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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Political Communication the QVC & HSN way..

~ From January 2009.. 'Life & Times of Barack Obama: 6 Statehood Quarters' for $29.75'

Lately the President hasn't been too popular with the everyday folk..

People didn't like the idea of us getting tangled up in Syria's civil war and seeing it potentially escalate to a direct US vs Russia conflict...

Most people are unhappy about Obamacare or at minimum extremely confused about it and its present and future impact

And even though the media tried to paint the Republicans, especially the Tea Party as solely at fault for the prolonged government shutdown and (phony) debt ceiling showdown, many people also understood it was Obama's fault as well..
We were thinking maybe the President needed a different approach selling his ideas and policies to the American people..

Perhaps he needs to watch more QVC or HSN..

They are terrific salespeople.. simply amazing..

Takes quite a bit of skill to sell a $450 blender or a $600 Bose music player that is not discounted one penny vs going on the Bose website and buying directly...

And they do it very well..
~ "Ahh, yes.. Umm.. I was wondering if you were out of the Presidential pillows? Um..  I will take two..  And throw in a set of commemorative quarters please..."

Even yours truly had to fight off the temptation...

Seeing lovely models one after the other with luxurious hair being essentially felt-up folically by this one hairstylist selling his product, I almost bought a Bamboo Tea hair conditioner for $30 from one of the networks...

Almost..
And that's what the President needs..  Communicate with people the QVC/HSN way..

Now personally we disagree with most of his policies and ideas because to be blunt about it, he's not a sincere Democrat and if you are left of center politically you would have to admit to yourself privately he's been at best a Great disappointment...

Since Clinton courted Wall Street and their campaign cash during the 1992 election after union donations were beginning to tap out, its been hard to get the termites out of the wood, as they say...

We do think Obama would be more liked at least if he sold his ideas similar to those TV networks..
We imagined last night how QVC or HSN would approach it if they had a mere stick in their hand...  We imagined something like this...

"Look at this.. you first notice the rich, deep shades of grey with some brown... the sepia hues mixed with touches of mahogany and in its center a light beige-like butternut color..  Very 'back to nature'.. Conjures up long walks in the woods and campfires at night doesn't it?

And its very pro-environment which I know is very important to many of our viewers...  Its made of 100% natural materials so it will not harm the earth in any way..

And OK, you know what I really love about this item..  It's sturdiness..  It is just crafted so well..  Look at this ladies, I am trying to snap it in two and..  it just won't break.   So you know it is a quality crafted item that is made to last..."

This is to sell a stick..
So imagine if Obama used the QVC/HSN charm to sell his decision to close the World War II Memorial a couple weeks ago...

"If you notice the WWII Memorial, the first thing that just pops out is safety..  Now I know what you're thinking but if notice here in these photos..  there's cracked steps here and here... and in this part there's patches of grass that have yet to be mowed or trimmed...

Just too unsafe to allow people to risk hurting themselves without supervision..  It would break my heart to know a small 5yr old child tripped and hurt his or her knee or a WWII Veteran's wheelchair tipped over...

Not on my watch dear Americans... Not on my watch!

So those barricades were merely buffers to provide additional assurance that the Memorial was as safe as humanly possible, much like a helmet on a football player's head.."
~ "Someone should do something to make this place safer so my wheelchair doesn't tip over while going over a pavement crack..."

or Obamacare:

"I have something very exciting to talk about and show you today..   Its a new, exciting way to acquire and possess health coverage

Now you know that old way..  It was terrible wasn't it?  I mean the bills and the hassles and the time..  Just a mess!

Now this new piece of legislation.. 'The Affordable Care Act' fixes all the problems and difficulties of old and so much more!!
Look at it under this light.. Do you see how it sparkles with infinite newness and endless possibility?  Like a finely cut CZ gemstone with pave setting and vermeil overlay..  My, that would look simply stunning on your finger even for casual nights out with the spouse or among friends...

So I guess you could call this the 'Diamondique Ring' of health care and if you call now, you will receive an 800pg book explaining all it will do for you, changes to coverage, etc..

And you know what I really love about this book?  Its paperback.. Much softer and conserves more paper than a standard hardback book..  

