Posts tagged ‘Transportation’

11/04/2012

Undecided Voters: Economic Issues

The better choice on each issue is in the left column, indicated by a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican, or (N) for neither.

(D) DEFICITS AND DEBT: Which party has shown an ability to end deficit spending and produce surpluses? Reagan made drastic tax cuts for the rich in 1981 and 1986, and tripled the debt. Bill Clinton’s budget in 1993 was passed by Democrats, without a single Republican vote, and it led to surpluses. Little Bush cut tax rates again, started an optional war in Iraq, and failed to request taxes for it. He just handed a great recession to Obama. While right-wing Republicans control the House, and promise to spend more on the military, they stubbornly refuse to tax for it. There’s no reason to believe they are capable of managing the debt.

(D) TAXES IN GENERAL: Which party is more likely to implement fair tax policies that may correct the deficit and debt. Romney said he would not raise taxes. (1-8-12). He stated a desire to lower them even further. (1-16-12). He said we only need taxes for the military, nothing else. (1-7-12) With these extreme positions, he would never get close to correcting deficits and debt.

(D) TAXES: CAPITAL GAINS, DIVIDENDS AND INTEREST: Which party has the better position on taxes as to capital gains, corporate dividends, and interest income? Romney repeatedly said during the Republican debates he wanted to completely eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest (9-7-11) (9-12-11) (9-22-11) (12-10-11) (1-16-12) He later said he would limit his plan to incomes of less than $200,000. (1-23-12) In either event, it’s unfair to people who pay taxes on earned income. His policies would either raise taxes on the Middle Class, or make the deficit and debt worse. He never explained how he would make up for the lost revenues.

(D) TAXES: PAYROLL: Which party is more likely to promote tax cuts for regular workers? Romney was dismissive of Obama’s ongoing payroll tax cuts, as he called them a band-aid (12-10-11)

(D) TAXES: CORPORATE: Romney advocated lowering the highest corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. (11-9-11). This new loss of revenue would have to be made up by the Middle Class.

(D) TAXES: RETIREES & THOSE WITH SMALL INCOMES: Although everyone pays sales taxes, gas taxes, real estate taxes (as a part of rent), as well as other excise taxes, Romney said everyone (poor, elderly, etc.) should pay income taxes. (9-7-11).

(D) TAX RETURNS AND HIDDEN WEALTH: Why didn’t Romney disclose more personal income tax returns? Romney promised to release “multiple years.” (1-19-12). In the end, however, he only showed us two years. We don’t know if he is hiding something, or telling the truth. Gingrich said Romney lives in a world of Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts (1-26-12)

(D) BUDGET, NATIONAL DEBT, MILITARY SPENDING: Romney said we need to stop spending like we have for the past 40 years. (1-8-12). He was critical about leaving debt to the next generation. (11-9-11). He claimed he would cut spending, but he didn’t explain how (11-9-11), except by saying he would ban earmarks. (2-22-12). Romney promises not to cut wasteful military spending, of any kind. (10-11-11). He wants 350 million for the F-22, more aircraft carriers, more Navy cruisers, more Air Force bombers, and more troops. (11-22-11). He would increase Navy shipbuilding each year from 9 to 15, and would add 100,000 troops. (12-15-11) (1-23-12) (2-22-12). He makes the case for the other side, saying Obama is shrinking the military (1-7-12) Romney thinks our Navy is smaller than it was in 1917, and our air force is smaller than it was in 1947. (1-16-12) (1-23-12).

(D) JOBS: Which party would be better for promoting jobs? Obama inherited a recession where unemployment reached over 10% in 2009. It is now down to 7.9% and the trend has been in the right direction the past three years. Romney incorrectly argued no jobs were created from the job stimulus bill (10-11-11) He said Obama’s polices worsened the job situation, which is obviously a false claim (1-7-12). Romney argues the government doesn’t create jobs (12-15-11), the private sector does (12-10-11), but then inconsistently blames Obama for not creating jobs.

(D) LABOR: Which party is more likely to protect the rights of working people? The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) insures fairness between organized labor and management. Romney said he would curtail the NLRB (12-10-11), and would promote anti-union “right to work” laws throughout the U.S. (1-8-12) He repeatedly showed hostility towards the NLRB, by saying it was filled with “labor stooges” (1-8-12) (1-19-12).

(D) MINIMUM WAGE: Do you think Romney would ever promote an increase in the minimum wage? In one word: no.

