Tuesday, October 11, 2011

America Needs a Competitive Edge

The key to American success today is a competitive edge. Prior to WW2 America was thriving as the engine of the Industrial Revolution for a couple of reasons: widespread opportunity and access to cheap energy and cheap labor. Today: opportunity has been strangled with a maze of government red tape; highly regulated labor; very costly energy. An American success plan should start with reduction of regulations, especially in the development of energy. Energy development in North Dakota has created a '49ers Gold Rush environment for job seekers in the Bakken area oil fields. More high paying jobs than job seekers! 

A Federal Government program subsidizing America's rolling stock to CNG would drastically reduce the demand for imported oil, driving down the cost of that resource which is used in virtually everything Americans consume. Imported oil is in effect a tax upon all Americans that goes off-shore, into the pockets of those opposed to our style of government and freedom, and unlike a legitimate tax is never returned as a government service! Development of CNG, clean coal, our own oil, and new nuclear energy would further drive down the cost of energy. Top-off this plan with the elimination of all taxes on all energy and suddenly you'd have very cheap energy costs, attracting manufacturers from around the world. Jobs: building and re-fitting CNG facilities across the country; building new nuke and clean coal plants, jobs developing our own oil resources - not allowed to be exported! Opportunities for the development of ancillary businesses surrounding these industries wouls spring-up across the country.

That's an American Recovery plan. Not wasted money kicking the can down the road. Not an ideology with a hidden agenda to "fundamentally change" what was and still has the capacity to be the greatest system ever created. We've already spent so much of our ability to repay that which we've already borrowed and now that scheme is busted. Proven, BUSTED! Time to go to work. Real work that makes stuff the world needs. 

Let's begin with energy! That's an edge the rest of the wold cannot beat. That's the edge we've still got. We've got the talent, we've got the resources, we've got the people. Let's unleash them - - let's compete!



Saturday, September 3, 2011

Fed Budget Deficit Made Simple

From Bill Teitelbaum:

Numbers and political information can be so confusing.... 
I think this simple analogy will be helpful to gain an understanding whether we should be concerned or not... 
U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000 
Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000 
New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000 
National debt: $14,271,000,000,000 
Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000 
Let's remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget: 
Annual family income: $21,700 
Money the family spent: $38,200 
New debt on the credit card: $16,500 
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710 
Total budget cuts: $385 
Understand those "deep" cuts now? 

Cheers, Mel

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Love Stuart Varney, BUT......

Stuart, you proudly proclaim how you love America and want her to remain as she is - vis a vis Britain and the EU. But you just can't resist your genes. You have the tint, if not the color, of the socialist when you express the idea that a law requiring a key lockbox on the front door of ones home, allowing entry to cops and firemen (and who knows who else - what's wrong with just using a battering ram?) as okay! This is UNAmerican. I know it is because I come from a long line of folks born and raised here with American ideals. 

I'm an oldster, I and my parents were born and raised in the West of yore. We have witnessed the slow but inexorable and lamentable march of East Coast ideas destroy Western values. Like the folks that move to the desert, love it, but then can't help themselves and are impelled to plant a lawn - because lawns are in their genes - and thus destroy the desert climate they loved so much. Lawns may be a stretch but it's an analogy that works.

Please Stuart, don't plant a lawn..... they are so English.

Cheers, Mel

Friday, August 12, 2011

An American Solution to Stagnation

We have to get busy and work for a replacement to Obama and all those stifling energy development. One has to ask, is he and his supporters purposely trying to destroy the country? There is no other explanation for an administration and its cohorts: the Senate majority, and various special interest lobbyists, that have refused to develop energy, which is the life-blood of our civilization. Not just refused to develop it but work actively to shut-down development! 

That's not hyperbole, that's a fact. Energy, or lack thereof, was the prime mover of Japan's attack in 1941. It was the reason Adolph and Co. attempted to take-over Europe. Thanks to our abundant energy resources prior to WW2, and of course our distance from the front, we were able to prevail. Since then America has depleted the "low hanging fruit" - we have used-up much of our easy to get oil. But natural gas (NG/CNG) is abundant and available for the taking right here in the US and Canada.

