Friday, September 19, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Signs your country is run by idiots:

  • If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not being in this country illegally, your country may be run by idiots.

  • If you have to show ID to check out a library book, cash a check, or board an airplane but not to vote on who runs the government, your government may be run by idiots.

  • If you can buy two 16 ounce sodas but not one 24 ounce soda because it might make you fat, your country may be run by idiots (actually, I'm looking at you, New York).

  • If a 7 year old boy can be thrown out of school because he said his teacher was "cute, but grade schoolers are forced to sit in a sexual diversity and exploration class, your country may be run by idiots.

  • If the government's plan to get people back to work is incentivizing not working by offering 99 weeks of unemployment and no requirements that you are actively searching for a job, your country may be run by idiots.

  • If your plan to overcome a near financial disaster in our financial system and get out of debt is to print $4 trillion new dollars and continue the practices that got us into trouble in the first place, your country may be run by idiots.

  • If hard work and success are met with ever higher taxes and more government regulation while not working is rewarded with EBT cards, free phones, subsidized housing, and WIC cards, your country may be run by idiots.

  • If ignoring the rules for immigration and throwing open the borders to anyone with no screening and controls, and then putting those people on the public dole, your country may be run by idiots.

  • If you have elected leaders that do not live under the same laws and retirement system they foist on the rest of us, you may live in a country run by idiots.

  • If the federal government wants to take guns away from law abiding citizens, but wants to arm terrorist groups in the Middle East, you may live in a country run by idiots.
Actually, we DO live in a country run by idiots.

And that, my friends, is my view.

*stick tap to From Two Minds blog for some of these entries

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Petey's Party Packs the Bridgestone Arena For A Great Cause

The Bridgestone Arena floor was filled with tables and supporters to raise funds for the Predators Foundation and the Peterson for Parkinson's Foundation. The event raises funds to support the Predators Foundation and Brent Peterson's Foundation to raise funds for research to find a cure for Parkinson's.

Those in attendance were treated to a variety of foods and some exceptional silent auction items. They also got to bid on traveling on the Predators charter to road games in Ottawa and Toronto as well as a personally signed guitar from Vince Gill.

Here are some images from the event:

The arena floor was filled with tables awaiting the guests.

There were numerous sports memorabilia items at the silent auction, including signed sweaters by the Predators players.

This being Music city, there were numerous music related items available at the silent auction, including a guitar autographed by the members of Kiss (top), an autographed song sheet of Piano Man by the Piano Man himself, Billy Joel (middle), and an acoustic guitar autographed by the members of Def Leppard (bottom).
Guests enjoying dinner.
The Predators media personalities were in attendance. Predators play by play announcer Pete Weber with Mrs. View.
Predators COO Sean Henry addresses the audience.
Brent Peterson shares his inspiring story with those the crowd.
Comedian Keith Alberstadt entertained the audience.
Some of the Predators players enjoying the evening, including Seth Jones, Craig Smith, Carter Hutton, and Pekka Rinne.

This fun evening supports the very worthwhile activities of the Predators Foundation and the Peterson for Parkinson's Foundation. The Predators Foundation has distributed over $4 million to 500 organizations in Middle Tennessee that are working to improve the quality of life for our residents. Brent's Foundation has contributed well into the six figures to Vanderbilt Hospital to further research into finding a cure for Parkinson's.
All of these worthwhile efforts are made possible by the people who support these events. many thanks to the sponsors, donors, and those that bought tickets. Your support allows these foundations to continue to do many positive works in our community.
And we are fortunate to have a team and an organization that has a culture of caring and helping to make our community better.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Predators Rookie Camp Observations

The Predators rookies faced off against the Tampa Bay Lightning rookies at the Ford Ice Center yesterday, capturing a 2-1 win in a spirited contest. Some observations from the game:

  • The Ford Ice Center is a spectacular facility and is a great addition to the sports landscape in Nashville. There was a standing room only crowd to watch the game and lots of activity outside the rink in the park area. Kudos to the City of Nashville, Ford, and the Predators organization for their vision in making this a reality.

  • The line of Colton Sissons, Kevin Fiala, and Filip Forsberg was the best line for the Predators rookies. They were creative, strong on the puck, and showed some offensive flash. Fiala showed some slick moves in the offensive zone as did Forsberg. Sissons was strong on the puck and played with purpose. I would not be surprised to see Sissons and Forsberg make the roster, and I think Fiala has lots of upside but will probably start the season in Milwaukee.