Plus if you look through the instruction book, there's plenty of blank white pages for you to put all sorts of things... phone numbers, to-do notes, adorable doodle pictures..  And remember, this book is included Free..  You just simply pay the shipping.."
Well I'm sold!

We'd write more but one of the networks is selling a tin of pretzel rods covered with caramel and m&m's, chocolate chips and jimmies sprinkles and there's only 300 left...  Just perfect for Christmas..

Gotta go....




Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Consumer Confidence, Conundrums and other 'Cons'

~ The initial joy and eventual crush of tarnished expectations....

We start with a quote from a famous Beatles song 'Getting Better'  off the Sgt. Pepper CD:

Paul singing: "I've got to believe it's getting Better..  A little Better all the time.."
John on chorus: "It couldn't get much worse"

Today the Consumer Confidence Board released its monthly report for October..
A score of 100 and upwards means there's a sincere recovery, people feel very good about the overall economy and their personal situations, and thus spend/shop accordingly..

October is 71.2 with experts predicting 75

Last month the survey came in at 80.2

We have to be consistent here.. we think the CCB is BS when it posts overly positive numbers and even now we still feel the same..

Its basically a glorified polling agency and its sample sizes are usually too small to give a truly accurate read on the mindset of the US consumer..
That isn't to say we don't also agree with its October findings..

Its really not that difficult to understand..

Most people generate income from work... and the money received is used to pay bills, taxes, food, gas and all other essentials..

Whatever is left after credit card debt is to be saved or used for fun..

When people make less than they did, they have less to spend.
~ Not quite what Linus 'Hoped' 

When people make nothing today vs 5 years ago, they Truly have less..

And when people are told things will get better and they believe the nonsense based on the soothing tone of the words and thus keep spending as usual, ultimately it catches up..

So of course consumer confidence is terrible.

It really should never have spiked earlier this year!
The media always focuses on that one statistic but here's more survey findings right on the CCB's website:

 Those claiming business conditions are “good” decreased to 19.0 percent from 20.7 percent... Those saying jobs are “plentiful” was virtually unchanged at 11.3 percent from 11.4 percent, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” increased to 35.8 percent from 33.6 percent.

That means less than 1 in 5 think things are 'good' regarding business and over 1 in 3 people can't seem to find jobs in this economic climate..

They must be striving for something unrealistic like a position that uses the skills and knowledge from their previous job..
The rest of the polling shows one gloomy pessimistic prediction after another..

Honestly, the question becomes what took people This long to realize the mess we're all in?

There's not many ways a job can be created.. either a private employer opens a vacancy, a government agency opens a vacancy or you start your own business and fill your own vacancy...

Its not the rocket science those evil-doers in Washington pretend...
Let's break this all down clearly and concisely:

1)  Private Sector:

If corporations are making excessive profit on Wall St, there's no incentive to offer real jobs.   And if they do offer work, its pretty much temp work

Smaller businesses also are going the temp route...

And with the additional costs many businesses large and small will be accruing due to Obamacare, there's not only little incentive to hire, but many are frantically looking to cut corners by making their workforce 'part-time'.
There will always be plenty of work in the service industry because the worker survives mainly on tips not a wage so restaurateurs don't have to concern themselves with all the hassles other businesses do in this regard..

A waiter or waitress is as interchangeable as a AA battery.

2)  Public Sector

Government jobs are usually good ones.. higher salary, better benefits and traditionally at least, more job security...

But state, city and local budgets are consistently being cut to come up with the $$$ to pay their pensioners and interest on bonds taken out to pay previous debts..
So these positions just aren't available as they once were..

Then there's the problem of outsourcing and what the British call redundancy

If a computer can do your job, why are you needed?  You are now 'redundant' i.e. dismissed..

And government is having to figure out ways to do more with less..  like police and fire departments being shared among communities.
Off the top of our heads, we think of Camden NJ as an example.. they can't afford their police and fire anymore so the county they are located in and an adjacent one share law enforcement and fire duties...

Teachers around the nation are not secure either.  They've always historically been overworked, underpaid and deeply resented by the parents because they get summers off

But now computers are making their jobs more and more redundant...

