see anyone who isn’t playing dirty with the facts and fails to realize the greater danger in that behavior was on full display with the previous Democrat administration. Here’s what one of them said to his President,

You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

Rahm Emanuel

President_Trump_podiumLet that sink in for a moment. While you want to think about ways the third Reich and the GOP are similar, may I suggest you do a lot more reading and consider for a moment that where we are now, isn’t anywhere near to Germany of the 1920’s or ‘30’s. We might find ourselves there at some unpredictable date in the future because of our fiscal irresponsibility. We’re just not there now. We don’t have Brown Shirts (look them up), we don’t have the SS, nor do we have a government as shady as what once was the Clinton administration.

References:

Business Comes & Goes, So Does a Culture

There were days when we would go downtown to shop. It wasn’t like going to the grocery or hardware store. No, this was something special, and we would dress for the occasion.  Mother would take her dress gloves out of the drawer, and along with her dress and high heels, she would take out a hat from a box. I would wear dress slacks, shiny shoes, and a sport coat. There were times when I too would wear a hat.

We rode the bus from uptown to downtown, and we weren’t all that out of place in the way we dressed. Most of the other people riding would be dressed in what we might now refer to as business casual.

Minneapolis_downtown_Powers_dept_store_1950sUpon arriving downtown, we might walk down the street and look in various store windows to see what was on display. Most of them of course were pitching their current sales, but there was competition among the variety of retailers as to who might have the most attractive window display.

Minneapolis_Emporium_diner_1950s

Emporium tea room 1940-50s Minneapolis

Eventually we would enter a store, either through double doors which we would pull open, or by entering a revolving door which you or someone else would push to rotate your part of the large glass triangle, until you could enter the store. What awaited your eyes were a couple of things. Usually a store greeter, but not the disinterested couch potatoes who might greet you at Walmart. No, these would be smartly dressed people that knew how to smile. The other thing immediately noticed were the row upon row, of neatly arranged aisles with well placed merchandise on shelves, in displays, or on mannequins. As you made your way to the center of the store, there would be several elevators. Each elevator had a person inside the elevator who would open up the doors, or gate and doors for you to enter. They would then close the doors after everyone that could or wanted to get on. You then would tell them your floor, and they would make the selection for you. Each of these ‘operators’, wore some type of uniform, some with hats, most also wore gloves.

Sears_Tower_1988_1All that changed quickly as the suburbs began to erect large enclosed shopping malls. There were of course what we call strip malls. Stores that shared a large common parking lot and each retailer store were aligned side by side. That didn’t nearly have the impact of the enclosed shopping mall. Once they were constructed, many of the downtown stores simple opened their store in the new mall. This took a big toll on downtown retailers. They typically paid higher rates for taxes, most didn’t have convenient parking. They relied on nearby parking decks and lots, or those like us, who took city transportation. The downtown retailers didn’t maintain their greeters, elevator operators. Even their display windows became less interesting, a far simpler asthetic became the norm.

Those times seem strange to people unfamiliar with that era. Most downtowns have morphed into high rise condominiums, or permanent apartments. Either that or they were torn down as if part of a failed social experiment.

All that has changed again. Many shopping malls are skeletons of what they once were. Some malls have closed entirely. All this due to the evolution brought on by the Internet. The Amazon shopping model has become the new norm. First it was mail order. The big retailers like Sears, JC Penny adapted well. Then the Internet became a ready made 24/7 sales facility. Display windows are now the Internet tabs to click and expand. People still shop, the delivery times are quick and you might not even get out of your night clothes. Social interaction is minimized.

New_York_Lord_Taylor_store_closing

Oldest department store company in the US is disappearing entirely from Fifth Avenue after 104 years

The New York Post just came out with a lament on how much the retail store front is disappearing, and how it’s changing the character of the city.

Chicago_Sears_stores_closing_1

Sears closed last store in Chicago Illinois

The Chicago Tribune opines over the loss of the last Chicago Sears store. The once mighty retail giant, headquartered in Chicago is gone. There building tower still stands, but was sold off years before.

It’s fundamentally changing business, but furthermore, it’s removing us from personal interaction and social restraint. If social media is the replacement for the way friends might meet at the mall, or take day trips downtown, it’s a poor substitute.

Along with the loss of social skills comes another challenge, the need for fewer people. Just like the elevator operators, greeters and floor persons, all will disappear when picking and delivery become fully automated.

Retail has indeed changed, and so too has the culture.