  • Forsberg looks bigger and stronger than he did during his brief stint with the Predators last season.

  • I liked the play of Brenden Leipsic. He plays much bigger than his size and is not afraid to go into the hard areas with the puck. His pesky nature was on display throughout the game.

  • Jonathan-Ismael Diaby was a beast. He is not afraid to use his size and he does it well as he was banging bodies throughout the contest. Beyond the physical play, Diaby skated and moved the puck well and was positionally sound. I think he will challenge for a roster spot this season.

  • Jaynen Rissling, acquired in a trade from the Capitals, had a quietly solid game. He doesn't deliver the booming hits of Diaby, but did a good job of moving bodies out of front of the net and was a strong physical presence. Rissling may not start the season with the Predators, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him up at some point during the season.

  • Magnus Hellberg and Rob Madore both looked good in net. Hellberg and Madore split time, with each playing half the game. Hellberg and Madore were both busy in the second period which saw the Predators take 6 penalties including giving the Lightning a full two minutes of 5 on 3. Both moved well in the crease and did a good job of tracking the puck. Madore showed some exceptional quickness and a good glove hand.

  • Zach Budish, who needs to make a good showing in camp, did not play.

The Predators will take on the Florida Panthers rookies tonight at 7:00 at the Ford Ice Center.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the jobs report that details how many new jobs were created in the economy last month. Many "experts" predicted that jobs growth would be at a minimum of 190,000 to a high of 242,000 new jobs created.

These experts were no where near close to the actual number, which was 142,000 new jobs created.

While this number will be revised in the coming weeks, it underscores the fact that our economy is weak and struggling to create jobs, irrespective of the performance of the stock market.

Dig deeper into the numbers and you begin to see how weak job growth is in this current environment.

The civilian labor force participation rate, which is the number of working age Americans that actually have full time jobs, stands at 62.8% of eligible potential workers. This is the lowest rate since 1979, a year in which this country was in the middle of the malaise of the Jimmy Carter presidency. Currently, 92,269,000 working age Americans are out of the work force, up 268,000 from last month.

Put it another way, since the end of 2007 when the markets crashed and the Fed started printing money, the U.S. economy has added 13 million people to the ranks of those without a job.

Over the same period, the U.S. economy has created 768,000 new jobs.

That's a  serious problem.

And while we need the economy to create jobs, just as important is the quality of jobs that the economy creates. High quality jobs are jobs with good wages and benefits that allow a worker to support their family and have the ability to spend beyond the basic necessities.

And here we have a really serious problem.

Just under half of the 142,000 jobs created last month were in the industries that have the lowest pay: leisure and hospitality; education and health; and temporary jobs. The best paying industries- finance and technology, added just 4,000 jobs.

And the long time staple of the U.S. economy, manufacturing, added exactly 0 (ZERO) jobs last month.

Of those that are classified as employed, 52 million are considered "freelancers", or independent contractors, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal. These "employed" move from job to job on a contract basis with no benefits and no guarantee of future work.

Why is all this important?

Our economy will not grow and consumers will not spend beyond the necessities when we as a nation do not create high quality jobs that pay well. And when consumers don't spend, our economy contracts. And when the economy contracts, consumers don't spend as much.

And the downward spiral continues.

Higher personal and business taxes, the burden of Obamacare, the failure of our public education system to turn out graduates equipped to function effectively in the global economy, and the ineptness of the Federal Reserve and our leadership in Washington have all combined to create significant headwinds for the economy. It is more difficult in today's environment to create jobs, especially quality, high paying jobs.

And until the current conditions change, it will be difficult for the job creators to have the confidence to invest capital in new hires and for the economy to begin adding quality jobs.

And no amount of new dollars printed by the Fed and zero interest rates will change that lack of confidence.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

We are being constantly told by the talking heads of the media that the economy is recovering. And as a consequence, we should all feel good about the state of affairs of our domestic economy.

Not so fast.

After a dismal first quarter of negative economic growth- blamed on cold weather- the economy is still struggling to get traction. So far, consumer spending has grown this year by 1.8%, and when you factor in the effect of inflation, which is estimated to be 5% without the adjustments made in the calculations by the government, real growth is negative.

