Search This Blog

Friday, October 26, 2012

'A&G' away till Oct 30th (at earliest)...

Because we are located in the Northeast sector of the US and there's an impending Hurricane Sandy/Nor'easter that seems to be heading its way by early Monday morning with expectations of lingering power losses, we won't be posting anything new until after it passes.

We hope to have things up and running again by Tuesday night at earliest but we also know that is wishful thinking and realistically, it may takes days or even a full week for power to restore if the weather people are correct.

We appreciate your continued support and loyal readership to 'Ants & Grasshoppers' and will shall return posting the soonest we're able...

Thank you...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25- This Day in History

~Battle of Agincourt which was fought today in 1415

Today we're going to deviate from economic and financial issues of the day (trust us, they'll still be there tomorrow and the next week..) and focus on something more historical...

An enjoyable past-time each day is to glance at a listing of events, births and deaths which occurred on the specific day to see how occasions that were so important it its day are utterly forgotten or mere footnotes in the present, and situations that must have appeared trivial at the time, looking back now, take on great importance.

Today, October 25 is as good a day as any to find examples...

For example in 1940, Benjamin O. Davis, Sr became the first black general in the United States Army.  We are pretty certain back in the day this was not cause for celebration or front-page newsworthy.  Who knows how many in the black community back then even knew of it.  Certainly no one talks of Davis today..  However we know it had importance because now we don't even take a momentary gasp at the thought of a black General or Secretary of State or President...
Davis fought in the Spanish American War in the Philippines and WWI, and during World War II, he was commander of the 99th and the 332nd Fighter Group, which escorted bombers on air combat missions over Europe. Davis himself flew sixty missions in P-39, Curtiss P-40, P-47 and P-51 Mustang fighters.  He also was a flight instructor before WWII at Tuskeegee.

And then there's events which are so important at the time and in the present seem so trivial and irrelevant...   Like the fact that on this date in 1415, the Battle of Agincourt took place involving the English forces under King Henry V and French forces under Charles VI, though he was too ill at the time to command his men directly.

Back in the day, Agincourt was a very big deal..  So big to the English that a WWI frigate ship, the HMS Agincourt was named and that Shakespeare even wrote one of his plays on it called obviously 'Henry V' and made into films starring Sir Laurence Olivier in the 1940s and Kenneth Branagh in 1990.
~ Kenneth Branagh playing Henry V

It was a great victory for the English who in the midst of the Hundred Years' War invaded France with a small force of 9,000 men by estimates vs what some believe to be a French force of upwards of 36,000 troops.; a French advantage of 4 to 1.

Henry V believed he was entitled to control of France by birthright  through his great-grandfather, Edward III and obviously France saw things quite differently.  So after negotiations failed, Henry decided decided to invade via Normandy with the goal being the town of Calais.

After a 260 mile march in only 16 days and Henry's men starving and suffering from dysentery among other maladies, they ended up being stopped and blocked by French forces near Agincourt, and ultimately on October 25, 1415, known at the time as St Crispin's Day, the two forces engaged there with the French believing the victory would be quick, swift and devastating upon Henry.
~ Henry V as depicted flatteringly by an artist

We won't get into all the strategic particulars here of troop deployments and attack/counter-attack, but suffice to say by battle's end, Henry with his numerically inferior forces, won the day.  The casualties differ by who's account is looked upon; the French said between 4,000 to 10,000 French dead with 1600 English killed, while the English said they killed 1,500 to 11,000 French while only losing about 100 men.

After the Battle and fearing the French prisoners taken would rise up and kill them, Henry ordered his men to kill off all the prisoners they had captured, leaving not a single one for ransom.  Their deaths might explain why the death ratios are so dramatic between France and English soldier.

Eventually after a more years of fighting, Henry V was able to achieve all his objectives... then shortly later he died and his son Henry VI's military and political ineptitude caused the unraveling of all his father's gains. (For historical context, this is the time when Joan of Arc fought the English and became so famous to the French people)
~ Henry V, as he really looked..

And so this big battle worthy of national accolades and plaudits, ends up being forgotten for the most part.  It did not change world history in any way that we living today feel the affects from, and the two combatants have now been allies for over 100 years.

History is a funny thing-- the events we think so important, end up being trivial and the trivialities we don't bother remembering end up carrying political, economic and/or social significance.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

QE3.. QE-DUD

Its been a long time since we've seen the Dow drop more than 200pts on multiple days..  The sweet irony is that its occurred After QE3 was implemented.  

Wasn't QE3 supposed to kickstart the Dow to finally reach 14,000, then 15K and to infinity and beyond?

Yesterday 10/23/12, the Dow dropped -243 pts to close at 13,102

You know what it was at closing bell on 8/27/12, a little over 8weeks ago?

13,124

So in spite of all the money poured into the bottomless pit know as Wall St, and all the little filth and fleas scurrying about on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange looking to Buy! Buy!  Sell! Sell!....

In spite of this, the Dow is 22 pts Less today than eight and a half weeks ago...

Maybe tomorrow it will spike up 300 pts..  who knows..

But we take joy and comfort when we see the Dow keep dropping and all those smug Investors and finance know-it-alls look like the morons which they are.  

They all begged and pleaded and demanded and expected QE3 for 19 months!  'Please Mr Fed Chairman... Please give us more $$!!  We don't care what happens to the American people and how this free money is to be repaid... just give us more $$ NOW!!!'

And thanks to the Law of Diminishing Returns, the market is down 2% since QE3 was implemented.
And of course what do the talking meat sticks at CNBC say?

'We're getting close to stocks being a real bargain; an excellent buying opportunity if you know what to look for..'

Just comical...

