Saturday, January 30, 2010

Obama's State of the Union (Part 3)

This is a continuation of the project started a couple of days ago to look at some points in Obama's State of the Union Address. I am an unabashed supporter of President Obama. I am not about to apologize of that. Living down here in Texas that makes me a rear individualist. I came to Texas in 1998 to work on a project which the locals did not want to touch. Through a set of circumstances best left for another telling, I have been here through the past decade.

Texas is an interesting state. Not surprisingly there is a population shift towards Texas in this recession. If nothing else, Texas has the most business friendly environment of any of the 50 states. It is easier to start a business here than in California, Illinois, or Wisconsin. It is, however, just as easy to fail here. It may actually be easier to fail here. Texas friendly, does not equal friendly acceptance. New and innovative is not embraced here in Texas. During the Bush years, Texas was described as place were islands of Japan like innovation were surrounded by a sea of third world stagnation (part of that discussion can be found in an article from 2007). I have not seen anything to argue against that assessment. While the up swing in Texas population may be due to Texas' business friendly environment, it may also be due to Texas ex-pats coming back home due to the dismal economic opportunities elsewhere. That is a factor which cannot be ruled out. Having said that, however, for those who are coming to Texas, I would recommend reading Fixin' To Be Texan by Helen Bryant.

Having said that I am picking up where I left off yesterday: page three of the New York Times reprint of Obama's State of the Union Address.

President Obama: We should start where most new jobs do –- in small businesses, companies that begin when -- (applause) -- companies that begin when an entrepreneur -- when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides it's time she became her own boss. Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and they're ready to grow. But when you talk to small business-owners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania, or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they're mostly lending to bigger companies. Financing remains difficult for small business-owners across the country, even those that are making a profit.
He is absolutely right. To create jobs, to create wealth in the community, to create a stable economic environment that can sustain the rip tides of the Globalized economy the small business is the key to growth. It is way past time to make the distinction between the local Mr. Monk's Market and Delly and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, and their Wall Street backers, have proved through their actions not to be concerned about what happens on Main Street. They move in, Main Street dies. There is no competition against the likes of Wal-Mart. There is no competition against Microsoft. There is no competition against at&t. By favoring these behemoths main street losses out. The documentation on this is covered extensively in Wealth, Women and War, and Radicals, Religion and Revelation.

Being critical of the MultiNational Corporations, being suspicious of the intent of a corporation is not being anti-business. Right now doing business with Wall-Mart is almost a necessity, but being aware of what Wall-Mart represents and how it (and the others) have been able to dominate the marketplace is a good place to start understanding what has gone wrong with this economy.
Obama: We can't afford another so-called economic "expansion" like the one from the last decade –- what some call the "lost decade" -– where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion; where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs; where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation.
Thank you, President Obama! With this statement the President of the United States verified what I observer and documented in all three of my works from 2003 to 2008.

Labels are funny things. We all use them, but they are often inaccurate. So in the discussion of who opposes what the labels conservative, progressive, liberal don't really work. As such the wording here is a bit difficult at 6:55 AM on a Saturday morning.

First, to the amateur political hack and obstructionist documentation does not matter. Their fervor is a religious fervor not unlike a religious alliance or team franchise fanaticism. No matter what proof is laid on the table they can excuse their actions or blame someone else. Effectively this direction abdicates any responsibility what so ever for the effect. Often they show all the signs of Neutralization (covered in Wealth, Women and War): the alliance with a "higher" authority.

Second, this abject denial of documented fact covers both sides of the political spectrum.

In this one short statement, President Obama summed up everything I was authenticating for six years. Just because the religious in Texas don't want to see it, and the Republicans in Kansas don't want to admit it, does not mean that it did not happen. Even now, if Georgia's Republican Price, or Wisconsin's Ryan do not want to accept culpability in this economic fiasco, it does not mean that such culpability does not exist. It may not be personal culpability, but it is there.
More to Come.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Obama State of the Union Address (Part 2)

The way I am progressing on this, I might just have it finished by the time President Obama gives the next State of the Union Address. As you can tell, I have not begun any discussions on the "policy." I may do that. Then again, I may not. That is left to the talking heads and experts. Like I said yesterday, these are my notes on the address and on the State of the Union from my down on the bottom end of the economic food chain.