Energy is what has gotten humans to their current high standard of living.

Without reasonably priced energy America cannot compete on the world industrial stage what with competitors like China, who have no EPA, OSHA, Dept of Energy, etc. to shackle and hinder growth and production. In China, a projects are identified, discussed, and if given the go, construction begins within days. At trip to China is absolutely mind-blowing!

I'm not suggesting that we become the dictatorship/oligarchy the likes of China, but we have to develop energy if we are to preserve our strength and our wealth, or we will fall under the  control this type of government.

Just imagine where we would be if energy was all but free! We have vast resources of NG. Many pipelines are already in place; every major city has them supplying most of the population now. Supply pipelines already criss-cross the country. Our government should offer tax incentives, and outright cash, to convert gas stations to CNG stations. Unlike Cash for Clunkers, a costly and complete failure, Cash for Conversion would yield a payoff every time one used their car or truck! Converting the USA rolling stock to CNG would all but shutdown the use of oil for transportation - our biggest use of the product. The money spent on oil, by the way, is essentially exported.... it's a tax without a return in the form of returned government services. A complete loss! Ironically, most of that money goes toward those at odds with our way of life.

The side benefit, and not a minor one, would be the radical drop in the cost of oil. Add to that scenario: the elimination of all taxes on energy. With these two ideas working together suddenly Made in America would have real meaning..... our products would be far more competitive in the world marketplace. In the EU gasoline/diesel/avgas costs range from $8 a gal on up to $16 a gal and more! In terms of costs of industrial production, we could beat them on every front. China uses coal for industry, but still must ship their finished product around the world, not a cheap enterprise. America, manufacturing locally - customers available localyl - both right where goods could be produced with cheap energy; that spells, what Charlie Sheen calls WINNING!

Add to that: American Cost Of Living would drop drastically. Heating/AC, cooking, traveling - all living costs are tied directly to energy costs - all would be a lot less expensive. This would in turn free-up cash for other uses improving American's lives. Farm products too would drop in cost, since fertilizer, tractor fuel, shipping, and refining costs would all drop - drastically.

Think of the jobs that would be created immediately, today, building systems and converting every service station to offer CNG; and every car and truck to run on CNG. This is the kind of government sponsored infrastructure that would actually pay returns back to citizens for generations. 

If energy was a lot less expensive, maybe we could actually afford to get sick! We have to put those in favor of developing NG into the driver's seat.

Cheers, Mel

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Taking Easy Money

The Seniors of America are the last bastion of confiscatable  wealth. In practical  terms they can't leave the country; they can't sell their assets in a bad economy; they have children and grandchildren they can't leave. Their income, for the most part comes in the form of Social Security and Medicare. It just so happens that those two items are the largest part of the Federal budget. 

Now the best part; it's easy to take: 1) stop COLAs - done, 2) pare back Medicare coverage - underway; 3) demonize those two funds as, "The biggest part of the problem is not discretionary spending, it's entitlement spending," read: Social Security and Medicare. Also know that the discretionary spending is the source of pet project money of nearly every elected official. And lastly 4) Inflation, which is the ultimate theft from Seniors; they don't work, have limited ability to earn enough to keep-up, and survive by an ever lowering standard of living. 5) Easy to TAX.  They are the largest group of individuals in our society with paid for homes. Seniors do not use credit and are not a threat to the banking system. 

A weak and immediately identifiable group: Seniors are America's last bastion of hard earned and saved wealth.

Cheers, Mel

Monday, January 24, 2011

Frank View of the Big Picture

The following is from friend, NYU Stern School of Economics Economist, Price Waterhouse Accountant, Fortune 500 Co. Comptroller, entrepreneur, and now retired, Frank Fischer. This is his response to an ongoing email exchange concerning the future of America.

