I have to wonder what is in the water that many of our country’s leaders are drinking. Here is just one more example of some very comfortable beaurocrat who is totally detached from the economic reality that most Americans are living with lately:
Perhaps a new high in bureaucratic separation from reality came a week or so ago when Bill Dudley, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, was grilled by a group of working class citizens about surging inflation in the food sector.
Dudley, who before his current post was head economist at Goldman Sachs (you will remember them as the too-big-to-fail outfit that got something like $12.9 billion in taxpayer bailout funds at the same time they were preparing to hand out bonuses of $12 billion to 443 partners), was slogging through prepared remarks about how inflation continues at negligible levels, when one of the audience members asked, “When, sir, was the last time you went grocery shopping?”
To which he gave a circuitous reply, finally noting that while “food prices may be rising … other prices are falling — today you can buy an Apple iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 and is twice as powerful.”
There followed, according to news reports, “incredulous, boisterous laughter.”
If Dudley, who is reported to get a $400,000-plus yearly salary in his Fed post, gave any response as to whether he ever sets foot in a grocery store, it wasn’t noted in media accounts.
I mean seriously? With millions out of jobs, millions having (or already had) their homes foreclosed on and now far more people struggling just to get the basics (food and gas) paid for, when will we hear our leaders start to acknowledge the true state of affairs in this country?
This morning I read that Walmart CEO Duke is indicating that Walmart’s core customers are showing that they are finding it harder to make ends meet and as Duke says “running out of money at a faster clip”. While politicians want to paint a rosy picture as we edge closer to election year, the truth is that a huge number of people in this country are struggling.
The recession of 2008 started with a surge of gasoline prices. Sure the real estate market was poised for a collapse but what got us there faster was the rising gas prices which squeezed budgets to the breaking point and defaults started to roll out like a tsunami rolling all the way across this country. What will break this time? With both gas and food pricing climbing and the QE2 ending in a month or so, a new storm is on the horizon.
This is seriously scary. Take cover now America.
When you listen to politicians you ought to knowt that if they told you what they really thought and held to priciples, you’d never elect them. And that is our fault. We just want to hear what we want to hear. The better the spin or at least the closer it is to what we want to believe can be, the more likely we are to go along with what, I’d argue, we really know to be at best reality spun to idealistic levels and at worst just a pack of lies.
However, of all the politiicans in today’s political arena, I’ve got to hand my hat to our current president. He’s got the ability to spin any side of an argument and the ability to make up total lies down so pat, you believe him. He understand the craft of lying better than any I’ve ever seen.
Guess what America, we can’t tax the rich, give to the poor and have happy days. It’s a nice concept but even Jesus told us there will always be poor. If you over tax the engine that drives our country, you will either ruin it and, consequently see even more unemployment than we have today or you will see the rich leave this country for more understanding nations which will also leave us with fewer jobs.
Wake up and take stock. We need to get real with ourselves first and then we need to not expect but demand truth from those who will shape (or in Obama’s case, should he have his way, completely control) our future. We need to fight for an America where anyone can still control their future if they work hard and seize opportunity rather than buy into some socialist state where it makes no sense to work hard because all you achieve is just given to those who don’t work at all.
Jon is his usual irreverant, funny self but this time is taking full aim at President Obama. Rather than even try to explain, you’ll just have to watch this video yourself!
A fantastic way to kick off a campaign. I’m sure we’ll all see more of Obama’s transparancy as his re-election kicks into full swing.
The thing that made our country truly unique was the rise of the middle class. Getting ‘in’ wasn’t that hard and once in, you were almost guaranteed of a solid future. But now the middle class may be doomed. In fact, it may have a terminal illness that cannot be reversed. Consider the following:
After the economy collapsed in 2008, the middle class took it hard. Unemployment of over 10% in many states was the norm and has been slow to come down. While we are told now that it’s under 9%, understand that as people’s unemployment benefits run out, they are taken out of the count.
If you are among the 90% or so that didn’t lose their job – congratulations! But don’t thing the worst is over. Instead, think about your retirement. Social security is anything but secure. The only way out is to 1) extend out the official retirement age farther and farther, 2) cut benefits and 3) increase taxes. Even with that there may not be anyway to save it unless the federal government decides that it has the right to go after your 401K and IRA accounts and force them into a government program. So much for all your diligent saving! Finally consider whether or not you think you are covered by a pension program. Many pension programs are grossly underfunded. And as the baby boomers start to hit retirement age, the strain of new claims may end up to be far too much for some pensions to cover.
