DEBT CRISIS SHOCKER: The U.S. Is No Longer Completely Screwed?

Henry Blodget on March 14, 2012 writes in Business Insider:

“The U.S. has made significant strides in reducing its debts and may actually return to some semblance of normal by the middle of next year.

“Europe and Japan, meanwhile, are screwed.

“Those are the two key conclusions from an in-depth analysis of global debt levels by the McKinsey Global Institute, a research arm of the consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

“In preparing its report, McKinsey took a close look at the “deleveraging” experiences of Sweden and Finland, both of which suffered financial crises in the early 1990s, and compared them to the experience of the U.S., Europe, and Japan in recent years.

“Contrary to the howls of doom-and-gloomers who think the U.S. dollar is about to collapse in insolvency, McKinsey’s analysts actually conclude that the U.S is on the road to recovery.”

While household debt is declining as the American economy contracts for the ordinary American, the pressing problem is the concentration of productive capital assets, whose exponential growth, if not reversed and broadened, will ultimately bring the economy to a halt because ordinary Americans will experience continue job destruction or degradation with far less disposable income to support the evermore productive capacity resulting from the application of advance technological innovation and invention.

Five Legal Ways The Super Rich Avoid Taxes

Jen Talley writes on March 7, 2011 on NakedLaw:

“Some of the richest people in the country pay the least, relatively speaking, in taxes. How is this possible? Answer: Through the clever manipulation of the U.S. tax code’s loopholes. And it works: as income rises, effective tax rates rise as well, but only up to a point. IRS data shows that the effective income tax rate flattens out at just over 24 percent for those making over a million dollars. As income exceeds $1.5 million, the rate begins to decline; those with incomes above $10 million pay an average income tax rate of around 19 percent. So, how do they do it?”

America needs a economic growth plan that incentivizes growth while simultaneously broadening private, individual ownership of future productive capital assets, which will long-term result in “real” job growth, significantly lower aggregate tax rates for ALL Americans, and put us on the path to prosperity, opportunity, and economic justice.

http://nakedlaw.avvo.com/2011/03/5-sneaky-ways-the-super-rich-avoid-taxes/

Corporate Profits Go Parabolic

First, corporate profits have gone absolutely vertical.

Corporate profits divided by GDP — which is a rough approximation for profitmargins– also just shoot straight vertical.

Conventional one-factor economic thinking would question: If corporate profits go parabolic or are exponential, shouldn’t corporations be doing more hiring?
The answer is ONLY if labor worker input is necessary to achieve economic growth for the companies.
Another question is isn’t economic growth a function of private investment and if conditions do not incentivize business corporations and companies to invest their profits then won’t economic growth be tempered?

http://www.businessinsider.com/corporate-profits-go-parabolic-2012-5

Federal Judge Blocks Florida Voter Suppression Law

Jueseppi B. on May 31, 2012 posted on the Obamacrat.com Web site:

“A federal judge blocked much of Florida’s year-old voter suppression law today as an unconstitutional infringement on speech and voting rights.

“Last year, the Republican-held Florida legislature passed HB 1355, which imposed harsh new restrictions on third-party voter registration groups, requiring them to turn in completed registration forms 48 hours — to the minute — after completion, or face fines. Outside groups often register hundreds of people at a time and, before this law, had used a quality-control process that took days to ensure the accuracy of submitted forms. With the onerous restrictions now in place, some groups like the League of Women Voters were ultimately forced to cease registration drives in the Sunshine State.”

http://theobamacrat.com/2012/05/31/federal-judge-blocks-florida-voter-suppression-law/

Paying Rent On Minimum Wage

Andrew Rosenthal posts May 30, 2012 on The New York Times Opinion Pages the following:

“As part of its 2012 report on rent affordability, the National Low Income Housing Coalition released a chart that’s been floating around the Internet. It shows that there isn’t a single state in the country where it’s possible to work 40 hours per week at minimum wage and afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent. In West Virginia and Arkansas, you’d need to work at least a 63-hour week, and that’s as good as it gets. In California, Maryland, D.C., New Jersey and New York you’d need to work 130 hours or more. Hawaii comes in last place: 175 hours.

“I can anticipate a few no-big-deal arguments, starting with the definition of affordability. By “affordable,” the Coalition means paying no more than 30 percent of income for housing costs (rent and utilities). And why a two-bedroom apartment, as opposed to a one-bedroom?

“Both of these choices seem reasonable to me. Thirty percent is a generally accepted standard, and there are plenty of single-parent households as well as families where, for various reasons, only one member is able to work.

