Top Of My Head

Thoughts on everything from Politics to Video Games

Category: Economy (page 1 of 3)

Shelling Out to Access Your Pay

How would you feel if you had to pay a fee to access the money from your paycheck?  I know I’d be pretty upset.

That’s what’s happening to employees at various companies.  These companies have phased out paper checks or direct deposit and there’s nothing the employees can do about it.  They don’t have a choice, but use the prepaid cards their employers are handing out.

According to an article in the New York Times, “one provider, for example, charges $1.75 to make a withdrawal from most A.T.M.’s, $2.95 for a paper statement and $6 to replace a card. Some users even have to pay $7 inactivity fees for not using their cards.”

This is totally outrageous.  When people complain about regulations, they don’t realize the reasons behind why we have them.  This is a reason.  Companies shouldn’t be cutting costs by so much that their employees have to pay fees in order to receive their own money from their paychecks.

Read the article and decide for yourself if I’m correct.

A Week Of Sanity

I have decided that it is time to start spreading the sanity in our political debates.  It is time we all become educated in the economy to learn why we shouldn’t fall for more of tax breaks for the “job creators”.

I’m starting with Robert Reich.  Mr. Reich has served three presidents: Ford, Carter and Clinton.  The man knows his stuff.  Click on the video link on the right or click here to see him debunk 6 economic myths.

Youth Unemployment

This is an actual quote from Mitt Romney from Mitt Romney.com:

“I think this is a time when young people are questioning the support they gave to President Obama three and a half years ago. He promised bringing the country together; that sure hasn’t happened. He promised a future with good jobs and good opportunity; that hasn’t happened. And the pathway that he pursued is one which has not worked. Young people recognize that and I think that’s why they’re going to increasingly look for a different approach.” –Mitt Romney

Below the quote, there are links to the “facts” that support his data.  Two links to the same Time Magazine article written by Josh Sanburn (which I haven’t read) from February of this year,  there’s a couple of links to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and some more links to articles .

Here’s the thing:  Mitt Romney is hoping that you won’t research any farther than that.  He’s hoping that he can convince you that President Obama hasn’t done enough and he’s handing you little tidbits that support his claim.

So, I did the research myself.  Below is a chart.  This is the annual unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) from 1948 until 2011. I’ve broken the data down by age: 16 – 24 and over 25.  The third line is the combined annual unemployment rate.  I obtained the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics site.  (Side note: If you love data, like I love data, you could spend hours on this site running queries!)

Here’s the thing:  Romney is trying to make you think that somehow our youth have it so much worse than the rest of us and President Obama is responsible for it.  However; the truth is that the unemployment rate for 16 – 24 year olds has always been higher than the unemployment rate for the rest of the population.

 

Annual Unemployment 1948 - 2011

Shoplifting Post Over at Bilerico

Do you read the posts over at Bilerico?

If yes, then you’ve probably seen this one and if no, why the hell not?  They’re short, to the point and very well done.  I found this one (I’ve taken the liberty of putting a couple of sentences to get you started below) and I found it well written and interesting.  Anyway, click the more link to read the whole post over at Bilerico – come on, you know you want to.

I have a friend who steals. More accurately, he’s a friend of a friend, and whenever I see him he always has a story or two of things he’s recently stolen. It’s little stuff. Usually food. He can definitely afford to buy food, so it’s not about need. And I don’t think he gets much of a thrill out of stealing…more

Wall Street Journal – The Financial Meltdown

The video is called: End of Wall Street: What Happened. It is supposed to be the first in a 3 part series. Watch it – it is very interesting.

Republican Jobs Plan

Is it me?  Because I just don’t get it.  I don’t understand how the Republicans can keep coming back to the same old / same old and think that it will work.  Yes, Ronald Reagan cut taxes in 1981, but he raised government spending (and I’m really simplifying because monetary policy had a lot to do with the recovery).  The idea that the country can get our citizens back to work via lower tax rates and the reduction of government regulations is a one that is not based on any facts.

Here’s what drives companies to hire people – it’s simple, but true:  DEMAND.  That’s it, demand for a company’s good has to be high enough for the company to hire more people.  PERIOD.  If we’re not out purchasing Ding Dongs, the Ding Dong factory up the road is not going to hire more people.  It doesn’t matter how low a company’s taxes go, they’re NOT going to hire anyone they don’t actually need.

