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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Posting #1301 or The Failure Presidency

We didn't realize until this morning that A&G passed the 1300 posting mark yesterday...

One Thousand Three Hundred individual posts on this dreadful sham of an economic 'recovery' in less than three years of our site's operation..

Just doing our best to inform our readers of a real world beyond the corporate media facade that all is well and people are back to normal..

Five years ago, people elected a man they embraced as Hope and Change and instead have gotten five years of utter bullshit..
~ The President loves celebrities.. They're wealthy (donations, anyone?) and sway young voters...  Such a sweet eyes-closed embrace with Ben Affleck

This will anger liberal leaning readers..

We understand this but it is true nonetheless and if one takes off their partisan glasses and really looks at this President as who he is versus who you thought you were getting, you'd be infuriated as well..

We read yesterday in the New York Times that Obama is once again seeking to revive an old proposal to lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 28%  (and 25% for manufacturers).
~ President with Springsteen.. He had enough time to write a song dedicated to Trayvon but was too busy in 1985 to perform Live Aid to feed sick and starving Ethiopians

Interestingly. Obama felt small businesses should be paying more tax because he raised their rates to 39.6% last year..  Yep, gotta crush those individual entrepreneurs and up-starts..

Is that something a liberal would do..  or a cold-calculating, cut-throat fiscal conservative Bastard would do?

Some corporations like GE and Facebook paid Zero in taxes last year... Yes not a penny...
From Huffington Post:  "Facebook paid no net corporate income taxes in the U.S. last year, according to a new report from Citizens for Tax Justice, a left-leaning research and advocacy group.

Instead, Facebook will rake in $429 million in net tax refunds for the year... The company earned $1.1 billion in U.S. corporate profits last year."

That sounds like something George W Bush or Reagan would be very happy about doesn't it?

Could have sworn they were Republicans i.e. the contrarian party to the current Prez..
~ The President talking with George Clooney playing the role of someone who matters

Anyways... let's just say a corporation that generates $1 Billion in profit and Actually paid what they were supposed to had their rate lowered from 35% to 28%...

35% of $1 Billion = $350 million; 28% equals $280 million

Obama would save the greedy soulless corporation $70 million dollars when we are carrying annual deficits because our expenditures i.e. what government is spending is greater than the tax revenue we're bringing in..
~ Oprah with the Prez pretending She is the First Lady

And where would this savings go?  Job creation??

Ha!  Don't bet on it..  It would go with the rest of the unsavory profits generated via Quantitative Easing and a very weakened US dollar:

Either buying up more stocks to enrich shareholders or using the money to expand further into third-world markets where labor is incredibly cheap

Obama still talks a good game; makes people really think he cares about them and wants them to have opportunity.
~ Katy Perry; a classy dress from a classy woman

So where's the job creation programs?

The standard reply is to blame a do-nothing, obstructionist Congress...

Two responses to that weak defense:

1) The President has Executive Orders.. Any time he really wishes to supersede Congressional authority he can.  The only limitation is the Order can not be used to create new law.

2) Obstruct is Exactly what an opposition party is supposed to do!
~ Will Ferrell taking a moment out of his busy schedule of mocking George W.

Think of it this way..

Let us say you are firmly and passionately pro-choice..  So you vote Representatives and Senators who reflect your personal beliefs on this issue...

And they get elected..

Now..  A big piece of abortion legislation is being debated that would weaken the ability for women to have abortions without government interference..
~ Perhaps when Reese Witherspoon's husband was arrested for DUI a couple months ago she should have screamed at the officers that she was personal friends with the President...

What do you want from your elected leaders..  for them to dig in their heels and defend the principles they professed and which made you vote for them?  Or compromise and strike a deal?

We all know the answer..

And yet when its Conservatives in Congress with principle fighting the President its 'obstruction'...
~ Stevie Wonder with Obama; He said he's going to boycott playing in Florida due to the Trayvon verdict..  We didn't know he still toured..

But like we said often before, it really is ironic that Republicans would put up such a fuss when they have a fiscal Conservative in the White House...

How is the President very much like President Bush? Let's see:

*  Obama allowed the extension of the Bush tax cuts not once but twice..
~ Obama is happy to greet Marc Antony but really wished his ex wife J-Lo was there instead..

