Saturday, October 15, 2011

Why Are People So Angry And Frustrated?

I believe that this spreadsheet will shed some light into what it is that people know, but can't seem to touch. Money can never be a gauge of the equality of people. People can have vastly different amounts of money. Only in time and in duration of life can we find true equality. Only in understanding that every person desires time where they may do what brings them joy. During those times they are truly "free". Our lives have become so jam packed just doing the activities needed to say alive, that we gravitate towards activities that can happen quick and with out patients or much reflection because we haven’t the luxury of time for such behaviors.

What has happened is so many of our previous generations have been willing to sell their own lives out, take advancements on their time, thinking that "keeping up with the Joneses" would benefit their children. It didn't. As everybody was willing to do it, it just drove the price of everything up uniformly.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Relax People. Charges On Debit Cards Is A Sign That We Are Making The Right Choices.

All of the backlash against the debits fees are misplaced and AGAIN a lack of understanding of how the system works and what it needs to be healthy. It demonstrates narrow mindedness and short sightedness. Much of the reason we are in the economic perils we are in is because of how banks make money. In order to get to a place where we are free from being a debtor nation, we have to make banks change their product. If we didn't it would be kind of like handicapping and legislating cigaret companies and how they make money crippling their sales and at the same time building billion dollar stadiums and/ or a budget based upon taxes revenue generated by the sales of cigarettes.

What Is A Bank?
I could go into the history of banks and what their purpose was. I could draw out a time line of how they change. In fact, I think I have don it here before. BUT, that would get boring and I would loose you to “Bigfoot sighting” videos on youtube. So let us just ask that question of most of us today.

Service Bank
We have 3 basic types of interaction with banks. We have the one we use the services of. (remember that one.) They accept your checks straight from your employer, make it easy to pay your bills online, validate checks, keep your records, and keep you money safer then under the mattress. Every one of these are services that require payment of more then a few people to accomplish.

Loan Bank
This is the bank that give us our mortgages, auto loans, car loans, and school loans. These are the banks that encourage skyrocketing market prices by allowing us to pay a total of $200,000 for a house we bought for $100,000.

Credit Bank
These are the banks that hold your credit card. They give you credit cards for purchases you might want to make in the future. This could be a donation to the LOL or an in service escort. The have no concerns about how responsibly your spend that money. Their interest rates are designed to make it so you spend a certain amount of money and then you can't pay them any more then the interest every month.

While these are 3 different types of banks, all 3 banks participate in all three types of banking. The last 2 have been what has caused the demise of our economy. They are the schemes by which we are imprisoned by the time we are out of college. There is way, way, way more money in the last two types of financial servicing. The first one, makes our lives easier. This type of activty should be encouraged in our economy.

Quick Review of What “Loan” and “Credit” Banks Have Done.
I have made this point 100 different ways on this blog. But here is is again. Market prices are set at the level known as “demand”. This price is the highest price a consumer is willing and able to pay for it. Many of us are willing to pay $1000 for an ear splitting, mind blowing, rock experience. However, few of us are able. We simply don't make that much. So in a world devoid of credit, that concert will not sell out for much more then $5 a ticket. But, along comes a “credit bank” who says, you can buy that ticket at whatever cost, we will let you get us to it in small amounts later. SO, off to the ticket window we go. With enough of us doing that, the going rate for every ticket will be pushed up. This is how the housing bubble was created, and this is how the school tuition have gotten so out of hand that they are the next “bubble” to break. Anything that creates a dual value of a product (one for the ticketed price on the market and one that represents the actual amount paid for the thing) is bad for free markets.

So What Is a Banker To Do?
So, if you want banks to stop making everything so artificially expensive, you have to handicap their ability to make money off credit. This is to be called out and demonized as “bad”. Not given bailout money and complain about how they are unable to offer their poison (credit) to people and struggling businesses. Then you must allow them to make money with an actual socially useful product or service. This will require a customer base that pays for that product. Charges for debit card use, charges for writing a check, charges for having a bank account in general are things that we should be celebrating and offering as alternatives to their “credit” junk. We don't want them to be pushers, but we have to offer them an alternative to earning a living. Now what exactly IS a good price for these services? Let the markets straighten that out.

Look people, these are new and anxious concepts, I understand. But if one is to loose weight, they have to change. It is an anxious proposition. But it is one that we must conquer. If we are going to "fix" this economy, bold acceptance of paying for financial services is going to be required.

(This was a quick response to news in a time when I don't have much time. I might revise this one later.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Flat Tax, Herman Cain, and Systemic Ignorance.

