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Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

Herman Cain Should Stick to Selling Pizza for 9-9-9

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on October 12, 2011

999 it’s catchy, it’s easy to remember and it just begs for the next line that says “but WAIT there’s more, for 999  you also get …”   I realize the political field is a dynamic place, always changing, reinventing itself,  but with each passing day it becomes more and more like a carnival complete with freak shows, and hustles.  This week it is Herman Cain’s time to shine on the board walk.  Step on up ladies and gentlemen and let’s see what Zoltar  Herman Cain has to offer with his magical 999 elixir, sure to cure the economy and tired listless people. Uh, huh.

Looking at Cain’s plan is like a trip to the fun house complete with the mirrors that distort the true image.   But first let’s look at who designed the plan.  Numerous times Mr. Cain has been asked about his economic advisors, so far only one name has been mentioned.  He assures us that he has had his economic advisors he won’t compromise their confidentiality, except for one:  Rich Lowrie, who by the way is NOT an economist. He is however,  a wealth manager for a division of Wells Fargo and according to his LinkedIn page holds an accountancy degree from Case Western Reserve University.  Lowrie also spent three years on the advisory board of the conservative third-party group Americans For Prosperity.  Are you starting to feel uncomfortable  yet?

So let’s look at the nuts and bolts of this simple plan:   9 percent flat tax on household income, a 9 percent corporate tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax. There are no deductions except for charity.  Seems straight forward doesn’t it?

What about the Value Added Tax (VAT)?  Eventually under Cain’s 999 plan income tax would be eliminated and replaced with sales tax – called ironically Fair Tax by Cain fans, to the rest of the world it is call VAT.  This did not come up in the debate last night for good reason.   Let’s take a brief look at VAT in Europe.  When imposed in 1967, Denmark’s VAT was 10 percent; it is now 25 percent, in addition to a top income tax rate of over 50 percent.   In 1968, Germany levied a 10 percent VAT.  Germans are more fortunate; their VAT has risen “only” to 19 percent, and their highest income tax rate is “only” 45 percent.  The notion that a country can impose a small  single-digit sales tax is not supported by other countries’ experience.  In many countries the VAT is the largest source of revenue.

Cain likes to claim his plan is revenue neutral.  That’s not exactly true.  An analysis by Bloomberg last week found that Cain’s plan would actually have brought in $200 billion less in 2010 than the current tax system — $2 trillion instead of $2.2 trillion.  In short, it would take a 25% VAT tax to maintain current revenue levels.  That’s a 16% margin of error.  Are you getting uncomfortable yet?  Tax policy experts go on to say it is  unrealistic in part because it operates on the assumption that voters and lawmakers would be willing to fully phase out even enormously popular deductions and exemptions.   Under Cain’s plan everything would be subject to the 9%  sales tax – food, housing,  clothing – no exceptions.   We are already suffering from reduced consumption, additional taxes would curtail consumption even further, not to mention the anger from the public.  It also opens up a whole new market for under the table transactions, pay me in cash and you get in essence a 9% discount.  If memory serves this country started its revolution over excessive taxes.

One of the many cries of the Tea Party is state’s rights.  We hearing that with health care reform aren’t we?  Cain’s plan also impacts states’ sales tax collections.  States depend on sales tax revenues. Adding a 9 percent sales tax on top of a state sales tax would reduce states’ freedom to use sales taxes because it would reduce revenue.

How would Cain’s 999 effect the vast majority of Americans?

CAPD: Cain’s Tax Plan Would Increase Taxes Paid by Lower-Income Americans

However, Michael Linden, the Center for American Progress’ Director of Tax and Budget Policy, told Think Progress that because the bottom quintile of earners currently only pay about 2 percent of their income in federal taxes, under Cain’s plan they would be paying considerably more. Specifically, he said with the 9 percent tax on every dollar they make, as well as every dollar spent, the poorest Americans would pay a whopping 18 percent of their income in taxes.

Comparatively, Linden said middle-class earners would see their taxes rise from 14 percent to about 18 percent, while the richest one percent of Americans would see their tax rate fall from about 28 percent to 11 percent under the 9-9-9 plan.