(D) MANUFACTURING: Which party appears to be more interested in saving American manufacturing? The Republicans clearly opposed loans help GM and Chrysler get through the Great Recession. Over fierce opposition, Obama helped them. Had they gone through bankruptcy, the nation would now be reeling from the economic ripple effects. Obama took a gamble and succeeded.  Romney said funds should not have been used to bail out GM and Chrysler (10-11-11) Romney again said the auto bailout was wrong; they should have gone bankrupt. (11-9-11).

(D) AGRICULTURE: Romney would end farm subsidies as he said to let the markets work. (1-23-12). What he is actually promoting is a localized depression in Midwestern small towns.

(D) TRANSPORTATION/MASS TRANSIT: In one debate, Romney advocated improving the infrastructure, by rebuilding bridges, roads, rail beds and air transport systems. We can’t criticize him for that, but we should not forget his party harbors the likes of Gov. Walker of Wisconsin and Gov. Scott of Florida, who blocked mass transit proposals. So on transit, it appears the Republican Party will not help America enter the 21st Century.

(D) ENERGY: Who has the better energy policy? Romney wants energy security and independence by using our own resources (10-18-11 (1-7-12) (1-19-12) That’s a nice idea, but energy resources are fungible and are sold on world markets, so no nation controls them. Romney put emphasis on developing coal, oil, gas, and nuclear (9-7-11)(1-16-12) He’d give more permits for natural gas and oil drills. (12-15-11). He does not discuss solar or wind, but why not? Since Obama includes all energy resources, his policy is better.

(N) ANTITRUST: Has either candidate advocated antitrust lawsuits to break up companies too big to fail? No. Antitrust was a Republican idea in 1890, and prosecutions are now needed to break up the concentrations of power in the hands of a few.

(D) FEDERAL RESERVE: Romney claims Federal Reserve chair Bernanke pumped too much money into the economy (9-7-11), and he would discharge him. (10-11-11). He said Congress should have Fed oversight, but no control over the currency. (9-12-11). Since Romney is opposed to priming the pump through Monetary Policy, how would he have stimulated it?

(D) BANK BAILOUTS: At one point, Romney said he didn’t want to save the Wall Street banks, as Bush did (2-22-12). It appears he would have just let the system collapse, but if that had happened, we’d be in a deep depression right now.

(D) WALL STREET: Romney correctly pointed out the derivatives market was not regulated (1-23-12), but he failed to promote a regulation of it. He instead criticized those occupying Wall Street, by saying they were engaged in dangerous class warfare (10-18-11).

(D) HOUSING: Romney supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) (10-11-11) (10-18-11) He accused Fannie and Freddie of offering mortgages to people who can’t afford them (1-26-12). He opposed the Dodd-Frank law, claiming it makes it harder for banks to make loans (1-7-12)(1-8-12).  He said the government should not stop the banks from foreclosing (10-18-11). He claimed Obama was holding off the foreclosure process, and argued we must let the market work (11-9-11) His non-solution solution is to block-grant housing vouchers (2-22-12).

(D) VULTURE CAPITALIST: If Romney wins, he’ll be the first President with a vulture capitalist background. He claims to have successfully operated businesses (12-15-11), but he was really a Bain investor, who just made money for himself and his partners. Gingrich accused him of profiting by stripping American businesses of assets,  bankrupting companies, and laying off workers (1-7-12) Romney said they had to be downsized (1-7-12) Gingrich said Romney’s Bain looted companies and left people unemployed (1-8-12). Gingrich said he was engaged in vulture capitalism. (1-16-12). In an interesting contradiction, while discussing tax returns, Romney said his income came from a blind trust. He said the money I earn: “is not made by me.” (1-26-12).

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06/11/2012

High-Speed Rail: Why Opposed by Right?

It’s always surprising when high-speed rail projects are rejected by people who call themselves conservatives, since they are, when compared to cars, a much more efficient mode of transportation.

In an effort to stimulate jobs, President Obama proposed high-speed rail for Florida, between Orlando and Tampa, and from Milwaukee to Madison in Wisconsin, but right-wing Gov. Rick Scott of Florida rejected his plan, and Wisconsin’s Tea Party Gov. Scott Walker likewise pushed away the Badger State blueprint.

To wealthy Republicans like Florida’s Rick Scott, transportation is no problem, for he has always had his own private jet, and can go wherever he wants without delay. Money is no object for him. The problem with Scott Walker of Wisconsin is he examined only one part of the equation, the start-up costs, while failing to consider the international risk of oil and gas embargoes, the plight of youthful or impoverished people who don’t own cars, and the many environmental costs created by gas-combustion engines.

