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Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

KFC Got More Expensive

Occasionally, when I know I am going to be home alone in the evening, I like to go through the drive-through at KFC and pick up a light meal. It’s always the same. A two piece meal, original, with coleslaw and potato wedges.

That’s what I did today. When I got to the window, the clerk told me $8.39. I hesitated. I had eight dollars in my hand, prepared to pay the customary $7.76. Puzzled, I asked him to repeat the order. He did. “Did the prices go up?” I asked. “Yes, minimum wage went up at the beginning of the year.”

I have been a consistent opponent of the minimum wage craze in these pages, and here is a more recent post to that effect.

I don’t mind paying 63 cents more for my two piece meal, not at all. I don’t mind that the worker that serves me my order is making more money now on the minimum wage scale. But look what happened: The price went up. So did the prices of groceries, clothes, utilities, all to offset the additional minimum wages the companies now have to pay to their employees. Those employees now have to spend more on the things they buy, just like I need to spend more. This is called INFLATION.

Wages go up, prices go up, wages go up, prices go up. The fit companies innovate and replace humans with automation. Prices go up more.

The poor worker behind the counter is in the same position he was in before.

Bernie Sanders says that “everyone deserves a living wage!”

Nonsense!

Some people have no skills, no work ethic, no drive, and no education. They do not “deserve” the same wage as those people who work hard in school, get an education, and provide better services in the jobs they have, who do quality work, don’t call in sick every other day, and overall make themselves more useful.

Minimum wage increases are stupid, counterproductive, cause inflation, and do not help the workers at the minimum wage level.

Are you listening, Bernie?

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Today I found this ad in my Facebook feed:

There are several current presidential hopeful front runners who routinely vilify billionaires, most notably Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. While I am generally aligned with most initiatives of the Democratic platform, I vehemently oppose this notion that “the billionaire class” is the root of our problems in America, and therefore we need to stick it to billionaires to “get even.” I really believe their type of economic extremism makes them unelectable.

This trend is not just American. Britain’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell during a protest stated that ““No one needs or deserves to have that much money, it is obscene,” during a protest of McDonald’s workers demanding higher wages.

In August of 2015 I wrote a post titled Musings about Vilifying Billionaires. This post is as valid today as it was when I first wrote it four years ago.

One of the best books about business I have read in a long time was Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. Here is my review from April 2018. Phil Knight is now number 16 on the Forbes 400 List with a net worth of $35.9 billion. Phil was a regular guy like you and I in the 1960s when he started selling shoes from the trunk of his car. The story of how he built Nike to what it is today is one of the most powerful stories ever told in business. If you have started and run your own business you will know how incredibly stressful and hard it is it make it work, succeed and survive.

Only somebody who has never had to make payroll, like a politician, will say something stupid like “nobody deserves to be a billionaire.” A statement like that exposes the speaker and is a testament to their ignorance and lack of understanding of basic economics.

Let’s go back to the meme above – Martha Kelly probably thinks it is the responsibility of the billionaires to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and cure the sick. And therefore, we should take the money away from the billionaires and let the government handle giving it to the poor. Yes – good luck with that! The same people that make asinine statements like “nobody deserves to be a billionaire” are the ones whom we’re going to entrust the money they are going to take away from the rich to properly distribute to the poor.

Bill Gates has given away more than $28 billion to charity, and he and his wife have managed how the money is being used. I trust Bill Gates 100 times more that the money is used in the right way and for the right causes than I’d ever trust Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren with the same money. Bill made the money, he knows its value, he understands how money works, and he has an intuitive knack for solving problems. Sanders and Warren do not have any of those skills, and neither do most bureaucrats in government.

When the self-appointed redistributors say they are going to take “a little away” from the rich, who decides who is rich and who is not? Where is the threshold? What’s to stop them from saying that if you make more than $80k in your family you are rich and you have to give your surplus to the poor? Who draws the lines?

I say we need to leave the capitalist system alone.

The workers at McDonald’s can ask about more wages all they want. If they are not contributing more for those more wages, they don’t “deserve” those wages.

If they are envious of the amount of money the CEO makes, why don’t they become the CEO? Problem solved. Oh, it’s hard? Ahh, there lies the rub.