“It would be the biggest tax shift from the wealthy to the middle-class in the history of taxation, ever, anywhere, and it would bankrupt the country,” Michael Ettlinger, the vice president for economic policy at the Center for American Progress, told The Wall Street Journal.

While Cain has touted his plan as the solution to the nation’s economic struggles, Linden’s analysis found that, based on 2007 tax data, it would actually result in the largest budget deficits since World War II. If applied that year, the 9-9-9 plan would have yielded just under $1.3 trillion in total federal tax revenue — 9.2 percent of the GDP — compared to 18.5 percent of GDP in tax revenue that was actually collected that year.

Cain’s plan to tax food is so surprising that even the Tea Party group FreedomWorks assumed certain vital goods, such as food and medicine, would be exempt from the 9 percent national sales tax.

“If you’re one of the minority of people — the top 10% of the population — who pay 70% of the income tax revenues, you might see the change as a good deal.But if you’re lower down the income scale, and especially if you’re one of the 50% of Americans who don’t pay any income taxes, then you might not see it as such a good trade,” FreedomWorks’ Web site states in an Oct 6. blog post titled “Herman Cain’s “999 Plan”: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.


What we have in Herman Cain is a carnival barker appealing to the Tea Party with simplicity.   Even conservative economist are calling Cain’s plan a non starter.  This is one of the most fundamental problems with the Tea Party mentality is the inability to engage in critical thinking, and Mr. Cain has fully taken advantage of the sheeple.  Welcome to the carnival, step right this way folks and see the unbelievable…


























Posted in Economy, herman cain, US Politics | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

The Dumbing of Americans – Brought to you by Fox News

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on December 18, 2010

If  for some reason you have been operating under the assumption that just because we have one of the finest education systems in the world, and therefore we cannot be as dumb as we are, we now have proof, yes we are as dumb as we appear.  What is more, is that we can lay that squarely on the doorstep of one Fox News.

A new survey by the University of Maryland (http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/dec10/Misinformation_Dec10_quaire.pdf ) show that people who had the most exposure to Fox News were more likely to believe falsehoods and rumors about national and world affairs when compared to those who paid attention to other news outlets.

The following falsehoods were most relayed by Fox News viewers:

91 percent believed the stimulus legislation lost jobs;


72 percent believed the health reform law will increase the deficit;

72 percent believed the economy is getting worse;

60 percent believed climate change is not occurring;

49 percent believed income taxes have gone up;

63 percent believed the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts;

56 percent believed Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout;

38 percent believed that most Republicans opposed TARP;

63 percent believed Obama was not born in the U.S. (or that it is unclear).

This information seems to back up an NBC poll conducted during the health care debates as well. (http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/NEWS/NBC-WSJ_Poll.pdf )

Bill Sammon  of Fox News as refined in the art of spinning,  as the health care debate was reaching a high point last year, a leaked e-mail shows he asked his news department to refer to the public option as the “government run option.”  Which of course it is not.  But they managed to condition the American public, specifically the conservatives like Pavlov’s dogs.

Here is a partial email leak:

Text of Sammon’s leaked e-mail follows


From: Sammon, Bill
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:23 AM
To: 054 -FNSunday; 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 069 -Politics; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 036 -FOX.WHU; 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers
Subject: friendly reminder: let’s not slip back into calling it the “public option”

1) Please use the term “government-run health insurance” or, when brevity is a concern, “government option,” whenever possible.

2) When it is necessary to use the term “public option” (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation’s lexicon), use the qualifier “so-called,” as in “the so-called public option.”

3) Here’s another way to phrase it: “The public option, which is the government-run plan.”

4) When newsmakers and sources use the term “public option” in our stories, there’s not a lot we can do about it, since quotes are of course sacrosanct.



Other deliberate  “mis-information” and conditioning of the American public is the climate change, here is a copy of another email from Fox News

From: Sammon, Bill
To: 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 036 -FOX.WHU; 054 -FNSunday; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers; 069 -Politics; 005 -Washington
Cc: Clemente, Michael; Stack, John; Wallace, Jay; Smith, Sean
Sent: Tue Dec 08 12:49:51 2009
Subject: Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data…

…we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.