Europe has always been a much easier and efficient continent, when compared to the U.S., in terms of transportation and travel. Trains generally run on time and connect all the major cities in the Old World. One can connect on buses at train stations, without all of the hassles or expenses related to cars. A little walk or bike ride now and then in Europe keeps them from becoming obese, like their overweight American counterparts.

So what happened? When did the conservatives in America stop caring about conservation? In the early years, it was the Republican Party in the industrial north that expanded the network of railroads. The Union Pacific, started in 1865, was connected to the West Coast in 1869. Businesses needed trains to remove lumber from the forests and resources from the mines. They hauled coal, livestock, and machinery, just to name a few items.

The advent of the electric subway and elevated trains around 1895 was a major source of efficiency for our major cities, as they provided a relatively cheap way for millions of ordinary people to travel in places like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago.

While the airplane has replaced the train for some purposes, and the mail for example can be delivered more efficiently by air, trains still have a purpose, and they should be used in the U.S. much more than they are at present. They are not obsolete.

America would be a much more efficient and better place if all of our major cities had subway systems, and if our national passenger trains were improved so they could enter the class of high-speed lines used in France, Japan, or China, for example. The first step in moving in the right direction, would be to elect people from the left, who have a vision of what the U.S. could be.

01/25/2012

Obama: 2012 State of Union Speech

IRAQ: For the first time in 9 years, President Obama said, no Americans are fighting in Iraq. He welcomed home the last troops in Dec. 2011, but made the highly questionable comment they made the U.S. safer and more respected around the world.

BIN LADEN: Obama noted Osama bin Laden is dead, and no longer a threat to the U.S. He said most al Qaeda’s top lieutenants are defeated, and those who remain are scrambling.

QADDAFI: Obama reminded us that Libya’s Col. Qaddafi, a long-time dictator, who had U.S. blood on his hands, is also dead.

AFGHANISTAN: Obama said the Taliban’s momentum has been broken. We are winding down the War in Afghanistan, as 10,000 troops already came home, and 23,000 will return this summer.

IRAN: Obama said a world that was once divided on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program is now united as one, through diplomacy. Iran now faces crippling sanctions and the pressure will not relent. We are determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. He said he took “no options off the table to achieve that goal.” A peaceful solution is still possible, he noted.

ISRAEL: Obama said we have an ironclad commitment to Israel’s security–the closest military cooperation in our history.

VETERANS: Obama said he increased annual VA spending every year as President.

TRADE: Obama said it is now getting more expensive to do business in China. Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is now running at full capacity and they brought jobs home. He signed trade agreements that gave U.S. firms new customers in Panama, Colombia and South Korea. He filed twice as many trade lawsuits against China, as Bush did. He said it is unfair when subsidies are given to foreign manufacturers, and created a Trade Enforcement Unit to investigate unfair trade by China.

IMMIGRATION: Obama said we have more boots on the ground than ever before and fewer illegal crossings. We should take on illegal immigration, he said, but believes we need comprehensive immigration reform. We should not expel young illegal aliens, he said, who staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. We should give them a chance to earn citizenship.

JOBS: Obama reminded us 4 million lost their jobs in 2008, in the six months before he took office, and another 4 million were laid off before his policies took effect. Businesses have created more than 3 million jobs in the last 22 months and 600,000 will come from the natural gas industry, by the end of the decade.

MANUFACTURING: Obama wants a new generation of high-tech manufacturing. Long before this recession, he said, jobs started leaving our shores. Manufacturing is now creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Our blueprint for jobs includes manufacturing and we should not return to outsourcing.

AUTO: The auto industry, Obama inherited, was on the verge of bankruptcy, but he refused to let it die. Now, GM is once again the world’s number one automaker, Chrysler has grown, and Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants. The industry has now added 160,000 jobs, and we will soon be selling U.S. cars in Korea.

TRANSPORTATION: Obama noted we have crumbling roads and bridges. He noted we built the Golden Gate Bridge during the Great Depression and the Interstate highway system after WWII.

ENERGY: Obama wants us to control our own energy, so we need not depend on the world. During the past 3 years, he said, millions of new acres, including 75% of offshore oil and gas reserves, have opened for oil and gas exploration. Obama noted the development of natural gas from shale rock. Our oil production, he said, is now at its highest production level in 8 years, and we now rely less on foreign oil than at any time in the past 16 years. He said we cannot cede wind, solar, or battery industries to China or Germany. We are poised to become a leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Our century-long subsidization and taxpayer giveaway to oil should be ended. He instead wants clean energy tax credits. We should also help manufacturers eliminate energy waste by upgrading buildings.

