He vowed to help the working class. He’s helping wealthy financial elites instead.

Can a person who is an NPD Narcissist really understand what the average person is going through in these trying times. Can he have empathy or is it fake empathy just to gain more admiration and praise he desperately needs? Can a person who has never ran anything other than a family owned kingdom actually know what to do in a massive public sector job? Those are the questions of today. One of those critical factors is consumer protection vs. corporate free will.

On Friday, the Trump administration rolled out new executive actions, this time calling for a review of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law signed by President Obama. The Labor Department will also have to consider whether a new fiduciary rule Obama put in motion, to be enacted this April, should be rethought or scrapped.

But after the financial industry nearly destroyed the economy in 2008, who on Earth would view deregulating the financial industry as a good idea?

The answer is obvious: the financial industry, of course. The more they’re deregulated, the more they profit — the rest of us be damned.

Republicans don’t like “big government” solutions. No Keynesian stimulus to help the economy, and less welfare aid and direct job creation to help the poor. Nor do they want to make Social Security more generous to help retirees.

They want the private financial industry to solve all these problems instead.

Source: Trump vowed to help the working class. He’s helping wealthy financial elites instead.

Since it has been more than eight years I suspect that there are some children around who don’t remember the near meltdown of our economic system due to deregulating of the finance sector. Our entire auto industry which is the backbone of what remains of the manufacturing sector was headed for bankruptcy. I think most of us remember those times and the causes for them.

Safeguard laws under the name of Dodd-Frank were instituted by congress to prevent future catastrophes. Now that the is a billionaire in the Oval Office he wants to get rid of those stifling rules that prevents those like him from getting richer faster.  If he really was looking after the “little guy” he would be trying like another GOP rebel Teddy Roosevelt finding any loopholes in the existing laws that should be closed. Instead he is doing everything possible to scrap any safeguards now in place.

I am praying that the Republican congress does not allow him to put us back in immenient harms way by undoing their prevention measures. I am hoping and even praying that at least “they” have a sense of public good in their hearts.  I doubt this type of resistance will come from Mr. Ryan but maybe those in the ranks will come forward. It can’t be all about the filthy rich getting richer.. It just can’t….

1,000 mpbs for the Cities, BUT….

internet-speedI want to start out this post with a personal snapshot of my Internet access.  Below is a picture of my connection over the last few months. As you can see for much of July through September I had a 3 Mpbs speed but then in November it suddenly dropped to below 2 and became very sporadic. Meanwhile those in cities around me were getting 50 Mpbs or more with the promise to move to 1,000 Mpbs in the near future. What that means is  I will have to have to live with less than 1% of what my city neighbors get in Internet broadband and my neighbors to the north of me will have to settle for only 5% of what I have.

It is broadly recognized that Internet access in the 21st century is absolutely essential to the world. Information is power and that information is broadcast across Internet channels. To provide Internet access to only a portion of a countries citizens is the same as providing only some with real opportunities in life.

There are still many homes in the U.S. – especially in rural areas – that have slow or no internet connectivity. In 2016, we began trialing Fixed Wireless Internet (FWI) service in several states. We plan to begin offering FWI in mid-2017 in areas where we accepted FCC Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) support. We expect to reach more than 400,000 locations by the end of 2017 across the 18 states where we accepted CAF II funds, most of which will get internet access for the first time. By the end of 2020, we plan to reach 1.1 million locations in those 18 states.

Source: AT&T Details 5G Evolution | AT&T

What the above quote means for me personally and for almost all of us rural folks is that If Indiana is not part of those 18 states then I am almost perpetually stuck with my sporadic slow speed connection.

To help you understand a little about what CAF means in the above quote I give you another quote about that and rural access to the Internet.