For years I have heard about the utopia called a “flat tax” nation, where everybody was taxed at the same "rate" with no deductions "and joy and fairness would spread throughout the land on the backs of unicorns". This shows a complete misunderstanding of how (and why) the tax system as we know it came to be. As a system designer, it is the first question I ask anybody paying me to upgrade or replace their current system. "How is it that you came to have the system you currently have, and why was that the best choice at the time?" Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan takes that to a new level where I am not sure if he is being ignorant of malice.

What do Herman Cain and porn stars have in common?
Before we get started I was roused to write about this because of the recent events. I hadn’t been taking it all that seriously. Since Cain won the Florida straw pole, he has gained a little recognition. If you don’t know him, his claim to fame is that he brought a pizza chain out of financial ruin. Now, if you know much about business (even just as a consumer), a pizza joint is a remedial business. Doing well is like being the fastest kid in the Special Olympics. In the small town I am from (approximately 8,000 people), there was 2 gas stations, a vet clinic, a McDonalds and a Rax, a greasy spoon, and 8 pizza shops. The top 6 were very successful. How often do you see pizza places on opposite corners of the same street? Because “Pizza is like sex, even when it is bad it is still pretty good.”. Thus brings me to the point, claiming being “successful in the pizza business” gives you insight into economic success of a nation is like saying being good as a porn star gives you successful insight into being a parent. Anybody can have sex. Porn stars are really good at doing something that anybody can do. But the systemic purpose, the function of sex, is only a small portion of the act of becoming a parent. So this is ludicrous to think just because a guy has financial success earning profit for a simple pizza business, he would make an intuitive economic policy maker. About the same claim rational as a porn star would make great parents.

That’s Gross (or Net)?
Like I mentioned, I have heard the idea of a “flat tax” sine at least the Ross Perot days. It has become the battle cry of the blissful but meaning well inside and outside the Tea Party. I too used to think that this made sense until I asked the question, if something so easy made so much sense, why hasn’t it happened? Which lead to the question, “why is our tax system as convoluted as it is?” (I can’t stop being s system troubleshooter.) Let us face it; what sounds more fair then everybody pays the same number, right?

My understanding of why it wouldn’t work came form my (way too long) 2 yr career as a ditch digger for the cable company working in a 1099 environment. (For those not familiar, this is a tax structure where you get all the liabilities of being a sole proprietorship but none of the advantages. Many illegals are employed under this because it requires little reporting from the employer, gets around minimum wage laws, and cuts way back on office red tape.) It was then I learned the difference between “gross” and net”.

When I hear somebody advocating a flat tax, my first question is, “on the gross or on the net income?” If they say, “gross” I explain how my years would go as a ditch digger. On paper it looked like I made in the area of $20,000 “gross” that year. My tools and equipment were things such as shovels, picks, sledge hammers, specialty crimpers, the cable, pvc piping, and various types of cloths, shoes and boots. Not to mention the computer used partly for mapping out routes and accounting for jobs. Those amounted to about $6000. Another nearly $3000 went into gas and maintenance for my Daewoo. Now, compare that to a friend of mine, a part time tax accountant that also made $20,000 whose overhead was about $1000 for computer, the maintenance, and the software. IF you tax us both 9% on our gross, we would both have to pay 1800. I worked 60 hours a week, and she worked 25 on the average. But the accountant was left with 19,000 in expendable income while I was left with $10,000. How is that fair? So, you say, “well then charge more for your services as a ditch digger.” There are so many reasons that logic fails if you are truly a champion of fixing the economy. Not the least as I mentioned before, this work is already appealing to those who don’t pay taxes. Continuing with this example, your cable bill would see a large increase if I had to chare 50% more for installation in order to compensate for the cost of doing business. As it stands now, it takes your first 2 months of cable at least to pay for the installation. However, the real inequality comes when you apply the sales tax on the tools and equipment. Why am I paying for taxes on stuff I already paid taxes on when I bought it. My accounting counterpart only paid 9% on the 20 grand. I pay 9% on the 20K and another 9% on $10,000 of it if you go with the 9-9-9 plan.

Meet The “Net” Plan, Same as the Old Plan
The other option is a person may answer “Tax the net” then. To which I just look at them blankly and say, “how do you think our system works now?” All of those write offs, loopholes, and tax shelters are created in the pursuit of determining ones “net pay”. I say that steel toed shoes are part of my business cost, while you say you had to take a client out to a day of golf and strippers as a cost of doing yours. Who is going to go over my return to make sure I am on the level with my reporting. If only we had an agency that would look over “internal revenue”. Next thing you know, people will be using the “rapid depreciation” clause to get the government to pay for their hummers. (The automobile kind)
Simply making a blanket minimized list of deductions is an impossibility, and anything but fair as all jobs have different overhead costs even thought they may have the same gross income. And that is how we got the system we have today. Economics of equality is complex and some even think subjective.