FINANCE: Obama said he imposed new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, and will not return to the days when they governed themselves. He announced financial institutions are not going to be bailed out ever again. He told mortgage lenders, payday lenders, and credit card companies, the days of deceptive practices are over, and he asked Congress for greater penalties for fraud.

HOUSING: Obama reminded us the housing market collapsed in 2008, because regulators looked the other way, as mortgages were sold to people who could not afford them, by lenders who knew it. This is why we need regulations to prevent financial fraud. We should not wait for the housing market to bottom out before providing relief, but homeowners should be allowed to save on their mortgages now, through refinancing at lower rates.

HEALTH: Obama will not return to the days when health insurance companies could deny coverage or cancel policies. He reminded Republicans that his new health care law relies on the private insurance market, not a government program.

EDUCATION: Obama wants to lead the world in education. Although states have already raised standards for teaching and learning, he asked them to require students remain in high school until they graduate, or turn 18. We should reward the best teachers and should stop teaching to a test. To help 2 million Americans who need new job skills, businesses should work with community colleges to design courses. He said every family should be able to afford college, and universities have to keep their costs under control. He warned them: “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.” Obama wants to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. He would extend tuition tax credits, and double the number of work-study jobs. He asked Congress not to gut federally financed university labs, researching cancer and computer chips.

DEFICIT: Obama said together we cut 2 trillion from the deficit.

TAXES: Obama wants everyone to pay their fair share of taxes. The tax code must be changed so wealthy persons like Congressional members pay their fair share in taxes. 98% of all Americans make under $250,000 per year. 25% of all millionaires pay taxes at a lower rate than millions of middle class households. Warren Buffett pays a lower rate than his secretary. If a person makes more than 1 million a year, you should pay no less than 30%. Folks at the top, he said, have seen their incomes rise like never before, but for most workers, paychecks have not been growing, and their debts are piling up. He asked Congress to extend the payroll tax cut for working Americans.

CORPORATE TAXES: Every multinational corporation should pay a basic minimum tax. Companies should not get tax breaks for moving jobs overseas or be allowed a “moving expense” for outsourcing. We need to change a tax law that hits U.S. corporations with one of the highest tax rates in the world. Manufacturers in America should receive a tax cut. He noted we now provide tax credits to companies that hire veterans, and suggested tax relief for small businesses that raise wages and create good jobs. We need incentives so they relocate in communities that have been hit hard by factories that left town.

WOMEN: Although there is already a federal law that requires equal pay for equal work, Obama said “women should earn equal pay for equal work.”

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Obama would do something about the corrosive influence of money in politics and called for an end to perpetual campaigns of mutual destruction.

APPOINTMENTS: Obama wants up or down votes on judicial and public service nominations held within 90 days.

AGENCIES: Obama ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that make no sense.

01/16/2012

Republican Debate: New Hamp (1-7-12)

QUALIFICATIONS: Huntsman repeated he lived overseas four times and managed two American embassies, one in China. Santorum mentioned his eight years on the Armed Services Committee, as qualification for Commander-in-Chief.

TERROR: Santorum said Obama is trying to make the war on terror politically correct by removing the words “radical Islam” from every defense document.

DEFENSE: Santorum argued government has a role to play in defense. Romney accused Obama of wanting to shrink the military, and Perry said he is cutting 1 billion in defense spending.

MILITARY SERVICE: Paul, who was drafted and served when he was young, noted 40,000 were seriously injured in our recent wars, while 8,500 died, and those who received 3, 4 or 5 deferments and did not serve, have no right to send our kids off to war. Gingrich said during the Vietnam War, he was married and never requested a deferment. He claimed he was somehow ineligible for the draft. Paul said when he was drafted, he went despite being married with two children. Romney, who received several deferments during Vietnam, finds it extraordinary that only a few families are paying the price for freedom.

AFGHAN: Huntsman said we drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, ran al Qaeda out into sanctuaries, held free elections, and eliminated bin Laden. It is time to come home and stop nation-building. He thinks a civil war is around the corner. He would leave behind only Special Forces and 10,000 troops for intelligence gathering. Romney would listen to the generals on the ground, and without reason, said he would wait until 2014 to withdraw. Huntsman said we deferred to the generals in 1967 and did not get good results.

