Posts Tagged ‘economy’

“Mind the Gap”

August 8, 2015

No not the gap between a London tube platform and a train’s car that signs warn riders to “mind,” but the very wide income gap between America’s wealthy and it’s shrinking middle class. That’s going to be the key issue in the  upcoming  presidential  election.  I didn’t hear it mentioned in the Republican debate Thursday night on Fox News.

One of the reporters did ask how Republican candidates are going to respond to Hillary Clinton’s claim, that, in essence, all Republicans care about are the wealthy. The main answer was that Republicans will grow the economy which will provide more jobs. Will  it? The economy has bounced back since the 2008 Great Recession. The trouble is that the improvement was soaked up by those at the top. The average worker’s income remained virtually flat. Money that could have been used to raise the incomes of employees and provide jobs went to the top. CEOs are doing very well. Just ask Donald Trump.

Wedge issues like Planned Parenthood and immigration got a lot of attention during the debate, but they didn’t derail President Obama and they won’t derail the Democratic candidate this time around, either.  Again, the main issue will be the economy. Growing it is not enough. Making sure that a fair share of that growth goes to America’s working class is the issue.  The Democratic candidate can win the  election, but will that solve the problem? Well, a Democrat has been sitting in the White House for almost 8 years now and the problem is still very much with us. 

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It’s Education, Stupid!

March 18, 2013

The number one crisis in America is not the national debt or the deficit.  It is the crisis  in education and the growing income inequality between the one percent and the ninety-nine percent.

That growing income gap is what made it possible for President Obama to totally surprise a lot of people and decidedly win reelection.  The average American can now easily observe that corporations are doing very well with record profits, and CEO  salaries get fatter and fatter, while he struggles to make ends meet, to properly support his family.

Education is widely touted as the solution for the unemployed.  Maybe it is.  There are jobs crying for people to fill them, but finding workers educated enough to fill  them is a problem.

Just check out these stats provided by the National  Commission on Adult Literacy:

One in three of our children is not graduating from high school.

The global competitiveness of our workforce has significantly declined.

Says the commission, “Among the 30 OECD free-market countries, the U.S. is the only nation where young adults are less educated than the previous  generation.”

The 2007 State New Economy index reports, ” Workers who were skilled with their hands and could reliably work in repetitive and sometimes physically demanding jobs were the engine of the old economy. In today’s New Economy, knowledge-based jobs are driving prosperity…jobs held by individuals with at least two years of college.”

In our state, Georgia, we have a 25 percent illiteracy rate. That is incredible. A state with compulsory public education has a 25 percent illiteracy rate.

Nationally, the National assessment  of  Adult Literacy showed that in 2005, “a staggering 30 million American adults scored at ‘below basis’ – meaning they could perform no  more than rudimentary literacy tests. Another 63 million adults could perform only simple basic everyday literacy activities.

Just think what this means to the children of illiterate parents who do not get intellectual stimulation and training at home.

The Commission says something can be done. It recommends Congress enact a new Adult Education and Economic Growth Act to  overhaul and expand adult education and workforce skills training.  You can read about it this site.

The results of not doing anything about this means the global  market will furnish the needed educated workers if America fails to educate new workers “from the adult ranks.”  “88 million of 188 million adults aged 18 to 64 will struggle with only a high school education and low English proficiency. Large numbers of them will become a drain on the economy, rather than a positive economic force.”

Wonder why news media does so little reporting on this crisis.

A New Year’s Eve Like no Other

December 31, 2012

It’s Monday, which means I should do a post because I said I would try to do one each Monday. I didn’t make it last Monday because frankly I didn’t feel like it. Bronchitis. I’m a little better now so I’ll see what I can do. .

This is truly an interesting New Year’s Eve.  I don’t recall one in which so much is at stake because of the deadline on ending of the Bush tax cuts and the beginning of across-the- board spending cuts. No doubt, just about everyone knows all this because it has been on all of the news channels endlessly.

Those who will be hurt the most by the looming tax hikes and spending cuts, are already those who are hurting the most, the vast majority of the American middle class which has seen its income stagnate for years. Those who are doing quite well will feel the tax bite and, some may even see their investments erode as government spending cuts wipe out some government contracts for goods and services, but the negative effect on them will probably be minor.. The military-industrial complex also will feel the pinch as the defense budget is cut. That is  certainly of concern to our area which depends heavily on defense department spending.

Still, if  you watch the Times Square News Year’s Eve celebration as the ball drops signifying the end of the 2012 and the beginning of 2013, you will see dancing in the streets, cheering, bands playing, singers singing, people kissing, and there will be a general feeling of well-being and happiness in the air. That American spirit, which continues in spite of all that is going on in Washington. is what offers hope, is what eventually gets us through tough times. It has before and it will again. Perhaps at election time it will even provide us with a new Congress, one that will regain the confidence of the American people..