Obama: One in 10 Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. And for those who'd already known poverty, life has become that much harder.


In a related story, released today by AP:

The economy grew for a second straight quarter from October through December, posting a better-than-expected 5.7 percent annual rate, the fastest quarterly pace since 2003.
This makes absolute sense. We hit bottom in 2008. Any growth from that point is going to be a positive. If a vehicle is stalled on the side of the road with a blown rod and it is driving at 10 miles an hour, it has an increase in movement forward. That would be a positive movement. Our fictitious vehicle has increased speed by 10%. Same too with the economy ... except it wasn't exactly dead on the side of the road. Bush did leave us with a little something to work with.

The real indicator of economic growth is the U6 table from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U3 table is the official unemployement rate. It is sitting at 10.0% as of December 2009. The U6 table, the measurement of "Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers" (the real unemployment figure) is sitting at 17.3% as of December 2009. So while the economy was growing, according to the AP report, we are still not generating jobs ... as a matter of fact we are still dumping people on the street.

There is a report from AP this morning which states:

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently analyzed several proposals to create jobs and improve the economy and concluded that a payroll tax credit for companies that increase payroll would be among the most effective.
It is odd that our Corporate Citizens have to be bribed to do what is best for them and the nation. Still, they look to China as the next consumer market and can't seem to wrap their head around the idea that the foundation of the United States needs to be firm before they go diddling in the colonial economy of a second world nation. Discussion with Google should confirm that one.

Obama: Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it's time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength.
The union is strong. It is strong because of our hardships. It is strong because we are, Republican and Democrat, Libertarian and Socialist, all facing the same decline strength and national prowess. It is a funny thing when one thinks about it: the Rabid Right Attack Dogs that are so annoying are essentially some of the strongest supporters of the Obama cause (I can hear them barking now over that one). They are the ones who demand "decency" -- it would be nice if they would define it within the parameters of authenticated historic context rather than propagandist colloquialism, but it is still a cry for decency.

Obama: To recover the rest [of the TARP funds], I've proposed a fee on the biggest banks. Now, I know Wall Street isn't keen on this idea. But if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.

This idea may get lost soon. From where I sit, right now, at this moment, this administration is still bowing to the needs of the few at the expense of the many. What I find so interesting is that people who are bright and intelligent still seem to think that catering to the whim of Wall Street is best of the whole nation. It is difficult, at best, to understand this. They have nothing to gain. They slave to the beat of the master's lash. Yet they bow and grovel to them ... my guess is they represent a fifth column. They believe in the Wall Street class because they are somehow tied to the Wall Street class. Yet, many of these same people lost so much during the last decade. It is strangeness to be pondered.

Obama: And we haven't raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person. Not a single dime.
As it was in the Bush years, it is now; you can't tax incomes that are declining. As incomes go down, so do taxes. That is a no-brainer.

Obama: But I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010, and that's why I'm calling for a new jobs bill tonight.
Refer back to the AP story from this morning that is what he is working on. CHARLES BABINGTON and STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press Writers seem to indicate that Obama will have a rough go of it. According to the story Representative Mike Pence is trying to play hard-ball with President Obama as the President meets with house Republicans today. We will see what comes of it.

A little note here from a Facebook friend:

You should really cut him some slack. The Constitution, free enterprise and personal liberties have been around for over 200 years. You can't destroy those overnight or even in just one year. Give him some time...he's trying and, even more importantly, he *says* he's really trying...to get something done.
No, you cannot destroy the economy of the Unites States in one year. It took Bush eight years to screw it up.