I don’t understand why it is that the Republicans in the Senate (led by John McCain) and the majority of the Republican Candidates for President do not understand the basics of economics.  And, actually, I do understand why Michele Bachmann doesn’t – the woman doesn’t know that Abraham Lincoln wasn’t a founding father and that Elvis is dead.  I understand why Rick Perry doesn’t get it – he’s a politician. But, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are businessmen – Romney hasn’t been one for quite a while, but Cain did an impressive job turning around the Godfather’s Pizza business.

How can either one of them say, in all honesty, that they would hire someone they don’t need in a company just because taxes are low?

Why would anyone?

The truth is that consumers are tapped out.  I’m tapped out, you’re tapped out.  We’ve pretty much purchased everything we wanted in the last, say, twenty years.  I have a house.  I purchased two cars – one new, one used – within the past two years.  Other than buying some Christmas presents and a new cell phone, quite honestly, I’m done.  Finished.  There’s no more spending coming from my house.  It is time – and this is probably anti-Patriotic of me – to do some saving.

There’s a lot of people out there who are just like me.

So, how does the economy improve?

By the government spending, spending and spending some more.  I don’t like the concept, I don’t like the idea, but that’s what has to happen.  We can’t lay off 15,000 government workers in one state and expect that state’s economy to make any improvements.

We have been neglecting our infrastructure in this country for years.  Now is the time to fix the bridges, the roadways, the levees, our schools and whatever else needs fixing.  Now is the time for the government to spend.

There’s a balance that has to be met.  We can’t have too much government money pumped into the economy or it will push out private investment.  We need to find that balance.

But, we are not going to improve the economy by cutting more taxes and reducing even more regulations.  The Republicans need to start singing a new tune, because the economy can’t march to the one they’ve been singing.

373 – 1

373 – 1 => that’s the difference between your salary and the salary of the guy on top.  For every dollar you earn, a CEO is earning 373 dollars.  And, what do you get for that huge difference?

You get a boss who thinks you’re paid too much.

You get a boss who wants to raise profit margins and he does this by laying off your co-workers or even you.

You get a boss who is more than willing to move a factory overseas to save money, so he can make even more.

You get bad health insurance – if you have any health insurance at all.

You get to save for your own retirement out of the little bit of money that you have – and you get politicians that want to take away your safety net.

You get the feeling that you are expendable.

We could blame the government for our nation’s economic woes.  However; it isn’t entirely the government’s fault.  Greed is good, so the saying goes.  Except, greed is only good for those on top and it harms those of us on the bottom rung (and, even those of us a couple of rungs higher).

Perhaps, the government should take some, but not all, the blame.  It was the government that removed the financial regulations that had prevented a financial collapse for sixty years.  The free market system would work if only greed and the ever desire for higher and higher profit margins wasn’t part of the deal.  When men (and women) only concern themselves with profit and not sound business decisions, economic collapse ensues.

I’m not entirely sure what can completely fix our economy, but I can tell you what won’t and what hasn’t.  Lowering taxes even farther and ending financial (and other business) regulations are not going to put this great nation back on solid financial footing.  We need to put the Glass-Seagull act back into place to protect our financial markets.  And, we need to raise taxes on the upper classes.  The top limit needs to be moved back to 39%.

Ronald Reagan was correct to lower taxes in the eighties.  It was a good thing and it started economy recovery.  However; too much of a good thing can do us harm.  Our current economic status is proving just that.

Mitt Romney’s Tax Cutting Plan

I’m reading this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek and there on page 38 is Charlie Rose’s interview with Mitt Romney.    He says, “The President’s plan is another short-term stimulus effort, akin to throwing a cup of gasoline on embers.”

In the interview, he makes some good points – he states that businesses hire because there is demand.  He recognizes that our wages are stagnate.  I give him credit for that.  However; like the rest of the GOP, he wants to see more tax cuts for the wealthy.  His job plan on his website states, “His plan seeks to reduce taxes, spending, regulation, and government programs.”

Don’t you just love that?  Reduce taxes – taxes are the lowest they’ve been since the 1950’s.  Guess what  This isn’t all about the taxes.  Reduce Spending – what spending?  The spending that keeps our schools open and our military protecting us?  Reduce Regulation – Interesting, but which regulations?  We threw out the Seagall – Glass Act, which kept out financial markets safe for over sixty years.  Regulations are not the enemy – bad corporate decisions are.