Hi Mel...

I think you already know some/most of my big picture suggested spending cuts to the Federal budget. Getting rid of entire agencies and departments, like the Dept of Education, EPA, Dept of Energy, Dept of Commerce and as big a hawk as I am, big cuts in the military/Pentagon. I'm sure there are others that could be eliminated. All other departments and agencies should take a 25% budget hit, bar none except veterans programs. I also believe the Feds should cut 25-40% of all Federal employees and implement wage, bonus and COLA pay increase freezes until the budget is balanced. I also believe it's an opportune time to get a balaced budget amendment passed.

Also, no more defined benefit pensions. Stop them all right now and immediately switch all Federal employees to defined contribution plans like 401ks. No more Cadillac health care programs either. Stick them all into Obamacare insurance pools, if Obamacare doesn't get repealed. Congress and Federal employees are exempt from Obamacare. WTF!!

I also believe we need term limits for all Congressmen/women (3 years) and Senators (6 years). Cut the hell out of their pay, or don't pay them at all, like it used to be. Or pay them something similar to what the military pays for a low-ranking officer. Same for their staff. Give them some frugal expense reimbursement plan. No pensions, no health care they take with them. No more per diem, that they just pocket for personal use. Build a decent barracks-type residence for all reps, or just convert one of the many unused buildings in DC to a residence hall type thing for when Congress is in session. Staff are on their own like the rest of us. Eliminate perks like paying off their school loans for them too. 

Get rid of all the BS money-draining subsidy programs like Ethanol and money sucking things like Amtrak and the Post Office. Privatize these things with no subsidies from the taxpayers. If they fail, they fail. If prices go up, tough shit. Pay the going rate or use something else.

That would reduce federal taxes for the folks which would help our 70% consumer spending based economy and set an example for frugality for state and local government. State and local gov'ts need to cut the fat and get rid of all of the money sucking union pensions, health care and big paychecks. The lower taxes that would result will also help the 70% consumer based economy. Privatizing a lot of what state and local govt's do will cut costs and make things much more efficient. Case in point - NYC Sanitation Dept. Why have a city run sanitation dept? Sub-contract the work out, including snow removal. There certainly wouldn't have been any slow-down in snow removal with that last storm that hit NYCWaste Management does a great job. They've been picking up my trash for years at a very low cost and I don't know if they provide pensions or health care to their employees. Frankly, I don't care.

We need a national energy plan and as you know, I recommend CNG, nuclear and clean coal. Plus we need to drill for more domestic oil in the meantime and send these OPEC and other dictatorial financial rapists back to the stone age. This would probably be the biggest contributor to putting money into consumers pockets, thus helping the 70% consumer spending based economy.

Those are some of my "big picture" actions I'd like to see take place. I don't consider them small or insignificant.

As far as all of the smaller things I, and you, become aware of and bitch about all the time, a $ billion or two here, a few $ billion more there....it all adds up to tens or hundreds of $ billions. It's just like eliminating earmarks. Sure, they don't add up too much in the big picture scheme, but taken as a cumulative whole with everything else, they add up to a ton of money. Plus, it helps eliminate corruption. Corruption always starts small and grows from there as politicians become bolder and bolder and steal/waste more and more of our money. Case in point is the ethanol scam and the proposed cap & trade fraud.

As far as our economy goes, I still believe we're in the midst of our fist lost decade. And it may continue to another decade, not unlike Japan. Obama and Congress aren't going to get us out of this mess. Only the private sector can do this. Regretfully, I don't see any clear way out. I don't see any clear way to reduce unemployment, other than through attrition as folks fall off the unemployment roles. But then they're on welfare, food stamps, etc. The housing market has crushed us. The US economy has been riding on fictitious, non-existent wealth in the form of bogus home equity for the past 10 years.