“But even if you quibble with how exactly the Coalition put the chart together, it’s clear that there’s a mismatch between the minimum wage and the cost of living (or at least a decent cost of living).”

This condition will worsen as ever-accelerating shift to productive capital continues––which reflects tectonic shifts in the technologies of production––destroying good-paying livable labor worker wages and/or steadily degrading the job earnings opportunity.

As productive capital, the non-human factor in production of products and services, is increasingly the source of the world’s economic growth, therefore, it should become the source of added property ownership incomes for all. If both labor and productive capital are interdependent factors of production, and if productive capital’s proportionate contributions are increasing relative to that of labor, then equality of opportunity and economic justice demands that the right to property (and access to the means of acquiring and possessing property) must in justice be extended to all.

In a democratic growth economy, based on binary economics (two-factor economics of reality), the ownership of productive capital would be spread more broadly as the economy grows, without taking anything away from the 1 to 10 percent who now own 50 to 90 percent of the corporate wealth. Instead, the ownership pie would desirably get much bigger and their percentage of the total ownership would decrease, as ownership gets broader and broader, also benefiting the traditionally disenfranchised poor and working and middle class. Thus, productive capital income would be distributed more broadly and the demand for products and services would be distributed more broadly from the earnings of capital and result in the sustentation of consumer demand, which will promote economic growth and even benefit the already rich.

http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/paying-rent-on-minimum-wage/

Me-ism?

Unknown:  It always irritates me that the people who say “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime” are unwilling to give the man a fish AND, when it comes down to it, they’re unwilling to pay to teach him how to fish. What they’re really saying is “I don’t care if you starve, as long as I have a fish for myself.”

If both labor and productive capital are interdependent factors of production, and if productive capital’s proportionate contributions are increasing relative to that of labor, then equality of opportunity and economic justice demands that the right to property (and access to the means of acquiring and possessing property) must in justice be extended to all.

This is the source of the distributional bottleneck that makes the private property, market economy ever more dysfunctional. The symptoms of dysfunction are capital ownership concentration and inadequate consumer demand, the effects of which translate into poverty and economic insecurity for the 99 percent majority of people who depend entirely on wages from their labor or welfare and cannot survive more than a week or two without a paycheck. The production side of the economy is under-nourished and hobbled as a result.

We have the financial tools for democratizing productive capital ownership in a private property, market economy where most products are exponentially made by physical capital.

Forced To Choose: Housing, Medicine Or Food

On May 30, 2012, Maarlan Peele posted the following story on the Capital Area FoodBank Web site:

“After a lifetime of contributing to society, many seniors often live on fixed incomes and are forced to make impossible decisions like choosing between paying for prescriptions or buying groceries. Expensive medications, limited mobility and dependence on outside assistance make seniors particularly vulnerable to hunger.

“According to the 2010 Hunger in America study, of those client households with seniors, 30 percent had to choose between paying for food or medical care.”

This is a shameful situation that should not occur in the United States of America!!

Without policies and programs going forth to broaden private, individual ownership of future productive capital assets held by our business corporations and companies hopeless poverty, social alienation, and economic breakdown will persist, even though the American economy is ripe with the physical, technical, managerial, and engineering prerequisites for improving the lives of the 99 percent majority. Why? Because there is a crippling organizational malfunction that prevents making full use of the technological prowess that we have developed. The system does not fully facilitate connecting the majority of citizens, who have unsatisfied needs and wants, to the productive capital assets enabling productive efficiency and economic growth.

Binary economist Louis Kelso said, “We are a nation of industrial sharecroppers who work for somebody else and have no other source of income. If a man owns something that will produce a second income, he’ll be a better customer for the things that American industry produces. But the problem is how to get the working man [and woman] that second income.”

http://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/2012/05/forced-to-choose-housing-medicine-or-food/

Citizens United Attacks From Justice Stevens Continue

Washington: The HuffPost ran the following report on May 31, 2012:

“A day after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, retired Justice John Paul Stevens on Wednesday night backed President Barack Obama’s suggestion during his 2010 State of the Union address that the Citizens United decision could lead to “foreign entities” bankrolling American elections.

“He urged the U.S. Supreme Court to explicitly explain why the president’s words were ‘not true, as Justice Samuel Alito famously mouthed on camera, breaking the justices’ usual stoic appearance during the president’s annual speech.