And we see a day if its not already come, where a school district perhaps hires one English teacher for every 300 students instead of 30...
Basically everyone sits in front of their PC's.. an instructor gives direction..   the kids do their work and you have 'supervisors' making $12/hr in every classroom simply making sure the children are paying attention to the monitors..

Certainly cheaper than a teacher in every room making $25/hr

3)  Self-Entrepreneur..

This is not for everyone.. It takes business ability, savvy and in many cases natural people skills to be a success..  Or at least know how to spot a good salesperson to hire..

Its not an easy path and riches are not guaranteed BUT its the only option to try to make a living without being 100% dependent on another to provide you an income...
You also avoid all the time wasting interviews and empty rejections

Some ideas like opening a restaurant are a very risky proposition..  Half of all new restaurants close up within six months and even more within a full year...

But the right product or service aimed at the right target demographic at the right price point..  And you may have something special going on...

And that's really the only three ways a job is created...

To repeat:  Congress and the President have done nothing to improve the jobs picture.. only bicker, posture and take turns capitulating on this or that...

The private sector knows things are bad and thus going the cheap route,  government jobs are scarce and those one retains isn't as protected as once was, and the self-employment route is not easy-- it just allows a person the opportunity to take charge of their lives directly..

Some are excited by that... some are scared shitless...
And thus it is fully to be expected that consumer confidence is terrible...

Now if people would ever learn to stop blaming themselves and put the pieces together to this child-skilled jigsaw puzzle, perhaps we the 99% would have a chance at a future..

Instead we just sit around and keep believing its got to get better...a little better all the time..

Cause you know.. 'it can't get much worse..'   Can it?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Income Redistribution? Or Income Re-Assessment & Re-Investment??

Whenever the discussion in finance turns to taxation of the ultra-wealthy, it is always depicted in the most inaccurate and unsavory demagoguery

The tired arguments go something as follows..

'That's income redistribution!' which infers a government policy that is socialist or communist

Or..

'You're taking from productive people and giving to those who don't want to work' which is a gross simplification.
The Warren Buffets of the world don't work..  They make money off their money then buy more things to make money from because they are boring creatures..

They are bored with life and with living and as some Buffett defenders have argued with us, take that away from the old rickety man and he has no reason to wake up and feel excited about his day; he would just atrophy..

Perhaps someone should teach the old man canasta or pinochle...

Now as for this nonsense that people don't want to work..  an utter lie.   The Vast majority of people have no problem with working..  they Want to work...
They just Dare to want to get paid a fair living wage commensurate with the time they put into the job and the skill sets they possess while allows them to do the tasks successfully..

They also have the Audacity to want to work in fields to which they spent their young lives acquiring an education and not see those jobs marginalized, outsourced or disrespected/devalued by the society i.e. teaching for instance..

So how to fix this deepening wealth inadequacy?

The answer is simple.. Tax the ultra wealthy 80%...   We are not talking about people making a million/year or even those who make $5 or $10 million..
We are talking about the excessively wealthy --  the billionaire class.

For instance George Soros has a net worth of $19.2 Billion dollars...  Take 80% away and the politics manipulator and currency meddler still has $3.84 billion which looks like this:  $3,840,000,000.00

If that slimy, swarthy New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was taxed properly instead of possessing $27 Billion, he would still have $5.4 Billion to hold dominion over others.

The disgusting Ultra-conservative Koch Brothers, who run Georgia-Pacific and took over the Tea Party movement, once a very noble grassroots effort, each possess $34 billion..  So combine that amount ($68B) and tax 80%...  Each still has $6,800,000,000.00 to lobby with...
Warren Buffett has $54 Billion..  Bill Gates, the pretend philanthropist has $67 Billion..  Tax them appropriately and Buffett now has $10.8 billion and Gates has $13.4 billion left..

So we just listed 6 multi-billionaires who live in the US..  There are others but if you add up their cumulative wealth, it comes to $235.2 Billion....

Six Americans combined hold the wealth of more than a quarter of 1 Trillion Dollars..  and people are conditioned i.e Duped to respect and admire these people...

If government taxed them 80%, it would take in $188.16 Billion dollars
Now should government's role be to act like a 'Robin Hood' and just give the $$ away to the poorest?