No one in a position of power, wealth and/or influence has the courage to openly say what needs to happen since it would adversely affect them so drastically...  That the market needs to be allowed to Crash; to cause all those who've profited the last 3.5 years since the March 2009 lows to lose Everything earned.

And once the market reaches a sincere bottom point with Zero Federal Reserve interference, and investors come in to start buying cheap stocks, then the market will once again be correlated directly to the success of the US economy as it had for most of US history; it would rise and fall based on real economic fundamentals like corporate expansion, increased job hiring and quarterly dividend (profit) reports..

In other words, a Wall St where the success of the investor/trader is based on the success of everyday people being able to find good paying jobs, having the means to purchase goods/services without total dependence on debt acquisition and the 99% become the motor to turn the economy around for the positive.

Will it happen?  Who knows...  Doubt it.  But that's why nothing in the last 4 years concerning the economy has been solved... too much artificial manipulation

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why to root for going over Fiscal Cliff

~ Vestmanna Cliffs - Denmark

Originally, the goal was to sit through the third Presidential debate, analyze it and write a lengthy prose about what the candidates said or didn't say and what they talked about vs what was the original questions posed..

Frankly, we just couldn't do it..

We figured most people were watching Monday Night Football or Game 7 of the National League Championship, so why bother writing on something most didn't feel like watching.   And those that did, well, they can make up their own minds who "won" or who's the best candidate to be their President for the next four years.

It just seemed no point-  the questions we posed yesterday weren't asked and really those were the only questions on foreign policy which mattered.

And quite honestly, by now you should know who you are voting for by this point.  And even if you're not 100% certain, there definitely should be some serious leaning toward one person or the other.

We just didn't think breaking down the 3rd Presidential debate would matter much to our readers so ultimately we decided to just skip it...

Instead we wanted to talk briefly on "fiscal cliffs".
~ Cliffs of Moher - Ireland

If you haven't heard the phrase much lately, you certainly will no matter who wins in the election.

What you will hear in the mainstream media and pro-Wall St forces is that if Congress fails to reach a deficit reduction deal by the end of the year, it will automatically trigger big spending cuts and tax increases in 2013. They say it would hit the still-recovering U.S. economy hard.

Poppycock!  or Pish-Posh!  or utter Bullshit! (Take your pick)

What Wall St and the top 1% want is the Bush tax cuts to become permanent.  They were supposed to have expired two years ago but President Obama, who had pledged in 2008 not to renew them, did so in 2010 and 2011.

They also want to completely gut what they call 'entitlements' and social programs that benefit the poor and elderly.  In spite of stereotypical notions, this is not solely a Republican desire.  Wall St Democrats want to do this as well.  The only reason the agreed-to cuts weren't fortified last year with the bi-partisan Commission was neither side could agree on the Severity of cuts.

It certainly was not a battle between 'cut' and 'don't cut'

But like everything else in this 'Alice in Wonderland' like economy of "black is white", you really Want the nation to topple over the proverbial 'cliff'.     Why??
~ Emerald Cliffs - France

Well.. honestly its the only thing that can possibly save and in fact Strengthen the US dollar and its purchasing power!

Huh?

We'll explain.   Everyone who's read A&G knows that Bernanke has done everything short of whoring his mother to devalue and seriously weaken the US dollar which means it takes more money to buy goods and services than prior... and all so banks can recapitalize and the heavily indebted US Government can roll-over its debts with new debt at lower interest rates.

Now.. if the US Government does reach that fiscal cliff (which we honestly don't see happening since nothing ever occurs in the financial world which actually benefits the people), that will cause great panic and always in times of financial uncertainty, the parasite investors Always flee to the safety of the US dollar,which is the global reserve currency.

In addition, the automatic spending cuts could be viewed as a sign of fiscal discipline that would benefit the currency, not hurt it.  This means of course, greater purchasing power than before i.e. stabilization and/or lowering of cost of gasoline, food, clothing,etc.. since less physical currency would be needed to buy what is needed now.
~ Nullarbor Cliffs - South Australia

Of course the unscrupulous bearded bastard of the Fed would double-down his efforts to destroy the US dollar even more than he's done now but that would be a stomach ache for another day.

Now the media and financial elite will say that if fiscal cliff occurs, the US will be back in a recession..  Um.. Hello!!  We never truly left the original recession which began in December, 2007!

But in case you're wondering, everyone in positions of power and financial influence would be poo-pooing fiscal cliff as a bad thing because recessions hurt corporations' profit margins and coupled with a strong US dollar, kill them when it comes to selling products abroad.

And how come no one admits we're in recession?  Well a small group of academic nerds who have the responsibility of "officially" deciding when recessions begin and end declared in 2009 that the US recession was over.  The 'presstitute' media latched on, and thus.. Ta Da.. 'Recovery'
~ Bunda Cliffs - Australia

Little interesting tidbit-- the term 'recession is actually a modern phenomenon.  For most of US economic history, a great downward tide was referred to as a depression (small d) or 'Panic'.   Because of the connotations of the word after the Great Depression, the academic elitists had to come up with another term to describe downturns that didn't cause fear among the public... and thus 'recession' was born.

So in summary, when the government, Wall St and/or the media tell you something is good for you, believe it to be Bad!  And when they something will be terrible, then Hope and Pray for it to happen.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What should be asked for Debate #3

Tonight will be the third and thankfully final Presidential debate with the focus being on foreign policy. rather than domestic issues, though we're sure the candidates will do their best to ignore the questions posed and answer in a way that addresses economic concerns wherever possible.

What have we learned so far after the three debates (when including the VP farce)?  Really nothing.   If you liked Obama before, you still do.  If you liked Romney before, you still do... And if you're still undecided, your aversion to commitment of any kind or staying informed of the world around you is to be marveled.