The Formula We All Work By (But Have Stopped Living By).
There is one formula every one of us who have ever been employed has come to know. Where (d)= dollars and (t)= time in hours, all offering can be broke down into d/t where “t” is almost always expressed as 1 for the first 40 hours worked of a week. That is the long version of saying, “your employer pays you in dollars per hour.” By moving us to this formula via the monetary system, we have forgotten what that “t” signifies. 1 hour of our life. Now, a “flat tax” on income as it is being earned (excluding the problems cited above) is fair enough. Let us take Mr. Cain’s 9% figure. You make a million dollars a year and you pay $90,000 in taxes (or 187 hrs of your life). If you make $25000 a year, you pay $2,2500 (or 187 hrs. of your life). That is the formula and unarguably fair in that perspective.

Sales Tax Are Inherently Unconstitutional
Wow, talk about an anxious statement. That challenges every thing we First, what people don’t seem to understand about the pizza kings proposal is that he is thinking about adding 9% in addition to your already existing city tax. So if your city has a 6% sales tax, that tax then will become 15%. That is a chunk of change, and with it buying power.

Now, I always get the same nonsensical response when I use “big screen TV’s” as an example when expressing he next point. “Well poor people shouldn’t be buying big screen TV’s” completely missing the concept of simplifying a point. So, let us use the example of a Ford Focus that they are buying which there is no denying having transportation to get back in forth to work or school is important to improving ones position in life AND the trade off between new car payments vs. used maintenance cost is one most Americans struggle with.

Let us say that the cost of a focus is $15,000. We apply the 15% to that cost as the local plus federal sales tax. Here is that number $2250 again. (It was the yearly income tax on $25,000) . So we know that is equivalent to 187 hours of the life of a person making $12/hr or $25,000 a year. However, compared to the guy making $480/hour (or a million per year) that is a total of 4.7 hours of his life. Now I thought our constitution promised us equality in “Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”? Sales taxes values a one persons life in this example nearly 40 times more valuable then another.

Conclusion and fear:
This type of policy “sounds” so fair on the surface. What could be more so then the same “rate” applied to everybody. Many smart people I know have fallen for believing it. But the story reminds me of the story of the emperor and the guy who invented chess. (look it up, it is a good story.) Here, the misunderstanding of the power of “terms” would have bankrupted the Chinese empire. People just hear marketing slogans; my fear is the average voter doesn’t have the depth of thought or tools to grasp just how much worse for the economy a proposal such as the “9-9-9” would be. Currently Warrant Buffet pays 17.4%. With this plane he would be taxed at a much lower rate of 9% which would amount to savings of millions of dollars, and in turn pay a higher “sales tax” on goods he purchases, which would amount to a few thousand dollars extra per year. All of this and we are not going to mention the affect on the equilibrium price of goods when the cost is driven higher and how that would dive more people out of work. If people can’t get this simple concept of tax rates, complex economics will sent them into comas. People seem not to be able to look at the entire system and because of it, they back the horse that bites them in the ass. Then they blame it on the horse.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

9/11 conspiracy theory – “The motive”

Too many people? Yes Lack of motive? No way.

I just finished watching the history channels special on conspiracy theories and the science. It seemed balanced and the experiment were sound. While some of the science holds up, other things couldn’t be explained. A building be set able on the top leves dropping straight down will always perplex me. However, 9/11 has one of the biggest flaws to have been a conspiracy. To be successful at covering anything up, you need to keep things small. The fact that a vast amount of people involved and it was here on US soil makes a full on cover up impossible.

However, often the other reasoning is there was no motive to invade Afghanistan. That is not accurate, and the way the Bush administration conducted itself prior to and then there after is what breaths life into these theories. The motive would not manifest itself until after Bush would leave office. First things first though.

The timeline

Election 2000: Cheney (Board member of Halliburton) was head of George Bush’s search for a vice president and nominated himself. Cheney Reccomends Himself

Later the understanding of just how close Cheney was to many of the members of the Supreme Court would become evident. The very court that would decide the election. Cheney and Scilia go hunting

Spring of 2001: Between late January and mid May of 2001 Cheney met with heads of energy companies and reused to release the names of these people dictating his policy recommendations. All the way to the supreme court to protect the names and matters discussed during those meetings. Cheney Refuses to release the names of "task force" members.

September 11th happened.

Post 9/11

Quickly to Iraq:
Cheney himself sent Joseph Wilson on a mission to Nigeria as told in the books “Fair Game” and “Truth in Politics”. When Wilson wouldn’t “play ball” his wife was outed as a CIA operative and their lives were ruined. They used trumped up document that had been proven fake to Justify and scare the American public all the same.
Valerie was Covert

Haliburton, Cheny’s old company was getting “no bid” contracts and forked over money at alarming rates. Many of the names leaked from those meetings were getting benefits directly or indirectly.