More to Come

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obama’s State of the Union Address (Part 1)

Before I get started I had a conversation with right wing attack dog this morning. The title block of this blog reads that this " ... blog site is the think tank and sand box for many of [my] ideas." For the critics out that statement means this material is raw and unedited. If the attack dogs of the Rabid Right have an issue with this, they can live up to their ideals and "pay" for the work and it will be edited. My editors could use the income, too. Until then, it is what it is.

I enjoyed President Obama's speech last night. Honestly, it is the first State of the Union Speech I have ever listened to in full. While Regan could turn a good phrase, I never cared for what he was saying. I did not like him, I did not like his policies. George H.W. Bush was a decent speaker, but I was far too busy with College and working to spend much time in front of the Boob Tube. That was before the days of the internet and dial-up BBS (Bulletin Board Services) were the best you could get. During the Clinton daze (not a typo) I was too busy actually working. That was, of course, after we came out of the anemic recovery of the 1990 recession. (I will pause here to add that for some people, even in Silicon Valley, that recovery never occurred. If a worker was technically skilled they could command a decent wage, but the majority of our service workers were left in the dust. And even then, most of the jobs generated were temporary positions. But no one stopped to ask if there would be employment when the digital music stopped. There wasn't employment for many. Many just slipped away into other lower paying work. This was lost on the Libertarian John Stossel). Then came "King George the Usurper." He could deliver a speech well enough, but I had no interest in what he had to say. After he invaded Iraq, I became painfully aware that he was woefully misguiding the people of the United States. The view from the ground is so much different than the view from the top. As such, it was a treat to listen to a pleasant, cordial, affirming State of the Union Address even if I don't agree with everything our President had to say.

I am going to pull excerpts from President Obama's speech. Following each I will add my thoughts on the statement. I am writing this mostly for myself so that I can wrap my head around his ideas than I am for public consumption. Still, I don't mind sharing.

President Obama: And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.
These are real nice words. They are also politically correct word. I thrill to them. However, in 1861 the United States of America cleaved. From 1861 to 1865 cousin fought cousin, brother fought brother, and when it was done 600,000 (roughly 1/11th) of the U.S. population were left in mass graves. From 1865 to 1964 Blacks were not accepted as equals in U.S. society. That full acceptance only came November 2008 with Obama's own election to the Presidency of the United States. The constitution, and labor laws, of Southern States still bare scars of that upheaval. The Texas constitution and attitudes are still scarred from Reconstruction. In American Theocracy Kevin Philips, the Nixon Republican Strategist, took great pains to explain that the Confederacy is still alive and well in the Southern Conservative Soul. Some time it takes generations to "prevail," if we do at all.

Obama: They don't understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn't; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems.
For the most part, we politely ask our officials why, but we know damn well what is going on. Those who are of the privileged class are protected by law. I cover this extensively in Wealth Women and War. What I would like to know is why people who work hard, fulfill the metrics, are cast adrift, unemployed, disrespected, and told to go to hell (no polite way of putting that one).

We had an incident here last Friday, January 22, 2010. It is a minor thing in the footnote to the current State of the Union. Volt Temporary Resources (or whatever name they feel like going under) was running a Technical Support Call Center for Apple in Addison, Texas. Technically they still are. On Friday they cast off some 170 employees (not much has changed in the technical field since Clinton; save that jobs are harder and harder to come by). Apple, after congratulating the entire staff for making Apple's iPhone support the leader in customer satisfaction, hired 130 of around 300 (no one on the floor ever got an accurate count of how many were employed). Out of fifteen of the second ranking team on the floor, some with customer satisfaction ratings in excess of the magic 90% number, five were hired by Apple. As of this writing, Volt has not contacted the majority of the laid off employees with other assignments.