If they want to be rich, why don’t they start a company, like a shoe company (Nike), or a software company (Google, Microsoft), or a rocket company (SpaceX), or a car company (Tesla) or an online retail company (Amazon), or a replacement of all taxis company (Uber), and they can be a billionaires. Hey, any of the people who built the companies I have listed here started from scratch.

Bill Gates was a college student who liked math.

Phil Knight was a jock who liked running and couldn’t find good shoes.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page were math students at Stanford.

Elon Musk came to Canada as a twenty-year-old with no money in his pocket. He shoveled out sewer tanks as one of this first jobs in America, before he started a car company and a rocket company in parallel.

Jeff Bezos started an online bookstore from scratch in 1994.

Read the biographies of these men and then come and tell me they don’t “deserve” to be rich!

The American system works. The tax system should be fair and even for all. But vilifying rich people because they were successful after defying all odds and worked their butts off all their lives does not work and will not get Sanders and Warren elected.

Now I have to get back to work. After all, it’s Sunday night and there is a lot yet to get done.

 

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The traditional meal in Japan for Christmas is KFC – Kentucky Fried Chicken. And not just fried chicken, but the brand, KFC? How did that happen?

メリークリスマス

The above says me-rii-ku-ri-su-ma-su written in katakana, the Japanese alphabet used to spell foreign words.

me-rii-ku-ri-su-ma-su, when you say it out loud, means Merry Christmas.

Japan is a nation where only about 1% of the population is Christian. So Christmas, historically, was fairly meaningless. In the post-war years in Japan, everything western became fashionable, and the country imitated the west wherever it could.

The first Kentucky Fried Chicken store opened in Japan in 1970. Shortly after it opened, the manager, Takeshi Okawara, overheard a couple of foreigners in his store talk about how they missed having turkey for Christmas. KFC didn’t have turkey, but it had chicken. What’s the difference, right? So Okawara thought fried chicken would work just fine and began marketing his Party Barrel as a way to celebrate Christmas.

Within a few years, the Japanese corporate office for KFC started advertising クリスマス に わ ケンタキイ (Kentucky for Christmas) and a tradition was born. Japanese now think that everyone in the west eats KFC for Christmas. It is huge in Japan. One third of the annual sales of any KFC store is done during the Christmas season. 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to a KFC meal during the Christmas season. To get a Christmas dinner at KFC, you have to reserve it weeks in advance.

Okawara went on to become the CEO of KFC Japan in 1984 and ran the company through 2002. 

So, as this example proves, if you want to get rich and famous, start a tradition based on a religion.

I wonder what the two customers who mentioned they missed turkey for Christmas in that store in 1970 would think if they knew what they started by that innocuous remark? What if they had been Jewish instead and asked for Gefilte Fish?

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I receive continuous views of my posts about the Dow under Obama and Trump, with a number of critical comments.

Here is my post from January 2018.

It’s time for an update.

The start of the Obama presidency has now slipped off the 10-year chart on the left. I have the blue arrow pointing off the chart down to 7949, which was the Dow when Obama took office. It was a low-point, as we all know.

Looking back through the Obama years, we had a steady rise of the Dow, with a flatting of the slope in 2015 and modest recovery at the end of 2016.

Trump was elected and took office, and the slope increased. The Dow grew faster for the next 12 months all the way through 2017. But it has sputtered through 2018 and 2019, with significant spikes and drops through those 18 months. The pro-business stance of the Trump administration, the lifting of regulations, has fueled the economy.

However, I would say that when readers say “we have been suffering” through the Obama years, I don’t think that’s accurate, at least not from the view point of the stock market and its growth. Unless Trump starts getting gains again with a steady upward trend, his overall performance from low to high may not be that of the Obama years. We’ll have to wait and see.

What concerns me is the debt.

We have new record deficits. I remember the “fiscally responsible party”, the GOP, making endless noise about Obama’s racking up of debt. Then it stopped. All of a sudden nobody worries about the debt ceiling anymore. The battles in the Republican-controlled Congress about the debt ceiling during the latter Obama years were epic. Now, we just raise the ceiling quietly.

Am I the only one concerned with that?

This tells me I need to create a deficit and debt chart next to put this into perspective. But that’s for another day.