“Stevens has been a trenchant critic of Citizens United since the court decided the case in January 2010. On the day the opinion was announced, he spent 20 minutes reading from the bench a summary of his 90-page dissent. Stumbling over some words that day convinced Stevens, now 92, to retire, but he continued to condemn the ruling in speeches, writings and even on the Colbert Report.”

“In a speech at the University of Arkansas’ Clinton School of Public Service, Stevens challenged his former colleagues to defend Alito’s ‘not true’ moment by reconciling the court’s sweeping language in Citizens United that the First Amendment ‘generally prohibits the suppression of political speech based on the speaker’s identity,’ with its subsequent decision — made without briefing, argument, or written opinion — to uphold a ban on campaign spending by non-citizens.

“Alito’s reaction, Stevens said, persuade[s] me that that in due course it will be necessary for the court to issue an opinion explicitly crafting an exception that will create a crack in the foundation of the Citizens United majority opinion.’ In doing so, he continued, “it will be necessary to explain why the First Amendment provides greater protection to the campaign speech of some non-voters” — that is, domestic corporations — “than to that of other non-voters” such as the Canadian Harvard Law School graduate who remains barred from making campaign contributions.

“The lawsuit brought by the Canadian citizen “unquestionably provided the court with an appropriate opportunity to explain why the president had misinterpreted the Court’s opinion in Citizens United. ‘[T]he court instead took the surprising action of simply affirming the district court without comment and without dissent.’

“The decision in that case, Bluman v. FEC, meant that ‘notwithstanding the broad language used by the majority in Citizens United, it is now settled, albeit unexplained, that the identity of some speakers may provide a legally acceptable basis for restricting speech,’ Stevens said.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/30/citizens-united-justice-stevens_n_1557721.html

Three Years After Taxpayer Bailout, Bank Of America Ships Jobs Overseas

Josh Harkinson on May 29, 2012 writes on MotherJones:

“Bank of America, which last fall announced plans to lay off 30,000 workers, is about to go on a hiring spree—overseas.

“America’s second-largest bank is relocating its business-support operations to the Philippines, according to a high-ranking Filipino government official recently quoted in the Filipino press. The move, which includes a portion of the bank’s customer service unit, comes less than three years after Bank of America received a $45 billion federal bailout.”

“Needless to say, the outsourcing is bad news for an already hurting US call center industry, which has shed some 500,000 jobs during the past four years—about 10 percent of the total. The Communication Workers of America (CWA) hopes to reverse this trend by pushing the U.S. Call Center and Consumer Protection Act, a bill that would make any company that outsources call center jobs ineligible for federal loans and grants.

“In recent years, local governments in the deindustrializing Midwest have tried to boost their economies by luring call centers with generous tax breaks and economic incentives. T-Mobile, for instance, accepted more than $61 million in state and local recruitment subsidies to locate call center jobs here. But it recently announced it would close seven American call centers, putting around 2,000 people out of work—even as it continues to operate centers in the Philippines and Honduras. (The CWA called the company out in a recent report titled ‘Why Shipping Call Center Jobs Overseas Hurts Us Back Home.’)”

Our leaders need to insist on America FIRST policies and programs that broaden private, individual ownership of productive capital assets and employment.

Bank of America and countless other companies have been shrinking their U.S. operations while aggressively expanding and investing in other countries.

We already have companies manufacturing all sorts of products from electronics to vehicles outside America. Increasingly, the service industry is being outsourced.

What we are experiencing is the spread of plutocracy. That’s what we live in. That’s why things won’t change until we, the people, demand real change from both parties. For the dictionary-challenged, a plutocracy is a government run by and for the wealthy class.

President Obama argued in his State of the Union address that there were a few things the U.S. needed to do in order to recover from the economic recession. One of them was to export more of our goods around the world.

“The more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America,” Obama said.

That night, the president unveiled a new goal: to double U.S. exports over the next five years. It would be an increase that the president said would “support two million jobs in America.”

This applies to the service industry as well. America needs to protect its employment prospects and simultaneously empower ALL citizens to acquire private, individual ownership in future productive capital assets simultaneously with the growth of the economy.

To reinvigorate “Make It In America” and “Made In America,” the government should create financial incentives and tax provisions to reward American companies that bring manufacturing back to the United States from abroad, promote manufacturing investment, and incentivize more investment by foreign companies, all with the condition that the employees will share in the ownership benefits generated by the new capital formation projects. The result will be more broadened employee ownership and in-sourcing of jobs created by the new capital formation projects, and make America self-reliant. This should be the condition upon which EVERY company receiving American tax-payer support is required to adhere to.