Why Afghanistan?: This was something that distracted me for some time. I “reasoned”, “assumed”, or “guessed” that it was merely a distraction for the greater war on Iraq. Then the missing piece of the puzzle came to light. At first I thought Afghanistan was the distraction. But it turns out Iraq was the distraction from the real prize. Seeing the need for “green energy” and independence from the middle east.

June of 2010: It was announced that the largest deposit of Lithium had been found in Afghanistan. Now they couldn’t find Bin Laden, but they found lithium? What were they doing looking for it? Lithium found in Afghanistan

If there was ever a motive to go into Afghanistan with an army instead of a small strike force it would be the need to find and mine this “$1 trillion lithium deposit”. That is a lot of money for a bunch of greedy heartless bastages looking to profit off the lives of American blood. If they were a little more honest with their actions they wouldn’t fall under so much suspicion.

But alas, there is just no way to have contained it for this long with that many people involved.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mining in Mongolia, The Horror Story

'Mine-golia': Across the steppes, new wealth emerges

I saw this story on CNN this morning. Meant to be a “feel good” piece about wealth being discovered in a poor nation of Mongolia. There are a few things about it that are spun as positive but IF one takes the long view at it, the whole thing is more of a curse then a blessing. Those of us from Northern Ohio can relate.

Mongolia past and present:
If you are claiming to make life better for a people, it is important to know their status now as well and have an agreement on what “better” mans. Mongolia is a predominantly nomadic herding and farming culture. It has been this way since at least its founding by Genghis Khan in the 1200’s. Their per capita GDP is $4000 (compared to the US $47,000). They are a sustainable agricultural society. What individuals don’t supply for themselves they get from bartering. That is a brief economic overview. Culturally they are predominantly Buddhist and atheist. (Thank God. We are not pissing off another Islamic culture again. The two groups mentioned are the most peaceful groups in the world). As in any agricultural society, every parent is a “stay at home” parent. Use of Antidepressants and suicide is unheard of in the outlying regions away from the developed cities. Due to an industrial movement in the 1990’s they are literate and educated.

Economic impact:

There are some key phrases that stick out in this short article. The first big zinger is “Boost the average earnings of Mongolia by 60%.” I am not certain if they mean of the country or the people. But lets us say they mean they are going to boost the average earnings Mongolians. Good thing, right? It is as long as you are one of those select few that get hired by the mining company. But even then, how do you measure. If your average wage is $0 cause you barter for everything, how do you gage that 60%? Say that each of them make $1 a week equivalent and now they will get $1.60?

Supply and Demand:
Let us just take the price of goat’s milk for the example, a staple to the Mongolian diet it would be safe to assume. Now if a goat herder is hired as a miner, a few things happen to supply and demand. First, supply of goat’s milk reduces causing an increase in cost. But he now no longer supplies himself and adds to the demand. The increase in demand also edges the price higher. It doesn’t matter to him, he can afford to pay it. However, the wheat farmer he used to trade with is now forced to find a way to grow more wheat and find another trading partner.

Money issues:
The herder turned miner goes off to get his paycheck every week, he is paid in money. This is a much preferred method of accepting payment as it can represent wheat, corn, milk, smith work, and/ or livestock. A wheat farmer needs to find a goat herder that actually needs wheat in order to make the trade. As time goes on, many of the producers will require money for purchases to be made. The minor will have no problem paying for stuff with is 60% increased wages. But a wheat farmer who has never had to earn money has to now. So he sells his wheat at the market. Now everybody is hooked on the monetary system. (This makes it easier to tax.) The traditional wage earners basically has to work twice. Farming then marketing. And then will need to grow more to meet the demand and produce the amount of income to buy the stuff they need. Everybody has stopped working for the one thing they all have in common, the one thing that kept them all equal in the past, "time".

Culturally speaking:

That is economically. How about culturally? For the family of the herder turned miner you have a major shift. Now instead of having both parents stay at home passing on the family values and traditions, dad will have to leave to go to work most of the child’s life. This was a nomadic family that turned into a stationary one. Children instead of having self value and awareness as was the result of being part of a working farm or caravan, will find themselves lost, anxious at the loss of direction from their parent, and bored.

Besides the lands that were taken by the mining operation, lands that were free to roam for hundreds of years, permanent housing developments and western style market places will require permanent lands. Lands used to be free for all to use are off limits and come with a cost.. Of course as cost rise and the ability to even support one on a miner's salary come to pass, mother too will have to go off to the workforce. Maybe she will work at one of the new malls. With this “progress” this whole culture is changing into something it never was.