The Impossible Political Dream?

November 7, 2012

 

Courtesy: U.S. Government

Senator Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader in the Senate, can now focus on something other than making sure that President Obama is a one-term president. That issue has been settled. He can start making reasonable compromises with the president and Democrats in the Senate to do what is best for all Americans.   He puts the burden on the president, telling the Louisville Courier- Journal, ” To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we’ll be there to meet him half way.” That offers some hope.

Speaking of hope, let’s hope that more senators, Republicans and Democrats, turn more toward statesmanship, and less toward vindictive partisan politics.

Let’s hope it is not futile to think that reasonable  compromise can also become  the new norm in the  House, too.  It’s time to put the nation first, not the  party.

This may be too much to hope for, but if it doesn’t happen,  this country faces even tougher times.  The fiscal crisis cannot be solved without both spending cuts and increased revenue. The trick is to make sure those spending cuts don’t put more of a burden on Americans who need help right now, and to increase revenues without putting more of a tax burden on the middle class.  Taking more money from the middle class means it has less to spend.  Our economy is consumer driven, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what will happen if middle-class consumers have fewer dollars to spend.

HIGHER EDUCATION COSTS ARE DRIVING THE DEMAND FOR LARGER COLLEGE LOANS

October 10, 2012

COLLEGE EDUCATION COSTS FOUR TIMES MORE THAN IT DID TWENTY YEARS AGO.

IT GOES UP TWO TO FOUR PERCENT MORE THAN THE INFLATION RATE EACH YEAR. 

Getting a college education makes financial sense. College graduates, on average, make more money than high school graduates.  However, a caveat must be added. It makes financial sense if you can make a decent living after you have made your payment on your college loan.  A lot can’t.  Many can’t pay back the loans. Loans have gotten larger and larger over the years because the cost of  getting a college degree has skyrocketed.  That was the subject we discussed in our Columbus State University Continuing Education Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning “What’s Happening?” Class. It’s a current events class.  It was an excellent discussion, in my view, probably because we have a lot of retired educators in the class.   There was one area, though, that got very little attention: why has the cost of a college education skyrocketed over the years?  I decided to Google it, and, sure enough, I found an article that answers that question.  

An article on the NPR website on a report on “Fresh Air” entitled “What’s Driving College Costs Higher”  tells of how the rapidly rising increases in tuition and other costs are forcing students to have to borrow more to stay in school.  Two-thirds of college students get college loans.  The increases are not because of increased pay to professors. Their pay has been stagnant for a number of years. However, another report tells us that is not the case with administrative salaries.  They have been dramatically increasing, and universities have been expanding administrative staffs.

Georgia is one of a very few states that offer scholarships to all students who keep their grades up.  The HOPE scholarship program, funded by the state lottery, has not been able to keep up with the dramatic rising tuition costs and now pays only a portion of the costs.  

It appears that universities need to concentrate more on cutting costs and less on expansion. Why the emphasis on growth? Why is bigger better when it comes to higher education facilities?   One argument is that larger student bodies mean more subjects can be taught.  Some believe, however, it boils down to university presidents striving to increase their status by being president of larger student bodies.  Whatever the reason, cost cutting needs to be getting a lot more attention for the sake of America’s middle and lower class students who are feeling the cost squeeze the most. Massive defaults on paying off the loans – they amount to over a trillion dollars now – could disastrously affect the nation’s economy.  

NCR Brings More Jobs Home to America as it Moves into a Second Plant in Columbus

March 28, 2012

My iPhone shot of Rick Marquardt, NCR VP of Global Operations, spewkaing to members of the Rotary Club of Columbus

What stood out was seeing a powerful corporate executive become emotional when he told of how plant employees came up smiling to shake his hand, some even crying, as they thanked him for providing them jobs.  “That’s what it’s all about,” said Rick Marquardt, Vice President of Global Operations for NCR, who spoke to Columbus Rotarians today, the day he came back to town to announce the opening of a second plant in Columbus. NCR has leased the new building that Cessna was going to use but decided against it when the economy went sour.

Columbus is NCR’s only manufacturing facility in the United States. Since opening in Columbus, the plant has manufactured 25,000 ATM machines and also makes other business machines here. The corporation’s decision to bring some manufacturing jobs back to America got national attention, but he cautioned that we shouldn’t expect a lot of firms to do that. That’s sad. Still, we can be thankful that some are doing it and one as large and as successful as NCR  picked Columbus to do it. Marquardt said Columbus was chosen because of the enthusiastic and broad support it got by Columbus business leaders when deciding on which city to start making things in the U.S.A. again.