The real question is:  what is it going to take for those Fox News devotees to wake up?  Yes, it will be embarrassing to admit you were duped, but what would be even more embarrassing and shameful is not to admit it and continue to be deliberately mis-informed.

Posted in dirty politics, Economy, fox news, health care reform, immigration, racism, right wing nut jobs, US Politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Right Wing Nut Jobs Talking Point that Skew Facts – “47% of Americans Don’t Pay Taxes”

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on December 12, 2010

It seems every where you look these days you can find some right wing nut job spouting out “47% of Americans don’t pay taxes”…and you don’t have to look very far to get to the truth or lack there of in that statement.  But that has not stopped people from cherry picking this statistic and using it as evidence of some grave financial miscarriage of justice pushed upon the wealthy.

First, the 47% figure is not wrong, it is accurate – BUT the key here is federal and income .  Income taxes aren’t the only kind of federal taxes that people pay. There are also payroll taxes and investment taxes, and more.  Let’s not forget people pay state and local taxes as well.  If you tease out this number and take this a step further Congressional Budget Office data suggests that, at most, about 10 percent of all households pay no net federal taxes. The number 10 is obviously a lot smaller than 47.  But 10% for the right doesn’t make such a good talking point does it?

Let’s talk a little about those folks who are not paying federal and income tax…

If your income is low, you may (1) owe very little in income taxes, and (2) get a check from something like the Earned Income Tax Credit( EITC). The result isn’t that you don’t owe anything in federal income taxes, but that your income tax liability is wiped out by your EITC check.  This accounts for a whole lot of people who don’t owe federal income tax.  So would the right like to take away a tax cut from the bulk of the middle class?  People who are using the EITC are not free riders, they are working class American people.  The critics of the tax code don’t seem to know this, but their problem is with programs like the EITC — of which there are many, some of which help the middle class — not income tax brackets. That accounts for a lot of the people who don’t owe federal income taxes.

Let’s talk about the fact that approximately  75% of all American households pay more in payroll taxes, which go toward Medicare and Social Security, than in income taxes.  The following graph comes from a report (pdf) by Citizens for Tax Justice. It compares the share of the total tax burden — that means income taxes, payroll taxes, state and local taxes, capital gains taxes, and more.  All of a sudden it doesn’t look so skewed does it?

Composite of Percentage of Taxes Paid

So with all the hostage taking etc on the Bush Tax Cuts, let us also remember over the last 30 years, tax rates have fallen more for the wealthy, and especially the very wealthy, than for any other group. At the same time, their incomes have soared, and the incomes of most workers have grown only moderately faster than inflation.

Let us not forget, “Federal Income Tax” is simply a category, when it is all said and done, the US government looks at covering the cost of all its operations with revenue from all its taxes.  While 47% sounds like an awesome statistic, it is being used inaccurately.  It is simply a talking point that the right continually spews out, somebody really needs to tell these folks just because you continually repeat a lie, will not make it true.  We have a deficit problem in this country, we have an atmosphere that is toxic to solving problems with our Congress, it is time for reality to hit before it is too late.

Posted in Economy, right wing nut jobs | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Republican Pledge to America AKA Plague for America

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on September 25, 2010

Republican Marketing

Republicans “unveiled” their vision in a 21 page masterpiece, all put together by…wait for it..here it comes…Brian Wild, who up until early this  year was a lobbyist on behalf of  the Nickles Group.  Set  up by the former Republican Senator from Oklahoma, Don Nickles.   Brian Wild worked for this firm for five years.  Here are some highlights of the contracts the Nickles Group handled

  • $740,000 in lobbying contracts from AIG, the former insurance company at the heart of the financial collapse
  • $800,000 from energy giant Andarko Petroleum
  • more than $1.1 million from Comcast
  • more than $1.3 million from Exxon Mobil
  • $625,000 from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc.

The Nickles Group was not the only stop in his career, he also served as a lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where he helped steer more than $34 million worth of lobbying activity for the business interest group.

Does anybody else see a serious disconnect from Main Street and Wall Street?