For years, folks have been pulling this bogus equity out of their homes to buy cars, big screen TVs, take vacations, remodel their homes, buy 2nd homes, etc, etc, etc. Then there were the house flippers taking quick profits of bogus equity. It was all BS. Look at what happened when the bubble burst. IMO this is the main cause of unemployment in this country. All of the lost jobs including contractors/builders, sub-contractors, building suppliers, realtors, mortgage brokers, bankers, title companies, etc, etc, etc, plus all of the government related jobs, like those in building depts, inspectors, etc. Then the effect it had on the rest of the economy. Severely reduced auto/trucks sales, mall closings, restaurants closings, retail shops out of business.... you name it, it's gone. Then the foreclosures....well over a million, maybe 2 million and an estimated 3 million more coming. This has touched every part of our economy.

So the big question is: in what sector of the economy will jobs be created? I have no idea. Neither does anyone else, including Obama and Congress. The truth is I don't believe a significant number of jobs will, or can be created in any sector. Hence my forecast of 2 lost decades. Until such time as all of the millions of baby boomers (1946-1964) are finally out of the work force, we'll continue with 9-10% or higher unemployment. It's the norm now and may get worse. We need to create 140K jobs a month just to keep up with normal growth. Where are all the kids graduating high school and college getting jobs? They're not. They're moving back in with their parents or other family members. Folks that have lost their job and their houses are moving in with friends and relatives. It's a mess. All of this causing a lack of contribution to our 70% consumer spending based economy.Yet the population continues to grow.....with illegal aliens and babies from single parent mothers living in projects and ghettos. All needing entitlement support, further stressing out the financial situation in the country.

Sure, the stock market is doing better, but it's all BS. Most companies are recording increases in their bottom line profits, but little to no growth in their top line, revenues. This is all because they cut the hell out of expenses, mainly with headcount reductions. Productivity is way up. Wall St banks are making a killing since they're able to borrow money from the Fed at zero % interest and turn quick, daily profits by lending it to other banks on short terms. Business and consumer credit is still tight and tough to get. All of this Wall St and stock market crappola does nothing for our 70% consumer spending based economy. Consumers that do have an income aren't spending. Those that don't, can't. Many are terrified and either saving or paying down debt. Many are helping to support other family members, just to help them get by with the basic needs to survive. Bankruptcies are at a record high. Foreclosures the same. Huge numbers of unsold homes are out there and the numbers are growing. Home values are dropping like a rock and continue to do so.

That is the big picture. We're screwed. The truth is guys like you and me DO get it. It's the rest of them that don't.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Affordable Health Care..... Now

Just saw an ad on TV selling the Silver Sonic XL by Bell and Howell. This little baby looks just like a bluetooth cell phone ear piece you see mounted on dopes at Costco. Here's the deal. My dad and Rebecca's mom wore hearing aids. Their vanity wouldn't let them wear any device, let alone a honkin' wasp's nest on their ear, until science and engineering had invented a completely invisible device worn entirely inside the ear. The problem here was that these elegant tiny marvels of sound amplification were expensive - - $Thousands!

But the Silver Sonic XL shows how humans adapt. And how we'll move forward into our brave new world - - cheaply, putting function before fashion. To wit: Now, you can get a fully featured audio enhancement device..... for only $19.95. And if you call right now you get 2 for the price of one!! One for each ear or one for you and one for your partner!

So there you go.... what cost Bernie and Becky four grand every year or so.... trying to get one that really worked.... is now available, functionally anyway, for only ten bucks!

Your future at work, bringing costs down! Aren't we creative funny creatures?

The next thing you know that same world of hi-tech will bring us cheap knee replacements...... a simple amputation of the lower leg - above the faulty joint - and the ware-it-home replacement! A fully featured wooden-leg, but modern..... and much better; with - get these features: super light weight super tough kevlar "leg," no-rust titanium joints at both knee and heel!, super-stick silicone custom-fit breathable "cup" at the stump. 

To make it a real winner it will be available with any number of shoe styles..... including slippers. One hell of a lot cheaper than the current "invisible" but very expensive "knee replacement procedure!"

Cheers, Mel