Now from the guy who remains a farmer point of view, life got much harder. He has to find a way to harvest more crops to bring to market. The cost of things went up. Why did theh go up, because "the price of things are set at the highest price consumers are willing and able to pay for them." With people well financed by the mining wages, they can pay more for things. He will need either more land (which cost more) or crops that produce a better yield (that they can get by buying into the genetically enhanced market.) This will mean less time for family and leisure and passing on of cultural values. Kids will grow up valuing that which the miner's children have.

A terminal proposition:

All of this is said to only have a life expectancy of 50 years. Two or three generations down the road, the well will dry up. The traditional way of living and existing will have been forgotten. Children will not be able to conceive of actually processing their own food or water. They will have lost what it meant to be self sustaining. For all the freedom they were promised, they were enslaved to the mining mentality and the monetary culture. In 50 yrs when the slave drivers drop the chains and leave them, they will be unequipped to handle themselves on their own. Even one minor was quoted as saying, "We think we can work at the mine and take care of our herds. My three children will get a chance to go to school and have a better education," But what happens when that education cost 3 years wages, would he still do it. What happens when he finds himself in debt for it and the mind dries up? A half of a century is just long enough to forgeth who you are and where you came from.

Creating of western hating monsters.

In the mean time this “nomadic society” will have lands taken from them that are now off limits. Men holding western riffles guarding places with western architecture will stand guard over these lands that were free for hundreds of years. More land will be developed to house the now stationary minors. They will throw up McDonald’s, McMansions, and a Wal-mart on even more previously “unowned” land. You can already hear the frustration in the comment of the one herder they interviewed who was quoted as saying, Says one nomadic herder: "At the moment it's impossible to graze our herd near the mine. Officials might say it is only 10-kilometer limit, but because of the traffic and dust you don't see any herds within 20 or 30 kilometers." Who do you think the less advantaged are going to blame when bad weather brings less productive yields? These are Buddhist, but what happens if some of them grow angry and start blaming the invasion of western capitalism for their troubles. Would they really be all that wrong? (On a side note we found the world’s largest deposit of lithium in Afghanistan while looking for Bin Laden.) Some will get jobs, others with get handicapped by it. Will we deem then “terrorist” and talk about them as less then humans.

From experience:

In the Cleveland area where I am from this story played out at the beginning of the 1900’s. My home was a fishing port and an agricultural center. Even in the 40’s and 50’s the majority of the surrounding area was supported by its self sustaining roots. Then in came the auto and steel industry promising big and quick money to anybody who would come work. People migrated into this previously unknown speck of an area from all over the world. They formed little communities of people like themselves and different then the natives of the area. They were know as “Little Italy”, “Slovak village”, Latin, and African American sections of town. They came and started buying up land, forcing up demand, and bringing temporary prosperity to the area. There was much money to go around and nobody thought anything of it. They started rejecting and polluting the life giving source of Lake Erie. Many of them had never grown up with such a resource or understood how to care for it., let alone its importance. So the culture turned into one that treated it like a toilet or at best and “extra” that we could live without. Then one day industry found this gift from our government called “free trade agreements” and hundreds of willing cultures to exploit. So those industries left to places like Mexico and China. The children of the children of the children of the farmers and fishermen of the early 1900’s had no clue how to self sustain. Dear god what had we done to the lake?! The Cuyahoga river, once flush with fish, had caught on fire and we didn’t see that as a sign. By way of the “good wages” brought by the industry our houses, colleges, food, and booze had grown to cost too much and we had no way to pay for them now that we had been abandoned. Worse, the “walleye capital of the world” had since banned commercial fishing. So you couldn’t even get a locally caught walleye at a restaurant. If it weren’t for a friend of mine, perch fishing would have went the same way in order to honor the likes of Bass Pro Shop. Our century old sustainable industry and we “banned” it because some sports fishermen wanted to blame their poor skills and the lack of fish in the polluted lake on the industry.

So it is not with sheer speculation that I make these suggested possibilities for Mongolia. I have read and experienced the history of my own town and it wasn’t much different.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wage Disparity- and Outside The Box Approach

This is going to be a rehash of my main economic soapbox. But A) I don’t write here often so not even John is looking anymore I don’t think, and B) I am working on a new more readable writing style for these complex idea posts.

The problem:

There isn’t enough wealth flowing through the system to generate the needed revenue to run all the government responsibilities and culturally driven expectations. Being aware that the government only collects taxes on money that changes hands between American citizens (at least at the federal level) and all attempts to inject “cash money” that was empty and void of actual wealth (determined by taking ones assets then subtracting liability obligations and coming up with ones “wealth” amount) has failed. A way to encourage that flow while respecting the constraints of a free market society is in order.