We don't know what will be asked tonight by the moderator but we do know what we'd ask the candidates..

We must warn beforehand that our questions may appear on the surface to be impartial or skewed against the President, but when asking on foreign policy of the last four years, he was the #1 decision and policy maker, not Romney.
Question to Both candidates:   

Currently we're in year 11 of the 'War on Terror'.  Osama bin Laden has been killed and we're still fighting Al Quida abroad..  Since the enemy doesn't belong to a specific nation with a specific flag and uniforms,etc, how will you or rather how will we the people know when this War is ultimately over, or should we expect this to go on for decades or generations?

Follow up Q:  The restrictions on Americans' freedoms and liberties like the Patriot Act, TSA screeners at airports going through everyone's personables and feeling all the passengers up, etc... Will this be indefinite too?

Question to President Obama:

All this destabilization in Libya which resulted in the murder of the US Ambassador and 3 other Americans.. Do you take responsibility for it?

Follow Up Q:  Why did you have Gadhafi, the leader of Libya assassinated?  We're not implying he was a good guy but he, like Saddam Hussein in Iraq kept their wild, zealot-like population under control.  Also prior to his death, Libya was the richest and most prosperous nation in North Africa and only 1 of 4 nations around the globe that did not borrow from international banks to keep its economy afloat.    And if you Had to get Gadhafi out of power... why not arrest him and put him on trial instead?
Question to President Obama:

Recently it was announced that the US plans to have direct negotiations with Iran, a nation seeking to build nuclear weapons to use on Israel and others and a nation that openly supports terrorism-- Hezbollah among others.. Do you not see this as going against US policy against negotiating with terrorists and if not, please explain?

Follow Up Q:  You've stated Mr President that its unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons yet how are you going to convince Iran diplomatically?  Do you plan on giving the nation money, power/influence in the UN or other benefits as rewards in exchange for them scrapping their program?

Question to Both candidates:

How do you see America's role in the world in both the next four years and how you'd like to see it over the next generation?   How do you see America's role in regards to the UN?  In other words, do you see the US as superior to, equal to or subservient to the United Nations?
Question to President Obama:

A couple years ago, you were awarded the Noble Peace Prize-- Considering that for most of your administration, our fighting forces have been in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as sending predator drones into Pakistan, etc and what transpired in Libya, can you admit the award was Not deserved?  If you disagree with the contention, please explain how the question is mistaken?

Question to Both candidates:

Does China manipulate their currency i.e. devaluing it to seek unfair advantage with trade abroad?   Yes or No?  Does the US i.e the Federal Reserve do the same thing?  How are we similar or different to the Chinese when it comes to manipulation of currency and interest rates?
So much more we could ask but ultimately it matters more what is asked for real then anything written here.

We'll watch the last debate late tonight on the internet and have analysis by tomorrow.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Flushing the money away

Today as of 3:30p, the Dow is -200 or so..  Nice to see QE3 working, yes?

Guess $40 billion a month for infinity along with finishing up the $45 billion a month as part of Operation Twist 2, doesn't buy as much for the buck as it used to..

This is something we like to keep pointing out to the pro investing people out there;  On Sept 12th, the Dow closed at 13,333.  This was right before the QE3 announcement.  At the moment, the Dow is at 13,356.

Maybe it will spring up higher in the next 90 minutes... But as it stands, after 5 full weeks of trading, and all that precious money that could/should be used for better things (and better people), the Dow as of this moment has gone up only 23 pts.   Wowwie~

Now let's break down $40 billion,   We know the following isn't anything super-original to do, but its important to understand how deeply Evil the Federal Reserve is (and why neither candidate has uttered one word on them in 3 debates incl. the VP debate is beyond logic) and equally important to understand how their pro-bank/pro-Wall St actions hurts the rest of the nation.
So, in the last month $40 billion was spent on QE3.  We won't focus on the other $45 billion spent via Twist 2, as mentioned previously...  Let's break the figure down..  BTW, it looks like this:

$40,000,000,000

Every dollar the Fed spends, is created from thin air... it is new public debt.  In other words, it prints the $$, spends it, then the American people re-pay it because what they spend is added to the overall National Debt.  And the more pieces of paper the Fed prints, the less valuable the pieces of paper in your wallet, purse or billfold are.

There are 310 million Americans living today.   If every person to receive a cut of the $40bill when divided up equally, the share would be $129 per person.  Now some will say, 'Hmm, that's not much is it?'   Certainly not much if you were planning on buying a home or automobile with your cut of the pie.

But if you think of it differently.. like how much you personally spend on food.. Or specifically to fill your gas tank monthly?  Or what you pay for your cell phone/wireless plan... or cable TV.. or utilities, etc... then receiving $129 is nothing to sneeze at...  And its monthly.
However that $$ was to be used, no matter how practical or impractical its purposes, it would be circulating through the US economy, local/state governments would be able to collect sales tax revenue from it, and it would be benefiting Every Single American in some way.

Instead, the money goes to overpay for worthless toxic mortgages to be taken off banks' balance sheets which then pumps $$ into the stock market allowing the financials and Investors more money for speculation and investment risk.

And so few understand what's going on because the media and leaders really do not want you to understand...  And so outside of occasional gripes from people here and there, you have no collective outpouring of anger or expressions of frustration toward these policies.

You know, its funny.. not 'ha ha' funny but pathetically sad-- If you think about the TV show Saturday Night Live and all the Presidents, politicians and news makers they've satirized, characterized, degraded and viciously skewed, they've Never Ever made fun of the Fed Chairman...  Not one joke.