BOUGHT GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM

October 20, 2011

It is just incredible that one simple redirection of federal funds could dramatically increase new jobs in America.  Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small Business League,  said on CNBC today that the federal government, by law, is mandated to channel 23 percent of federal contracts to small businesses. He also said that small businesses create a hundred percent of net new jobs, but that most of the federal money is going to the Fortune 500 companies that have not increased the number of net new jobs in 30 years. 30 YEARS! No doubt they have shifted tons of jobs to China and other low-pay countries, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD  – sorry for the screaming capitalizations, but, if true, this is insane – start channeling that money to small businesses where the jobs are created.

He says the president’s jobs program simply is about cutting taxes, and that study after study by the nation’s Nobel Prize winning economists have shown that cutting taxes does not create new jobs.  If what he says is true,  it is immoral not to give small businesses the 23 percent of federal contracts they are supposed to be getting. In fact, the percentage should be greatly increased.

Why hasn’t this happened? The obvious answer is that the big corporations have the money to buy the government. It costs a fortune to win a congressional or presidential election. It  seems that BOUGHT GOVERNMENT is the reason we are in the economic mess we are in right now. BOUGHT GOVERNMENT is what we have. It has to change or things will simply go from bad to worse for America’s middle class. 

Why Did President Obama Pick Savannah?

February 27, 2010

PRESIDENT  OBAMA VISITS SAVANNAH TUESDAY AS PART OF HIS ‘WHITE HOUSE TO MAIN STREET” LISTENING TOUR

I don’t know why President Obama picked Savannah for his “Main Street” visit to Georgia Tuesday, but he will certainly be in probably Georgia’s most charming city.  I was there recently and really enjoyed the visit.  It’s a beautiful place, and, as you know, the most historic city in Georgia.  It’s where Georgia started in 1733. 

River Street in downtown Savannah, Georgia

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution story by Bill  Torpy and    Jeremy Redmon,  the White House will only say that ” its residents ‘have been hit hard and know well the challenges that Americans are facing right now’ — a criteria that could fit Anytown, USA.”  

The president will be conducting a town hall type meeting at Savannah Technical College.  The Savannah Morning News reports that only invited guest will be in attendance because the school’s auditorium will only seat 200 people.  After he finishes there, he is scheduled to make some more stops during his four hour visit,  but the White House won’t say where they will be. 

Port of Savannah on the Savannah River. It exports more than it imports.

According to the AJC  story, Robert Eisinger, dean of liberal arts at the Savannah College of Arts and Design,  says, ” Savannah provides racial, ideological and geographical diversity,” he said, and “It’s a president’s job to go out and listen. There’s an export story he can tell here, a manufacturing story and an education story.”  He pointed out the photographic settings, which include “historic architecture, an expansive river view,  and a busy port that all can help bring home whatever message Obama wants to make.”

There are some high profile Republicans in the Savannah area, such as Congressman Jack Kingston who is opposed to the $787 billion stimulus program – though Georgia Republican Governor Perdue’s administration had no problem in accepting Georgia’s share of the money- but,  the president will not be in hostile territory.  He pulled 57 percent of the vote in Chatham County.

TSYS CEO and Chair Phil Tomlinson Updates Rotarians on the Fortunes of TSYS

July 8, 2009
Philip Tomlinson, CEO, Chair, TSYS, Columbus, GA  (Courtesy of TSYS, unauthorized usage not permitted)

Philip Tomlinson, CEO, Chair, TSYS, Columbus, GA (Courtesy of TSYS, unauthorized usage not permitted)

TSYS CEO and Chairman of the Board Phil Tomlinson told Columbus Rotarians today that while the company has a lost a big customer, Washington Mutual,  and could lose another one, Bank of America merchant services,  things, over all, are going well.  He did say that TSYS customers are mainly banks and banks are having big problems.  But, he made it clear that TSYS was not in the loan making business.

He admitted that there have been significant credit card abuses by some banks,  but thinks the new regulations being put in place by the Obama administration will cause problems,  mainly an increase in costs. 

He also said credit card companies are an easy target for politicians.

He told me that TSYS has not laid off any employees – he calls them “team members” –  and that the company is working to see that does not happen, and has high hopes that it will not.

Open Door Needs Food

July 8, 2009

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Cathy Claire Williams put this on Facebook.  I thought I would share it with you in case you want to help.

Please pass this on to your friends: Open Door is in urgent need of food for their food pantry! We’re told it’s at a critically low point right now, and the needs are greater than ever.

They especially need protein-rich foods like peanut butter and canned meats, but they will gratefully receive anything.

You can take donations directly to Open Door at 2405 2nd Ave in Cols, or bring them to Pierce Chapel on Sundays.