To put something in perspective Apple has posted quarterly gains all the way through the recession. For the two days following the release of the iPhone 3GS they sold a million units. The MSRP of the iPhone 3Gs is $499.00 (for those who are not eligible for upgrades or don't want an at&t contract). That translates to Apple making something akin to half a billion dollars in two days. Apple then laid off some 400 (or more) people. I am sure Wall Street was very happy with this move.

The connection between work, success, and loss has vanished. The only people who cannot see how twisted this has become are the Wall Street investors and those steeped in denial for self preservation sake. If people decry this norm then it forces them to have to correct it; and that may require more sacrifice. They are already in a loss sum game. People who are function at loss, or fear of loss (Level Two of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs) will not be inclined to achieve an advanced level of social concern. It just does not happen.

Christian Fundamentalist Plantation Owners Management style, that precludes reading the Gospel without finding a reason to hate others, has again become the norm in the nation (reference Phillips' American Theocracy, my own Conspirators, Confederates and Cronies, or Upton Sinclair's The Jungle -- read it free on-line through Google). This is not employment! This is some third world day labor model codified into a disingenuous accepted norm. Too, I absolutely need to add, this is not something that any level of Government can fix ... it comes from a serious lack of enlightenment on the part of the business leadership.

I think we know why this is going on, we are just awaiting the repair.

More to Come
I don't have a deadline for this one.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Are Unions So Evil?

This discussion began last night as an extension of a post in FaceBook. A link was posted to sign a petition to overturn the recent Supreme Court ruling concerning the Corporations "Free Speech" and limits on spending in support of issues and candidates. The petition is sponsored by some group calling itself Move to Amend. The petition has three main talking points.

  • Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
  • Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.
  • Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.
That's where this began ....

Petitions are good things in regards to allowing people to vent their dissatisfaction. How much impact they have in the decision making process is questionable at best. Camp X-Ray is still in operation in Cuba. We are still engaged in hostilities with insurgent forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The street level economy is still limping along on broken legs while the media touts the gains on Wall Street, and banks still fail. Going as far back at the Reagan era, PATCO was still broken by the Reagan Administration. There was at the time a snow storm of paper dumped on the White House against that action. In the end Reagan fired "11,345 striking air traffic controllers."* Petitions serve as a general mechanism to allow a public catharsis about a given issue. That is about their minimal effect.

The following discussion ensued from the original post. It was ported here as it contains some of my more personal views on the whole issue of debating politics on the internet.

Facebook Friend: Interesting idea. So then...unions lose that same right too, right?

Cliff Potts: Not too concerned with that myself, James, I know of no Union who could out spend the likes Google, Microsoft, Apple or Wall-Mart. If they could then you would be working in a union shop there at Apple. I don't see that happening any time soon. The Unions are all but dead thanks to the lobbying and influence of the Corporations in Washington ... and Austin.

FbF: Well, speaking for me personally...I wouldn't be working in a union [shop] because I can't, at the moment, foresee a circumstance in which I would do that. I'm a huge fan of right-to-work.

As for unions vs corps...I tend to view things conceptually. For the discussion of "artificial right of human-hood" they are equivalent. If one loses it, the other should. The SEIU contributed at least $150 million in the last election.

CP: ... I guess it boils down to, who do you trust ...?

FbF: Well, the sad thing is...we can't really trust our politicians or this wouldn't be an issue. Anyone could contribute whatever amount they wanted to get someone elected and that "someone" would still do the right thing even if it was contrary to the wishes of whoever made the contributions.

Just to be clear...I don't think either organization ... See More should be limited. Both are essentially an entity made up of humans and as such, have the right to lobby for which ever person or party they believe best represents their interests.

CP: In that, you and I are in agreement. I don't mind passing along this petition and pointing out something that is flawed in the perceptions of the nature of the corporations, but equally, I am of the opinion that they should be allowed to "go for broke" and "come out of the closet." Given time they will hang themselves.

This is where the discussion became personal and worth taking out of the Facebook realm to be examined here.