The proposed solution:
Exchange the current practice of requiring a minimum wage for one of a minimum percentage of highest income. This would be known as a “minimum percentage”. This would require a company to pay its employees no less then at least a minimum percentage of its most highly paid employee. For purposes of this policy all incomes will be considered to be on 52 weeks with 40 hours worked.  Overtime will not be considered when determining a company’s minimum pay rate. This rate once assessed will apply to all wages paid not only to direct employees, but to contractors and subcontractors. The 1099 environment will be abolished or limited to those who make more then $60,000 a year. A specific date will be assigned at which all stocks will be considered at that days rate. (Hey, they are stocks, they are a gamble.) Say Dec. 31st. everything that an employee was paid in cash other compensations and benefits. This will result in attaching the success of the top income earners to the backs of those laborers people they employ.

A real life example.

The CEO of Wal-Mart made nearly $19 million last year. Divide that over (52) forty hour weeks and you have a rate of $9134.61 per hour for Michael Duke, the CEO. His in store workers made and average of $250 a week or 6.26 an hour. That is a wage disparity of .07% (that is not a typo. That is 7/ 100ths of a single percent). (Note: this doesn’t consider an audit of every company that supplies goods and services, either foreign or domestic to Wal-Mart subject to this policy.) He made many thousands of times more then his least paid employees.

As an example, the policy is enacted with a requirement of all companies to pay .4% (4/10 of a percent). So, the janitor, the stocker, and the clerk will all be paid at a rate of $36.54 If Wal-Mart chose to continue to pay its CEO $19 million dollars. Instead, Wal-Mart could choose to pay its CEO less. For instance they could choose to pay its CEO $1 million dollars and the employees $1.92 an hour. (.004 *$1,000,000)/52 weeks/ 40 hrs per week.) Of course the CEO will have to accept an $18 million pay cut and its employees will be very undependable if they pay the minimum. (That is until the price of everything started coming down.)  At the end of the day, they will still have to offer their employees enough money to keep them interested in work. They will have to compete with McDonalds who is paying its employees 19.23 cents an hour since they pay their CEO $10 million.

What will the corporation do with all that money?:

If a company chooses not to raise their employees’ wages, (or to lower them) they will have a surplus of cash. Some companies will be obligated to pay out that cash in dividends. Those are taxed. If those dividends are paid to employees, then that is considered part of their compensation. Others are taxed at a standard rate. This can be anywhere from 15 to 39% depending on your tax bracket. They could use the surplus to negotiate a benefit for all their employees. They could let it sit in a bank, which would allow for more money to loan at a lot cheaper rates. That would spur small business. They could donate it to charity. They could lower their cost on their products leaving more money in the pockets of the consumers. They could lobby for a tax increase. Any of these would put money back into circulation.

What about the employee making $2 and hour?:

First, nobody is going to work for such a low wage in this economy. (Only 50 years ago minimum wage was under $1 an hour.) Most likely the CEO won’t take a $18 million dollar cut. If Wal-Mart tries 2 things would happen. 1) their employees would seek work elsewhere, their customer base would shrink as much of their sales come from their own employee. More then likely something like paying Mr. Duke $3.5 million and continue to pay their employees the same wage. But for all the reasons above there will be money circulating in the system. However, we could leave in place a minimum wage as well, or a phase out of it over years. Somebody will open a resteraunt selling burgers to the local carpenter and pay their employees more then these low wages.

Who decides that actual rate?:

This would be a legislative passed plan. It is designed to give the legislator control of economic flow. Just as the minimum wage might be preserved, the initial rate may be in the area of the current wage disparity. A “phase in” period designed to bring the economy to a rate of 1% wage disparity should be considered. This would allow the policy to come in with no impact at first. But, corporate America would know it was coming. After that, the legislators could use this rate as an open and direct tool in order to squeeze money back into the economy. The economy starts to stall, increase the rate. The government starts making more then it spends, relax.

Who determines if a company is following the regulations?:

Like any other tax obligation, steep penalties for anybody caught intentionally violating the minimum percentage policy would be assessed. A hiring of auditors who not only go through the US corporations records, but also those of their overseas suppliers to ensure that every employee in a Chinese factory makes as much as the Wal-Mart clerk. We will need a lot of accountants and ones that speak foreign languages. That can’t be a bad thing in DC.


The US economy will be awash with cash. Cost of goods will be driven down. Small business will be able to compete with the giants. US manufacturing will be able to compete with its foreign counterparts. It does it all without raising a single tax.

Remember to pencil in "LOL" for president. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pursuit Of Land.

I had a teacher who once made a statement that other have confirmed that they too were taught, but I never saw any evidence in the form of paper or pictures, BUT sometimes an assertion makes so much sense, it is at least worth considering. This instructor said that the original version of the “Declaration of Independence” that was nailed to the forts, church commons, and other social gathering places actually stated “Life, liberty, and pursuit of Land”.