But according to the Republicans all of these ideas for the pledge came from “America Speaking Out” – this if you have been reading my blog for awhile is what I dubbed the GOP Taliban, as the remarks were all censored.   Having said that, the seminal ideas from America Speaking Out seemed to be to legalize pot, and bring back jobs that have been outsourced – neither of which is addressed in the “Pledge”.

This recycled approach worked in 1994 when the Republicans unveiled  “Contract With America,” a list of heavily poll-tested proposals they unveiled about six weeks before the GOP gained 54 House seats and seized control of the House for the first time in 40 years.

The “pledge” is full of populist promises.  Ironically,  on the very day the plan was unveiled and promises to repeal” Obama Care”  rang out from the GOP is the very day that because of “Obama Care”  insurance companies can no longer discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions, drop coverage because of a simple mistake on an application, institute lifetime caps, limit choice of doctors, charge more for emergency services obtained out of network, or levy deductibles, co-payments or co-insurance for certain preventive benefits. Children will also be able to stay on their parents’ plans until their 26th birthday and everyone will have the right to appeal insurer decisions to an independent third party.  In what is an obviously poorly researched plan, or at the very least shows that the Republican party has absolutely no clue as to what is in the Affordable Health Care Act they cited 7 changes they would implement in  health care that are ALREADY in the act!(See table at the end of this post)

Let’s talk about downsizing the government,  the cry of the Tea Party, reduce the government!  Here is an interesting fact:  the civilian federal workforce, now at about 2.1 million, is smaller than it was in 1967. And there are over 100 million more Americans today than there were then.  The pledge wants to limit the number of Federal employees, an across-the-board freeze on non-security federal hiring.  That feeds right into the populist militia view, but you know what it doesn’t take into account?  The fact that you cannot hold the Federal government hostage to populist views when in fact the role of the Federal government is to do what individuals cannot do.  For example, do you think that the fact that there were just 60 inspectors for oil rigs, like the Deep Water Horizon, to cover almost 4,000 facilities in the area is a skewed ratio?  In effect their proposal would take away the ability of the government to grow areas which for the safety of this country must be grown.  Following their logic what happens if there is a pandemic, sorry we can’t respond because the Department of Health and Human Resources has already hired.  Food and Drug Administration, salmonella from eggs?  Sorry guess you had better not eat eggs, because we aren’t hiring anybody to ensure your safety.  Sorry chicken industry, guess you better figure out another line of work quick.    But here’s an interesting kicker..it leaves Social Security and Medicare, the two biggest long term drivers of debt untouched.  The language used is:

“We will make the decisions that are necessary to protect our entitlement programs for today’s seniors and future generations.”
Can somebody tell me what that means?  Is there a game plan here in this vague language that I am missing?  It’s hard to tell folks we are going to mess with these two programs that people rely on because that doesn’t get votes.  There are references to vague promise to cut “discretionary spending.”  What the hell does that mean exactly?

The list goes on..

What about security?  Doing what the GOP does best, which is to run on a platform of fear, we could hire according to the “Pledge” security, that would be exempt from a hiring freeze..mmm here’s another fact:  The federal workforce has grown in the past decade, but two-thirds of the increase is directly related to the terrorist threat sparked by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After Sept. 11, the public demanded a federal response, and Congress and the White House enacted new policies; put in place new homeland security, defense and intelligence initiatives; and hired people to run and manage these efforts.    This sector has grown rapidly and been the most costly.  And the magic bullet for eliminating terrorist is to eliminate Miranda rights for terrorist?

Let’s see if I have this right, we are going to short change and hold the Federal government agencies to a freeze, so when there is a crisis we have nobody to answer the call except some security folks who while doing a noble job, probably are not equipped to deal with the wide range of services the government is in place to do, because THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO – WHAT THE INDIVIDUALS CANNOT DO.

Tax cuts – the GOP won’t vote for a tax cut for middle America, but will hold 98% of the country hostage for the wealthy to get their cut.  But they want  taxes to be cut and no deficit, two great yet contradictory goals.  Everybody wants a balanced budget and no deficit.  They they have  “packaged” these populist views together in a very vague way, and that is not an accident.  It is vague because the truth is  you cannot have tax cuts and a balanced budget, because the number of programs you would have to cut for this to occur would mean you will not have a government.  It is simply rhetoric, that’s the truth, not very sexy, not a good marketing the tool the truth is it?