No mocking and disparaging of Alan Greenspan during his time in power and absolutely nothing on the current chairman Bernanke though he deserves it so mightily.
And this is even though Bernanke has done more to hurt this nation irrevocably than any elected leader ever could through his policies of artificially pumping the stock market and continually devaluing (weakening) the US dollar while trying everything humanly possible to create inflation (everything costs more)!

That's how ignorant we as a nation are of the Federal Reserve and how the economy functions:  SNL won't take the time to mock and lampoon those we collectively know nothing about.  Not worth their time to teach us who the truly evil are.  SNL is about getting laughs so they rather make fun or word mis-pronunciations and behavioral mannerisms.

This stock market will not maintain its artificial highs.. What goes up Must go down, even when rigged, and even with QE3 and 4 and 5, it will go down because the global economies are either in official recession or close to being declared as such... and that means more downsizing... more deleveraging..

And all that precious money that could be put to so much good to help people and bolster the real, everyday economy instead is just flushed away... flushed down that toilet known as Wall St.  And few people know or understand enough to care.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wanting To Be Hired; Just Not Wanting to Work

People are funny creatures.. They.. oops, I mean We sure are..

We want jobs so badly when unemployed yet once hired, for the most part we hate what we do so much, that we bitch about it and wish we didn't work at all.

We all need to eat.. pay our bills of course..

So we put up with quite a boatload of nonsense:

Perfecting and tailoring each resume and cover-letter to be sent out to each company... So much time and care and consideration spent on something to be emailed or even worse, faxed to what is probably a dimly lit back-office within the bowels (and small colon) of Human Resources that is visited once a week at minimum..

Had a job once a while ago where yours truly saw it first hand.. a fax machine in the far corner of the office ringing every minute or two.. And while there'd be faxes of job applications and resumes all strewn about on the floor, no new faxes would be added to the pile in spite of the constant rings.. Well how could it?  No one bothered to re-fill the fax paper...
And thus the empty calls we make if lucky enough to have numbers to call.. and the endless follow up calls..  "Hi, we spoke last week.. Oh, you don't remember me.. well we spoke and.. just wondering if you had looked at my... oh, you have another call.. um.. I'll hold, sure... Hi again.. no I didn't mind being on hold 5 minutes.. so anyways.. oh you have another call.."

And all the interviews with bosses so obviously inferior to us in intelligence and ability, sitting behind that big ole' desk with the coffee cup of conceit filled with freshly brewed coffee from the eager-beaver secretary; you know the cup of which we speak-- it says "World's Best Boss" as plain as day don't you know?

And how to tell the harmlessly smug from the asshole-like boss?  The harmlessly smug will smile and say he/she bought or was given the mug as a gift.  The asshole will say with seriousness that the coffee cup was Earned.  Ugh!
'So.. sitting for the interview.. sweating.. but never let them see you sweat.. But that's a commercial tagline.. Oh why do I watch so much TV??   Breathe... Breathe..  OK.. Putting that best foot forward.. Want to appear eager but ehh' not Too eager... Smart but not to smart.  No one consciously hires people who will ultimately replace them you see..'

And the questions on time demands.. Gawd!  'Willing to work weekends?' -- (Um, not really)  Sure! -- 'How about evenings?' (No way!) -- You betcha! -- 'Come to work at 6a?' (Oh sure, I love working at the crack of fucking dawn) Can do! -- 'And how about holidays.. Christmas in particular?' --  (How about you go F yourself) Not a problem.. there when you need me!

And the pay..always comes down to the pay... 'Seems you left the salary demands blank.. what are you seeking?' --  'Well I figured you had a set salary you pay so..'  --  'No, I need to know..' (But if I say my true worth, you bastards will immediately end the interview, and if I am too low, you'll exploit me) -- 'Umm.. X dollars??' --  'Well we only start at Y dollars so..' (Then why did you ask, jerk?!)

And on and on the game is played..  How little financial reward are you willing to accept for maximum work?  How much of yourself-- your free time, how long keep your hair, etc.. are you willing to give up to the whim and will of an employer, specifically a boss you don't respect?
And once hired- where to begin??  This is what you're to wear to work... and this is where you are to sit.. and this is what you say when you answer the telephone..  and this is when you may eat lunch.. and this is when you may have your break.. and if you finish your work early, you are to do other busy work until allowed to leave.. 'Nods... Good puppy'

'And I know you've been on time for 3000 days in a row.. But see, you're late today!! And we just can't have people coming in when they feel, you understand.. So don't let it happen again...'

And the ultimate insult expressed by an employer if one ever tries to stand their ground to a boss once hired: 'It IS a free country..  can always quit if you don't like the pay or conditions..' (insert punch-to-face smiley here)

Yes, people are funny creatures -- put up with a lot of shit and utter nonsense they wouldn't tolerate from friends or family in the hopes of 'winning' something that deep down they truly do not want or desire -- employment.

But that's the system isn't it?  How its always been..  What does it take to get people to work and kept tied down to their jobs?   Well, we always have good ole' Inflation working for the System's behalf to keep the prices of everything going up and up so very few can live long periods on their savings...

Then there's the unwritten rules of hiring with Rule #1 in bold print:  Never hire someone immediately--  it sets bad precedent!  Make em' squirm... make em' feel insecure..  Last thing one wants is a worker so confident in him/herself and the job market that they'll quickly get a new job, that they develop the courage to be openly defiant and tell his/her boss to Fuck themselves!  So it must be as hard and lengthy an ordeal as possible to gain employment.
Then there's Rule #2:  The best employees to control are those with need and those who lie.   An employee who needs to keep his/her health insurance or even better (for employers) has a very ill child in need of constant medical care, is very easy to manipulate and over-work.  Don't want to lose those benefits, right?