FbF: And maybe the first question I should have asked Cliff is...are you the kind of person that can have an opposing debate and not take it personally? I am but I'm always hesitant because I can get a little passionate about things and I wouldn't ever want to ruin a friendship/relationship because of a difference in opinion.
In the opening paragraphs of Conspirators, Confederates and Cronies I addressed just how caustic political discussion had become.

The Dallas singing sensation, the Dixie Chicks, has also fallen from grace. Group member Natalie Maines publicly criticized President George W. Bush in 2003. The group has since lost audience, lost air play on the radio, and has received very specific death threats.

A woman with a Kerry sticker on her car was fired from her job. Her employer said that if she wanted to support Kerry, she could work for the presidential candidate. Kerry was also called the Anti-Christ by fundamentalists during the 2004 election campaign.**
During the 2007 - 2008 debates on U4Prez (a political debate site) I reported what I was seeing on the street. The debates degenerated from "You don't know what you are talking about, Potts" to "Go to work and die!." Somewhere in the middle was the statement that I should go out and commit an atrocity to gain publicity for the books I have written. Mind you, before the election came to pass in 2008 the economy of the U.S. slid into the worse recession since the Reagan Recession of 1982. Both veterans of the U4Prez debates, I will add, are on Facebook, and they are not on my friends list.

The level of Corporate influence and reprisal has risen to unprecedented levels. Yet, somehow, we are to fear the unions. The unions that were broken with the Reagan action in 1981. At no point since then have the Union exerted undue control over the workplace save for some isolated locations. Moreover, one's political leaning in disagreement with the union leadership does not automatically disqualify one from union membership. Conversely we see that ones political opinions are grounds for termination in the private sector. Again proved by the 1981 decision and observations from the 2004 election cycle. It is not the unions who should be feared. And the issue raised in this argument are superfluous at best. At least for right now ....

As far as the unions are concerned, I will repeat what I said: The unions are all but dead. If they ever regain the power as democratic organizations in existence to oppose the actions of the some of the corporate entities, it will be because there is no alternative to the abuses of those corporate entities.

All corporations are not evil, however. Some strive to do right like Apple (you can stop laughing now), and some are simply myopic with blinders and don't see the long term ramifications of their actions. Microsoft, Google, Wall-Mart all come to mind for the latter. Give them enough time and this short sightedness will become apparent. I think we have already seen that with the bailouts of AIG, Citi Group, Bank of America, and the bankruptcies of Chrysler and General Motors. These guys, by the nature of the market, are not in it for the long term. They are going to grab what they can for themselves ... at the expense of the nation if necessary.


*Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (1968). (2010, January 11). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:00, January 26, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Professional_Air_Traffic_Controllers_Organization_(1968)&oldid=337114113
** Potts, C. A. (2008). Conspirators, Confederates and Cronies . Dallas: WordTechs Press.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Punishment

This was written in 2005* when the GOP, Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal were telling us that Bush's jobless recovery was good for the nation. We listened to them then, and ignored the warning signs on Main Street. The same warning signs that later became Foreclosure Signs, Going Out of Business Signs, and Bank Failure Signs. We all dawned our red shirts and became the expendable extras on the Star Ship U.S. of A.

I am posting this one here for all of the expandable souls who were cut adrift last Friday, January 22, 2010 at 2:22 PM in Addison Texas by a client who turned a half billion in profits in two days from June 17, 2009 to June 19, 2009, and still felt that human beings are expendable. They kept 130 and deleted the rest.

Punishment*


What was his punishment?
What was his sin?
What brought the curse?
Where did it begin?

Did he do a bad job?
Did he steal time?
Did he cheat on the time log?
Did he not toe the line?

He did it all as he was told,
He cared for servers as if gold.
Users who waited at Technology’s gate,
Were deferred to without a wait.

He did his job as was fair,
He treated all with respectful care.
Yet here he is sitting this gate,
Night so long, day so late.

