Archive for the Economy Category

A State of Shock

Posted in Economics, Economy, Education, History, Just Strange, Life, Politics, Religion, Technology, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2016 by urbannight
voted

After walking home after voting.

This morning I feel numb and horrified at the same time.  There were almost no people walking in to work this morning.  Did people take the day off?  Are there as many people in this country who feel as if they are walking through some post-apocalyptic world despite the fact that the sun is shining, the world looks the same, and half the country is actually happy?

I will probably scream if people start talking about a mandate.  I didn’t like it when Obama said it.  No election as close as these represent a mandate.  I would only accept that word in a landslide vote.  This was not a landslide.  My radio was on when I turned on my car.  I had to turn it off.  People were calling in and saying America has spoken.  As if it was a huge percentage.  It was a razor thin edge.  The worst sorts of people came out of the woodwork.  People who wanted change at ANY cost and don’t care if it hurt this country.  They just want to ‘break’ Washington.

I might have supported and even applauded Trump if he hadn’t approached this on a platform of hate, fear, distrust, and violence.  I have actually thought something did need to break the Washington Machine for it to ever change.  But this was the worst way it could have happened.  There was a tiny, secret part of me that actually thought that maybe he should win and people will get what they deserved and I hoped they would then regret what they did.  But I refused to ever say it.  I didn’t want to do anything to put any of that energy out into the world.  I didn’t really think he would win.

Congratulations to half of this country.  Your man won.  It just goes to show the country hasn’t progressed as far as we thought.  People who want to keep black people, Hispanics, Jewish people, Muslims, and women down so that they can continue to feel better about themselves have won.  People who feel that with the rise of all the people listed above that they have lost their power and that they need to take it back have won.  People who represent the lowest and worst of this country have won.  People with hate in their hearts have won.  People who think women are lower themselves and that women should have no control over their own bodies have won.  People who think men don’t need to control their own reactions and that women should be controlled in order to ‘protect them’ from the things they have been given the ‘go-ahead’ to do because ‘boys will be boys’ have won.

How is it that people who complain that Hilary is one of the ‘one percent’ have bought into the idea that Trump is not?  Trump came from money, always had money, borrowed a huge amount from his daddy to get his business started, and yet people think he knows what it is like to have to work his way up.  He never did.  He is a silver spoon baby and never knew what it was like to need money.   We don’t really know what he is worth because he wouldn’t provide his tax returns.  He did admit to finding enough loop holes to not pay any taxes for 13 years or something like that.  But he says he is worth a LOT but at the same time cheats his contractors and vendors by telling them thinks like, “we don’t have the money to pay you, we can only pay you 70 cents on the dollar.  You better take it because if you take it to court, you will probably win, but we can make it take so long that you will lose everything and go broke before you ever win.”

How is it that people will believe that a man who likes having portions of his companies overseas because he can pay the workers FAR less than he can in the United State will ever do anything to bring jobs back to the U.S.  He seems to think that he is some type of Roosevelt character who just has to build enough roads and bridges to put people back to work.  Roadwork goes on all year round here.  The roads are constantly being repaired.  Roadwork never stops.  Sure, many bridges are in a state where they need to be repaired.  But that was discovered years ago and most of those are in the process of being fixed all around this country.  He also implied that the problem with education is that we need more schools and he promised to build more schools and more hospitals.  We have enough schools and if you count Emergicare offices, we have facilities.  Building more isn’t going to solve the problems.  Repealing Obamacare isn’t going to help lower medical costs.  These issues are far deeper.  We need to pay teachers better; we need to make sure existing schools are supplied with the tools needed to teach kids.  We need to value students more as well.  Parents need to take more responsibility over their children’s behavior and student’s need to take more ownership of their own learning process.  The health industry has to stop gouging patients and more reasonable pricing needs to be put into place and enforced.  Building more schools and hospitals isn’t the solution.

One earbud fell out of my ear and I heard a girl near me say that her one vote wouldn’t make a difference.  The point is that if you put ever person saying that together, you have a block of votes that WOULD make a difference.  So I REALLY hate that saying.  Which leads me to how angry I feel towards people who didn’t vote for that reason, didn’t vote because they couldn’t be bothered, voted for third party candidates and threw away their vote or voted for a write-in and also threw away their vote.  Anyone voting for a write-in or a third party is actually voting for the person they LEAST want to win.  In nearly every case, that would have actually caused Trump to have lost those states rather than have won.

On the whole, I’m still in shock.  I could go on and on, but this is getting long enough as it is.  I’ve also lost my direction as I was working on this between tasks and at lunch.  I didn’t have the advantage of taking today off work.  There are so many things to talk about where this went wrong and will continue to go wrong that maybe I should save those for another time.