*  The President pushed for a payroll tax break that saved workers on average $20 while severely weakening the Social Security pot to which that money was supposed to go (and by providing the tax break, business owners did not have to match the funds so they saved much more... as intended)

*   Four years ago Obama re-nominated a fiscal conservative Republican to run the Federal Reserve (Bernanke) and without any proper checks and balances, has spent over $10 Trillion dollars propping up banks and corporations around the world while engaging in endless QE
~ Ryan Gosling wearing his 'Multi-Millionares for Obama' T-shirt

As we stated yesterday, the Federal Reserve spends in one calendar year the equivalent of over two years of Welfare spending by the government...

And the only reason Bastard Ben isn't re-nominated a third time is he doesn't want the job anymore...

* Obama also kept Bush appointee Robert Gates on until the end of 2010 and current Sec of Defense is Republican and former Senator Chuck Hagel.
~ Julia Louis-Dreyfus has her Tee on as well...

The Democrat President trusts Republicans to conduct the nation's military policy..  This includes keeping Guantanamo Bay open and using torture to get information from prisoners..

Personally we're not attacking the President for change of heart in this matter.  Just pointing out what he campaigned on in 2008 vs reality...

* He has neglected the economic plight of black Americans more successfully than any racist white man or woman ever could..  
~ Joseph Gordon-Levitt must have paid more for his; its in lovely red

Unemployment among black adults is near 14% while joblessness among black youth-- those of Trayvon's age up into early 20s (the ones that would have been his son) is at a horrific 40%.   Only 7 years ago, that number was 19.8%

Some 'Dad'...

In three years time Obama's term in office will end...  And he will get his glitzy Presidential Library via donations from all the corporations he's help enriched with plenty of shelve space to hold the commemorative plates, cups, saucers, spoons  and 14k gold-plated coins..
~ Ryan Phillipe wearing his "Out of work has-been actors for Obama' Tee

And will this nation be any better economically in 2016 than it is now?   And more importantly, will the success of Obama's two elections make Democrats afraid to nominate someone with Genuine liberal values and ideologies...

Or will they pick another fiscally conservative shill to counter the ultra-zealous, deeply out of touch Republican that's bound to be the '16 nominee?
~ "A toast.... To Me..."

All we know is this...

Reagan's financial policies were economically destructive and hurt millions upon millions of working people when the smiling, jellybean munching 'Gipper' was in charge back in the 1980s.

Its no less destructive with the smooth talking slickety-slick man currently in charge..

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Outside the Box Ideas to Improve Economy & Fight Poverty

When it comes to how to create jobs, reduce poverty and overall make everyday people's lives better economically, politicians always fall back to stale, tired concepts..

"We need to lower taxes on individuals and businesses...

"We need to make sure people have a good education..

"We need to give people hope..
Nope..  All 3 have been tried separately and in some combination of one another... success has been limited and intentionally incremental...

Still have millions out of work.. still have people unable to make ends meet or eating down their live savings rapidly to the point they'll one day get there...

Nothing's really fixed..

So here's two outside-the-box ideas for how to create jobs, get people working and/or dramatically reduce poverty in this country..
1)  Government subsidize the minimum wage

Last year, the US Government spent close to $600 Billion on welfare... (This equals seven months of QE spending by the Fed which is artificially growing the stock market for sole benefit of the economic 1%...)

And while this money spent on welfare allows people to barely make ends meet and afford to put a little food on the table, often welfare discourages people from working simply because a person really can't survive on welfare or a Wal-Mart type 'career'...

So if one can't make it and have any chance of a future living in a decent present either way, then at least the welfare check gives freedom of the individual to control their time vs the minimum wage earner whose spirit is controlled eight hours a day by bosses..
That's why merging the two is the solution..

The US Government subsidizes milk-- $447 million last year alone to dairy farmers to keep them in business and prevent milk from spiking to $7-8/gal.  (That equals a little over three days of QE spending)..

Why can't it subsidize people?

Here's the idea...  For all wage earners over 25 years old who make between minimum wage ($7.25/hr) and $12/hr, the government is to subsidize that wage by an additional $3/hr...
This means you raised the minimum wage essentially to $10.25/hr without putting any burden upon the businessperson who would under normal circumstances, have to drastically raise prices or go out of business..

It means now the lowest wage earners would see an additional $6,240 in their pockets to pay bills or have a little something to save away for a rainy day..