Government bails outs -end TARP! Another “pledge” – here’s the truth, remember that was a Republican initiative.

It is nothing more than a marketing plan, on par with marketing a magic pill that promises if you take it you too will lose 20 pounds in 10 days and eat anything you want while laying on the couch and watching TV.  The only thing the GOP has left out is Ron Popeil coming out and asking..how much would you pay for this?  But wait!!! There is more!  America if you buy this marketing propaganda and pay for it with your vote for anybody who is running on this platform, you will be paying dearly.  The small print that nobody is reading in this pledge says, we are the same people who brought the US economy crashing down, caused the world to teeter on economic disaster and given just half a chance we will finish the job.  Don’t be sold on marketing, look at the issues, look at the truth.  The truth is a bitter pill to swallow and these folks are just selling “Dr. Feelgood’s Magic Elixir”

Sources: too many to name..but here are a few






Affordable Care Act GOP’s ‘Pledge To America’
Insurance Across State Lines Allows for the creation of State Health Insurance Compacts – permits states to enter into agreements to allow for the sale of insurance across state lines. (SEC. 1333; p. 100-101) “We will allow individuals to buy health care coverage outside of the state in which they live. ” (p. 15)
High-Risk Insurance Pools The states and the federal government have already established high-risk insurance pools to provide temporary coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions until 2014. (SEC. 1101; p. 30-33) “We will expand state high-­‐risk pools, reinsurance programs and reduce the cost of coverage” (p. 15)
Pre-Existing Conditions Children cannot be denied coverage starting today, but beginning in 204, insurers must accept everyone who applies. (SEC. 2702-2705; p. 46-51) “We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-­‐existing condition.” (p. 15)
Lifetime and Annual Caps A health insurer cannot impose lifetime limits and will be prohibited from placing annual limits on plans beginning in 2014. (SEC. 2711; p. 14) “[E]liminate annual and lifetime spending caps” (p.15)
Recissions A health insurance issuer cannot rescind a policy except for in cases of fraud. (SEC. 2712; p. 14) “[P]revent insurers from dropping your coverage just because you get sick.” (p.15)
State Innovation States can receive waives from certain requirements if they can cover the uninsured and lower health costs in a more innovative manner. (SEC. 1332; p. 98-100) “We will incentivize states to develop innovative programs that lower premiums and reduce the number of uninsured Americans.” (p.15)
Conscience Protections The law does not affect existing conscience protections or discriminate “on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion.” (SEC. 1303; p. 67) “We will also enact into law conscience protections for health care providers, including doctors, nurses, and hospitals.” (p.15)

Posted in conservative values, dirty politics, Economy, health care reform, right wing nut jobs, US Politics | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Mid Term Elections – Proof that the Recession is Over

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on September 21, 2010

Recession officially over...just ask the Tea Party Express

If you were at all in doubt that the recession is over and still need some evidence look no further than right wing nut jobs Tea Party endorsed candidates.  The recession must be over and we have money to burn, otherwise why would anybody pour their hard earned dollars into liars, nuts and freaks marginal, at best, candidates?

Let’s take a quick look…

Christine O’Donnel – that witch craft dabbling, unemployed, professional candidate, degree challenged, insolvent,  chastity belt wearing non  masturbating, 41 year old virgin candidate from Delaware.  The Tea Party Express dropped $250,000 into her account shortly before the primaries, and she has raised about $1 million .

Nevada must be doing damn well! Who said unemployment was bad for politics?  14% unemployment has translated into a million dollars for  Sharron Angle.  Exactly where that money has come from is a bit mysterious, but hey, it spends just the same.  Rest assured your tax dollars with Sharron Angle will never go to education, environmental protection,  or social security to name a few.

Joe Miller, from Alaska came from no where with help of a $600,000 injection from the Tea Party Express knows that recession is over, just don’t ask him to explain the US Constitution.

