Monday, April 29, 2013

It just gets harder and harder

The differences in income and wealth in this country are directly caused by educational attainment, or lack thereof. People with advanced degrees earn the most, and college graduates are close behind them. People with only a high school diploma earn far less, and for high school dropouts, getting a job that pays above minimum wage is almost impossible.
Hispanics drop out of high school in much, much higher percentages than whites do. And only a very small percentage of minorities go on to complete college, let alone graduate or professional school.

Many studies have been done proving that educational attainment is by far THE biggest factor in income and wealth disparities. Thus this "study" done by the Urban Institute was quite disingenuous, to say the least.....

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Life is short, world is moving fast

The fairest way to handle this problem is to grant illegal aliens legal status as residents under a reasonable process but not to grant citizenship as a reward for invading the country. Children brought here deserve legal residence status but not citizenship unless they have served five years of more in the military and earned some sort of academic or vocational degree that meets a need we have as a society.
Illegal residents who want citizenship ought to leave the country and apply for legal entry but not under the burdensome rules that now apply. They ought to stay out of the country until they can legally enter and apply for citizenship.
Many people can contribute to our society without becoming voting citizens. We might want to make residency something open to all people from Mexico and some Central American countries as well as some Caribbean nations....

Monday, January 21, 2013

Get line-item veto

I'm more than glad that Mr. Obama was re-elected. I was relieved, at the level of my very survival.

Romney would've destroyed Social Security, which is all I have. I'm profoundly disabled, unable to work. Romney's election would have been my death warrant.

But I didn't vote for Obama just for that reason. He has proven to be the best president we've ever had. This, despite some disappointments. He had the courage, and the statesmanship, to not wither under the unceasing obstructionism of the Republicans. A lesser man would have crumpled before them. Although trying for a long time to negotiate, to bring unity, to our government was an exercise in futility, he HAD to do his best, or would;ve lost our trust.......

Now he knows how pointless it is. As do WE. And now, he will put his foot down on these destructive people. No second-term president has EVER had to put up with the evil he had to face every single day, and try to work with, to get re-elected.

His mettle has been tested. He's now ready to take on his obstructionists, without having to give in much to gain their support for measures he wants passed. He has ripped the veil of respectability from the right, showing the world its pimply backside. He did this by letting THEM show it, through their own statements and actions.

Ban all lobbying. Get line-item veto. Block voting cheats.

This term, he has gained latitude he didn't have before. History will record him as the best president, ever.

Obama, I'm so glad you're here!!!!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

We already knew this

America needs to leave behind a program for humanitarian aid-clean drinking water, sanitary water, food aid, agricultural training,medicine, hospitals, schools. And more of a focus on diplomacy and what would benefit the Afghan people -values and interests- in accord with American values and interests. This could be cheaper and more effective than the militray option.
The Taliban which is all Pashtun even though not all Pashtuns are Taliban will have enrmous influence. A plurality of Afghans are Pashtun along with 15% of Pakistanis.
Walking the ethnic tribal tightrope between the Pahstuns and the Tajiks, Uzbeks, etc will be tough. A slow simmering civil war would be better than all out war. Expulsion of the foreign jihadists and controlling the ethnic warlords and drug dealers will be tough.
The number of Afghans killed, wounded and displaced in this war will continue to haunt us. Avoiding another haven for terrorists is in America's interest.
Determining what went wrong and right and why will take time. But it is necessary. The cost in blood, treasure and time in this war is still unknown.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Can you see the irony in that???