Beans and rice are now his diet,
Wife and children, lips thin and defiant.
What did he do, you might ask?
He worked the corporate Master of the task.

He committed no sin.
He committed no crime.
He earned his wages.
He put in his time.

Who will pay?
Jeffery Skilling? Kenny Lay?
The evils of the era past,
Known to the world at last.

Return him now to his rightful place,
Lest you come soon, and run his race.
Meet him, you will face to face,
When on life’s track you’ll find his pace.

There is no shame in being let go by a Corporate Master. It is only foolish to think that it will not happen again and again if the Social Contract is not repaired. As Einstein said, "insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." There will be no different results if the Social Contract remains broken. To think otherwise is insane.

*Potts, Clifford A. Well Past Midnight. 1th ed. Dallas: WordTechs Press, 2008. CD-ROM.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Disconnect

What in the hell I am doing up at 3:44 AM on a day that I am not working is beyond me. Still, here I am.

I overheard an interesting argument the other day. A couple of my, now, ex-coworkers were talking about health care reform. The pinked faced, optimistic every thing is rosy man child was decrying the proposed health care reform. His argument was pretty canned. It was the usual "Why should my tax dollars go to pay for the health care of lazy, shiftless poor person who won't get off his ass and work?" That is the typical Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck reasoning.

I don't argue politics with children. The world of tomorrow is their world. I embrace that fact. It is what they want it to be. If they want to listen to the Rush Beck pablum so be it. What I found amusing, however, about this young man's argument is that he is (or was) working for the meat movers at the Toymaker's shop and working on a degree in Fire Sciences. His goal in life is to become a professional firefighter and draw from the government well for his sustenance. Am I the only one who sees this disconnect? He decries paying taxes for the benefit of others, yet wants the tax payers to pay for his lifestyle.

Don't get me wrong. As the late Bob Collins, of WGN - Chicago, put it so often, "Firemen have big brass ones." They deserve what they are paid for what they do. However, anyone who engages in support of the Corporate America economy is equally serving the nation and is also entitled to quality benefits. We all build this nation together. The idea that some subset of the population is disposable is utter nonsense -- and I am putting that nicely.

Yesterday, through no fault of his own based on the socioeconomic whim of the Toymaker and its elves, my young conservative friend was also handed his walking papers. I am wondering if he is feeling like he is disposable since he is now unemployed. One can only wonder.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sinless

Jesus was sinless, or so we are taught. This is a concept that is hard to grasp. Presuming that he existed at all, it would make him an extraordinary human being. As such, if we are to retain the lessons taught in Cat├ęchisme, Vactaion Bible School, Sunday School, or Junior Church, we end up concluding that Jesus was God incarnate ( God becoming a human being). That assumption begs many questions. They are questions which have no easy answers. They are also questions without quantitative answers. Any answer given is arguable at best and often based on feeling rather than fact. Too, it has to be added, that the facts that the facts are subjective at best. The only documents which exist concerning the life of Jesus are spotty. Even documenting how old Jesus was when he was executed by the Romans as a political insurgent is more a matter of Greek tradition than documented fact. As an adult, however, one has to grow up and decided if the teaching of childhood are valid. The idea that Jesus was sinless is one of those ideas. Could Jesus have been sinless? Too, can you or I be sinless?

Let us put Jesus in historic context first. Judaism at that point in time was roughly 500 years old. The best independent, anthropological record we have of that religion dates from about 525 B.C.E. (Before Common Era) give or take 25 years. One of the most common understanding of the Jewish teachings dates from approximately 30 B.C.E. It comes from Hillel a Doctor of Law roughly before the time of Jesus.

When a heathen who wished to become a Jew asked him for a summary of the Jewish religion in the most concise terms, Hillel said: "What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow man: this is the whole Law; the rest is mere commentary" (Shab. 31a).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Shot Across the Bow

Evidently the Democrats took one in the gut. That is what we are to believe. That is not exactly how it looks from here. It was a warning shot. While it would be nice to get into the whole tap-dance about the demise of the Democrats reign of power, that is not the case.