IRAN: Paul said he does not want Iran to get a nuclear weapon, but putting sanctions against Iran will only lead to the unintended consequence of pushing them into the hands of China. Romney accused Obama of not imposing crippling sanctions against Iran. Santorum wants to help the revolutionaries in Iran as he called the situation the most pressing issue of the day. Gingrich worries more about the closing of the Straits of Hormuz, since one of six barrels of oil flows through it every day.

IRAQ: Perry wants to send troops back into Iraq now. He worries Iran will enter Iraq. Romney would not now send troops to Iraq.

TRADE: Romney said China and European states opened 44 different trade relationships with various nations around the world. We have to do the same for American goods, claiming Obama not. He also said China manipulates their currency and if you artificially hold down its value, you make your products lower-priced and kill American jobs. Huntsman said its nonsense to think you can slap a tariff on China your first day in office as Romney would do. He said Romney would take us into a trade war where we would get tariffs in return that will hurt our exports. Romney said China does not want a trade war, because they sell more to us than we sell to them. He would hold China to free and fair trade rules. Gingrich said we cannot compete with China with an inferior infrastructure.

VULTURE CAPITALISM: Gingrich accused Romney of making spectacular profits by stripping American businesses of assets, selling everything to the highest bidder, and killing jobs for big financial rewards. He opposed leveraged buyouts, where money is taken out and workers are left behind. He said Bain bankrupted companies and laid off employees. Romney said companies must downsize before turning around and making a success. Bain invested in over 100 businesses, he said, and on balance claimed 100,000 jobs were added. Steel Dynamics in Indiana added thousands, Bright Horizons 15,000, Sports Authority 15,000, and Staples 90,000. Romney said sometimes they were not successful.

MANUFACTURING: Huntsman thinks we can win back investment and have a manufacturing renaissance.

FINANCE: Paul thinks we are in a 40-year financial bubble which is bursting and we must liquidate the debt. Romney opposed the Dodd-Frank bill.

CLASS WAR: Santorum said there are no classes in America; there are middle income people

JOBS: Romney hopes the economy is turning around, because there are 25 million unemployed or who stopped looking. Obama’s policies have made the recession deeper, he argues. Perry wants New Hampshire to pass a right-to-work law, and Paul said Santorum voted against right-to-work laws.

REGULATIONS: Perry thinks Americans want less regulation.

ENERGY: Romney said our policies keep us from using our own energy. Perry wants to open up federal lands and waters to more domestic energy drilling, so we are not hostage to countries hostile to us. Gingrich wants an energy plan free of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela. Santorum served on a coal company board.

TRANSPORTATION: Gingrich said we must make investments, because we cannot complete with China with an inferior infrastructure. Romney advocated improving our infrastructure by rebuilding bridges, roads, rail beds, and air transport systems.

HEALTH: Romney opposed Obamacare. Huntsman said he reformed health care in Utah, without an individual mandate. Paul said Santorum voted for the Prescription drug program.

EDUCATION: Paul said Santorum voted to double the Dept of Education.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Santorum said he voted for SS reform.

BUDGET/DEBT: Paul said Santorum is a big government person who voted to raise the debt ceiling five times. For the past 26 years, Paul voted against appropriations bills. Perry wants to get rid of what he called corrupt spending. Santorum said increases in the debt ceiling have happened for 200 years.

TAXES: Huntsman would eliminate 1 billion of loopholes in the tax code. He implemented a flat tax in Utah, and said the Wall St Journal endorsed his tax plan. Santorum would keep only the deductions for health care, housing, pensions, children, and charity.  He would cut corporate income tax in half, down to 17.5%. He claims the 35% rate is the highest in the world. Romney said we must have some taxes to pay for our military, but noted government has grown from 27% in JFK’s day to 37% now. He repeated a pledge to eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. Perry thinks Americans want less taxation.  Gingrich would reduce capital gains to zero, corporate income tax to 12.5% and he would abolish the death tax. He would allow 100% expensing for all new equipment.

TERM LIMITS: Huntsman wants Congressional terms limits.

DISCRIMINATION IN LEGAL SYSTEM: Paul said the legal system discriminates, as it arrests and imprisons blacks for drug offenses far more than whites. They get the death penalty more often, he added.

CONTRACEPTION: Santorum believes there is no constitutional right to privacy, and states have a 10th Amendment right to ban contraception. After being directed to Griswold v Conn (1965), in which a state law banning contraception was challenged, Romney doesn’t think any state today wants to ban contraception.