The idea was that the founding fathers wanted to inspire people to fight for them. They were land owners themselves. The thought process was that if a man could have his own plot of land to build a house, grow crops and raise livestock, and raise his own family as he saw fit, free from government interference, he could truly be “free” and “happy”. Of course promising land to every soldier presented all kinds of problems and that lead to the change. Land ownership, free from banks, debt, and government influence was the key to what America had to promise.

This makes the irony of the “mortgage crisis” all that more profound.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Obama: Midterm Report Card

Here at my job we have biannual reviews of our work. We have a set of criteria, some general expectations, and recognition for things that aren’t expected. There is attention paid to attendance, course work completion, and logged events (problems solved). They have a program that gages your coworkers opinions of you. It is similar to nearly every office job I have ever had.

Politicians don’t have a set list of criteria when they take their jobs. Instead what they have is “campaign promises”. They say to their constituents “If you elect me, I will do X, Y, and Z!” Voter listen and in their limited intelligence make a choice about whether these promises are a good thing. I n Obama’s case, there were many things he promised that I know would be good for the economy. Likewise there were more then a few that I know would be bad. But the good way outweighed the bad, and the other options were nearly all bad. So, for a “midterm review” we only have to level his promises against his actions.


His stance on Iraq: Tired of the unjust wars, endless waste of money, and poor young men being sent to their deaths after being hoodwinked into believing this was the way to a better life by military marketing, I like what Obama had to say back then. It was the most important issue to me.

“Us rushing into a war unilaterally was a mistake and may still be a mistake.”

Now remember NATO wanted to Join the US but was told to stand down. BUT George and Co. had a “coalition of the willing”. The cheap “marketing” trick of reclassifying troops (still paid combat pay) as “non-combat troops” didn’t impress me any. His promise to have a “Spine”:

“This raises a broader issue that democrats have. I think it’s important for us to stand our ground and take our licks rather then to cave and whine about it later.”

This seems to have become his policy.

“It is time to admit that no amount of American lives can resolve the political disagreements that lie at the heart of someone else’s civil war. That’s why I have a plan that will bring our troops home by March of 2008.”

Nation Building
I was under the impression that Obama opposed this notion with his opposition to the Iraq war. This Libyan war is no different (with the exception of more foolishness) then the Iraq war. At the moment less US soldiers are dying. “Militarily we are not supporting the ouster of Kaddafi (or Gadaffi) or regime change. But we are tasked to support and protect the Libyan people and that can only happen if he is out of power.” That is back handed political doublespeak that I don’t think anybody doesn’t see right though. Fail!

Bush era tax cuts

I guess I thought acknowledging that they are the problem was to be taken as a promise not to continue them. Yet, he did. Fail!

Off Shore Drilling

“What wouldn’t work is John McCain’s proposal to open up Florida to off shore drilling.” He went on to say with no uncertain terms that increasing drilling would not reduce gas prices, create jobs, or get us off foreign oil.


As president:
“But the bottom line is this. Given our energy needs. In order to sustain economic growth, produce jobs, and keep our business competitive we are going to need to harness additional sources of fuel… Today we are announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration… (blah, blah, blah)” Something about protecting the environment and its protection was also mentioned.

Supporting the working class

“If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you.”

I live in Ohio. Many of my friends and family members are public servants (over paid teachers, cops, firefighter, prison guards sewage plant maintenance) and unionized factory workers. This was important to me. I thought this was a given of a democrat president. I am a unionized Federal worker. We have a bill that was jammed through our state legislators (SB5) that does just that. We had epic protests on the capital steps. Yet no Obama and his shoes. This was a major disappointment and a FAIL!!

The healthcare bill is stupid. There are much smarter ways to drive down health costs.

As bad as this guy has been, sadly, the Republicans will probably run Donald Trump and I will have no choice but to support Obama. But If I were his employer, if I was allowed to return to a pool of qualified people to pick from, He would no longer have a job. I will have to choose between the guy who blatantly says he will ruin the country OR the guy who says he won’t but does the exact same things the other guy said he was gonna do.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Critique of “The Zeitgeist Movement”

After watching this whole thing, if I was an instructor, I would have to “fail” this project and send Jr. home with a note to his parents that said, “It is with regret that I had to fail your student. Sadly this was a pass or fail project. This thesis had a few major fatal flaws. Your student shows great promise, please do not discourage their charter. If they can address the flaws and resubmit the thesis will be reconsidered.”

At the end of this lecture the producers address “human nature”. At that point, this very scientific piece moves into the realm of theory. Much of that theory is sound and easily provable. For example, the heavy notion that environment produces behaviors is clearly documentable. (Sadly our court systems are staffed by lawyers and not psychologists. But that is another issue.) Simply factually stating that “if all humans had a better environment they wouldn’t steal or commit homicide” doesn’t make it a fact. This is a sterile discretion that doesn’t address the most basic need of every human. This “need” is on the subconscious mind of most individuals and the conscious mind of more cerebral humans. The question of, “what is my purpose”. This entire system that is outlined is based on the presumption that humans exist only to be “happy”.