And most of it the government would get back anyways in the form of taxation but this would allow the lowest paid workers to keep about 100% of their actual paycheck.

$3/hr increase over the span of a month comes to $480
2)  Set up a 'maximum' work week

Nearly 7.6 million Americans work two jobs..

And while we all tend to look at this as admirable-- hard working people doing everything they can to survive and build a future-- it also has a negative impact on employment

Every second job someone has, is a position that is not needed to be filled by another; someone who may have no employment.
So one solution albeit a little controversial is to set up a 'maximum' work week of 55 hours a person can work altogether no matter how many jobs he/she has.

So if you work a 40 hour work week, your second job can be no more than 15 hours weekly...   If you have a part time job that requires 30 hours, you can work up to 25 hours more in the other job, etc...

This forces employers to essentially 'create' jobs for a portion of the workforce they do not wish to give opportunity to.. those without a current job.
And if you don't give opportunity to those who need it most, then how can one ever get hired and thus be 'attractive' to other employers?

For some reason, companies are more likely to hire someone if working for another while applying for a position..

Its this principle of popularity-- the more liked you are, the more wanted you are by others... Ex: the girl who has many boyfriends she casually dates is more appealing to a guy then the girl sitting all alone every weekend..
Setting up a maximum work week of 55 hours would probably force at least 2 million people to give up their second job or seek reduced hours... But this would create about 2 million new openings and then we're talking about unemployment consistently under 6%

There's other outside the box ideas which could be implemented to change the economic fortunes of the US so all benefit but we don't want to burden the reader with endless reading.

Besides, we'll save those ideas until we're anointed.. um..  elected.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Pretend Job Creation & How Employers Really Think

We start today's posting with a joke or sorts:

A very ill guy goes to see his doctor..

He says, "Doc, I know I'm not doing too well but whatever you do, please don't tell me I am dying because I am only in the mood to hear positive things and through positivity, I Know I can conquer all obstacles.."

The Doc says, "I understand.. Well you do seem to have a great spirit, always seem to have a funny joke to share when you visit and by all accounts you appear to be a really super person that people want to know.."

"Thanks" says the guy.. "That means a lot from you..."

"Don't mention it" replied the Doctor.. "But based on your test results, I Really will need to Insist on payment Today!"
Not really a 'Ha-Ha' joke but not really meant to be..

A lot of truth is found in humor.. even gallows' humor..

 And the previous little yuk-yuk demonstrates better than ten paragraphs of us venting, what the mindset of many Americans are when it comes to this economy and why they let their leaders get away with endless promises and lies with no follow-through..

For instance, for the past week or so the President has been touring the nation talking up the economy and acknowledging it wasn't strong...
Obama even admitted in one speech the stock market was artificially inflated and its success did not accurately represent the overall 'Main Street' economy (Where was this honesty in July 2012?  Oh yes-- re-election campaign.. gotcha)

How many new economic proposals have been offered by the President in the last week or so?


How many bills currently being debated on Capitol Hill to create jobs?

Too busy dealing with hot-potato social issues that don't put money in anyone's pocket or food in any child's belly..

A recent survey conducted by AP showed, "Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream."

80%... is that all?
"Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend."

Well, that's Some of the reasons...

See there's this eternal academic debate about who really creates jobs...

The private sector like to trump their horn and say they are the true job creators... the corporations hire people en masse and the the reason for an improvement in the economy..
Really the best paying jobs come from government but shhh.. don't tell a fiscal ultra-conservative that... He/she will label it wasteful spending or bloated government on the poor taxpayer's dime..

Of course the only entity who has the Power to force the business world to raise their salaries is the Federal Government by installing massive hiring programs at living wages that severely draw away all the temps and part-timers from private companies...

But for some reason, our liberal Democrat President decided he admired Reagan more than FDR and so we are actually guided by fiscally Conservative policy decisions even though most are clueless to this..
So how does this whole job-creation thing really work..

Let's take a look at Amazon.  Right before a visit today by the President to one of its distribution centers, Amazon is going to officially announce is will be creating 7,000 new jobs..

Woo Hoo!

These will mostly be people who assist the machines in sorting out packages to be mailed out to customers so the company can save on delivery fees...