ABORTION: Romney said Roe v Wade (1973) was not decided correctly because he thinks the issue should have been left to the states. He wants the ruling overturned.

PRIVACY: Paul correctly informed everyone the 4th Amendment contains privacy protections. Santorum agreed there is a right to privacy in the 4th Amendment.

GAYS: Huntsman, married 28 years with 7 children, thinks civil unions are fair. Santorum said gay marriage is not a federal issue, but marriage itself is because we need one law on the topic. We cannot have someone married in one state, and not in another. He wants a federal law that bans adoption for gay couples. Romney would amend the constitution as to gay marriage. Gingrich said gays ought to be able to designate friends in their last will or who can make hospital visits, but not through marriage, which should be reserved to one man and one woman. Perry favors a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Gingrich, Santorum, Romney all got it wrong when they said in succession if they were not debating they would be watching the championship college football game. The game was actually not on until a few evenings later.

07/25/2011

African Development Is Needed

The African continent, with over 50 nations, needs to eliminate hunger, provide primary education, improve health standards, and develop international trade.

The process of development must start with the Africans themselves. They must establish democratic forms of government, in which representatives are chosen through free and fair elections. They need honest law enforcement officers, who cannot be bribed, and lawyers and judges to protect the rights of the accused. Their import offices, and sea and airport authorities, must be managed fairly. They need building inspectors, and tax collectors, who cannot be corrupted, and competent food inspectors. They must run efficient land title and post offices, and have good city transit systems.

Once the proper infrastructure is in place, the developed nations should then provide teachers to assist in primary education, and in the development of technical skills.

To eliminate hunger, education in food science is the first step. The fishing industry must thrive. Orchards can be planted, so locals have fresh fruit. Dairy farming is needed for milk. Livestock can be raised, using animal feeds. Meat processing and butchering can be taught. Some will need to learn veterinarian science. Crop farming methods must be explained, as to seeds, fertilizers, and irrigation. Grain elevators can be erected. Bakeries can be built. Some will need to learn grocery store management.

To improve health care, training is needed in medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, eye care, hygiene, and mortuary science. American and European health care professionals should help by training African students in the U.S. and Europe.

The Africans must develop their natural resources, such as oil, so their power plants can run. They need skills in transforming trees into lumber, rubber into tires, and sand and gravel into cement.

They need public utility development, such as electric power. Water and sewer treatment facilities must be built. They must improve waste disposal methods. They need pipelines for water, sewer, and gas. Water-well-drilling techniques must be taught.

The Africans need shipping and transportation, such as modern seaports for ocean-going vessels, and airports with air cargo facilities for intercontinental flights. Rail for freight and passenger trains must be laid. City buses are required for mass transit. Roads must be constructed, and the locals must be taught highway maintenance. They need mechanics for trucks and autos, with people who can fix brakes, mufflers, and transmissions. Tourism can be developed through hotel and resort construction.

Africans need to learn the global methods of money and banking. They must have a supply of trained bookkeepers and accountants.

Technical college training for building construction is needed so they have architects, excavators, carpenters, bricklayers, cabinet-makers, electricians, plumbers, and people to install furnaces, heating ducts, water heaters, and air-conditioning units.

Since communications is now global, they must erect cell phone towers, and cable and Internet lines, and learn laptop computer science, radio and TV broadcasting, and how to write newspapers.

In the retail industry, they must learn to market men’s and women’s cloths, shoes, furniture and bedding, and appliances, such as refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, washing machines, dryers, and electronics, including laptops, TVs, and radios.

Development is not an either or proposition, since all of the things listed above can be worked on simultaneously.

07/19/2011

Jobs: Most Work Can’t Be Outsourced

There is a limit to the loss of American jobs to foreign workers, and no matter what happens overseas, most U.S. employment will remain local, because it cannot be outsourced.

PUBLIC SECTOR: Towns, villages, cities, and counties will always provide local jobs. Mayors, aldermen, board members and administrators will remain. Judges, lawyers, policemen, and court reporters are not going anywhere. Someone will continue picking up the garbage. Although UPS, Fed Ex, and the Internet have cut into postal work, mail carriers keep on walking. Airports will always be local. Highway maintenance crews have no end to work, including winter snow removal. Building inspectors are needed. Libraries will survive, despite online research. Schools will stay open, as learning is essential. School buses will run. Universities will grow. Those fit for the military will find work.