 

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Vons Supermarket: “Would you like to donate five dollars for people in need?”

Panda Express Chinese Diner: “Would you like to donate your change to Children’s Hospital?”

Carl’s Junior Fast Food Restaurant: “Would you like to donate a dollar to help veterans?”

My answer to each of them: “No.”

Not “No, Thank You.” Not “I have already donated.” Just “No.”

I have no problem with charity for people in need, for sick children, and for veterans. But I have a problem with retail organizations hustling money from their customers, who, in the majority of cases, cannot afford those donation and probably need help themselves. I have always said simply “No” not because I don’t have the money to give, but because I do not believe in the principles applied.

In the case of Vons, who are “people in need?” How do I know my five dollars go there? Who are they accountable to? Where do they determine who is in need, and how?

In each of those cases, they prey on the person in line being embarrassed about saying “No.” Others standing behind or next to them in line can hear the conversation. People will say “Yes” just to get past the embarrassing moment. The young man in front of me at Vons was with his girlfriend. They bought just a few things. He donated more money to “people in need” than his total purchase value, just because he didn’t want to look like a miser in front of his girlfriend.

Why does our healthcare system need to beg for money for the Children’s Hospital in restaurants? Can’t we have a system that pays adequately for healthcare for children?

And what about or veterans? I believe the government that sends our young men and women overseas to get maimed and emotionally crippled owes those people adequate and quality healthcare. We should not need to beg for money in fast food lines for our veterans. Our politicians talk about how fine our military is, and we honor our service men and women by thanking them when we see them at the airport. But when they come back with limbs missing or drug addicted, we discard them. And we can’t figure out how to pay for their healthcare. That is – to me – repulsive.

I resent that we resort to collecting money for their care from those that can least afford it – people eating in fast food places. Our president has spent over $100 million of taxpayer money on golf vacations in just two years, and we beg customers in Carl’s Junior for money for veterans!

Screwed up, we are.

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First we institute a massive tax cut for the rich and corporations. This balloons the deficit. Our deficit is higher than it ever was in history. The Republicans, who are supposedly the fiscally conservative party that blasted Obama for his deficits, have been awkwardly quiet about this.

The “Trump Economy” as we call it is artificially pumped up by the massive debt we’re accumulating to pay for the tax cuts. Our grandchildren will be paying for this.

We’re borrowing money, largely from China, to make up for the deficit.

Now we’re placing tariffs on Chinese goods, which American consumers pay for in the end. Our farmers are hurt in the process.

Let me get this straight:

We are borrowing money from China to pay our farmers not to sell their crops to China.

We have dilettantes running our country.

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…or is it?

Recently I had a layover at Washington, DC’s Ronald Reagan Airport (DCA). Remember, this is the airport of our nation’s capital city. When you land at DCA, try to sit in a window seat on the left side of the plane. Almost all the time, the landing approach is to the south, and you get a wonderful glimpse of the Mall, the Capitol building at the end, the Washington Monument in the front, and the White House to the left, all in plain view, seemingly close enough to reach out and touch. Capital glory at its best.

…until you get off the plane and enter the DCA airport terminal. Quite often, if you land in a small commuter plane, you don’t even get a jet bridge. You walk on rickety metal stairs and ramps, outside, then enter a bus, wait until the entire plane is empty and all the people are in the bus, all the while breathing fumes of jet engines and bus exhaust all around.

The terminals are dilapidated, musty and crowded. The facilities are in want. It feels like you are in a third world county airport. It does not seem like you are in our proud nation’s capital. It is embarrassing.

Take, for example, a modern Asian airport, like Singapore Changi Airport, which has received the title of “World’s Best Airport” for seven years in a row.

This is an example of an airport of a thriving country which does not spend trillions of dollars on overseas wars in all corners of the world. It’s a country that invests in its infrastructure.

Jimmy Carter recently took a call from Donald Trump to talk about China. Carter’s main point reportedly was that China hasn’t spent a single dollar on war in many years. It has built an infrastructure of roads, it has more than half of the entire world’s high-speed train tracks, it has some of the world’s greatest and most modern airports, and it loans the United States money.