In short, Mitt Romney may have a greater clue than the rest of the Republican Pack, but he still has a long way to go.

 

Who Can I Blame?

A lot of people are complaining about their lot in life.  They drew a bad hand.  The “man” is keeping them down.  Big government is butting into their lives.

The truth is that the one person you can blame for your lot in life is you.  Yes, you heard me right.  Look in the mirror.  That person staring back at you is where the buck stops.  Yes, I realize that you can’t be blamed if you caught some disease and lost you job and home.  That isn’t your fault.  However; those people are not my target audience.  I’m not talking about those people befallen by horrible disasters beyond their control.  I’m talking about the people who like to blame everyone else for their issues.

Oh, I pay too much in taxes and that’s why I can’t get ahead.

No, no you don’t.  If you’re earning that much money that you’re in the highest tax bracket – stop complaining.  Man up, for Pete’s sake!  You’re out earning the majority of Americans, so be a little grateful that you won’t have to make the choice between eating and paying rent.

I’m underwater in my house and the government should bail me out.

No, no the government should NOT bail you out.  That’s crap.  You have a choice, continue to pay for the house and wait for the market to bounce back.  It will bounce back.  But, if you just walk away from your home and let it go – that’s total crap.  You’ve now contributed to the housing problem because now your home will lower the value of everyone else’s home.  Thanks a lot.  I understand a foreclosure if you’ve lost your job, but just walking away because you can is totally irresponsible and I’m going to punch the next person I meet who has done just that.

I can’t find a job and I’m still unemployed.

Oh, quit your whining.  There are jobs out there, you just have to lower your standards.  And, what have you been doing while you’ve been unemployed?  Have you been taking classes to update your skills?  Have you been trying out side jobs?  Have you been looking to move into a different field, perhaps one that is actually hiring?  Or, have you been sitting on your rear end blaming the world around you for your lot in life.  Yes, American Corporations should be bitched slapped for how they’re laying people off.  However; there are jobs to be had.  Take one.

I’m underemployed.  I’m too smart for this job.

Oh, please, get off your high horse and just be grateful you have a job.  Then, read the paragraph for the unemployed.  You will get nowhere in life if you don’t stick your neck out.  Working full time and going to school is tough.  Finding a work – home – school balance can be tricky, but it can be done.  I had a job that I loved and then it went away.  That was the catalyst that sent me back to the classroom and after six very long years of hard work, I managed to not only obtain my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a minor in Computer Science, but I found a good paying job to top it all off.  And, I’m not just sitting on my butt whining either.  I’m moving into the next phase of my life, as soon as I pick from where I want to obtain my Master’s.  Life is NOT a spectator sport.  You don’t get to sit on the bench and complain that the coach won’t play you.  You have to get out there and make a move that makes you worthy to move up the food chain.

Wow!  I’m glad I got all of that off my chest!  I feel so much better.

Outrage with No Truth

I bought my mother a couple of economic books. I wanted her to understand just what is going on with the nation’s economy. She said they were too dry to read. Instead, she asked me to pick up Laura Ingram’s new book for her, which is a switch because she normally reads Bill O’Reilly. At least she hasn’t discover Ann Coulter and when she does, she will not get the book from me. Someone else will have to feed her right-wing, free from the truth book habit.

I don’t know why I bother torturing myself in this manner. Life is just easier all around if I don’t talk to her. My mother is like a lot of Americans out there today. She’s mad that the economy is in the toilet. Two of her children are suffering because of the bad economy. And, my mother is blaming the government, which is exactly what Fox News wants her to believe. Even my own father, who is normally very reasonable, blames Obama for the economy. He believes that Obama signed TARP into law. Even when I pointed it out to him that, no, Pop, that was Bush; he looked at me like I was speaking another language. When the truth is staring us in the face, we still don’t want to see it.

And, that’s the whole problem.

We don’t bother actually looking at facts and figures ourselves. We trust the wrong news media – one run by a man who decides what gets covered and what doesn’t. Yes, economic books can be dry, but why wouldn’t you want to take the time to read one to find out what all of this on the news means? Why wouldn’t you want to be able to understand how the world works without being told by someone else? Right or left, if you don’t really understand the issue, then you can’t figure out the bias and you don’t really understand what’s going on.

I know that I harp on this a lot, but it just drives me absolutely crazy.

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