Railroad barons, Robber barons, and the Mafia…

Posted in Economics, Economy, Politics, Work, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2016 by urbannight

This started out as a Facebook comment that turned intoOld Monopoly a much longer post.  It is something I’ve kept meaning to write more about but for which I never get around to doing the in depth research.  Partly because I am not an economist or interested in economy.  I am interested in history and this is something I’ve been putting together in my head based on viewing of a number of documentaries and articles and books that were not specifically about the economy.  But the past decade or so has had me pulling these threads together into this concept that I think has a valid point.

In the fight to change minimum wage into people being able to earn a living wage if they work full time may be easier to understand if one understands that our modern economic system was developed by the same people who create the ‘trunk’ system of work compensation. Once upon a time, these people were called ‘Railroad Barons’. Not because their work on the railroads made them rich but because they way they made money made people think of the old ‘robber baron’s’ back in the Old Country. These were people with titles who took to robbing travelers and merchants crossing their lands in order to have an income.

Railroad Barons as a term came about because most of these people were in the business of building railroads.  But it included others that were not but practiced business in the same manner.  These were the people who came up with the idea of creating towns at their factories or operations and paying people in company script that had no value outside the company town. Then getting the families in debt to the company so they would never be able to leave their jobs and move away.

The government determined this was simply a way to try to legally enslave people and made company script illegal. Wages must be paid in legal tender.  The government seemed to be less concerned with the payment itself and more concerned with the fact that it limited mobility, trapping people.  They probably could have paid the employees anything so long as it would have been considered to have an equal, legal value, anywhere they wanted to take it so it could be used and spent in other places.  They could have been paid in pocket watches because they could be sold and traded for a relatively constant value.  Well, at least until the market got flooded with pocket watches.  But it gets the idea across.  These company scrip were bit of paper that held NO value once outside of the company town.

But in response to the Great Depression, these people changed the perception of their characters. They became known as captains of industry. They were praised for attempting to put some kind of organization and structure onto the economy. We called it capitalism and made a board game praising the concepts of making as much money possible off of others while trying to compensate them with the least amount possible without getting in trouble with the law.

Another reason that people don’t really realize that the Mafia came really close to taking control of the government back in the day is the reason that so many people were willing to work for the Mafia and to protect them. It wasn’t because they were family members. It wasn’t because these were people with natural criminal inclination. It was because, back at this time period, the Mafia in the U.S. took better care of its workers and their families than any other employer did. Older kids and young men took jobs doing stuff for the mob because the work was more likely to be steady, reliable, and better compensated and their families were looked after better than any other job in the cities they could have found, for the most part. Which may be a really sad thing to say.

Our entire economy was solidified and fine tuned by people so questionable that they made the Mafia look good. Think about it. This is the Free Trade Capitalism that so many people say is the best method of Economy.  It is a method that says anyone can get rich if they work hard enough.  This ignores the fact that unless there is an unlimited source of money, it is blatantly not true.  Given a finite source of wealth in the world, that means only so many people can get rich while most people never will, no matter how hard they work.  Free Trade Capitalism is best for funneling the most money into the fewest pockets.

I’m not saying that people should run out and become the exact opposite.  That isn’t any better.  What I’m saying is that our system isn’t all that and a bag of chips and the very roots of that system is why a living wage is anathema to what most people have been taught.

Connections Between Missing Baby Lisa Irwin and the Movie The Tall Man

Posted in Economics, Economy, Education, Entertainment, Life, Movies and Theatre, Politics, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2013 by urbannight

Lisa Renee Irwin went missing almost two years ago after her mom put her to bed and then had a few drinks. She would be almost three now. Half a year later, someone attempts to use a debit card stolen that same night on a website for buying false birth certificates. FBI thinks the baby is still alive.

So do I. Kidnapping babies to sell for illegal adoptions has been around for a long time. It is not as common as it once was. Now days, you are more likely to hear about people who kidnapped babies to raise as their own.

Still, after watching The Tall Man on Saturday, I can’t help but wonder. The thriller was well acted and I’ve seen worse acting and writing hit the big screen while this went straight to DVD, as far as I know. I never heard of it until it came up on my Netflix feed. I’m revealing the ultimate plot twist when I tell you that it ends up being about a woman who helps kidnap abused children and gets them to safety. It might not have been so objectionable except it wasn’t just abused children. It was children of poor families or single parents struggling to get by as well. It equated losing your job because the business closed to child abuse, as if you can control something like that.

Now think about it. There were a couple sightings of a man with a baby that night. Once I think was caught on video but maybe I’m thinking about a different case. Someone probably watched the family to get the pattern of behaviors down to know the best opportunity to take the baby. Imagine someone seeing a family where dad works the night shift and mom has a couple of drinks alone, after the kids are put to bed. Imagine the person thinking it was the perfect baby to take because the parents didn’t have an ideal, 8 – 9 lifestyle, and a June Cleaver mom. In fact, the person probably thought he or she was doing the baby a favor.