In some states, those large providers rejected that offer – so that territory is now available to smaller providers. Clearly, it is still significantly more difficult to deploy broadband in rural areas. In fact, the latest data show that only 55 percent of people living in rural areas have access to the speeds that currently qualify as broadband, while 94 percent of the urban population does…

Companies currently receiving Connect America Funds are required to provide at least 10 mbps down and 1 up. However, in 2015, the FCC again upgraded the minimum broadband service to 25 mbps down and 3 mbps up. The fact that the CAF program will fund projects that do not meet the current official definition of broadband has been a point of criticism.

Source: Technology Is Improving, So Why Is Rural Broadband Access Still a Problem? | National News | US News

As cited above today’s corporations are not in the business of  equal opportunity access to their products. They go for the “low hanging fruit” and leave the upper branches to rot so to speak. Maximum profits is the total name of the game.

In the past our government took up the slack and gives them subsidies to provide services to a larger portion of the population.  I simply don’t see any of that happening in this country for at least the next four years so I guess I will have to wait for a more socially responsible government before I, and literally millions more like me, can really take advantage of  many of the Internet provided opportunities.

I wonder how much this lack of service was responsible for our recent presidential election results?  But even more I wonder if CO3 will being trying to do anything to equalize this disparity?

The Death Watch For Another Brick and Mortar Establishment…

About this time last century quickly finding the horse and buggy business evaporating.  They had been left behind when the automobile was invented a couple of decades before.  At about the same time a startup called Sears Roebuck and Company was taking business away from many local mom and pop stores. Is Sears and their similar competitors facing extinction here in the beginnings of the 21st century?

Quick: Name a reason to shop at Sears.If you’re struggling to identify one, you’re not alone; even the company’s web team can’t figure it out. On Thursday, the company’s virtual storefront featured home appliances, a pool table, exercise equipment, watches, men’s jeans and a snow blower. A photo advertising a women’s knit sweater was positioned next to a WeedWacker…

Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart, reported on Thursday a loss of $748 million for the three months ending on Oct. 29. This is the company’s 20th consecutive quarterly loss, and worse than the $454 million loss the company posted in the same period last year….

This leaves Sears President and CEO Edward Lampert, the billionaire hedge funder and Ayn Rand devotee, with gaping holes in his leadership team as he continues his Sisyphean task of rescuing Sears from irrelevance. While predictions of the Sears collapse have been heard for years, the numbers are starting to show that the company is running out of options.

Source: Sears death watch update: Is it time to prepare an obit for our least-essential department store? – Salon.com

Read more

Our Religion Of Economism Is Bankrupt

I have to admit that I am not a “true” believer in the capitalist system belief that we must always consume more and more as the years pass.  My ingrained simplicity seems to be very counter to that idea.

2016-09-20_18-34-21.pngIn both religion and economics, absurd belief too often leads to atrocious action.While the consequences of misguided belief are well-documented in the study of religion, we rarely use comparable standards to critique the religious-like faith bestowed upon our current economic system. We believe that economic “growth” is the single most important key to unlocking the sacred doors of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However, the facts of the matter and narratives of the masses reveal a far different picture. As our globalized fiscal cycle is now calibrated to impose repeated tragic failures, and because it seems to legitimize inequality and destruction of the Earth as virtuous and inevitable, the time is long overdue to expose the false beliefs and oppressive impact surrounding our contemporary economic edifice.

Source: Our Religion Of Economism Is Bankrupt

It is interesting to see the commonality between our current religious systems and our economic system. I have been convinced for some time now that religions as they exist today are out of tune with the times.  Most seem to be stuck in a 19th century mode of flat-earth and Victorian morality. There are just too many people, particularly in the religious realm,  who have failed to accept our national diversity and the corresponding social changes that have occurred.

Our economic system of more and more seems to be in that same mode. It is not good enough for a corporation to provide a healthy dividend year over year to it stockholders, they must now grow to a bigger and bigger bureaucracy. This never big enough mentality is primarily responsible for much of the outsourcing that has been going on. You must maximize profits in EVERY way possible or you will go down in the dustbowl of history.