No.. not at all..

But there are ways to raise people out of poverty without handouts..

For example very-very low interest start up loans for energetic and enterprising entrepreneurs to start bricks & mortar businesses, providing products and services to their community

Let's say 1 million people start their own businesses and each received a 1% interest 20 year loan on $100k...   That equals $100 Billion dollars lent..  There's still $88.16 billion left from what we taxed those 6 ultra-wealthy snooty-snots for other poverty-battling projects..
And let's say realistically, a mere five percent of those new business owners hired 20 employees and twenty-percent of them hired 10 workers, fifty-percent hired 5 workers and the remaining twenty-five percent hired only a mere 3 workers counting themselves...

You're looking at an increase of total employment by at minimum 5 million!

5 million Newly-employed people working and paying taxes and consuming..

Buying computers and cars and making mortgage payments; circulating the money and stimulating the economy.. Not sitting in the bank accounts of six wretched people.
Or let's say government establishes a program where for every skilled job hire a small to medium business creates and Newly employs, that business will be reimbursed by $25k meaning a $35k/yr hire only costs the private business $10k...

If you divide $188 Billion by $25k, you get 7.52 million new jobs the government supplements for 1 year (2.506 million workers for 3 years)

If the reimbursement was $20k instead of $25k, you're looking at private businesses being able to hire 9.4 Million people for 1 year (3.13 Million workers for 3 years)
That's not income redistribution..

Its income re-assessment and income re-investment!!

And there is absolutely NO excuse this can not be occurring now with immediacy an priority

Well.. other than the fact the super wealthy run and control Washington and have done an excellent job conditioning the poor and disenfranchised to celebrate their extravagance rather than feel justified resentment.

As we noted a moment ago.. a mere six individuals possess $235.2 Billion
If  you divided that wealth by every single man, woman and child living in America this moment (310 million people), each person would receive a check for $758.70

Instead of calling Warren Buffett a greedy, money-hungry old bastard, we call him 'Oracle'

And instead of calling Michael Bloomberg the same words, we call him 'Mayor'

And instead of wanting to spit on the Bill Gates's, Mark Zuckerbergs and late Steve Jobs's of this world, we call them heroes, put them on pedestals and have shitty movies made about their greatness..

One day maybe we as a society will wake up, stop idolizing these cretins and collectively figure how to change this blatantly unfair and corrupt system that favors such a select few..

Maybe..

Friday, October 25, 2013

Crossing the Pond to find Honest Reporting

We've always said if you want to really understand what's going on in the US politically and economically, don't read or watch US news

Its not that foreign journalists are any better at what they do for a living or other news agencies have an anti-US bias which makes what it reports 'true'..

In fact most of the Western world's news services are as much in love with America as we are and share the same global corporate sponsors.

No what makes their information more sincere is that they're not bound to honor the charter of the FCC which insists in layperson terms that you do not shine the US in a overly-negative light or report anything seditious
~ "Hi Ho, this is Kermit the Frog reporting that All is Well... Repeat..."

They can rip a President or a political party or brand honest dissenters as 'traitors' but no US media outlet is allowed to show the US itself to be an evil, criminal or immoral nation or it will have its license pulled or not renewed.

This isn't anything exceptional in the grand scheme..

For instance British news outlets can't openly disparage their nation but US media outlets certainly could, if they weren't so enamored with the concept of Royalty and all that poppycock that it is..
Would you ever see a US newspaper or publication publish an Op-Ed called "Please tell me, Mr President, why a US drone assassinated my mother" as the Guardian UK has?

Well.. Perhaps if it was a Republican President, we might..

Obama?  Nope..  Even Fox News wouldn't touch that one..

They may hate Obama but its more a professional dislike and they love war even more.. Besides the current Incompetent in Chief is good for business..
~ "Excuse me.. on a scale of 9-10 with '9' being Terrific and '10' being Sensational, could you rate President Obama's Job Performance?"