And those who lie on their resumes-- make up education and job experiences that don't exist..  Trust us, even if you are hired, the company still does the background checks and as long as your position isn't that of vital importance where your fudged-up skills are truly needed, a company will hire you.

To them you are gold because anytime you seek a raise or anything better for yourself, you'll be denied and pointed out that you lied and should be grateful to get what you have.

And if you ever are injured on the job, sexually harassed and/or wrongly terminated without just cause, well-- guess what?  Company can say they just found out you didn't go to Harvard like you claimed... Thus you're not such an honest Injun' are you?  And if you'd lie on a resume, well..  imagine what else you'd lie about...

See how insidious companies can be?  Oh wait--you all work or have worked for a living.. you already knew..
So its just funny.. we all want to work... we actually actively wake up in the morning and seek it out.. and we all want those job numbers to sincerely improve so there's more positions for us to send eventual un-replied resumes to,etc... but then it sorta becomes that warning of 'Careful what you wish/hope for.. you just might get it'

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2nd Presidential Debate or political 'Kabuki'

~ Moderator:  'Bravo!  Bravo!  So entertaining and delightful a performance.. I want to go to bed with both of you!'

Definition: Kabuki -- A classical Japanese dance-drama. There is singing, dancing and much theatricality of movement around the stage

The election will be held 20 days from the time of this posting and like it or not, one of the two men who stood and debated at the Town Hall Q&A will be sitting in the Oval Office for the next four years, making decisions that will be adversely impacting all of our lives, particularly economically.

But what makes Town Hall debates so special and unique from normal debates is how animated the candidates get, constantly moving around the room, sometimes together at the same time like partners during a Blue Danube Waltz.

And unlike other venues, the more physically free-flowing and theatrical around the room and the more interruptive and overall disrespectful the candidates are to one another, the more supporters see that as 'winning' the debate.
~ From the 2004 Town Hall debate

For instance in the 2004 Town Hall debate between then President George W Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry, Bush was extremely animated in tone and body language like a child with ADD while Kerry pretty much stayed professional and sat at his seat.  And Bush's mannerisms were interpreted as passionate and proud, while Kerry was seen as rigid.  Thus the Town Hall debate did much to Bush secure a re-election victory.

Onto the present Town Hall...

As we've stated repeatedly, we genuinely do not care who 'won' or who scored the most points but for those who care on such things, the President had a much better overall showing and its fair to say Obama at worst held his own with Romney to a draw, and in some circles it would be argued he pulled off a minor 'victory'...

But ultimately who cares?  This is not football or baseball we're all watching..

These debates are the closest we the people will Ever get to hearing either of the two give average individuals the respect and time to listen to our concerns and address them.  After that, the one who is elected will barely give a damn what we think and we certainly won't care what the loser thinks or feels on anything..
~ From the 2000 Bush/Gore Town Hall debate.. see how everyone is standing and 'dancing' about then as was the present debate?   Gore:  'May I have this Dance?'   Bush: 'Only if I can lead'

So that's how we're approaching this Town Hall meeting in analyzing it..  Not interested in vocal tone, poise, movement around the room, the moderator injecting herself and her personality into the fray, or anything else trivial or stupid.. Only interested in how the candidates answered the questions...

If we tried to cover every Q asked, we'd be writing 'War & Peace' so we're going to stick just a few key questions asked.

So we begin...

The first question came from a early twenty-something guy about graduating college and not being able to find work, and what would the candidates do to fix this problem.  Romney talked in generalities-- talked about boosting Pell grants and expanding student loans, and expressed how the Obama administration has made it tough for young people to find work.

The President countered by defending his first term and expressing the importance of tax cuts for businesses investing in the US, particularly small businesses, etc.. and from this, jobs will be created.. etc etc..
~ Singing in duet: "You've Lost...That Lovin' Feelin... Whoo-oo That Lovin' Feelin'"

OK..  lets start with Romney's points.  He says more people need to be able to attend to college and important that there be student loans available.  That's all nice and PC but let's talk reality.  There are currently over $1 trillion in student loan debt held by Americans at this very moment..  One Trillion..  And currently a 30% default rate on repayment.

What does it mean to default on a student loan?  It means you're seriously fucked.  Its not like a credit card or other unsecured debt--- it can not be discharged in a bankruptcy, and if you have or ever do find work, your wages Will be garnished.. Doesn't matter if you're 25, 45 or 65yrs old... and if you die and have anything to leave to another, it goes to the government to pay the student loans with anything left over for next of kin.

And what are you getting in exchange for such hell?  A worthless piece of paper that millions upon millions of other unexceptional twenty-something and thirty-somethings possess.
Obama: 'Good debate Mitt.. Let me give you a smooch'
Romney: 'Not here Sir & only if our Wall St owners say its OK'

Here's how you fix the entire college education and post-graduation employment situation:

1) It should only take 45 to 60 credits to earn a Bachelor's degree.  That's 1.5 to 2 years of study, not 4 or 5.  That means if a student is attending college, he/she is only acquiring two years worth of debt to repay.  There's no reason a person majoring in Chemistry needs to take English Literature and no reason someone majoring in Pre-Law needs Anthropology.

In addition, student loans should be capped at a $2 to $1 ratio... in other words, for every $2 available to be loaned for tuition, board,etc, the student must be responsible for the other $1.   In simple math, if tuition is $9,000, the loan can be for no more than $6k and the student or family responsible for the other $3k.

This 2 to 1 limitation will force students to be more realistic and practical in their academic choices and for every $1000 not borrowed, that's $1000 plus interest that doesn't have to be repaid over a lifetime.
~Singing: Romney- 'He says potato and I say po-tah-to...'
                  Obama - 'I say tomato and he says to-mah-to..'