Here are some facts from the latest Commerce Department report that should shed some light on our current situation:

  • 25% of all personal income in this country is either a transfer from the government to individuals or income from a government job. That is $3.7 trillion taken from producers and given to those that do not produce a product or service in the private sector. The relentless growth of spending on social programs is projected to increase that percentage to 30% by the year 2020.

  • Real personal income increased by 2.6% last year, but when factoring in the real inflation cost of 5%, real income has declined 2.4%.

  • Government policy that has produced a 0% interest rate environment is estimated by the Commerce department to cost savers $500-700 billion per year. This has an obvious negative impact on spending and consumer confidence.

Consider the following information from the Commerce Department:

Notice that those that should be entering their prime earning years have actually seen their incomes decline. Is it any wonder that the economy is struggling?

Those that would typically spend as they start their families and as they grow have seen their incomes fall since the end of the recession. We shouldn't be surprised that consumer confidence is weak since the facts do not support an environment that would lead to growing confidence.

But wait, the markets are at record highs, so everything has to be good, right?


There is a huge divergence between the performance of the world's stock markets and the projected growth of the world's economies.

The performance of the S&P 500 in this country has not been related to the number of people that are employed.

So what is driving the market?

The market has risen almost in lockstep with the expansion of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet.

The Fed's attempt to drive the economy has failed miserably, even with an additional $4 trillion new dollars printed over the past five years. The policies of the Fed have not benefitted Main Street or middle class Americans.

The reality is that the market does not reflect the underlying weakness of the economy or the struggle that most Americans face.

But it eventually will.

How it plays out will be... interesting. Either the Fed will continue its obviously flawed policies, which will sooner or later debase our currency and fuel significant inflation. Or the Fed will allow normal market forces to begin to correct the excesses in our system, which will cause a correction in the markets.

Either way, it will painful.

Main Street, and middle class Americans, are telling policy makers that things aren't right and that the policies coming out of Washington aren't working.

Now, will they listen?

And that, my friends, is my view.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Over the past decade, the American middle class has been decimated. The number of people out of work is over 97 million; median wages have fallen over the past 5 years; the rate of home ownership has fallen for 8 straight years; and the average household wealth has fallen precipitously.

Even if you have not lost your job, the cost of living is going up while wages decline, putting greater pressure on many families.

There is no doubt the middle class is struggling. Here are some troubling facts:

  • According to a recent New York Times study, the average American household is now worth 36% less than a decade ago.

  • One out of every seven Americans now relies on food banks to feed their family.

  • One out three Americans now has a debt that is in collections.

  • According to CBS Marketwatch, 52% of American homeowners cannot afford the house in which they are currently living.

  • One out six American men between the age of 25-54 do not have a job.

  • More than 50% of all working Americans make less than $30,000 per year.

  • One out of every five children in the U.S. lives below the poverty line.

  • One million public school children are homeless, according to a study by the Washington Post.

  • The federal government paid more than $2 TRILLION in public assistance last year.

At one time, the U.S. had the most prosperous middle class in the world. Now, the average wealth of an adult American has fallen to 19th in the world.

Why is a healthy middle class important?

Middle class spending powers the U.S. economy. With families being crunched financially, spending by the middle class has fallen significantly, which means that our economy is struggling to grow and add quality jobs. Without quality jobs, middle class consumers are loath to spend. The resulting downward spiral is one that is difficult to break.

A healthy and thriving middle class provides economic mobility, especially for those that are not in the middle class and are striving to move upward economically. With a dearth of quality jobs and a contraction in the middle class, it becomes more difficult for upward mobility. Limited job opportunities for upward mobility constrains those that have the desire and drive to move up.

Job creation in this country comes from small business, which are typically owned by entrepreneurs in the middle class. 85% of all jobs created in this country are in companies that employ 50 people or less. With growing financial headwinds, job creation from this sector has stagnated and declined. The result is an economy that is not growing by adding quality jobs.

As you can see, a healthy middle class is essential to a healthy economy in this country. Right now, the middle class is under tremendous pressure financially, possibly as great as it has faced since the great depression.

Reversing these negative trends is going to take time and political will. Rather than serving narrow interests, our elected leaders are going to have to change course and create an environment where the middle class can thrive. this means cutting government spending and taxes; making it easier for businesses to add new jobs by rolling back onerous regulations and laws, including Obamacare; and removing incentives to be dependent on the government.