America, sleep easy tonight, because we have proof that the recession is over, instead of lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills, we are emptying our fat wallets into the coffers of those parasites called Tea Party Candidates.  Now that these societal piranhas candidates are running under the GOP ticket even money will be flowing in…

An interesting note here if you go to http://www.teapartyexpress.org/ as of today there are only  contribution links,  three to be exact…one for Sharon Angle, one for Christine O’Donnell and finally Joe Miller.  No links to even say who this organization is, no information about a  mission statement, no information saying we are operating under IRS rules etc….BUT they do have a catchy little saying…”Liberty at the Ballot Box” – I wonder does that come after they rape your wallet?

Sources: http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100904/NEWS02/9040340/&template=artiphone


Posted in conservative values, dirty politics, Economy, right wing nut jobs, Tea Party, US Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Sky Is Falling, House Prices Are Falling!

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on August 25, 2010

The Sky is Falling! House Prices are Falling!

It often helps to put a bit of reality into a situation…the chants of the sky is falling and it is Obama’s fault started yesterday.  Stats are wonderful, but like everything else put it in perspective…

  • Real estate prices have further – perhaps much further – to fall.

Inventory overhang still significant. The following may be helpful:

  • Median wages fell 0.3% between 2000-07; unable to support higher home values; prices are now reverting to the long-term mean.
  • 3 reasons to buy a home. In order of importance: 1) roof over your head, 2) tax breaks 3) possibility of price gains. 1 & 2 are guaranteed
  • The extraordinary gains in real estate between ‘01-’07 have only been seen once before – right after WWII, another unusual period.
  • Data going back to the 19th century: real estate appreciates about 1.5% beyond inflation. Yet people think the ’01-’07 period was normal.

Let me give credit where credit is due..this comes from twitter http://twitter.com/westwingreport  – excellent source, verified, well informed, follow!

Posted in Economy, US News | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

The Amish: Quiet Success or Don’t Tell Me It Can’t Be Done

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on May 10, 2010

With so much rhetoric about how there is no opportunity, too hard to succeed, too hard to find a job, nobody cares about the economy, it’s the economy that’s the reason I am not living the American dream…blah blah blah there has been a quiet storm on the business front, something we could all take a lesson from – the Amish.

Here’s a shocking statistic:  Amish businesses have a 95% success rate at staying open at least five years, yes even in today’s rough market, these folks are doing gangbusters!

Here’s the full story:

CNNMoney.com) — Want to find America’s most successful entrepreneurs? Skip Silicon Valley and Manhattan; head to the rural Amish enclaves.

Amish businesses have an eye-popping 95% success rate at staying open at least five years, according to author Erik Wesner’s new book, Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive.

It’s a statistic he backs up with a variety of academic surveys, drawing particularly on a 2009 report by Elizabethtown College sociology professor Donald Kraybill. Studying several Amish settlements, Kraybill found failure rates ranging from 2.6% and 4.2%; interviews with loan officers, accountants and industry professions in other Amish regions yielded additional anecdotal evidence of closure rates significantly south of 10%.

Compare that to the average five-year survival rate for new businesses across the United States, which hovers just under 50%. So what’s the secret?

Wesner, who worked in business management and sales before immersing himself in all things Amish, thinks it lies in the culture, which emphasizes “qualities like hard work and cooperation.” Networking through Facebook doesn’t exactly have the same community-building pull as teaming up with neighbors to build a barn, and few Americans these days can point to a childhood where they awoke regularly at dawn to milk the cows.

Another key advantage is that Amish business owners tend to stick with what they know.

“Everything about the Amish says things like ‘rustic,’ ‘traditional,’ ‘handmade,’ so they tend to play to those strengths,” Wesner says. “Would consumers trust an Amish cell-phone dealer or an Amish computer repair guy to know what he’s doing? It’d be a pretty big mental and marketing hurdle to get over.”

If you ask an Amish entrepreneur why they’re successful, don’t expect a lot of soul-searching or reflection on what they do right. A group known for being unfailingly polite and modest, the Amish will likely pin the praise on anyone else but themselves.