We need to rebuild our country’s roads – all of them. We need to fix our crumbling bridges. We need to improve our airport infrastructure.

When I watched the video above about Changi, I could not help but think of the book King Rat by James Clavell. The prison camp the entire story plays in is located near the premises of the Changi airport. Read King Rat, a 4-star book (in my rating) and marvel about the difference 75 years can make, from the bed-bug infested prison camp to the Jewel at Changi airport.

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Now this is something I have not seen in a long time. Getting gas in St. Louis:

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Last Sunday our group took a bus tour to Chichicastenango, a market town in the highlands of Guatemala, about two hours from Antigua, over steep mountains.

Our guides took us there because it has one of the most famous markets. The market itself is in the courtyard of a two-story building. We went upstairs and looked down on it. Dozens of vendors were selling their vegetables. What you can’t see in this picture is the strong aroma of the amalgam of all types of vegetables, fresh out of the earth. I have never before smelled vegetables that strong.

To get to the market, we had to walk down crowded alleyways which were packed with vendors on both sides. The paths themselves were also patrolled by vendors, women and children mostly, trying to sell us trinkets of all manner. It was frighteningly crowded. Sure enough, within just minutes one man in our group had his wallet and smartphone stolen. Somebody had bumped into him from the front, while presumably someone else picked the pocket in the right leg of his cargo shorts.

I walked with my wallet in my hand and my hand in my pocket, and my other hand on my phone all the way. I got through unscathed.

As we walked, women and children constantly solicited us to buy their wares. One boy, I estimate him about 12 years old, was Jeremy.

Here you can see Trisha surrounded by vendors. Jeremy is the boy on the right. The vendors latched on to us and followed us. Jeremy would simply not leave. He was very polite, spoke surprisingly good English, gave his name, told us about his family. We bought a blanket from his mother. He would just follow us and keep us engaged for at least 20 minutes all they way back to the gate of the town’s best hotel, which was our meeting place. Vendors cannot enter the hotel. Armed guards keep them out. It was almost like a sanctuary that kept the locals out.

And there stood Jeremy, as we walked away from him and the other children and women, looking at us with his smiling eyes and wishing us a good day. I turned around and bought a bamboo drum for 50 Quetzales, as a mercy purchase. Jeremy had obviously learned that as long as he simply persisted, he would eventually make the sale. I didn’t ask him how long he had been working the market, but there were little boys and girls who looked no older than six or seven who were out there hustling and hawking their trinkets.

The poverty in Guatemala is striking. People everywhere are working hard, trying to make a living somehow, and it just seems that the system is holding them down.

The average wage in Guatemala is about eight Quetzales an hour, that’s about $1.25 or perhaps one Euro.

I wonder what they are thinking when they serve tourists like us in luxury hotels. A beer costs 24 Quetzales in any bar or restaurant, or about 3 to 4 hours of work for the average person. A meal for two will easily run 500 or more Quetzales. That would be almost two weeks of work. A night in a good hotel will be 800 to 1500 Quetzales. That’s one month of wages.

What do these people who serve us think about us? In a single week in their country, between meals, hotels, fares, entry fees for various events and places, each of us might spend two years’ worth of wages of an average person.

Is it any wonder that boys like Jeremy, once they are 16 years old and independent, get on a bus and head “al norte” to make a better living for themselves?

I cannot blame them. These people are made of passion and diligence and an indomitable spirit. It’s as if they came straight from Mother Earth.

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This kind of stuff annoys me.

Politicians do not create jobs. The economy and industry creates jobs. Yes, I create jobs. I created jobs while Obama was president, and I created jobs while Trump was president.

Trump or Obama had nothing to do with my job creation endeavors. And I can say with certainty that I see no difference between the climate for job creation by Obama vs. Trump. It’s been good in the last 10 years. Trump gets no credit from me. The graphs of Obama’s presidency just continued.

But we get sucked into this nonsense.

 

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To Tip or Not To Tip

Many foreigners can’t figure out the tipping system in America. I actually like it. Every time I go to another country where tipping is not customary like it is here, I remember why I like it. It just makes customer service better. Going to a restaurant in the United States is by far a different experience from going to a restaurant in a European country, where the waiters are paid “a living wage” to use a Bernie Sanders phrase. The waiters, all too often, simply don’t care, and the service is sloppy and slow. Often the staff is unfriendly and sometimes even condescending.