The movie came out after the kidnapping. But it glorified kidnapping children to save them. Even if the only thing they were saving the child from was poverty or less than perfect families rather than any real physical or emotional abuse. The reason it is an irresponsible movie is because this kind of kidnapping is still going on and should NOT be glorified.

Originally, I just wanted to look up any latest developments on the Lisa Irwin case. (I couldn’t find any) and complain about how the case just seemed to stop. I didn’t mean to turn it into a longer rant about the movie I watched a couple days ago.

Tax Day

Posted in Economy, Life with tags , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by urbannight

It is that day again. 

I did mine and they were electronical shipped off already. 

My roommate had his done and back already.

Have you finished yours?

Did you owe, did you get money back?

I expect the refund I have from the feds will be taken to pay on the error they claimed I made on my 2007 return.  I think they are wrong and redoing it came up the same as I turned in the first time.  All I can say is I must be missing something. 

But fighting the IRS on it was a major energy drain so I’m just paying it off.  Slowly.  Because that’s the best I can do.  It’s awfully hard to fight the IRS. 

 

The Value of Time vs The Value of Money

Posted in Economics, Economy, Food, Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2012 by urbannight

Now one of these would save time and money when it comes to grocery shopping. It never seems to need refueling of any sort and you can pop into the past when things cost a lot less. But not too far because your money wouldn’t look right anymore.

There is a MoneyTalks news article comparing the prices of Walgreen, CVS, Wal-Mart, and an online drug store owned by Walgreen. 

She is surprised that the drug stores were more expensive that Wal-Mart.  She expected, that since it was a ‘drug’ store, with the word ‘drug’ in the name, that OTC medications would be cheaper there.

They are a type of convenience store and convenience stores are always more expensive. You get stuff there when saving time is more important than saving money.

You then have to factor in the value of your time (usually based on your wages) to determine if the cost of your time would make the cheaper items cost more since driving to a Wal-Mart, going through a bigger parking lot, walking though a bigger store, and then getting back on the road again would all take longer.

There is always a Walgreen or CVS right on the drive, the more expense item suddenly becomes cheaper under those circumstances.

It is a balancing act between the value of your time and the value of the dollar in hand. 

There was a finance person that used to recommend a person write out all their normal groceries in a notebook and go to all the local grocery stores to compare all the prices.  Then make a list of which items to buy at which stores.  Then when you needed groceries, you would go to ALL those  stores and buy the items that are cheapest at each store.

This has always seemed ludicrous to me.  Think of all the extra gas used to go to all those different locations.  You also have to factor an addition 10 minutes at each store just for parking and walking into the store.  The time to exit depends on the lines.  So you are looking at a minimum of 10 15 minutes to as much as 30 minutes per store.  Since you have to walk around each store to get the items, your total walk time is much higher.  The end result is that a 1 hour grocery shopping trip might take 4 hours going to 4 different stores.

If you know your gas mileage, figure out how many miles you are driving for all these extra stops.  Figure out the cost of gas based on the current gas price.  If it takes 4 hours you have taken 3 more hours that it could have had you gone to one store.  Say you make 10 dollars an hour.  Your groceries have just cost you an addition 30 dollars.  Then add the gas cost.  Add that to your total receipts from the 4 stores and you have your REAL cost.

I know that some items are cheaper at Wal-Mart.  So I wait to get them when I’m in there, usually once a week whether I want to be or not.  I carpool with my roommate and sometimes he make a stop there. 

If I need to go to the grocery, I focus on the stuff I know is better priced there. 

I recently discovered that Target’s ready to eat soups are cheaper than both Wal-Mart and the Grocery.  I don’t make a special trip and use extra time and gas.  But it I’m going there for something I need and I know is only available at Target, I will also hit the grocery section for those items Target has cheaper.

By working it in with needed trips, I’m not wasting time and gas driving all over town on one day to get groceries. 

The other option is to do that notebook thing, tally the numbers at the bottom, and use whichever store has the over all lowest costs as the primary grocery store, thus saving the 30+ extra dollars in time and gas.

Is the Economy or are Women’s Issues more important? A Changing Rhetoric.

Posted in Economics, Economy, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2012 by urbannight

People who are pro-life had been using pro-abortion instead of pro-choice in order to change the rhetoric of the debate.  To sensationalize it more.

Okay, fine.

In that case, I’ll change it too.

Instead of pro-life, I’ll use:

Anti-choice

Anti-freedom

Pro-chattel

Pro-brood mare

Anti-woman

Misogynistic

Pro-male dominance

Pro-male superiority

Anti-self determination (if you female)

People are saying the focus should remain on the economy and that this is a distraction issue.