Average wages:  $8.50 to $11/hr ($17,650 to $22,880 annually)

And here's how interesting or insidious it gets depending on your point of view..

Let's take 'Kathy'.. she's 30-something, unemployed.. gets $750/month.

The government says "We're tired of supporting you.. get a job!"  So she gets hired to work at Amazon's distribution center.. her pay is to be $9/hr which comes to $1,440/month based on full time work..

Except Amazon really doesn't hire full time workers.. Like most places it wishes to avoid having to give its workers benefits and pay higher premiums so for Kathy and others, its really 35 hours a week which equals $1,260

Now Kathy would have to pay federal and state taxes whether or not she worked since unemployment is deemed (inaccurately in our opinion) as income but let's take the math a step further...

$1,260 (income) - $750 (unemployment) = $510 difference monthly

$510 x 15% federal tax = $76.50
This is how much Kathy has to pay more in taxes monthly for the "privilege" of working 140 hours a week in a windowless factory vs receiving unemployment compensation.

And because Amazon gets one tax break after another by state politicians to open the distribution center in their state, in reality not only is Kathy paying for the 'honor' of working but she's subsidizing Amazon by contributing to the tax bill that by rights they should have to pay themselves...

And those states that now have Amazon distribution centers... like PA, TX and CA... their citizens get severely Fucked because whereas before they didn't have to pay a single penny sales tax to buy millions of items....
Now they have to pay sales tax on everything purchased as part of the agreement made when Amazon places its centers in those states..

And Amazon are such bastards on the issue, the did a complete 180 degree reversal from passionately fighting Congress to prevent a national sales tax bill from passing, to becoming on of its biggest supporters...

They figure, 'If we now have to pay, then to hell with our competition.. make them pay too!'

Gotta love corporations with principle...
So to clarify, an Amazon distribution center built means Amazon pays no property taxes paid for years, the new employees make up the tax slack via their wages and the populaces of those states now have to pay 6-9% in taxes which they didn't have to before for items bought...

Lose-Lose all the way around...  well except for Amazon and the politicians who lured companies like this to their state and can say at election time they were job-creators...

Its really hard for anything to ever get better for real when the mindset of most people is of acceptance..
We were once told by a dear old friend and mentor that the business world loves recessions...  It is the the economic version of a 'reset' button...

You i.e. corporations get to fire large numbers of people at a time...  Sometimes ridding yourself of certain people of races or denominations you'd normally have great difficulty ridding yourself of...

And then after everyone lays off 10-20% of their work force (downsizing) then you start rehiring them at 10-25% less wages (restructuring) and the difference saved in salary/benefit expenditure along with any government or Fed assistance allows most companies to turn back to quick profit...

Profit to re-invest in themselves via buying their own market shares and pumping up their company value to appease and fool shareholders...
But we the people accept all this muck and scum as standard business practices... besides, as people love to say, 'What can we do?'

All we know is until people get as angry, vocal and demonstrative over the US economy as they are in some circles over a local court case involving a gangsta' thug beating up a dark-complexion Hispanic until shot in self defense..

Well there's really little hope in things ever getting better for most...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Celebrity Bankruptcies Pt II

Seems like this week the theme has been bankruptcy..

Monday we discussed Detroit filing for Chapter 9 which is reserved for cities, municipalities, etc..  A judge originally blocked it because being filed in Federal rather than state court, it meant pensions could be modified...

But like all things in this corrupt system, the bankruptcy was allowed to go through Federal channels so before its all over expect Detroit pensioners to receive less than before... 5%?  10%?  20% less?  Who knows..

Just expect this to be the test case for other major cities..
Tuesday we provided the terminology and basic process when filing for personal bankruptcy..  Of course there's other ways to beat the system and not file yet discharge debts but that's for another posting...

For those in serious debt who just want to move on with their lives, we provided the primer...

Wednesday was part I of our 'Celebrity Bankruptcies' so people could understand not to feel ashamed or embarrassed filing because it can happen to us all..

Thursday.. Well.. its summer..

So here we are Friday with Part Deux...
M.C. Hammer

Whether or not you've heard of the famous rapper is really more a generational thing...

Back in the early 1990's, there was no one bigger or more successful in that music genre.  He even made parachute pants look cool.. ehh.. sorta...