Maybe it is time to say “enough is enough”. Maybe it is time to bring back the three-legged-stool where the customers, the workers,and the stockholders have equal weighting in corporate decisions.  Maybe it is time to realize that growth for its own sake is killing our capitalistic system.  But how do you accomplish that and who will actually be the first CEO to institute it?  That is the major question of our times.

The Next Step

Amazon is growing in leaps and bounds so it just makes sense that they start their own air delivery system both big and small. In order to control costs end-to-end processes are required and that is just what Amazon is doing.

2016-08-05_07-36-34SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle-based Amazon is unveiling its first branded cargo plane, one of 40 jetliners that will make up the e-commerce giant’s own air transportation network as it takes more control of its delivery process.

Source: Amazon unveils cargo plane as it expands delivery network – Business Insider

I have been a pretty constant Amazon customer for the past 15 years or so.  I wish I could say that I have also been a stockholder for that period but this seems to be another example of lost opportunities for me.  🙂  I simply like the convenience of getting what I need without gassing up the car and driving the 45 miles round trip to most stores. The variety of goods that Amazon now carries is astounding and seems to grow daily.

I am convinced that Amazon is the next paradigm shift in how we get much of what we need. Maybe clothes, a high touch item, and food are not totally compliant with remote sales but Amazon is even testing those areas.  It seems inevitable that they will be the Walmart of the 21st century in that they will dominate the consumer retail sales.  For them to become number one means Walmart will have to shrink and that will mean lost jobs at many rural locations where jobs are needed the most. But since Walmart is pretty much a minimum wage employer not as much is lost as is gained in  areas where Amazon builds regional fulfillment centers. I just checked the Amazon regional center near me and it appears that they pay about $12 to $14/hour compared to Walmart’s $7 – $11/hour.  I know that Amazon has a reputation of expecting their employees to perform at fully involved levels that are not comfortable for some. I also know that their centers are highly automated.

Amazon is one of those forward thinking companies that is just not satisfied with the status quo. They are even investigating drone delivery to locations close to their centers. Is all this a good thing?  I guess it depends on your point of view doesn’t it?

Innovation…

The main crux of this post is about whether a company can remain innovative as it ages. I want to use Sears and Amazon as study points. Being a U.S. history buff I can’t help but draw a parallel between Sears in the early 20th century and Amazon a hundred years later.  Here with the help of Wiki here is a little history of Sears:

2016-07-17_15-51-55.png Farmers did business in small rural towns. Before the Sears catalog, farmers typically bought supplies (often at high prices and on credit) from local general stores with narrow selections of goods.   Prices were negotiated, and depended on the storekeeper’s estimate of a customer’s creditworthiness. Sears took advantage of this by publishing catalogs offering customers a wider selection of products at clearly stated prices. The business grew quickly. The first Sears catalog was published in 1888.   By 1895, the company was producing a 532-page catalog. Sales were greater than $400,000 in 1893 and more than $750,000 two years later. …

In 1993, Sears terminated its famous general merchandise catalog because of sinking sales and profits…

Source: Sears – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The parallels between Amazon and Sears startups are quite striking.  Jeff Bezos started the company in 1995 with the idea to sell books on-line. It quickly grew in both sales and product offerings so that today it is by far the number one retailer on-line.

2016-07-17_15-53-10.pngAccording to recent industry figures, Amazon is the leading e-retailer in the United States with more than 107 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 net sales. The majority of the company’s revenues are generated through the sale of electronics and other products, followed by media and other activities. As of the fourth quarter of 2015, the e-retailer reported more than 304 million active customer accounts worldwide. Due to Amazon’s global scope and reach, it is also considered one of the most valuable brands worldwide.

Source: Amazon – Statistics & Facts | Statista

One of the striking things about Amazon beside their explosive product line is the speed at which they deliver their products. For $79/year you can get unlimited 2 day delivery at no cost.  I must admit I am a major customer who places orders probably 30+ times a year for the last several years.

