Ed Schultz (see video below) had a segment about buying American during the holiday season. I have to say, that sadly that is a lot harder than it would seem to be. Precious little is actually made in the old USA. We’ve become a service industry nation. Sooooo, if you can’t find enough items made in America - the second best alternative is to support small local brick and mortar businesses over the holidays.
November 24, 2011
November 2, 2011
I live in the northeast. Unless you are living in a bunker on the moon - you know where this is going. A “freak” storm headed up the east coast last Saturday. That storm left 3 million without out power.
Ok - it was a crazy storm - but 3 million is about 2.5 million too many. Our infrastructure should not be so problematic in the 21st century. Secondly - as of yesterday it was being reported that over 2 million were still without power. After 3 days they were just 1/3 of the way back to mormal?
Luckily, I have power. I spent the better part of the last four days clearing downed limbs from my property - That’s part of the new normal that can not be avoided. But many people I know are still without power. That should NOT be part of the new normal. Nor should the fact that I reported a massive tree limb from county trees on high tension wires blocking my ability to exit my driveway. I called the authorities and still no action…4 days later???? A high wind could take down those lines taking power away from thousands of people - Let’s not even discuss the danger to me and drivers on the highly trafficed street my driveway sits on. But I guess I’m being trivial.
Having the power grid down for millions of people would have 100% unacceptable 20 years ago….
Back in the dark ages of the late 1970s I experienced my first grid failure. Nothing special was planned, it was a hot summer night and my parents were in the city. I had a friend over and we were working on a jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly…all the lights went out. Totally unprepared, we stumbled around in the dark because - as we found out - flashlights are a hard thing to find in the dark. Once we had a working flashlight, I was able to secure a couple of antique oil lamps from the basement. Fortunately, we had oil. After a bit of digging around, we found matches. Over the next hour we set ourselves up with oil lamps and candles. The whole time it never dawned on us that the whole power grid had gone down.
Why? For the same reason we weren’t at all prepared for the lights to go out. Today a heat wave and lightening storm would be a signal to prepare for a blackout. Back then, our grid actually WORKED. Stuff like that just didn’t happen in the modern rockin’ world of the 70s. I had a battery operated radio - so we finally turned that on and heard that all of NYC was in the dark. We were STUNNED!
In the aftermath, there were investigations - the event was not taken lightly. I was pretty young at the time, certainly there must have been some political grandstanding that I was unaware of. But in the end….Government cooperated with the utilities. They pulled themselves together and went about insuring that this would not happen again!
Let the finger-pointing begin…..
Those were the good old days…..Now the entire process has degenerated into a finger-pointing contest. Our local utility (ConEd) points rightly at local and county governments…Why didn’t they trim county, and city-owned trees that run alongside many of the major power lines? With the highest property taxes in the nation - that’s the least they can do. The county and city points to ConEd stating truthfully that they are woefully understaffed and the grid is antiquated. They also point out that this is the case even though ConEd customers enjoy the second highest gas and electric rates in the nation.
And the blame game continues into the recovery phase. ConEd blames the county for not clearing the downed trees quickly enough for them to work and the county blames ConEd for not getting the grid back on line and nothing changes except that the burden of this mess is passed on to the consumer. I personally have spent $2000 of MY MONEY trimming back county trees that lie near my property over the last two years. I will also have to invest in a generator because losing power for days on end is now an integral part of my life. So what the #$%! am I paying such a premium for in terms of taxes and utility bills?
The New York Times has an article today that sums it up nicely…When each bad storm means more dark days..
A pox on BOTH of your houses - both ConEd and and Westchester County are equally blameworthy, but the bickering and finger-pointing gets us nowhere…
Neither our government or the utilities are functioning…which I admit has become a common theme of mine. But the essential culprit here is the lack of government oversight and REGULATION. Anyone who thinks lack of oversight and regulation have nothing to do with need to think again.
Look what happened to the grid in California when Enron got its grubby hands on it because of deregulation by the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) ? Does anyone remember what a mess that was? Rolling blackouts, soaring prices, shortages contrived by unregulated utilities taking power stations off the grid during peak usage just to jack up prices.
Deregulating public utilities is a mistake of monumental proportions. They are natural monopolies and the consumer is therefore at their mercy. Such industries require rigorous oversight or we will rapidly devolve into a society that relies on oil lamps, candles and fires to keep us warm.
When did we become completely incapable of investing in our own country?
The tea party wanted to get government out of their lives….well careful what you wish, you just might get it. Government out of your lives means an uncontrolled, grid, bad roads, crumbling bridges, poor railroad transportation, an air traffic grid woefully out of date…and eventually - a third world nation.
What about the cost to the “job creators” the tea party keeps howling about? The small businesses they claim to champion can be devastated such frequent interruptions. But the tea party just keeps screaming that higher taxes would bring small business to its knees - so the obvious impact of major power grid interruptions get swept under the rug.
But think on this - why would a business - large or small be interested in setting up shop in areas where the power grid can collapse like a sand castle when the tide rolls in? Further, if you think the businesses that are still here will stay when they find they are doing business by candlelight every time it rains - think again.
