Friday, August 23, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

If you want to get a feel for where our nation is financially, consider these terrifying but useful data points compiled by Michael Snyder:

  • Since President Obama assumed office, 7 out of every 8 jobs that have been created in our economy are part time jobs.
  • An amazing 53% of all American workers now make less than $30,000 per year.
  • In 2008, the average duration of unemployment was 19.8 weeks. Today, it is 36.6 weeks.
  • In the first term of President Obama, the number of Americans that were not in the labor force but of working age soared by an astounding 8,332,200 people, more than any 4 year period in the history of our country.
  • Median household income has fallen 4 consecutive years, over $4,000 during that time. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the total income in this country than it has ever recorded before.
  • The U.S. poverty rate is now 16.1% of the population, which is higher than when the War on Poverty began in 1965.
  • In President Obama's first term, more than 11,000 people PER DAY were added to the roll of those receiving food stamps.
  • Electricity bills have risen faster than the rate of inflation for 5 years in a row.
  • Health insurance costs have risen by 29% since Obama became President. This will get even worse under Obamacare.
There is a litany of more negative statistics and facts about our economy that I could present. The point is not to bash President Obama- although he and Democrats in Washington are responsible for a lot of this mess. The point is to call our attention to the necessity of having Washington focus on what is important: removing barriers to growth in our economy so that people can once again get full time jobs that will allow them to support their family; and to get Washington to stop spending and wasting our money. These horrid facts should serve as a clarion call to all of to hold our elected officials accountable and to force them to rein in spending and to stop passing burdensome laws. As these facts demonstrate, we cannot continue down this fiscal path.

You never really learn to swear until you start driving.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates and tracks the nation's unemployment rate, and this agency is the source of the unemployment numbers that we hear every month. What you may not know is that the Gallup polling organization, a private firm, also tracks the unemployment rate. Historically, the calculations by the BLS and Gallup have tracked each other very closely, and while not exactly matching, the difference has been statistically insignificant. Until now. BLS reported a 7.4% unemployment rate for the end of July, which cheered the markets and led to a strong belief that the Federal Reserve would slow down their printing of money in September. Gallup, on the other hand, showed a jump to 7.8% for the end of July; not enough of an anomaly over which to get worried. However, on a rolling 30 average, Gallup shows the unemployment rate moving from 7.7% on July 21 to 8.9% on August 21. This is troubling but should be expected as more companies shrink their work force to get under the employee limits mandated by Obamacare. If this is a one off and their numbers return to normal, there will be a sigh of relief. I do not believe it to be a one off, though, and instead think it reflects the realities of our economy and the onerous regulatory system under which companies are operating today. Watch this trend closely, and especially pay attention to the Gallup numbers. They could be the canary in the coal mine.

I am thinking about opening a self service minor surgery clinic. I have the perfect name- "Suture Self".

Regular readers know that I often exhort each of us to get involved with what is going on in Washington and let our elected officials know that we as voters are holding them accountable. Well... our elected officials in Washington don't like being held accountable, and will go to great lengths to prevent citizens from seeing what is being deliberated as far as laws and regulations that have a direct and dramatic impact on all of us. Don't believe me? Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D Montana) is beginning to gather ideas and proposals to simplify the tax code. Sounds good so far. Certainly sounds like something that we would like to be involved with and give input. Good luck with that. According to the Congressional Register, the Senate Finance Committee is putting all recommendation and proposals under a 50 YEAR TOP SECRET CLASSIFICATION! Access outside of the committee is restricted to just 10 staffers. Think about that- the deliberation by our elected representatives on tax reform proposals that will financially affect you and I are TOP SECRET. If you ever want an example of what has gone awry in Washington, look no further. Our elected leaders, that are giving themselves access to our wallets, cannot even conduct a debate about tax code reform in public. This should make you angry and motivate you to get involved. Washington has to change.

Some things are better left unsaid. My problem is I can't determine which things.

And that, my friends, is my view.

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