UTILITIES: U.S. energy and utility companies will continue to employ people. The gas co., electric co., and water and sewer facilities will all remain. The telephone co. will survive.

COMMUNICATIONS: Cable TV and Internet lines will be laid. Satellite TV services and equipment will be sold. Cell phones will erect local towers. Internet services will grow. Computers will be sold here. Businesses will need printing, copy and FAX machines. Newspapers will publish. Radio is not going anywhere. Billboard will be posted, as local advertisers write ads for local businesses.

NATURAL RESOURCES: Forests will be harvested, logs will be sent to sawmills, and lumber will be cut. Metals will be removed from the ground, as coal mining continues. Sand and gravel will be dug. Oil and gas will be pumped to be sent to refineries.

AGRICULTURE: If farm subsidies continue, the U.S. will keep an agricultural sector. Dairy equipment, tractors, and farm supplies will be sold. Seed and fertilizers will be needed. Irrigation equipment will be used. Grain elevators will be built. Orchards will bear fruit. Animals will be fed, and inseminated, as veterinarians will be consulted. Livestock markets will stay open. Food processers will continue shipping products to groceries.

FINANCE: Banks and savings and loans will lend money. Real estate agents will sell land, giving appraisers, surveyors, and title companies things to do. Credit Unions will remain. Credit reporting agencies will continue their work. Financial services and investment advisors will have customers. There will always be work for bookkeepers, accountants, and auditors. Tax returns will be prepared. Businesses will bill accounts receivable, and prepare payrolls. Pension and profit sharing work will be done. Collection agents will never be outsourced. Credit counselors and debt adjusters will be needed. Wealthy people will use estate planning, stock brokers, and trust companies. Actuaries will work in the insurance industry, which will continue selling all sorts of protection against risk. Insurance adjusters will remain busy.

CONSTRUCTION: The construction of apartments, condos, storage units, buildings, and homes will never be exported. Developers and building contractors will have work. Architects and engineers will be on-site. Environmental consulting will be local. Sewer contractors will lay pipe, as road builders put down asphalt. Excavators with bulldozers will clear land. Warehouses will be needed for building materials. Well-drillers will dig wells. Scaffolds will be erected. Cement trucks will be used. Carpenters, bricklayers, and roofers will work on-site. Insulation, rain-gutters, and siding will be installed. Subcontracting for heat, electric and plumbing will always be local. Painters will be hired. Windows, doors and elevators will be installed. Someone will put up wallpaper. Carpet layers will be called. Cabinet makers will sell cabinets and counter tops. Garage doors, fences, decks and swimming pools will be installed, along with furnaces, air-conditioning units, water heaters and fireplaces. Blinds, draperies and curtains will be hung. Office cleaners will have work.

HOUSEHOLD GOODS: Furniture and beds will be sold. Antique dealers will have customers. Appliance dealers will stock refrigerators, microwaves, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and dryers. Hardware stores will carry lawn mowers and tools. Electronics outlets will sell TVs and radios.

TRANSPORTATION: Air cargo will move freight. Aircraft maintenance will be essential. Freight trains, trucks, and trailers will haul goods from the coasts to the interior. Autos, motorcycles and bikes will be sold. Vehicle dealers and leasing offices will be needed, as well as towing and repair shops. Brakes, mufflers, transmissions, windshields and tires will be sold. Gas stations and car washes will remain. We will always have auto salvage yards.

TRAVEL: Private planes will be chartered. Commercial airlines will continue their daily schedules. Ground transport, buses, and cabs will be used. Passenger trains will roll. Hotels, motels, and resorts will fill up. Sightseeing tours will be sold.

FOOD & DRINK: Grocery stores will remain. Convenience and drug stores will thrive. Beverages will be bottled. Fast-food restaurants will be visited more than ever. Bakeries will bake. Butchers will cut the meat. Someone will make pizzas. Caterers will have places to go, and wedding receptions will be held in banquet halls. Liquor stores and taverns will sell beer from our breweries and wines from our vineyards.

APPAREL & BEAUTY: Beauty salons will never close down. Cosmetics supplies will be marketed. Barbers will always be needed. Bridal shops and tuxedo rentals will have work. Jewelers will sell diamonds and watches. Shopping centers will carry shoes and clothing for men and women. Tailors and dry cleaners will remain busy. Photographers will take their pictures.