“Being happy”, “prosperous”, or fulfilled is not the only reason a society exists. If it were all other cultures would gravitate towards that purpose. In all cultures only one thing is required to sustain its continuation. Not food, resources, or energy. Many cultures exist, somehow, without these. However, no culture, society, or country exists without the ability to reproduce. It is the singular drive of everything on this world from an ameba, to your cells, to your organs, to your body, to your family, to your race, culture, and on up. We will expose ourselves to unreal levels of happiness to reproduce and ensure those new beings are adequately guided into an age where they can then reproduce. Everything is a virus. Removing humans, “nature” is generally a system of controlling and organizing sustainable growth. This is what you never hear, “penguin nature”, “cactus nature”, or “tuna nature” in the context you hear the word “human nature”. Only humans have the ability to resist (temporarily) the forces of natural laws long enough to destroy the rest of the system. And “human nature” refers to anytime we do just that. This thesis completely rejects the human psyche. Prosperous countries have over population problems. People have children because they “want” them. Our governments are more then happy to comply with this want because (as these authors pointed out) They need more consumers. This is known as “symbiotic system failure”. Symbiotic system failure is a situation where two or more processes, if exited alone, would not cause a failure, but together they cause a system degradation. In poor countries, where having offspring shouldn’t be considered because its citizens can barely feed themselves, still there is a population problem. This drive to preserve ones culture and pass on the genetic code to the next generation is undeniable. Immortality is at that heart of every species.

So with the desire to reproduce defined as an “uncontrollable characteristic”, what isn’t mentioned is “who is controlling the system”. Who is writing the algorithm? If we could take a snap shot of this system working perfectly, all to resources are being consumed in a balance and harmony. The one resource that was not considered were people. What happens that next second after the snapshot when somebody decides they want to add a child. To maintain balance, an ideal population size will have to be agreed upon. So let us say the system can handle 1 million new humans every year. Let us say that 1 million and 1 want children. Who gets to decide which 1 happy couple is denied a child? How about when two million people want to have kids. Who gets to decide? What about when somebody decides to have a child in spite of the order not to? This very fact will lead to the feeling of repression and inequality the described system hopes to circumvent. How many Buddhists, Christians, Chinese, Europeans, Africans, original natives should be represented in this ultimate population number. Quickly, and very quickly the wheels would spin off their axles.

Another glaring point that is not even mentioned is the physical truth of life that it is inherently unequal. Every human being is not Albert Einstein nor is every human being “Albert” the very functional but mentally handicapped janitor that works in my facility. Thus not everybody has the same abilities even though they may have the same needs. So how do you address the fact that two people exist. Everybody is going to have to have a “role” in this one world culture. Let us just look at the occupational status. (Keep in mind that time is another most valuable human resource.) Take two people. One pushes turds through blocked pipes at a waste treatment plant, the other sits on a computer writing theological observations while watching TV and waiting for a fire or some other detrimental safety event. The guy pushing turds 40 hours a week will surely wonder his efforts are more laborious and distracting while the other guys spends his time in leisure. The system as described does not compensate for the system as described. Then imagine that the fire fighter gets selected to have a child while the waste treatment worker gets denied.

A computer can not determine many traits. It can not determine how attentive as a parent you will be. What if a mother wants to work and a father prefers to be the caregiver. Who get to be the rock stars, artists, writers, and mimes? How do we determine who marries whom? What about divorce? As the authors of this piece mention, environment is everything. Psychology has shown that there is no more destructive environment for a child then that of separated parents. What about death of a citizen that is untimely. How does one compensate for unexpected loss of personnel to this system? What about the biggest issue on the global scale. Some people will not be happy if other people are allowed to have abortions. I could go on.

The irony of this thesis is that it ads “humanity”, concern, and care to the “things”, “the resources” that provide for humans. However, it treats humans as cold, indistinct, mounds of flesh. Humans are assumed to be non-individuals as moldable as children’s play dough.

It also understates adversity. Adversity is as much of a part of the human element as breathing. Imagine a story where there was no movement, no protagonist, no problems to overcome. The story would be indigestible. A culture like that would breed boredom and lack a feeling of purpose.

In the end, while this is a grand thought experiment, one thing that the authors did that is impossible is they started their “new world” with all the technology and knowledge gained from humanity to date, and moved it to a virgin new world. This world with be “staffed” by likeminded people who were self aware, supportive, and malleable in thought. That is not the world we have got. There are lessons from this plan that are useful in updating the system we have. For that it is to be commended as a body of work.

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