I disagree.  The economy goes up and down and responds to WAY to many world-wide variables and, in the end, the government can only do so much in response to it.  To truly have any governmental influence on the economy, the government will need to have more influence and control in the business world than the business world wants to allow. 

On the other hand, women’s right and freedoms in a male dominant society will ALWAYS be an issue and far more under the influence of government policy than the economy will ever be.  Therefore, it truly is a more vital and pertinent issue for us than just the economy and jobs. 

And if you do not think we are still in a male dominated society, I think the last year couple of years have reminded us that have gotten complacent.  We thought we came a long way even if we didn’t have true pay equality yet.  But the GOP is clearly trying to push us back and restore more male control of the most fundamental female issues.  We need to start fighting back or we will continue to lose ground.

A group of men should not be controlling women’s reproductive rights.  By letting them say ‘no abortions’ is sending a message that a person who doesn’t exist is more important than a woman who already exists.  It says a woman has no value beyond her ability to make babies.  It says that it’s okay for women to risk death on the change that another life might be created.  It says that it is okay to for people to have children they don’t want or for whom they can’t provide.  In a world where rapists have successfully sued for visitation rights, they want to force women to have babies that may force them into keeping contact with the person who raped them.

This is unacceptable.  Women should have the right to choose.  They should have the right of self-determination.  People who base their pro-‘life’ beliefs on religious believes should NOT be forcing that religious based view on the rest of society.

The Lie of Home Ownership and other myths of the Supremacy of Modern American Life.

Posted in Apartments, Economy, Life, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2012 by urbannight

One of the hallmarks of the ‘American Dream’ is home ownership. The phrase “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” originally meant life, liberty and the pursuit of property. (Or so we were taught in my college government course)

But I would argue that it is a myth. It isn’t really true.

Lets say you buy a house and over the years you get it paid off early. So now you feel it is truly yours and you no longer have to pay the bank. You have a deed that states that house and bit of dirt it sits on is your personal property. You still have to pay the government to actually have the right to own it. If you don’t, the government can seize it. Even thought you OWN it. It used to be that the local government could seize it to put a road through as well. But that law has changed. Now they can seize it if they want to build a mall there or if they want to put in a country club.

Ultimately, this means you DON’T really own anything. Despite what you paid to get that piece of paper saying you own it. At least you got a tax break on it. Oh wait, no. Romney wants to take that away. So you will no longer get that deductible on your taxes, which is about the only reason, anymore, that they say ‘owning’ is better than renting. 

At least if you rent, Renters insurance is less costly than home owners insurance and if you need something fixed, you just call maintenance and you don’t end up with a repair bill. 

Seems to me, renting is now the way to go.

Basically, home ownership is more like having a feudal estate.  You don’t ‘own’ the land, it is loaned to you by the government for you to manage for them.  And then you send in a portion of what you earn from the land in ‘taxes’ to the king.  Only people don’t usually ‘work’ a lot that a house sits on for income.  So you pay income taxes on the work you DO do and then you pay property taxes from the same work income. 

Wow.   I think those feudal landowners’ probably had it better.  They only paid one tax.  They just had to fight for their lord when war happened.  Oh yeah, we do that too.  Sometimes through volunteer service and sometimes through a draft.  And, sometimes, people who volunteered and served their term of service are not allowed to leave when their time is over.  So maybe they were still better off back then.

At least we have better medical treatment.  Although, for an industrialized, first world nation, we have the worst rates for easily prevented death from asthma.  We also have a strangely high infant mortality rate from other preventable deaths (from conditions that should have been preventable).  This is because medical costs are so high that people don’t go to the doctor for things that don’t look, seem, or sound serious at the moment.  Not like other industrialized countries with nationalized health care and people can go to the doctor for things more often without going into bankruptcy (even thought many people who lose everything because of medical dept actually have health insurance).  So while we have better medical treatment it is too costly for people to access it.  Lets call that a null.  So feudal people are still better off.

The working conditions were not great.  At least we have that better.  Well, if you can find a job.  And if it has a good health package.  And if it has high enough wages.  Even all those added together, we actually work more days a year, have less days off.  So we have better tools and equipment and work conditions but we work more and have less time for ourselves.  I might call that a wash too.

I guess the freedom to live our lives the way we want and no one telling us how to live.  Nope. We don’t even have that.  The GOP is trying to turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights and religious people are trying to tell people who they cannot marry.  Which is a bit a change from the king being able to order certain knights or lords or marry their daughters to other certain knights or lords.  Still, it is one person dictating who can or cannot marry. 

Finally, I’ve found one thing in which we have going better for us than in feudal times.  We live longer.  That’s about it.