Would you ever see an American media outlet write or honestly discuss the following headline also from the Guardian:

'Why the 1% should pay tax at 80%'

Nope..  Not even the super-ultra left MSNBC would..  Hard to provide a fair and balanced point of view when your sister station is the ultra fiscally conservative CNBC and you have on the payroll pieces of Garbage like Jim Cramer..
Besides its hard to tell if MSNBC is sincerely left or just filling a niche.   They tried to be everything else and failed then saw Fox was right wing, CNN working the middle and really all that was left was left...

For the record, we believe people who espouse left-leaning viewpoints are 100% genuine and sincere, and in fact on some occasions are absolutely correct in their beliefs..

We just find MSNBC and all those other media outlets as pure poop

For instance has there ever been an article written in the New York Times or Washington Post criticizing the US being in war in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Think about that a moment
~ "We can't seem to find anyone to interview on the street who is against war or the troops.. Back to you in the studio"

There's been many articles written over the last decade on George Bush, former Defense Secretary under Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, former General David Petraus, etc...   Even some articles ripping the US for embracing a neo-con ideology..

But the USA itself??

That maybe we're a war-mongering nation..  That we kill innocents using unarmed drones controlled by military personal thousands upon thousands of miles away in safe bunkers...
Kermit:  'Oh Stephen Colbert.. Ha Ha! You're so full of it...'
Colbert:  'Yes Kermit but I recently won an Emmy because of it...'

That our ultimate goal is not liberty, democracy or even oil as it is to spread Western consumerism and consumption into parts of the world that mostly have resisted this?

We dare you to find one article..  One op-ed...

More important for these visual and print news agencies to keep a good relationship with the government than to truly poke holes and do real investigating..

Might make for some uncomfortable Press Correspondents' Dinners where all your favorite news personalities get decked up in tuxedos and sparkly gowns in order to share a laugh with the President and the rest of the Executive Branch...
~ Fox News VP Michael Clemente shares a toast (can you believe it.. a Fucking Toast!) with the President at most recent dinner, April 27, 2013

Oh, and did you know the NSA has wiretapped some world leaders..  read about it in, Yepp... A British newspaper...

And guess just how many the United States has intruded upon?

Five nations..    Ten?   Twenty?

Nope..  Thirty-Five
"A US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders … (NSA) have noted 43 previously unknown phone numbers... the new phone numbers had helped the agency discover still more new contact details to add to their monitoring"

Nations like France and Germany were quite unhappy to say the least..  But somehow they all managed the restraint to say publicly what we're sure they uttered privately..

Didn't really read or hear much on this in the US media..

Instead we read nonsense like a twenty-something black woman will be starring in a new version of 'Murder She Wrote', once played by a geriatric white woman, and new DNA sheds light on the Jon Benet Ramsey murder of 1999 (source: CNN)...
~ "Listen Wolf, I've spoken directly with the First Lady and she assures me..."

And of course the bullshit controversy over the Washington Redskins logo...

Guess when an NFL team owner donates 97% to Republican candidates, he should expect a big PC police bullseye on his back

And when another NFL team donates heavily to the Democrats like the Baltimore Ravens, they receive $130,000 to help promote Obamacare (source: Washington Examiner)

Yes.. Redskins is just a terrible misrepresentation
So ultimately as we stated at the beginning, if you want to believe everything is OK in this nation.. that we're 100% always on the side of good and all problems are being taken care of by our leaders, keep watching and reading as you do..

If you want to open your eyes and get a fuller perspective, start looking into news outlets abroad, even among our allies..

And of course continue reading 'Ants and Grasshoppers'

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Society that Never Questions, Never finds Answers...

~ A Washington Orange-Skin... pun pun..

Why is it we as a society do not question much of anything?

Its a topic we've contemplated for some time..  What happened to individual thought and call to action?

There truly is a difference between young adults of say the mid-late 1960s and those young adults of today..  

Put aside obvious distinctions in fashion, lingo and technology, overall young people were more rebellious, more questioning of life and everything around them and more overall individual in non-conformist spirit than today.
And it wasn't just about a generation standing up against an unpopular war or in support of minority and reproductive rights among other causes..  That generation seemed to have a yearning to learn; to expand their minds both chemically and academically..  

To figure out their place in the cosmos...

People today take drugs it seems more to escape than to evolve.