Mostly based on his song "U Can't Touch This" which heavily sampled Rick James' "Superfreak",  Hammer (Stanley Kirk Burrell) ultimately sold more than 50 million records globally in his career.
During Hammer's peak, he was worth $33 million..

A mere five years after that song was released (1996), Hammer filed for Chapter 11, telling a California bankruptcy court he was $13.7 million in debt and had assets of only $9.6 million.

So what happened?
Well to put it bluntly, the man had a spending addiction..

He spent at estimated $12 to $20 million building a custom mansion on a 20-acre estate.

Hammer also had a Huge entourage of 60 onstage performers and 100 backstage members which cost him millions of dollars..  Guess he needed one person to hand him a soda, another to offer a glass and a third to do the pouring...
Among the debts was a $110,000 sum owed to an interior decorator whose business failed because of Hammer’s nonpayment.

Ultimately after his meteoric rise and fall, Hammer became a Minister... An extremely well dressed one...
Walt Disney

Disney was fortunate because his bankruptcy experience came at the ripe young age of 21 before he became rich...

He had founded a company called Laugh-O-Gram in the early 1920s and based it in Kansas City, MO as an early attempt at an animation studio, which set out to make a film version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

The production was plagued by difficulties and the expense of hiring and relocating animators to the midwest..  Ultimately, a near-indigent Disney declared bankruptcy...
Of course we all know what ultimately happened afterwards with the success of Disney as a corporation today with total revenues of more than $38 billion last year....

But most people don't know the company almost went bankrupt in the late 1950s due to the making of 'Sleeping Beauty'.

The film took almost a decade to make due to the intricate and elaborate background drawings all done by hand.  It is truly Disney's most visually stunning and breathtaking film in terms of the amount of artistic detail displayed in every frame
The film cost $6 million- the equivalent of $48 million today, and lost money on its initial theatrical release because audiences seemed to find the story too derivative of Snow White and Cinderella.

The high production costs along with the underperformance of much of the rest of Disney's 1959–1960 release slate resulted in the company posting its first annual loss in a decade for fiscal year 1960..

Massive layoffs were done throughout Disney's animation department to avoid a potential bankruptcy...

Ultimately "Sleeping Beauty" made up its losses and turned a profit but Disney swore he'd never spend so much time and money to make a film again.
Stan Lee

Stan Lee (born Stan Lieber) is a comic book writer, editor, publisher, media producer, voice actor and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics

Despite the massive success of comic book heroes like Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and The X-Men, Stan Lee had to declare bankruptcy in 2001 when his start-up, 'Stan Lee Media', a web-based comic book venture quickly burned through its capital like so many other firms inflated by the tech bubble.
Adding insult to injury was that Lee’s partner, Peter Paul, was accused of securities fraud and stock manipulation and had to be extradited back to the US from Brazil where he hid to avoid prosecution..

Lee was never implemented in the scheme.

By 2006, Lee had been with Marvel Comics an amazing 65 years and due to the immense popularity of his comic book creations on the big screen over the last decade, Lee has little to no financial worries any longer..
Nicolas Cage

Did you ever wonder why for the past few years, it seemed Cage was in every movie and all of them pretty terrible?

Well the reason was he was living paycheck to paycheck to pay off $6 million in IRS debts

He also spent money like a crazed banshee-- two castles, 15 palatial homes, a flotilla of yachts and a squadron of Rolls Royces...
~ Cage's former mansion in Bel Air

According to deposition of Cage's former business manager, n 2007 alone, "Cage's shopping spree entailed the purchase of three additional residences at a total cost of more than $33 million; the purchase of 22 automobiles (including 9 Rolls Royces); 12 purchases of expensive jewelry; and 47 purchases of artwork and exotic items"

Prior to Cage's bankruptcy filing in 2009, based on his lavish lifestyle, he needed $30 million yearly just to keep afloat!
~ Another of Cage's former mansions

Cage's financial collapse came in 2008 when real estate values plunged and most of his residences turned "upside down, just as the global credit crunch made it impossible to cover his endless cash calls by borrowing more money

And that is the reason you saw former Oscar winner for 'Leaving Las Vegas' appear in crap like 'Bangkok Dangerous', 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice', 'Season of the Witch' and a sequel of sorts to 'Bad Lieutenant'
Well..  We don't think we can find another celeb to top that one..

Happy Weekend..  Be back on Monday...