When a significant portion of your income depends on how the customer feels taken care of, the quality of service goes up.

I believe in tipping, and I usually tip well, but only where the tip has an effect on the service I am getting. I do not believe I should be tipping when there is no direct relationship between the service and the tip.

For instance, I believe in tipping in the following service relationships:

  • Waiters in restaurants – they cater to me, both in making me feel comfortable, providing good advice on the menu, bringing me the food and acting like they want me there. My tip will reward them in proportion to the service. It’s a true interaction.
  • Staff at events – recently we went on a hot-air balloon ride. It takes a whole crew to get a balloon launched and landed safely. The staff works hard and they make the guests feel safe, comfortable, and enhance the experience.
  • Shuttle drivers – from hotels, rental car companies, parking garages to airport terminals, etc. The drivers work hard, they carry my luggage, they drop me off and pick me up when I need them.
  • Doormen – people who hail cars, check your luggage, coats, open your doors, help you in and out of cars.
  • Food delivery people – the pizza man, or anyone bringing food to my house.
  • Installers at my house – Recently we had a fan installed at my house. The installer worked had, cleaned up after himself, and I know he was just a laborer, working for a company. I gave him a generous tip.

I don’t tip in the following service relationships:

  • Hotel housekeeping staff – this is controversial. Many people leave tips on the pillow for housekeepers. I do not, except when I am at a resort for multiple days or a week, and it’s the same housekeeper that cleans up for me day after day. When I spend one or two nights at a hotel, I never see the housekeeper, and I do not create a service relationship. The service is provided in advance according to expectations set. Whether I leave a tip at the end or not does not affect the service. It makes no sense to me.
  • Owners or managers – If I am getting a service from a business owner, say a caterer, and the caterer is the boss, and I am already paying for that service, I do not think I should be expected to tip them.
  • Tip jars at the coffee shop – The servers behind the counter work hard, yes, but what they do is pour a cup of overpriced coffee into a paper cup, put on a lid, and take my money. I don’t believe after paying two dollars for a cup of coffee I should put money into a jar on the counter. These people are doing the minimum necessary to give me my product. I don’t think a tip is appropriate. I ignore the jar.
  • Tip jars anywhere – If someone just sells me something, there is no reason for a tip.
  • Cab drivers – even though I do sometimes tip when I have to give cash to a cab driver, I never like it. They are driving me, for goodness sake. What’s so special. Now I don’t use cabs anymore, I use Uber, and yes, I usually don’t tip Uber drivers.

I am curious if my readers have input into this subject.

 

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President Trump has been blowing his own horn about having GDP growth rates of over 4.2%. That is correct, he has.

The chart below (source) shows the U.S. GDP growth rate not adjusted for inflation.

The interesting fact is that Obama shows a growth rate of over 4.2% in six out of the 32 quarters of his presidency. When you look at where he took over – right after Bush’s market crash – he really did inherit a mess, unlike Trump, who came in when things were going swimmingly.

However, Obama’s growth rate, on average, was slower than Bush’s, if you for a moment forget about the crash, and Trump’s.

This has been common knowledge. Obama’s growth or recovery rates were slower than they could have been. I attribute that to his being bent on regulation, both in the financial sector, as well as in energy. I considered him responsible for the health of the citizenry and the long-term health of the globe. I do think that climate change is anthropogenic, and I do believe that Obama took responsible actions. We were paying for it by less than optimal growth rates.

In the end, however, Trump is making claims that he is some superstar of growth, which he is not. Bush’s numbers were better than his, and Obama’s not that much worse.