Because it wasn’t available on-line I recently ordered a drawer unit for my micro-RV remodel from Sears.  I was told that it would take 2 – 3 weeks for delivery. In Amazon time which is now the norm for me that is an outrageously long. Somewhere along the line Sears just lost their innovative edge. The Sears store in Bloomington just closed down so now I have to travel about 50 miles to pick up my cabinet.  It is either that or pay $70 to have it delivered!

I find it ironic that just as Sears was terminating their catalog sales a young Jeff Bezos was planning on starting one on-line.  For 2015 Sears revenue decreased by $6.1 billion to $25 billion while Amazon revenues were $107 billion.   I wonder what would have happened in 1993 if Sears had decided to aggressively take their catalog on-line instead of abandoning it?  I am personally convinced that on-line sales is the wave of the future.  Why do I need to get in the car, drive to a store, and lug my purchases home when all I have to do instead is just click a few buttons and in two days it appears on my doorstep.

When Robots Make Cars….

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I know that robots have taken over many of the repetitive tasks from us humans. Many see that as stripping jobs away from those who don’t care to otherwise be ready for today’s workforce.  The mind-numbing jobs are being taken over my mindless robots and that is as it should be. Let’s take auto manufacturing as an example:

  • Robots don’t make mistakes... They do the same thing over and over again because that is all they are programmed to do.
  • Robots don’t know Monday from Friday…. They don’t take their eye off the task at hand because they are still remembering the weekend or are anticipating the coming one.
  • Robots can do the same thing over and over with the same accuracy…. Not only do they not make mistakes but they do what they are programmed to do with extreme accuracy. They simply don’t have other distractions on their minds.

Let’s face it, compared to today’s cars, the cars of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s were junk. The fit and finish were terrible and the lemons made because of absent minded defects were very troublesome to those who were unfortunate enough to get them. Humans just never did a good job of making cars.

So where does that leave us humans? For those unprepared for anything else but mindless  assembly line work it leaves them with flipping hamburgers or other low skilled work  that were once meant as entry type jobs. But for those willing to put in the effort to equip themselves with the necessary skills it leaves them with opportunity. Many young people today are taking that opportunity but many are not. Some think they are not smart enough to learn, some just can’t afford it. The later needs our help but then again so does the former.

We need to make higher education more affordable, if not free, for anyone who wants to improve themselves.  Free high school education has been the norm now for many decades and now its time to kick that up a notch to at least two years of free trade school or college.

For those who don’t think they are smart enough we need to do a better job of encouraging them. We need to make learning as important to them as high school sports are now.  Part of that is a teacher thing but the biggest share belongs to the parents.

 

Tax Breaks in “Hopes” of Getting Something in Return..

I just wish I could vote for Elizabeth Warren for president this year.  She is what we really need right now to reign in the capitalist greed that is overtaking our society.  It troubles me to no end that both parties in our political process pander to the current process of giving massive tax breaks to corporation in “hopes” of getting something in return.   Elizabeth Warren would definitely shake up the status quo in that realm.

Here are some important words about this topic:

2016-03-24_13-52-12

The major multinationals complain about a tax problem that most citizens would love to have for themselves: Thanks to a loophole in the tax code, the companies do not have to pay US taxes on profits they have earned in foreign countries until they bring the money home to American shores. Altogether, the globalized US companies have accumulated $2.1 trillion in untaxed profits, most of it parked in overseas tax havens.

To put it plainly, this trade-off is certain to worsen income inequality, because the money goes to the very people—shareholders and corporate execs—who have already done fabulously well at the expense of other Americans.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, as she often does, found the right words to describe this transaction. She called it “a giant wet kiss for the tax dodgers.” Warren and Senator Sanders have repeatedly charged that the system is rigged. What’s particularly outrageous about this new rigging of the tax code is that even though the politicians are engineering it in the midst of a presidential election, most voters don’t have a clue…

Back in 2004, when President George W. Bush was running for re-election and John Kerry was his opponent, they agreed upon a similar proposition. Both were snookered, but it was ordinary citizens who were really screwed. The measure was called the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, and companies repatriated $362 billion at a reduced tax rate of 5.25 percent.