We've been hoodwinked by all our Congress and all our Presidents since FDR. Our Social Security and Medicare taxes were never intended for that purpose, used instead to give us all a false sense of our nation's financial position.
So many people falsely believe we've got a "stash" of money to pay for those benefits in "trust funds" which in reality are bogus chits our Congress never intended to repay. This is most evident in the recent game of the Clinton budget "surplus" which instead got squandered with our crook-in-chief George W. Bush as "free" for his two rounds of tax cuts...
Yes, Rick Perry, this was and still is a scheme.
We've never had a "budget surplus" since our payroll taxes were intended to be saved, not spent on current expenses. Most importantly, our elected officials never intended to repay the funds they "borrowed".
We need a true accounting of our nation's financial position. We all need to know how many other schemes have added to our "unfunded liabilities".
Barack Obama's scheme to use funds from the ending of the Iraq and Afghanistan quagmires is bogus since we've borrowed every cent of those costs and will never have those funds as "free cash".
Why aren't these crooks - if they're still alive - in federal penitentiaries with Bernard Madoff and his ilk?
167 brave men and women: Americans standing up for they perceive to be American principles.
The Republican message of lower taxes and (much) lower Government spending was severely derailed by Mitt Romney in his desire to please anyone who stood in front of him at a campaign stop.
But the message clearly lives on in the hearts of the “New Years Day 167” and they voted against the tax deal that John Boehner both presented and endorsed.
151 of the 167 are Republicans. We may not have agreed with all policies – those concerning womens’ access to contraception really sucked – but we admired their unflinching adherence to core Republican principles.
As does a pack of wolves, these House members turned on their weaker brethren such John Boehner and Paul Ryan. Those still wondering why Romney and Ryan lost the election, while Republicans were returned to Governorships and State legislatures by the boatload, need look no further.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The rich get cheap money to invest in developing nations

Greece lying about the state of its finances to join the Eurozone was a fantasy?
Greece refusing to collect taxes on its wealthiest citizens is a fantasy?
Greece paying its public sector workers inflated wages and pensions is a fantasy?
If Greece is not willing to get its own house in order, why should anyone be willing to loan them any more money?
The rich get cheap money to invest in developing nations where labor and human life is cheap, as well as the chance to bust unions and slash safety net funding. Wall Street is even investing in corporations that are parasites on school funding, at a time when teachers routinely spend their own money on supplies for their kids.
50% youth unemployment is not normal. Whole families moving back in with their parents is not normal. Austerity is the problem, not the solution.
The same thing is happening everywhere. By the governments own estimates, there are already six million children in the United States alone that are either starving, or on the verge of starving. Millions of Americans are homeless, penniless, and are in dire need of supplies and healthcare. Why? Because the wealthiest and most powerful people in America live in a different world than everyone else. Can you imagine how different the world seems to people who are are dependent on no one for anything at anytime for the rest of their lives. There is virtually nothing they can't afford. Everyone else seems alien to them. In their view, the less fortunate are people who made bad choices, and who then want the wealthiest to pay for there mistakes and help them recover. The wealthiest and most powerful people in America view these teeming masses with disdain, disinterest and devoid of compassion. No guilt or deep compassion penetrates the almost magical bubble through which they travel anywhere they want to at any time. Free money and Power. We suffer at their whim. And so we are.....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The biggest unsatisfied need in the western world

The American pathway... The Federal Reserve targets inflation at 2%. So my purchasing power will be down 10% in 5 years. No interest is paid on savings. So I cannot grow my assets via bank savings. The Fed announces QE3 will purchase about $80 billion a month of Mortgages and Treasury debt. Where did that free money come from. It was created ex nihilo. Spoken into existence. Why QE3? Because the new dollars chasing existing assets will increase the face value of stocks, land, stuff the top 30%, like me, own in quantity. And the Fed wants me to feel wealthy. How earnestly does Bernanke want me to feel wealthy? $80 billion a month is equivalent to the total IRS taxes paid each month by all people and corporations. Its effect? To decrease the purchasing power of the $ US dollar, thus increasing the strain on those without assets. It redistributes wealth from those holding dollars and receiving fixed annuities to speculators, aka holders of tangible assets. Think of it as the Fed pumping a money flow as big as all US taxes (ex payroll tax) to the top 50%.
I saved $3,000, for college back in the day. If I had put that in half dollar coins, pre-1965, I would have 3,000 ( actually 2,700, 90%) ounces of silver, now worth more than $86,000. Quite an impact from Fed policy and free money system. Only by having "assets" like land, metals, equities can you out run the financial system..

Friday, August 31, 2012

What we need are some cultural changes

Simple litmus test - the rich are the people who have enough money to persuade the poor (via manipulation of the media or political sponsorships or both) that it is in their best interest to support social, political and economic policies that are diametrically opposed to their own best interests. That is nature's way of telling us that someone has too much money.
All of us are a bit Denyse Jones in at least some way. When we judge others for a large house, expensive shoes, etc., we are suggesting to ourselves that we don't deserve equal judgement for our own actions. The question is how to convert our natural desire to compare into something productive. Is it wrong, Sam, to get a maid? Why? We all earn money and we exchange it for things. Some would rather have a maid, some a more secure retirement, some new shoes. 
Why are you better for not choosing a maid? And we all can earn more money if we work harder. Should the fact that we choose to do so (or not to do so) engender scorn or praise? I don't see why.
No, the only two important facts are:
1) So long as we aren't harming others with our actions, we don't deserve ridicule. Nobody is harmed by my choice to go skiing, so even though it's very expensive, I don't see why anyone should be angry or self-righteous about something that's none of their business. I work an extra job and use free money to ski and eat out. That's my choice. It doesn't make me a good person to work two jobs, nor does it make me bad to ski and enjoy nice food.
2) we should look at others as a way to improve ourselves.