The economy is sluggish. People are frustrated. They are also reacting in fear. They are being swayed by the assertion of something new and better from the right. They may remember, all too well, that Bush began an unnecessary war in Iraq, cut the top tax rates, gave peanuts to the rest of the citizens, and bailed out the banks in billions, but they are looking at the hear and now. Here and now looks dismal.

Those who are not working a scrapping by on a pauper's pittance. Those who authored this economy are still raking in big bonuses. The incompetent are being rewarded for incompetence. The banks and barons are still not funneling money into the economy. Investment bankers do not lend money on main street. Wall Street is doing well but main street is not.

Those who have been hired are taking it on chin. A person is considered lucky, if not "blessed," to have any kind of job right now. Employers, in the name of the Recession, are low balling employees (the bulk of the people in the U.S.) in wages and benefits. As pointed out in Wealth, Women and War, when adjusted for inflation the average worker gained one penny on the dollar from 2001 to 2007. Even that penny is gone.

Those who are surviving this recession are wondering if they are next to get the ax. Some of them have finally come to understand that, like a natural disaster, there is little rhyme or reason to what is happening. Being "good enough" has little to do with retaining a job, or finding a new one. The older one is the worse the prospects become. The young'uns are willing to work for less, so it is perceived.

Life is becoming harder. The hardship, however, is not natural, it is imposed by people who still grasp the idea of wealth entitlement without a shred of personal responsibility. Decision makers create the hardship through the decisions they do not have to live with. The rest of us have to live with their decisions.

President Obama ran on a platform of idealistic change. This administration, however, is using the same Wall Street crowd who delivered the nation to this juncture. The victory of Scott Brown in Massachusetts is not as much an endorsement of the G.O.P., but a censure of all that is still distorted in the U.S. today. Nothing has changed.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Google and China

While many have touted Google as some great storehouse of the collective knowledge of the world, my personal take is somewhat different. Unlike the majority, I have actually done business with them. I was never impressed with the R.O.I. (Return on Investment) from Google's adds. They did generate exposure, but for a small company run on a micro-budget that exposure did not translate to positive cash flow.

For the big firms who can afford to pay for exposure that does not generate income, Google's socioeconomic discriminatory bidding practice and other whitewashed policies are acceptable. For the small business owner it is simply another way to sell the sizzle and not the stake. The sizzle in this case is the hype that being listed in Google will generate an R.O.I. that translates to a livable income. Those who love Google never really used their services.

Let me put it this way: My books sell for $6.95. My cut is between $1.00 and $3.00 a book (I think) depending on the source of sale. Those sold through Amazon pay me $1.00 a book. To generate 1000 hits to make a sale Google charges about $50.00. So, I can spend $50.00 to generate between $1.00 and $3.00 in income. Mind you, the work has had some decent reviews. I'm sorry, I am not impressed.

So now Google is threatening to back out of China. Why? And who cares? Google bowed to the will of a Communist Dictatorship the way Chamberlain bowed to the Nazis. They cut the deal.

From what I can piece together it was something akin to "We will work with you on your terms if you do not attempt to hack our services." Low and behold, as the Nazis betrayed Neville, and later Joe Stalin, the Communist Government of China betrayed Sergey Brin. Go figure. The Chinese have hacked Google.

Whenever one gets involved with a business arrangement with a power hungry dictatorship, one is going to be betrayed. It is inevitable. I guess the Chinese have decided they don't need Google's services anymore. If the Chinese are sophisticated enough to hack Google (and Yahoo according to a related story) then they are probably sophisticated enough to write a competing web browser for internal consumption. Nationalism, as I pointed out in Wealth, Women and War, will rise in the end. We are seeing it all over the world even as we still tout the superiority of the Globalized model. The only thing that remains is for Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt to decided if they are Americans, or merchants. It is their decision.