Monday, August 22, 2011

Bernie Sanders for President. Who - Colonel Sanders?

During the recent Republican Presidential debates Michelle Bachman answered, "What, like on a map?" when she was asked if she would recognize Libya. So goes the intelligence of the current side show known as the Democratic process as candidate after candidate goes on pontificating about nothing, encircling the problem but all failing to hit the nail on the head. I have danced around it too, in my posts, "It's Not the Economy Stupid" and "Squandering the Peace Dividend on War". But Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has hit the nail on the head: "While everyone understands that we have got to reduce the deficit, the number-one challenge America faces right now is a jobs crisis," the independent senator declared, while decrying the fact that more than 16 percent of American workers (25 million) are either unemployed or underemployed. Geez, why didn't anyone else think of that?

And he goes on, "Rebuilding the nation's crumbling infrastructure, transforming our energy system, and rewriting our trade policy so that American products - not jobs - are our number-one export." "Everyone in Vermont and across the country understands that we can put millions of Americans back to work rebuilding the nation's bridges, roads, schools, dams, culverts, rail systems and public transportation, among other vital needs," said Sanders. "We must also transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy. A significant number of jobs can be created through weatherization, and the manufacturing of American-made wind turbines, solar panels and heat pumps. Also, we must make fundamental changes in our trade policy so that we rebuild our manufacturing sector. Corporate America must invest in the United States and stop the outsourcing of jobs to China, Vietnam and other low-wage countries."

And how might we do that? Well, not by attacking Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid he says. "Social Security has not contributed a nickel to the deficit, it has a $2.6 trillion surplus, and it can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next twenty-five years. It must not be cut," explained Sanders. Rather, he would balance the budget by eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthy and large corporations and taking a hard look at excessive military spending. Damn, that all makes a wonderful amount of sense. Maybe that's why Senator Sanders is staying as far away as he can from running for President - ideas like those wouldn't make any sense at all in the current race. (Thanks to John Rachel for highlighting the sense of Sen. Sanders.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

America's #1 Export? Debt

According to Time Magazine in 1988, the US' largest export was debt - Treasury bonds and mortgage backed securities that we sold to other countries. Japan bought tons. But now, post financial crisis, the question remains. Since we borrowed billions from China to bail ourselves out, what do we sell to China to make the money back? And the answer seems to be, according to news site The Economic Collapse, garbage - waste paper and scrap metal. Just the same as the Romans exported out of their empire towards the end of it's days. For every American household to get themselves back on solid footing and out of this government induced overseas money drinking binge the answer is not so difficult. Save. Don't take that raise. Put the extra in the bank, and then take this year's raise next year, and put next year's raise in the bank - year after year. Maintain your car. Pay it off and then take a fraction of what you used to pay in interest every year and use that for upgrades - new tires, a nicer stereo, whatever. Keep the house. It's a lousy time to sell a house anyway so simply refinance it if possible, at the lowest rate possible, and then add a room or a deck or a patio. Stop borrowing money for at least 10 years and you'll find yourself a lot more comfortable and possibly able to buy a house or car or an education like the Asians do. In cash.

The government is spending your tax dollars recklessly, as the video above illustrates. The $850 billion dollar bank bailout is more than the entire NASA program budget over the its history. It costs us $6.5 billion a month just to be in Afghanistan. And you don't have a job? Save your money. And give the government as little as possible - until they get their own financial house in order.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"Advertising happens to be an art, not a science." - Bill Bernbach

Bill Bernbach would be 100 years old today. Instead of suspending disbelief to warm you, he simply created belief - an unusual thing in advertising. Happy birthday Mr. B. And thank you.

It's Not The Economy Stupid! So WTF Is It?

Military spending
in billions
Over the last few months any number of publications including the Wall Street Journal and Businessweek have used the headline above (You can't copyright a headline can you?) but all with different answers to the question, "But WTF is it? I proposed an answer in my post, "Squandering the Peace Dividend on War", along with Seth Godin, as did Author, John Rachel in his blog using the illustration to the left. If you haven't sorted out the answer yet, look again at the chart. The big bar on the left is America's military spending in comparison to the rest of the world. Hmm. Simple you would think. But our government seems to think that all this war is somehow good for the economy, and job growth, and innovation, and whatever else we lack. Clear answer: It isn't. And hasn't been for the last ten years. Time Magazine asks recently, "Is America the World's Next Banana Republic?" in its comparison of North and South American financial standards - as China keeps military spending in check whilst building a modern infrastructure that makes America look like the 1800s. Sure, we may be able to beat the crap out of any banana republic or even China or Russia in a war, but what is that buying us? Not a future, that's for sure. 

WWED Stories Now Available for Syndication

The Wild East Dailies (WWED), my other blog, is a collection of over 500 stories relating to Asia, Korea and Vietnam over the past 3 1/2 years, from an American expatriate POV. All stories are protected under a Creative Commons license that encourages reprinting but only for non-commercial enterprises. Our stories have been linked or quoted by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and New York Magazine.

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