The government should impose robust import levies and tariffs (tax) on particular classes of imports that are determined to be manufactured outside the United States and exported back to the United States that do not qualify as “Fair Trade” and unfairly undercut an American-make equivalent. At present, American business corporations are increasingly abandoning the United States and its communities to invest in productive capital formation outside the United States. Many major American business corporations have instigated this trend. As a result, America is experiencing the deindustrialization of America.

This is forcing policy makers to adopt a redistributive socialist solution rather than a democratic capitalist one whereby democratic economic growth of the earning power of the citizens would flourish simultaneously with new, broadly-owned productive capital formation investments in United States business corporations. Such overseas operations have the advantage of “sweat-shop” slave labor rates relative to American standards, low or no taxation, supportive infrastructure provisions, currency manipulation, and few if any environmental regulations––which translate to lower-cost production, as well as, in the instance of China, country state-owned venture investment benefiting those in power. Thus, producing the same product or service in the United States would be far more expensive.

For most people, economic globalization means a growing gap between rich and poor, technological alienation of the labor worker from the means of production, and the phenomenon of global corporations and strategic alliances forcing labor workers in high-cost wage markets, such as the United States, to compete with labor-saving capital tools and lower-paid foreign workers. Unemployment is high and there is an accelerating displacement of labor workers by technology and cheaper foreign labor, resulting in greater economic uncertainty and unstable retirement incomes for the average American citizen––causing the average citizen to become increasingly dependent on government wealth redistribution programs.

We need a policy change, which assures truly “Fair Trade” and that exponentially reduces the exodus of our manufacturing prowess and invigorates America’s entrepreneurial exceptionalism and competitive spirit to create products and services in the spirit of “the best that they can be.” We need policies that will de-incentivize American multinational corporations and others from undercutting “American Made,” while simultaneously competitively lowering the cost of production through expanded capital worker ownership in our business corporations. At present, the various incentives in place do not broaden capital ownership but instead further concentrate ownership––supported by American taxpayers. This is unjust and plain WRONG!!

The U.S. Call Center and Consumer Protection Act is a bill that addresses the outsourcing of service work, and would make any company that outsources call center jobs ineligible for federal loans and grants.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/05/bank-of-america-outsourcing-call-center-philippines

Solar Power Generation World Record Set In Germany

The Guardian on May 28, 2012 posted a story on solar power generation in Germany:

“German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours of Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank has said.

“Germany’s government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022. They will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass.

“Norbert Allnoch, Director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50 percent of the nation’s midday electricity needs.

“The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world’s leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed.

“Government-mandated support for renewables has helped Germany became a world leader in renewable energy and the country gets about 20 percent of its overall annual electricity from those sources.”

“The incentives provided through the state-mandated feed-in-tariff (Fit) are not without controversy, however. The tariff is the main support for the industry until photovoltaic prices fall further to levels similar for conventional power production.

“Utilities and consumer groups have complained the Fit for solar power adds about 2 cents per kW/h on top of electricity prices in Germany that are already among the highest in the world, with consumers paying about 23 cents kW/h.

“German consumers pay about €4bn per year on top of their electricity bills for solar power, according to a 2012 report by the country’s environment ministry.”

I publish an architectural magazine, Ultimate Home Design (www.ultimatehomedesign.com) that advocates responsible green building initiatives, with respect to on-site energy generation. I also built the greenest home in America, the Optimum Performance Home (http://www.ultimatehomedesign.com/oph.php).

The German model is the “Feed-In-Tariff” (TIF) and gives anyone who generates power from solar, wind, or hydro a guaranteed payment from the local power company. Local power companies are obliged to buy generated by solar, wind, and hydro home and small business installations.

Germany pioneered legislation, and other European countries––including Spain, Portugal, Greece, France, and Italy––are implementing similar legislation. At present, unfortunately, local power companies in the U.S. are not required to pay homeowners for the energy generated  on-site beyond what the homeowners generate produce a “Zero Energy Home” (ZED) cost operation. Thus, homeowners with systems designed to generate excess electricity are not compensated. “Feed-In-Tariff” legislation, which offers cash incentives, will become the most important means we have to boost the solar and wind energy market, and significantly reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil. Such legislation will make it lucrative for ordinary people to put solar systems on their roofs and wind turbines on their properties. The end result will produce a new class of homeowners who will be energy-independent and part of a network of clean energy producers.

Such policies, when implemented will provide a substantial amount of energy. We need to make the effort and advocate to our political leaders to pass the necessary legislation.

http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/environment/2012/may/28/solar-power-world-record-germany