Monday, August 6, 2012

That means there is no money

The whole concept of money V return needs to be re-considered by financial advisers and investors. The returns of the past decade are miserable, even much worse when you deduct the fees.
I believe you'll see individuals take free money V return concept into their own hands. Relying on markets to create a rosy future has been problematic and is out of the advisers and investors control. However, if you focus on what you can control, that is your spending and to some degree your income, you can plan a more reliable outcome for the future. This approach is now very common practice in Japan who haven't seen any market growth for years and no doubt it is beginning to happen elsewhere with personal debt being paid down as a priority and less spending at the shops.
Most advisers don't like this approach as its hard to make money (in the current environment) just on providing good advice, ie they always need to sell an investment to make a dollar.
I am trying to fund myself for a startup idea that four of us friends share. So the goal was to save $50K before we all quit our jobs and took a flying leap of faith - that could last as long as 2 years before it made us a dime. My first reaction was that saving $50K meant no big ticket items. Guess what! I broke everything down and it seemed like what was costing me the most was the small daily indulgences - eating out, coffee, a couple of beers during the week etc. The big ticket items don't even count because the difference between a $15K car and a $20K car seem immaterial over a 3-5 year horizon compared to 2 dine outs every week vs none..

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's just free money

A true investor purchases shares in a fund/stock for the long haul (10, 20, 30 or more years). If you can't commit cash for such a time period, it shouldn't be in the market in the first place. If you can commit cash for such a time period, all this nonsense really becomes meaningless. Just make sure you have 6 to 12 months worth of cash on hand in a money market account. And, make sure you have additional free money on hand for things you know will take place within the next 5 or so years - such as a child going to college, new car, down-payment needed for a home, etc. After that, just pump free money into the stock market and relax and don't listen to all the nonsense in the media. And... this part is important... LIVE FRUGALLY!  Another point for consideration... Do you need money now? The Dow closed at 11,578 at 12/31/2010. The Dow closed at 11,143 on 8/11/2011. That's a 435 point (4%) drop over a 7 1/2 month period. Let me translate that. A hypothetical $100 investment at 1/1/2011 experiencing a similar drop would be worth $96 today. Sure, it would be better to turn $100 to $104 but $100 turning into $96 should not be anything to lose sleep over (UNLESS YOU'VE OVEREXTENDED YOURSELF INTO THE MARKET WITHOUT AN ADEQUATE CASH CUSHION ON HAND). Think of items in terms of the time it takes to earn the money to buy them. Time is a scarcer commodity than money for many of us. A thousand dollars is abstract, for example, but imagining a week at work is not.
It's just free money!

Monday, July 23, 2012

How to achieve growth?

However the sense of entitlement in the statement above is breathtaking. When people lend a country money they are not giving charity, instead they expect it back with interest. It is their free money (the lenders'). Taking your neighbors money is usually called theft.
The fact that Portuguese citizens suffer in doing so is besides the point. Plenty of people suffer paying back their student loans, their mortgages and their credit card accounts. Does Mr Lains believe that such people should withhold repayment when doing so is challenging?
Portugal is not a child under 18. It is a western European and democratic country. It has qualified economists and a civil service who can advise the government. It is true that joining the Euro absent a federal government was foolish. It chose to act thus and should now suffer the consequences of its actions.
And it is rather peculiar that when individuals make similar calamitous mistakes we have little or no sympathy. When a country does (one that should know better) many shed crocodile tears....

We definitely should change this situation

I have an advice for all the people concerned and critical of Europe's austerity-obsessed cures for the current crisis: Let us find something else to care about.
It has been proven to us beyond limit that enough evidence and reasons has been repetitively unearthed right out of this crisis that has proven the Europeans' policy of austerity to be doomed. They simply don't care, and we can't do anything about it. Maybe a full-throat melt-down is the only thing that may awaken them.