HEALTH CARE: Ambulances will transport the injured. Hospitals and health care clinics will thrive. Physicians and nurses will see patients, along with therapists and rehab providers. Wheelchairs and prosthetic devices will be used. Psychologists and psychotherapists will deliver mental health. Pharmaceuticals will invent drugs, while pharmacies will dispense them. Nutritionists will be needed now more than ever. Audiologists will prescribe hearing aids, as opticians and optometrists market glasses and contacts. Dentists and orthodontists will keep on drilling, as podiatrists remain on their feet. Women will get breast implants, while birth control and abortion providers will provide counseling. Someone will test and treat for alcohol and drugs. Others will deal with gamblers. Someone will take care of Alzheimer’s patients. There will be jobs at assisted living facilities and retirement homes. Someone will sell caskets, cremation services, and cemetery plots. Embalmers and funeral directors will always have work.

ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS: Casinos will continue winning. Cruises tickets will be sold. Gift and hobby shops will have things to sell. Theatres will survive, despite home-viewing. Massage therapists will find customers. Women will visit tanning salons. Bands and musicians will keep playing. Stereo equipment will be sold. Athletic and sporting goods will be purchased. Boats and marinas will be available for fishing and recreation. Families will drive recreational vehicles to camp grounds. Golf courses and driving ranges will remain. Fitness centers will have members. Hunters will buy their guns. People will join churches, and will seek the clergy. Kennels and pet shops will have customers.

So while manufacturing has left America, and goods are now made in Asia, the U.S. will always have jobs in the public sector, utilities, communications, natural resources, agriculture, finance, construction, household appliances and goods, transportation, travel, food and drink, apparel and beauty, health care, entertainment, and sports. The real question is not whether there will be jobs, but rather: will they pay a living wage?

06/28/2011

Florida: Reflections on Sunshine State

After 2½ years in Florida, we are moving back to Wisconsin, where Irene accepted a job in Madison, with the VA. After packing our boxes, I had a chance to reflect on our stay in the Sunshine State.

Climate was the primary reason we moved here in the first place. Although Florida is hot much of the year, humid all the time, and rainy in the summer, we picked it over the low humidity and clear skies of Phoenix, mainly because the southwest lacks water. Charlotte, Atlanta and Dallas were also ruled out, because their winters are not warm enough.

Although the temperature in Tampa-St. Pete reached 92 F each day, every year, for five months straight, like winter in Wisconsin, people just stay inside, in their climate-controlled buildings and cars. While northerners question the risk of hurricanes in Florida, not one hit the state in 2½ years. For me, the best part of Florida was the ability to go outside and take a walk nearly every day.

Health care was the second consideration when we moved. The Medicare crowd is a major industry in Florida, due to the number of retirees. On the plus side, I found a primary care physician I liked, and had a reasonably good hospital stay for an appendix operation. On the bad end, five different people at an eye clinic examined me one morning (four too many), because they needed to justify pay-for-service billing practices, on the incorrect assumption I was a Medicare patient; an orthopedic doctor also would have run unneeded X-rays for a shoulder issue one time, until I told him I had no health insurance; and as to the dentist, I could have flown back and forth to Wisconsin and still paid less than what I paid.

The cost of living was a consideration when we left Wisconsin. The foreclosure crisis here actually kept us from buying. The old saying is “you get what you pay for.” Here, we looked at bargain properties and ultimately learned of the reasons they were low-priced. Also, Florida condo dues are uniformly too high, homeowners insurance is too expensive, and real estate taxes are just as bad as they are in Wisconsin. There are a lot of available properties in Tampa-St-Pete, but the financial well-being of condo associations was a major concern.

Transportation was good and bad. The Tampa Airport is convenient, and urban areas are connected by freeways and large streets. The problem was the number of bad drivers in Tampa-Bay. Does Florida mandate driver’s education in high school? If not, why not? While turning, no one uses a simple blinker, except cars driven by Snow Birds from the Upper Midwest. Many just cut in front of others, hoping for the best. It’s almost like Cairo or Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a jungle out there. No wonder auto insurance is more than double what it was in Wisconsin.

In the category of recreation, to be honest, we did not use the Gulf Coast as much as we could have. There are nice beaches, boat cruises, and golf courses, but we always seemed to be doing something else.

In the final analysis, life is about people, not places. A person in the middle of a desert, surrounded by a few friends, can have a better time, than a single person all alone, in the midst of a big city. Since we have family in the north, our decision to return was motivated by that. To the nice people we met while down here, good-bye. Perhaps we will meet again. My blog will be down for a least a week. Once we are resettled again in Wisconsin, I hope to start writing again.