2)  The #1 reason why there are so few jobs for young adults right now is because the economy is so bad due to the market crash of 2008 and lost pensions,etc.. that older Americans, particularly those over 60 are still in the workforce trying to make ends meet.  

Many elderly work part time jobs or as temps, and unlike young people, they have their own health insurance so benefits aren't as important as simply getting a paycheck coming in.  Also, older people generally have more bills and lack the luxury of moving back in with parents when things go bad.. so they're more desperate and more willing to do any job offered at any wage.   Employers love the elderly right now.

If/when the government addresses that problem by Lowering the retirement age rather than raising it so these people can acquire their pensions soon, then more of the 60+ year old demographic will retire and there will be more readily available jobs for the newly graduated.

Of course neither candidate mentioned any of this..

We move on...
~ Obama: 'You're going to make a great President once you beat me'
   Romney: 'Aww, come on Sir!  I just hope you think of me for your Cabinet'

Later in the Town Hall meeting a questioner asked a question about lowering gas prices.  Each candidate used his time to explain what he's done or plans to do..  all the same things politicians have been saying for decades-- new and clean sources of fuel, wind, solar, etc..  more fuel efficient cars and so forth...

There are basically two reasons why the products of any good or service rises, and this includes crude oil:  The first is basic supply/demand.  The greater the demand for something the greater the price charged and as long as the demand or 'use' does not lower, neither will the price.  That's basic economics and everyone understands that..  OK.. now onto reason #2

When the currency you use to buy a product or service weakens or lessens, its not so much that the product or service is being charged more.  Its that the item wanted is retaining its true value before the currency depreciation, thus it now takes more of it to acquire the product than before.
A quickie example: Let us say 1 US Dollar is equal to the weight of 4oz of silver coins.  A loaf of bread costs $1 so 4oz of coinage is given to the baker and you leave with the bread.

Now, let us say you have an Evil man in a position of power at a place called the Federal Reserve who prints sooooo many $1 bills that now $1 is equal to 2oz of silver.  Is the bread still $1?  No   The bread is still sold at the value of 4oz of silver, but now it takes $2 dollars to buy the loaf.

The more the Federal Reserve devalues the US dollar in their goal of artificially pumping up the stock market and rewarding the very wealthy and those shit Investors, the more it will cost Everyone to fill their vehicles with gas.

And remember, oil is traded world wide in petro-dollars.  We are the world's reserve currency so our actions cause everyone else around the world to pay more since there's no way oil producers are going to take a loss.  They know their product has an 'X' value and they will do what is necessary in the free market to retain it.

Once again- neither candidate talked about that.

Moving forward once more..
~ Obama:  'You see, as a lefty I tend to use more wrist in my basketball shots'
   Romney to self: 'Smile Mitt.. C'mon.. you can do it.. Smile dammit!'

A questioner asked about taxes-- who if anyone would pay more or less?

Romney said the middle class would pay less in taxes because they're overburdened and the wealthy would pay exactly as they pay now which is according to him, 60% of the overall tax burden.  The President also stated the middle class would pay less and the wealthy would pay a little more..

All very nice.. of course both completely ignored the financial burden of the poor and non middle-class worker as if they are living without economic suffering.  Not even the slightest consideration to Romney.  Guess he figured they never vote Rep so why bother pretending to care about their needs and concerns.

All this tax cut chit-chat is a bunch of mumbo jumbo nonsense.

The quickest way to pay down debt of any kind is a combination of expenditure cutbacks and increasing  streams of revenue.  The politicians love talking about the cutbacks but never the increases in revenue.

No one wants to pay more taxes but when the nation is in the hole to the tune of about $17 Trillion and there's an open economic spigot of $40bil/month from the Fed to the stock market alone (forget about on-going wars and social safety nets), everyone is going to be paying or this nation will be collapsing very soon.

Currently the US tax rate on the very richest Americans is 47%   Want to know what it was during the prosperous early 1960s when JFK was in office?  63%  Wonder what the tax rate was upon the very richest Americans during the economic boom of the Eisenhower years?  79%

The wealthy can pay more and they should..and even though they'll fight and kick and scream and threaten to expatriate out of the US, you can not seriously look to increase tax revenue until you increase what the super-affluent pay.

As for other tax cuts, its not realistic at this time.  the Bush tax cuts should have ended by now.  For reasons of weakness and political cowardice, Obama extended them twice already.  It remains to be seen if it will be extended again or made permanent in December.  The payroll tax holiday also needs to be stopped unless it is worth the ultimate insolvency of Social Security so people can have an extra $20/week in their pocket today to buy cigarettes and beer.

The biggest tax burdens most Americans suffer with anyways isn't on the Federal level but state/local.. its the property taxes to pay for schools, police, trash,etc.. its the state sales taxes which vary between 5% and 8.5% along with county and municipal sales taxes in some areas which make it very difficult for people to afford to buy products and services.. its all the money shelled out on turnpikes and toll bridges and licenses...

Nothing either candidate says or does will alleviate that ongoing burden.
~ A debate of a bygone era.. 1960 Kennedy/Nixon..  This isn't a Town Hall debate but still, notice how Nixon sits professionally while Kennedy speaks then JFK will patiently sit when its Nixon's turn...

We could go on and on with our analysis but we think you, the reader get the point.  The Town Hall was a fun show..It was lively and spirited and each candidate held their own.  There was lots of movement and 'dancing' around the room and 'dancing' around truth... Supporters of both parties should feel pleased..