Pretty bad – right? Now let’s talk about inflation. Did you know that the reported statistics have been revised to take out the impact of rising prices on core necessities like food and gas? So reported inflation sounds acceptable but we are all finding it harder and harder to keep our grocery bills in line. And gas? We are all making trade offs to keep our cars running. The net of this is that our ability to save for our future is getting squeezed.
Then there is the housing market. Recent sales data says that now more than 2 years post market collapse, prices are still falling. Many people lost much if not all of their equity and what was once one of the safest investments the middle class made, is now nothing more than paying rent to stay in a mortgage.
All of this is bad but the worst is yet to come. This morning I listened to “Dr. Doom” Marc Faber go on about his concerns about the economy (http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000015563) and he got off the main point for a moment and mentioned that 50% of all babies are born to unwed mothers. Now that caught my eye so I did some research and based on government data (find it at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/unmarry.htm) it’s 41%. Now while this may be 9 points lower than Faber’s number, it’s still scary high. And the reason why this is scary is that these babies are born into households that, on average, are much lower on the social economic scale. That means fewer opportunities and more drain on our over taxed social benefit programs.
Somewhere along the way our quest for the American dream became a demand for entitlements. We’ve dug ourselves a very deep hole and the next decade may well be one of significant upheaval.
How should we react to politicians hobnobbing with some of the same folks he or she has publicly denounced? Now I’m not necessarily coming down on President Obama who is attending a very swanky dinner to raise funds for the Democratic party – even when some of the Wall Street tycoons who have been paying themselves huge bonuses he’s publicly denounced will be there. That would be trying to paint him worse than any other politician which wouldn’t be fair. What is fair is to say that the president’s behavior does make him no different than your average politician – he is just another politician.
Fortunately I’m no idealist and I don’t put anyone on a pedestal so there is no resounding THUD as overblown, overly optimistic dreams of a super hero like leader hits the ground like a watermelon thrown off a tall building breaking into a thousand pieces and just leaving clean up for those who had hoped for so much.
And, it’s necessary affairs like these than makes you wonder how politicians make peace with themselves after catering to some of the very people they propose to be against. I’m not sure how they do it. Perhaps they argue that it’s for the greater good or that the ends justifies the means.
I certainly hope the dinner was tasty!
I’ll admit upfront that the following is a bit off topic. I’ve taken a little time off and in my rummaging around the Internet, I found some sites that I really like.
The first is for those of you who like to cook and, perhaps just as much, like finding good recipes and chatting about it online. The site, Home Cooking Connection, is a fun site with tons of great recipes and a forum for devotees to chat with each other. Aside from recipes, there are also good articles that discuss things like party planning and simple table decorations. So for a killer bacon dip, go pay them a visit.
But to be honest, more of my time has been working on my yard. I have to admit it, my landscaping (if I could even still call it that) had become hugely overgrown. So with the help of my brother-in-law all sorts of things have been ripped out and the place looks 110% better. While I was looking online for some yard ideas, I found Reel Yard which is a site that has a ton of good info about how to improve your lawn (my ‘grass’ had far too many weeds in it for my taste) and extols the benefits of using a reel mower to cut your grass. I didn’t even know those things existed.
Well that’s all for now, I’ll be back more regularly but for now, I’ve got a cedar stump to remove before sunset!
With the cash for clunkers program scheduled to end tomorrow night, the question should be asked who really benefited? Sure the folks who bought cars and got rebates benefited from a reduced price on their car and the auto dealers certainly liked the program but with billions of dollars spent, what did the country as a whole get?
The issue is that this was a very short term spike in car sales which isn’t likely to produce any significant long term benefits to the economy. We’ve given one segment of our economy a short term boost but without any real economic recovery to support continued sales, it’s just a shot in the arm that may make August economic data look better than it really is (if looked at a sustainable basis) and keep the unemployment rate from going any higher. It does not do anything to address any of the real underlying issues in the automotive industry.
Finally there are real concerns that all the cash for clunkers program really did was divert monies that would have been spent on other retail purchases have now be diverted to making a car payment that wasn’t in the family budget before this program Retail sales in July was weak and the back to school spending looks to be down this year. For those struggling in non automotive related retail sales, the cash for clunkers program was not any bargin.
Moreover, many charities that take on used cars are now reporting a significant drop off of donations since the used cars turned in under the cash for clunkers program must be destroyed. That’s frustrating to them and hurts those with limited means.