Perhaps its a simplification..  
We know for instance that most supposed 'hippies' were really everyday followers of the styles of the time; who enjoyed the idea of doing recreational drugs, having inconsequential sex and just listening to 'groovy' music then graduating with degrees so they could get jobs and be worker bees like their parents..

But overall we stand by our assertions especially compared to the vapid, docile youth of 2013 who only seem to question why their 4G phone isn't streaming video quick enough

So who is to blame for this dramatic shift in the spirit of the youth within a period of mere 50 years?

We put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the System; more specifically the Department of Education.
By the early to mid 1970s, the silent majority for lack of a better term got sick and tired of young people questioning everything and as they saw it, almost toppling the government with its protests, its sit-in demonstrations and just overall not accepting what was told to them at face value.

So the way you change the mind of a young person is by altering the indoctrination mechanism..  In other words, alter the curriculum...

For instance, starting in the 1970s the focus became more math and science oriented while subjects like history, geography and anthropology were discarded as leisurely hobbies rather than sincere career pursuits.
You can't really question of analyze science or math..  H20 is two parts Hydrogen and one part Oxygen and nothing anyone says will ever change it..

Same with 4 x 4.. its 16.. No other answer...  

Thus you don't have to really think or analyze or question it..  
Just study your tables- multiplication or periodic.. Its all there.

And if you have a hangup on a quiz, have no fear.. The teacher is bound to give hints, test taking tricks, let you use your calculators or open books, or grade on severe curve to ensure most get A's.

In humanities classes like history and literature, it requires analytical and cognitive thinking; the ability to thinking independently and question just was the intent of the framers of the Dec of Independence or Dickens when he wrote 'Tale of Two Cities'...
The less young people question, the better...  

This is also why sports has played such a big role in schools over the last 50 years..  It teaches conformity and uniformity.. everyone looking the same, working hard for the name on the front rather than the name on the back..

Sports teaches repetition.. fear of superiors.. Instills punishment when orders or commands are questioned..  

It also emphasizes the concept of sacrificing oneself for the greater good of the collective or team..
In football, you make that key block that could result in you seriously injured so another can gain 3 more yards rushing.

In baseball you sacrifice yourself via a bunt so you purposely are called out for the benefit of another trying to advance to 2nd base...

Individuality of any kind especially creativity and one's distinctive personality is crushed.
And what is it we instill in our sons and daughters as they prepare to apply to go to college?

A diversified portfolio of interests and accomplishments..  Show that college that John or Jane gets good grades, plays sports, does theater, works with charity and a bunch of other insignificances..

And that's why we fall so far behind vs other nations..

We are content being good at many different things and being exceptional in nothing..
In other cultures, the goal is to be superior.. the absolute Best in the specific 'thing' he/she is focused on and nothing less will do..  1st place means something... being better than your peers and living a better life means more...

In the US, we are all about standardized test-taking so the dumbest child isn't left behind, stunting our young's maturity by playing kids games as long as possible and being taught how to conform to authority while expressing individuality via silly tatts and piercings instead of embracing causes..

It really is amazing there was a time not too long ago historically where 14-15 year olds got married.. had children and ran the household.   Today, most 30 year olds can not handle relationships especially if it affects career advancement...
Just a manipulative intentional dumbing down of our society due a fear by those who run this nation that a free-thinking, free spirited populace wouldn't take the nonsense which makes up our normalcy and institute changes that alter the current power structure.

So one generation after the next graduate high school with little true education, possessing no survival skills outside the apparatus of the system and about to compile tens of thousands in debt in the hopes one can find a job after graduation..

School will teach you about algebra or the various moons of Jupiter but not what to do if/when society ever breaks down... how to hunt... to fish..  to build shelter.. to sew.. to build a fire..
And few young people possess the courage or motivation to question anything outside of themselves or embrace a mindset that as an individual, their Sole responsibility is to themselves to succeed.. not their particular 'group'...

None of it is accidental..  

Because we're really not a thinking society anymore..

We are collectively a nation that takes pride in being more intelligent than 5th graders.. Who are intellectually stunted as adults with sports, comic books and video games..

And we are exactly the society the system wants..

A manageable one.