But if you think you learned anything new or got a better understanding of where either candidate's head is at, you're mistaken.   You watched political Kabuki instead.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

6 Q's for each Pres. Candidate

For the 2nd Presidential debate, which will be held this evening October 16th, the format will be of a Townhall Meeting which means both Obama and Romney will be answering questions from a select few citizens who be in attendance based on whether or not the moderator likes the question posed.

It should make for thrilling, riveting TV..    Yes, we are kidding.

Of course as before, we'll watch it on the Internet after its over, skim through the BS, ignore the 'who won' nonsense and address how the two candidates answered the questions.  Look for that to be posted sometime Wed morning to mid afternoon.

In the meantime, we spent some time thinking and came up with a list of questions we would like to ask each candidate (6 questions per candidate) assuming of course the answer given was both honest and actually addressed the question.

Riddle Q: What's a politician's favorite dance?  A:  The Two-step.

So these are questions we feel the American people are entitled to know the answers to (though we don't believe they ever will)
Questions for President Obama:

1)  If you succeed in winning re-election, what Specifically will you do to improve the economy and more directly, to improve the employment picture beyond service sector and temp hiring?  As a follow up, why have you not implemented such actions to this point?

2)  What steps do you have in mind Specifically to address improving the housing market so home prices stabilize and a more equitable buyer-seller market is established?  Also what steps will you implement (if any) in a second term to force banks to relax their currently overly-stringent lending standards so that more people can qualify for mortgages or refinancing?

3)  Why did you re-nominate Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (who is Republican) for another 4 year term back in 2010?  Do you support his zealous pro-Wall St. & pro bank fiscal policies?  Do you support his actions, specifically QE 1 through 3 which has severely devalued the US dollar and keeping interest rates at record artificial lows which kills savers in particular?
4)  Why did you as President feel the need to destabilize Libya by assassinating Gadhafi last year? What purpose did it mean to serve?  And, do you feel the murder of our US Ambassador to Libya was in response to our actions in taking out their leader, merely coincidental or completely unrelated?

5)  Why is it that not a single person of importance or significance has been so much as arrested and charged for the Lehman Bros failure and eventual stock market collapse?  Which would be more accurate:  That you want to see justice served but your Attorney General is being obstructionist,  he wishes justice to be served but you are blocking him, or neither of you feel its necessary to seek indictments?

6)  Originally after 9/11, the War on Terror was portrayed by President Bush as a fight against al Queda and specifically to get Osama Bin Laden dead or alive.

Now that Bin Laden is dead and being that al Queda is not like an organized military of a foreign nation with borders to invade and occupy, how will you as President and we as a nation know when the War on Terror is truly over and thus no need for the Patriot Act and other restrictions on our freedoms?  What are the signs we should look for?  Or should we expect this war to continue on indefinitely?
Questions for Republican Nominee Romney:

1)  Same question as asked to Obama:  If you succeed in winning, what Specifically will you do to improve the economy and more directly, to improve the employment picture beyond service sector and temp hiring?

2)  Once again, same question as asked to Obama:  What steps do you have in mind Specifically to address improving the housing market so home prices stabilize and to force banks to relax their currently overly-stringent lending standards?

3)  In Massachusetts while Governor of the state, you pushed through a healthcare overhaul known as 'RomneyCare' which was the inspiration of 'ObamaCare'... How was your plan different than what the President put into place 2-3 years ago?
4)  When you worked at Bain Capital, you basically stepped in with emergency loans to distressed corporations (2% directly from your pocket, the other 98% via bank loans), then forced them to make drastic budgetary cuts including mass firings and once the company you stepped in to help collapsed upon itself, you were first to collect profits as creditor during a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy...

What aspect(s) of your former career would you apply (if any) to addressing improving the US economy and the jobs picture?

5)  You mentioned in the Republican primaries that to paraphrase, you care nothing about the poor and they are not your priority, and within the last few weeks, you stirred up a little controversy with your '47 percent' comment stating essentially they will vote for the President no matter what and they don't pay taxes and live on government handouts.

Asked bluntly, what do you have against the poor?   Being that if winning in November, you'd be President of all 100% of the US and not "53%", what policies if any will you implement to improve the lives of America's poor and economic downtrodden?  Will they be receiving tax cuts too along with the wealthy and corporations?

6) If elected President will you enact any policy which breaks up the 'Too Big to Fail' banks and other financial institutions so that taxpayer money doesn't continue to go to bailing out the criminal and/or inept, or would you continue Bush & Obama policy of coming to their rescue whenever they are in financial need?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Recovery or Ruin? Depends on Ideology

Generally speaking, when people seek out news on the state of the US & global economy, they fall into one or two camps:  Those who can't ever seem to find anything negative and those who can't ever seem to find anything positive.

And of the two camps, we admit we fall more into the latter one and have feelings of envy & deep resentment over those positive pollyannas who always see the symbolic 'glass' as full even when its nearly empty.

We can only wonder what sources their news comes from?  Perhaps the same outlets that wish to inject 'Big Bird' into a serious discussion of whether this nation should continue to borrow excessively to pay for programs that could be self sustaining.  For instance, PBS sells over 5000 Sesame Street related products which generate a profit of over $1 Billion annually.. All products of course made in China.

Its actually not too difficult to see the economic world via rose-colored glasses, especially when the news outlets wish to portray as sunny a economic picture as possible... until the 'other party' wins the Presidency of course... then watch how everything suddenly falls to hell in a hand basket.
We can only imagine what the nightly news would have been like the last four years if McCain-Palin ruled the roost and yet the exact same economic policies were implemented as Obama has... You'd actually see stories of 'tent cities' which are sprung up in some cities and endless stories of elderly people who can't afford their medicines and single mothers and children being evicted and living in their cars or on the streets...