I’m not against some level of healthcare reform. It would be great to have existing condition exclusions eliminated for example. I’m also all for the creation of some sort of large demographic pool that is open to the public so that by distributing risks over a wide population, the cost of healthcare insurance can come down for individuals and small businesses who often get priced out of coverage.
But the real health issue that confronts this country is the fact that we have become a nation of sedentary, overweight, and lazy Americans. Obesity is at all time high rates, Diabetes continues to climb as a condition of our sedentary lives. And we eat poorly on top of sitting all day. Fast food tends to carry a ton of fat and the American love of French Fries has us consuming a fatty food that also has starchy carbs that hits our bloodstream quickly and causes our bodies to work at just controlling blood sugar levels.
Offering wider inclusion and lower rates to all Americans is great but if we don’t take responsibility for our health, the rate of disease incidents will continue to climb and so will our health costs. It’s inevitable without a change in ourselves, not our healthcare insurance options.
Getting fit is not that hard. Drink more water to reduce your appetite and improve your body’s metabolism is an easy step. Taking a few breathing breaks during the day where you breath deeply will better oxygenate your blood which can actually help you lose a few pounds. It will also relax you and stress reduction will reduce the hormone cortisone in your blood stream which had a whole waterfall of favorable impacts on your body.
And get some exercise!
Come on, exercising is not that big a commitment. There are many workout programs that you can do in your own home. In fact I recently found a great site, Press Play Fitness, where they talk about different, well balanced (weight lifting plus aerobic) programs. Imagine if all you had to do is just show up to exercise. Now isn’t that something you could commit to? Isn’t that something we really should expect of all Americans?
If we want to live in the best country on Earth, we need to make ourselves the best we can be.
Update: September 28th
I wanted to come back to this post because in addition to exercising it seems like we should be eating better as well. I know I need help in that arena so I was interested in this new shake I found. It’s called Shakeology and it had tons of good stuff in it. I’ve been drinking a shake for breakfast and I have to say that I feel better and I dropped 1lb this week. Now I don’t expect to continue to lose weight but it sure was nice to see.
We all make mistakes.
Funny thing about this unfortunate incident is that when initially confronted by a reporter on the Henry Gates Jr. incident, President Obama was correct in starting out with a comment that he wasn’t there. And had he just left it at that, the rest of the story would not have happened. Unfortunately he did render his opinion and that touched off some real strong feelings. Moreover, the policeman involved has a totally different perspective on the story which when you hear it, makes a fair amount of sense.
So who is right? I don’t know – I wasn’t there!
AP – Trying to tamp down an uproar over race, President Barack Obama said Friday he used an unfortunate choice of words in commenting on the arrest of black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. and could have “calibrated those words differently.”
OK don’t shoot me here because I didn’t tape President Obama’s speech last night so I’m writing on memory but I think I’m pretty close on what our President stated in regards to healthcare. Some of the President’s positioning and arguments seemed far from logical to me. Here are just two examples:
When asked by a reporter why he was pushing so hard for a bill before the August recess, our President responded by informing the reporter that healthcare costs had doubled in the last ten years which outpaced the average pay increases. Now I’m not disputing this but I felt it was kind of odd. Odd because just because healthcare costs doubled in 10 years hardly seems a just cause to push for a bill on what is a very complicated subject in a matter of weeks. And I also felt that while a doubling of healthcare costs sounds pretty scary, a doubling in 10 years translates to just an 8% inflation rate.
Sure we’d like to see that decline but college tuition rates have been running just about as high according to http://www.finaid.org/savings/tuition-inflation.phtml which reports an 8% average inflation rate. High tuition rates are shutting out many of our youth from attaining higher education and those who do leverage up with loans to make it through come out of college with a staggering amount of debt. My point here is that sure we have issues to deal with to make our dear country the best it can be but healthcare is not our only problem.
The second comment that really caught my eye was when Obama inferred that doctors choose which care to give based on reimbursement. I find that an insult to all the hard working physicians out there that provide the very best treatment they can. And beyond that, the President only provided a vague argument about why his plan would force doctors to select the best treatment for a patient over the most lucrative one.
And this plan still hasn’t had it’s funding fully identified. While the President cited a potential tax on those making over a million in income each year, I find it hard to believe that there are enough $1 million+ pre-tax income individuals out there to cover the huge gap. I also heard, for the first time, the President say that he wanted to keep tax increases to fund this ‘primarily’ on the well to do. It sounded like he was opening the door to taxing folks most of us would label ‘middle class’ – just a little.
We all need to research the bill emerging from the house. If we have objections, we need to raise them with our congressmen and senators. Don’t complain to your family and friends, complain to those who vote on the bill.