If we do not change course, our economy is going to continue to decline.

Along with the middle class.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hockey in Smashville Gets A Boost From State of the Art Ford Ice Center

The new Ford Ice Center is scheduled for a mid-September grand opening, and hockey in Middle Tennessee is going to benefit with the addition of this state of the art facility. The center has two sheets of ice, exceptional locker room facilities, and is already proving to be a draw to hockey teams from around the country.

The Center is located on a part of the old Hickory Hollow mall site.

I had an opportunity to tour the facility with Predators EVP Chris Parker, who has been the point man for the build out. Here are some pictures from that visit:

The center has been built in a partnership with the government of Nashville. The City will own the facility and the Predators will provide the management. This is a view of the front of the facility on the left. On the right is a new Nashville library and recreation facility.

The city is putting in exercise fields and a walking/running track that will be shared by the city owned rec center and Ford Ice. The hockey staff will use these fields for outdoor off-ice training.

The interior of the facility is open and spacious. This view is looking from the information desk back toward the front entrance. The Perani Pro Shop is on the left and at the front entrance, and will be an excellent addition for the hockey community.

The information desk is on the right and this is looking north toward the concession area. The concession area will provide indoor and outdoor seating. As you can see by the ladders and the punch lists taped to the wall, there is still a lot of work going on throughout the facility.

A closer look at the concession area. The facility has lots of windows and natural lighting.

The view behind the information desk. They were stocking the skates that can be rented for public skating sessions.

Opposite the pro shop and just inside the front entrance is a dedicated skills area. This area will allow players to work on their shot and puck handling on synthetic ice. A worker is installing the synthetic ice surface.

This is the south rink. The lighting in both rinks is exceptional and stands have been installed in the south rink that currently can seat about 350 fans. Maximum capacity for games on the south rink can go as high as 800, and the north rink can hold at maximum about 1100. In both cases, this would be the seating capacity and standing room crowds. Dressing rooms for teams are just off the rink, and there are a total of 8 dressing rooms to accommodate teams involved in tournaments.

The dressing rooms are large and give the players plenty of room to store their gear and personal effects. Several of the dressing rooms have a shared door which will allow the rooms to be combined to accommodate larger groups. Each dressing room has its own shower and rest room facilities.

The facility is two story, and it has upstairs viewing areas that offer a full view of the ice. There are connections for computers, tablets, and cell phones placed along the viewing area for use by scouts and coaches.

There are private rooms upstairs that can be used by coaches, scouts, and out of town teams during tournaments. Each room can be set up to meet the needs of its occupants. As you can see, these rooms also over look the ice

There are also meeting rooms and party rooms upstairs. they have moveable walls, which you can see on the back wall,  to accommodate groups of various sizes.

Hockey isn't the only on-ice activity that will be conducted at the Center. Scott Hamilton will have his skating school housed there, and the Olympic gold medal winner will be working with figure skaters from all over the country. In addition to their on-ice training, these skaters will work off ice on their choreography and moves. This is a training room for the figure skaters that has mirrors so they can observe their movements as well as other training equipment that will be installed.

This is a view of the side of the facility facing the library/rec center. You can see the windows of the pro shop on the left. At the far right, the gold columns are where the outdoor seating for the concession area will be located.

This graveled area will be used to display Ford trucks and cars in front of the Center. The entrance is at the far right in this picture under the gold roof.

This may look like excess construction material piled up, but it's not. Those are dasher boards that will be set up outside the arena on this concrete slab to make an outdoor half rink for roller hockey.

One of the shiny new Zambonis in the Zamboni pit. The center has dehumidifiers for each rink and uses a top of the line ammonia system for the chillers.

This first class facility is already attracting national attention. It will host a 32 team men's tournament in the fall and is expected to host hockey camps that will bring in players and scouts from all over the U.S. and Canada.

In addition to hockey activities, Scott Hamilton's Skating School is expected to draw world class athletes for his training.

Attracting elite hockey teams and world class skaters requires a first class facility.

Nashville now has that in the Ford Ice Center.

Walking through, it is quickly apparent that a lot of thought went into the design and construction of the Center. The Ford Ice Center is a facility is a strong statement about the growth of hockey in Nashville and Middle Tennessee and the commitment of the Predators and the City to continue to nurture that growth.

Well done by all involved.