Date Rate President Average
30-Jun-18 5.44% Trump 4.44%
31-Mar-18 4.58% Trump
31-Dec-17 4.49% Trump
30-Sep-17 4.19% Trump
30-Jun-17 3.85% Trump
31-Mar-17 4.09% Trump
31-Dec-16 3.40% Obama 3.07%
30-Sep-16 2.56% Obama
30-Jun-16 2.30% Obama
31-Mar-16 2.44% Obama
31-Dec-15 2.89% Obama
30-Sep-15 3.45% Obama
30-Jun-15 4.57% Obama
31-Mar-15 5.07% Obama
31-Dec-14 4.42% Obama
30-Sep-14 5.17% Obama
30-Jun-14 4.74% Obama
31-Mar-14 3.22% Obama
31-Dec-13 4.43% Obama
30-Sep-13 3.64% Obama
30-Jun-13 3.01% Obama
31-Mar-13 3.43% Obama
31-Dec-12 3.56% Obama
30-Sep-12 4.27% Obama
30-Jun-12 4.23% Obama
31-Mar-12 4.80% Obama
31-Dec-11 3.65% Obama
30-Sep-11 3.40% Obama
30-Jun-11 3.82% Obama
31-Mar-11 3.83% Obama
31-Dec-10 4.19% Obama
30-Sep-10 4.57% Obama
30-Jun-10 3.99% Obama
31-Mar-10 2.27% Obama
31-Dec-09 0.47% Obama
30-Sep-09 -2.80% Obama
30-Jun-09 -3.06% Obama
31-Mar-09 -1.75% Obama
31-Dec-08 -0.83% Bush 4.64%
30-Sep-08 2.07% Bush
30-Jun-08 2.94% Bush
31-Mar-08 3.11% Bush
31-Dec-07 4.59% Bush
30-Sep-07 4.81% Bush
30-Jun-07 4.60% Bush
31-Mar-07 4.45% Bush
31-Dec-06 5.29% Bush
30-Sep-06 5.51% Bush
30-Jun-06 6.51% Bush
31-Mar-06 6.60% Bush
31-Dec-05 6.47% Bush
30-Sep-05 6.82% Bush
30-Jun-05 6.61% Bush
31-Mar-05 7.06% Bush
31-Dec-04 6.40% Bush
30-Sep-04 6.36% Bush
30-Jun-04 7.04% Bush
31-Mar-04 6.59% Bush
31-Dec-03 6.30% Bush
30-Sep-03 5.23% Bush
30-Jun-03 3.85% Bush
31-Mar-03 3.66% Bush
31-Dec-02 3.86% Bush
30-Sep-02 3.74% Bush
30-Jun-02 2.79% Bush
31-Mar-02 3.02% Bush
31-Dec-01 2.12% Bush
30-Sep-01 2.68% Bush
30-Jun-01 3.42% Bush
31-Mar-01 4.70% Bush

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I am on the board of a Homeowners Association (HOA). Recently we received the letter below from our landscaping contractor. I have redacted any identifying information for privacy. You can click on the letter to enlarge it.

This shows the effect of government-mandated minimum wage increases. The result is almost never what is intended. The additional costs are passed on to the consumer, and the whole process simply drives up inflation. We, the homeowners, are going to pay more for the landscaping, so the workers can get their higher minimum wage. This happens when there is nothing the company can do about it.

Other affected companies, like fast food restaurants, have choices, usually related to automation. We have seen more self-service kiosks spring up in fast food places, replacing the high school students behind the counter. Restaurants figure out how to make do with less human labor, not more. In that case, minimum wage incentivizes automation.

Recently I have seen Bernie Sanders attack Amazon and Jeff Bezos, who recently passed Bill Gates as the richest man in the world. Here is one of Bernie Sanders’ tweets:

Here is another one, where you can hear Bernie speak about the subject:

This is a complicated subject. Bernie wants to force Amazon, and other companies, to pay their workers a “living wage” that takes them out of the income range that qualifies for welfare.

Yes, you and I, with our tax dollars, pay for food stamps and other programs to help Amazon workers who can’t feed their families on the money they earn.

Sanders rages against Bezos, who has built the company into what it is today.

As cruel as it sounds, however, Bernie’s answer isn’t going to work. It’s not the government’s job to tell companies what they need to pay their workers. Companies pay their workers what they need to pay them to do the jobs they need done. It’s as simple as that.

If there are enough high school students who are willing to stand behind a counter at McDonald’s for $7.25 an hour, then that’s what McDonald’s will pay.

If Amazon workers don’t like their wage, why don’t they go to another company that pays more for the skills they have? Why don’t they all leave Amazon? If Amazon could not find workers to work for what they pay, they would raise that pay.