Then they walked away from the jobs promise. In fact, the largest companies killed jobs after they got the money—some 60,000 jobs—moving them overseas to low-wage, low-tax countries. They used their windfall to boost stock prices and thereby enrich investors and CEOs. Now the same crowd is planning a rerun, counting on the wayward press to maintain public ignorance.

SOURCE:  Democrats and Republicans Are Quietly Planning a Corporate Giveaway—to the Tune of $400 Billion | The Nation.

2016-03-24_13-22-15.pngWhy can’t we as a country learn from our mistakes. It seem that after the 2004 debacle we should be changing the laws to prevent a tax loop hole that benefits only a very  small portion of our citizenry. Yes, I know that it is not too late to close the door and protect what we have not already lost.  Left unabated there will be many more jobs moved to low income countries and it will likely not stop until there are no low-income jobs left. What happens then??

This situation is the prime reason for the Trump phenomenon we are experiencing today. No one in the established parties (except for Warren) seems to get it.  Giving corporate America massive tax breaks without demanding something in return is a fool’s mission. Profits are number one in that world and there is no number 2.

 

 

About Apple’s Campus 2

2016-01-04_08-12-55.png

When Steve Jobs presented his proposal for a new Apple campus to the Cupertino City Council back in 2011, he had one aim: to create the best office building in the world.

via 16 facts about Apple’s Campus 2 – Tech Insider.

If you are interested in architecture or forward looking building I would highly recommend that you click on the source above to see all the info about the new Apple campus being build. It is going to be a place almost beyond imagination but being from Apple that is not too surprising.

I have included a couple of pictures here to entice you to the original URL.

2016-01-04_08-13-35.png2016-01-04_08-13-56.png

Rich people have nowhere to put their money. This is a serious problem.

2016-01-24_08-58-34.pngThese facts are being treated as grand mysteries by most commentators. But may I invoke Occam’s Razor and suggest the simplest explanation is the right one: There’s not enough stuff going on in the economy that’s worth investing in.

As the amount of money in the financial markets grows compared to the amount of worthwhile investments, it’s like having more and more rich people standing on a shrinking platform. Of course financial markets become more volatile, and begin panicking in response to what would have seemed, in earlier decades, like no big deal. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the era of rising inequality and massive shareholder payouts has also been the era of rapidly rising and wildly swinging stock markets

SOURCE: Rich people have nowhere to put their money. This is a serious problem..

I like the picture of “more and more rich people standing on a shrinking platform” maybe because eventually some will fall off and finally realize how the rest of us live.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any animosity towards towards people making money. While I am not rich by many standards I do have enough to live comfortably in my chosen lifestyle of simplicity.

I do agree that there is just not enough stuff going on in the economy that’s worth investing in. If it doesn’t have something to do with terrorists or our military it is just not getting any attention now days. No potential jobs producers seem to want to risk their capital on something that is not a sure thing. In that regard they seem as fearful as the population in general. We just now seem to be a very risk averse country for the most part.

With the Feds holding interest rates at essentially zero does not invoke a sense of venturing into new territories. Interest rates near zero was not something that most, including myself, envisioned when we retired. I worked hard and lived a simple life during my earlier years so I could have a satisfying and secure retirement. When I retired interest rates were around 5% and been pretty much there for many years.  And then the Feds took that away. There is just no safe place to put my earnings now except under the proverbial “pillow”. I’m not rich but even I don’t have any thing to do with my hard-earned gains from the employment years.

So, the super-rich 1%ers are essentially putting their money under their pillows and that doesn’t do the rest of us any good …