You'd need some Xanax just to get through the telecast.

And gotta love how its still being portrayed that if you can't find work, its 'obviously' your fault!  Why there's jobs-a-plenty don't ya know?  Employers are just 'desperate' to find workers with the right education... Of course those same employers are too Lazy and Cheap to actually TEACH new hires how do complete the tasks.. No, you're expected to know A to Z on your own Before you even apply.. Ugh!

And its your fault because you don't lower your salary expectations... your fault you aren't willing to take that Masters' degree and apply it to a job waiting tables at Denny's or Ihop... Your fault you're not willing to go back to school and take on tens of thousands of dollars in extra student loan debt to get additional degrees because employers don't value the knowledge already possessed...

There are people out there who Truly, Sincerely and Emphatically believe this nation is in a full economic recovery and give 100% credit to the President for the turn around.   What can one really say to that?  You just have to smile and nod to keep the peace.

Here's a small example of how the optimist can allow themselves to be continually deluded:  Reports were released yesterday saying that consumer spending was up for the 3Q which is 'very good' because the numbers beat expectations.

OK..  Why?  Well more people bought cars and spent on gasoline...

So let's break that down-- most new cars are released to be sold to the public during the 3Q.  In this case we're talking about 2013 models.   And usually who are the people who rush to acquire those vehicles the quickest?  Those who are leasing models from 2 or 3 years prior and who's lease end occurs during this period.

In other words, vehicle sales are always higher during this period because most vehicle leases expire in the 3Q, the leesees have to have something to drive to replace the old leased car, and dealers are giving discounts to '12 models to finally get them off the showroom and back lot.
Now, next we're supposed to look at gasoline consumption as a good thing.   Hardly..  First, its not that we spent more on gas because we as a nation are driving more and feel good about things..  Its that gas prices have spiked on average 50cents/gallon since the end of the 2Q which was right before Independence day.

Also, where does all that $$ go?  Gas stations, sure... but beyond that?  It goes to the Middle East and Venezuela.  Every extra penny per gallon gone to buy gas is less money for Americans to use to stimulate the economy domestically through local goods/services.

But funny, the mainstream news never takes the time to go into depth... and the 'Recovery'-believing simps can still be allowed to live in delusion.

Yes.. everything's going on so wonderfully here and abroad.. In fact, let's go on a brief tour of the world to see how good things are for so many...
Greece:

"Greece will allow the sale of expired food at a price lower than the original, in a move that the government has not been able to justify but consumer groups have interpreted as evidence of their inability to stop the escalating cost of commodities...

The regulations exclude meat and dairy from the list of perishables that can be sold and sets a ceiling dates you can continue marketing. Thus, foods in which the expiration date is indicated by the day and the month, may continue on the shelf for another week...the wage and pension cuts and rising unemployment, food prices and commodities has not stopped rising. Between August 2011 and August 2012, the price of sugar shot up 15%, the eggs, 6.8% for butter by 3.2% and that of coffee, 5.9%" (Voz Populi)

~ Yum Yum.. Love the taste of rotted bread and fruits..  Yep, all is well in Greece.  So glad the leadership capitulated to Germany and the ECB last year..
Switzerland:

Switzerland Prepares Army for Euro Zone Fallout -- "With anti-austerity protests across Europe resulting in civil unrest on the streets of Athens and Madrid, the European country famed for its neutrality is taking unusual precautions... Swiss newspaper Der Sonntag reported recently that the exercise centered around a risk map created in 2010, where army staff detailed the threat of internal unrest between warring factions as well as the possibility of refugees from Greece, Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal. The Swiss defense ministry told CNBC that it does not rule out having to deploy troops..."  (CNBC)

~ Didn't even know Switzerland had an Army to be honest.. we knew of those famous multi-use knives but still..  Good to see continental Europe doing well, yes?
Portugal:

" Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho pledged to stick to his austerity drive despite the impact on his party’s political fortunes...

Finance Minister VĂ­tor Gaspar is due to unveil the draft state budget for next year in parliament ... He has already flagged some of the government’s spending and revenue plans, which will contain massive tax hikes to meet the country’s deficit-reduction commitments assumed as part of its 78-billion-euro bailout from the IMF and the European Union...

The Portuguese economy is already mired in its worst recession since the 1970s, with output expected to contract some three percent this year and one percent next year when average unemployment is set to rise to 16.4 percent...

Tax hikes will have an impact across the board. A single person earning 10,000 euros previously exempt from income tax will now pay 75 euros next year, while a family with two children earning 40,000 euros a year, will pay 1,970 euros more."  (El Pais- English translated)

~  10k euros equals $12,900 US dollars, so 40k euros is equivalent to $51,600 US and the increased taxes on family of four earning that amount would be like $2,550 extra taxes for a US family.  So.. yes Portugal is doing fine... no need to worry..
We could go on and on with examples but really its not necessary.  The global economy is in a holding-pattern basically... everything delayed and can-kicked until after US elections.    Its no so much the world leaders really care who wins on November 6th.. its just that Obama cares... Very much...

So all the bad stuff that we've written about for two years and counting, is being held back a teensy-weensy bit more so that millions of head in the sand voters will believe things are better and support/reward the incumbent for saving the world.

There are intelligent Democrats out there... they follow the news and understand reality and support the President in his re-election bid.   That's fine.  Also intelligent Republicans who know the truth and will be supporting Romney because he supports their beliefs and values..

But there's an awful lot of stupidly uninformed people out there who will be basing their vote on the silliest of reasons and from them, will this elections like all before it, hinge...  And whoever wins, after the celebrations and champagne toasts, its going to be one extremely difficult economic period to maneuver and only then will the naive and oblivious begin to wake-up.