The problem is that the low-paying jobs are those that do not need a lot of skills, education, dedication or creativity. Go check out what Amazon pays its engineers! You’ll probably find $120,000 and above as the average. Why don’t the workers that don’t like the low wage become engineers so they can get paid high wages?

We also keep pointing out that the average CEO makes 312 times as much as the average worker. I just found this in Time Magazine today:

Here is what I say: If you like the pay of the CEO, why don’t you become the CEO of one of the top 350 publicly held companies in America?

The problem is that it’s hard to do that. It takes years of education, working at entry-level jobs, climbing through the ranks, working in stressful careers, doing 80 plus work weeks for years on fixed salaries, getting promoted to management, working 12 hour days 7 days a week in management. If you do all that, and you happen to choose an industry and career field with a future, and your company doesn’t go under as you work you butt off, and if you’re lucky and don’t get sick, and if the economic cycles align to your benefit, you might one day find yourself a CEO. And you make the big bucks.

After you have gone through that, you will know that the government had nothing to do with your overnight success and your phenomenal income.

You will also understand that minimum wage laws don’t work. All they do is force the working people to pay for those that don’t work, or don’t want to work, or can’t work, or don’t have the education needed to work.

This is what feeds Trumpism in the first place. This is why our country is divided. Trumpism does not work. But Bernie Sanders’ socialism also does not work.

Neither is the solution we need for a well-functioning society.

The real solution is education, and that is for another rant.

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Tax Cuts and Debt

During the Obama years, Congress and the conservative talking heads blasted and ridiculed him for deficits and racking up the debt. Every day we had to listen how he was bankrupting our country, how debt was killing us. Remember when the Republican Congress was willing to shut down the government rather than raising the debt ceiling?

What happened to all that fiscal responsibility and loathing of debt?

The U.S. budget deficit this year is already 21% higher than last year. U.S. borrowing is expected to hit $329 billion in the current quarter. This will be the largest third quarter deficit in eight years and will equate to a 74% rise over last year.

Nobody seems to be complaining about that now. Are we no longer worried about our grandchildren?

Mnuchin is the bankruptcy expert. Remember, his was the guy who flourished during the 2008/2009 housing crisis. Millions of Americans lost their homes. Mnuchin got very rich.

Trump is doing to our country what he did to many of his businesses. He is running it into the ground. He is bankrupting it. When it gets nasty, he will walk away, personally much richer than before.

You can’t money-launder the United States national debt away with borrowing schemes from Russian oligarchs. So for the next 50 years, the middle class, our children and grandchildren, will be paying for the debt so the fat cats today got their tax cuts. Ross, DeVos, Mnuchin, Trump, all the kleptocrats we put in charge, are sucking the country dry, and we’re letting them.

Trump always says that our leaders have been stupid. Maybe they have been.

But right now, it’s us, the country, who are stupid.

 

 

 

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April 1, 1976 was the day I reported to military boot camp in Leipheim, Germany. I was a 19-year-old boy and the service was my first real job. No man ever forgets the day he goes into the military. I remember it fondly.

On April 1, 1976, that very same day, on the other side of the world, in a garage in Palo Alto, California, another boy, this one 20 years old, by the name of Steve Jobs, along with this engineer friend Steve Wozniak, founded Apple Computer.

Four years later the military discharged me, and I got ready to go to college, for math and computer science.

Four years later, on December 12, 1980, Apple launched its IPO, selling 4.6 million shares at $22 per share. The shares sold out almost immediately and the IPO generated more capital than any IPO since Ford Motor Company in 1956. Apple was worth $1.2 billion.

Then in 1997, Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy. Microsoft and its many partners in the personal-computer market were eating Apple’s lunch. Then they called back Steve Jobs.

Today, 42 years and 4 months later, exactly 15,554 days after that auspicious day of April 1, 1976, Apple became the first company in history to reach a market cap of $1 trillion. Nobody had ever reached that before. Exxon, which for decades was the most valuable company on the planet, is at $338 billion today, almost exactly a third of Apple’s value.

Congratulations, Apple. You are an inspiration to all entrepreneurs, and I must admit there have been many crossroads in my career and the life of my own company when I found myself asking: What would Apple do now?

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