October 21, 2011
Sometimes you find a supportive voice where you don’t expect to find one. I have to admit that I have a soft-spot for Jim Cramer….Beyond the fact that he autographed a book for my Dad shortly before his death….he does try to make Wall Street explicable to those of us who have not spent quality time on the floor of the stock exchange. He had words of wisdom about the #occupy Wall Street movement and highlighted the concerns of many about “direction.” Cramer has a unique opportunity to shape that focus the movement…by reaching out to them He certainly had enough to say about justice not being done…
Bravo Mr. Cramer!
October 20, 2011
I have a confession to make. It is official - I just made more money this year trading a single stock than I made either teaching or selling homes or doing any of the other things that I have been trained to “do” or “produce.” Given the fact that I am a card-carrying “progressive” this is a sad state of affairs indeed - particularly since the sum I made trading Apple stock on dips and peaks was hardly impressive. For “playing the game - I do not apologize. In times like this we have to do what works..and like I said - since I didn’t have much money to trade with in the first place - no markets were shaken to the core by my actions.
My financial worries aside - this leads to a bigger issue that has far more serious implications for the American economy and Main Street America.
October 10, 2011
Much of the criticism levied at the #Occupy Wall Street movement has pinpointed the fact that in general the protesters lack “direction.” These people are not fools or bums and those who would dismiss them lightly do so at their peril. They are savvy enough to know something is wrong. Very wrong. They have the right target in their sites. They are disgusted with Wall Street and the “too big to fail” banks that have yet to be held to account for the misery they have inflicted on millions of Americans. They understand that the banks were bailed out. They understand that instead of lending the largesse from the taxpayers - the banks took the money and locked it up. They get that the super-rich, the big banks, and multinational corporations are sitting on the trillions of $$ that are desperately needed to kick start our economy. They understand that until that money circulates - the misery on Main Street will only increase.
But specific demands are harder to get to…
So here are some demands that would give the movement “direction”. They are particularly relevant to an #Occupy Wall Street movement in that it targets Wall Street and the big banks.
September 29, 2011
If I hear one more word about the plight of the “job creators” - I think I’m going to explode. Please let’s get real on this issue. It has degenerated to the point where all you hear is incomprehensible slogans and veiled threats of pulling the plug on yet more jobs if taxes on the rich are allowed to rise by so much as a dime. Since they weren’t creating jobs in the first place - stating that this will prevent them from creating jobs seems a moot point. This is another example of fact-free political pandering. The facts be damned when you are trying to convince the masses that what is bad for them is actually good.
The New York State Millionaires Tax - an onerous burden? Not so much…
September 2, 2011
The republicans have FINALLY found a tax hike they can get behind. Why? It increases taxes on he poor while sparing the super rich - who are carry so much water for the rest of us - from an more undo responsibility.
But in order to justify the tax hikes - there must be a villian - a group of people who can be demonized for not properly pulling their weight. What better target than Main Street America - particularly the working poor?
July 6, 2011
Yesterday I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who is considered to be upper income. She was complaining that the top 5% appear to be footing the bill for everyone else and that much of the middle class are not paying any taxes.
It has long been said that numbers never lie - however - they can be distorted by those who wish to cherry pick their numbers. Of course they are talking about federal income taxes to the exclusion of all else.
June 21, 2011
They say that truth is stranger than fiction. I have been watching HBO’s A Game of Thrones - an epic fantasy along the lines of the Lord of the Rings. But compared to this latest corporate gambit - the specter of humans hatching dragon’s eggs seems almost plausible, even logical. The terrifying thing about this big business ploy and those in Congress that support it -is that the request is not a fantasy nightmare.
The repatriation holiday is a simple enough concept - The US would drop the corporate profits tax from 35% to 5.25% for one year. Since the large corporates are sitting on piles of profits abroad - that would ostensibly STAY abroad should the holiday not be enacted - could be used to create jobs. But COULD is the operative word. No one ever said the word “would”.
David Kocieniewski of The New York Times reported this story along with a cautionary tale about what happened the last time we gave the corporates a repatriation holiday. The video below was presented with the article and offers an excellent explanation as to how corporations offshore to avoid the 35% corporate tax.
April 16, 2011
Obama gave his response to the House’s so-called 2012 budget on Thursday. In that speech he invoked the two R’s - Reagan and revenue! Although I agree that invoking Ronald Reagan and Bush 43 for their reckless and his tax cuts to make a point about revenue loss over time puts the blame where it belongs - I do see it as something of a missed opportunity.
Reagan - Revenue - & GE…
Lest I seem “soft on the republicans” for creating this mes let me digress a moment and refer back to a recent article in the New York Times “G.E.’s Strategies Let it Avoid Taxes Altogether”. In that wonderful example of journalism (and I mean that sincerely) there is a passage about Reagan and corporate tax loopholes…Even in the 80s GE had managed to create some rather aggressive “creative accounting” that allowed it to legally avoid paying large sums in taxes. The loopholes that this type of gamesmanship involved were closed by none other than Ronald Reagan himself - who commented to his Treasury Secretary “I didn’t realize things had gotten that far out of line.”