Certainly, Myron Miller, an Amish businessman in Millersburg, Ohio, near Akron, would be a good role model for other entrepreneurs, although he would never tell you that. “I run my business according to God’s way and plan,” Miller says.

The Almighty has been a good business coach for Miller, a 40-year-old father of six. He started his company 15 years ago and now has two separate entities: Four Corners Furniture, a retail furniture-making operation open to the public, and Miller Bedroom Wholesale, which sells directly to distributors. Miller employs 12 full-time workers and two part-timers.

Not bad for someone with an eighth grade education, which is where the Amish routinely end their formal schooling.

Miller thought about starting a farm when he was just beginning his career, but farmland was scarce and expensive. “They were all being used,” he says. “So my thing is, I saw all the tourism coming in — we’re blessed to be the number one-tourism attraction in Ohio — and so I thought I’d try to go into that, selling furniture to the tourists. Then I realized that was just the tip of the iceberg. I thought I’d spread my wings and market the furniture elsewhere.”

Miller now works with 75 dealers, who sell his wares across the country. He banded together with other Amish owners to create a hardwood furniture guild, which helps market their products — an important publicity channel since Miller’s businesses have no website. He uses terms like “out of the box,” routinely reads business books (especially those with a religious business bent), and has attended seminars by motivational and performance training guru Zig Ziglar.

Even if most people’s idea of an Amish businessman is someone selling homemade cheese transported by horse and buggy, Miller isn’t an anomaly, according to Kraybill, who has become one of the nation’s leading academic experts on the Amish. He estimates that there are at least 9,000 Amish business owners across the U.S, which he divides into two groups: “caretakers” and “entrepreneurs.”

“Caretakers generally have smaller, at-home or near-home businesses with five or fewer employees, and they don’t want to grow, but simply sustain income for themselves and a small number of employees,” Kraybill says. “The entrepreneurs are a different breed. They have larger businesses and somewhat want to grow, and they are more aggressive in marketing, trying new ideas, and are willing to take risks.”

Risks like buying a failing business and trying to turn it around. Two years ago, in Glen Rock, Penn., Ben Riehl purchased a flagging food stand at Markets at Shrewsbury, a gathering spot for Amish vendors. He turned to entrepreneurship as a way out of what he calls “somewhat of a dead-end job,” working in the metalworking and machine shop at a plastics company.

Riehl renamed the shop the Country Style Deli and enlisted his wife, Mary, and their two sons to help him work the stand, which sells local and imported cheeses, homemade breads, and subs and sandwiches. They also employ four other people part-time.

But Riehl launched just as the Great Recession went into full swing. Customers that once spent $25 on a visit to the stand cut their purchases in half. Country Style Deli is managing to turn a small profit, Riehl says, but it’s not enough yet to allow him to leave his full-time job.

But he sounds like any other entrepreneur with a plan and dream when he talks about his startup. “We work hard to give customers quality product at a reasonable price, and we strive to give courteous and competent service,” says Riehl. “We want the customers to have an experience that is different than pulling things out of a self-serve case and using the self checkout. We try to make it interactive and personal.”

Clinging to values

Amish business owners face more restrictions than your typical entrepreneur.

Wesner says that while the Amish have made allowances and will, for instance, make products that they don’t use themselves — like designer-label leather clothing or high-priced toys — they won’t touch any business “that may be seen as morally questionable.” Don’t hold your breath waiting for an Amish-owned casino, liquor store or debt collection service.

But modern touches are creeping into the business scene. Some Amish retailers use electricity in their shops, more as a nod to customers who expect air-conditioning and credit-card machines. They’re often fueled with alternative energy sources, like solar and wind power.

In his field research, Wesner found some Amish entrepreneurs conducting business using cell phones, fax machines and even e-mail. It’s still a sensitive topic — not because the Amish believe it’s unethical to use these devices, but because they can have a subtle, adverse impact on the entrepreneur. Miller struggles with it himself, in ways that will sound familiar to any CrackBerry addict battling for a word-life balance.

“The smarter you get, and the more technology you use for your business, the more impact it has on families,” he says. “For instance, there was a time the farmer would be in the parlor milking cows, and everyone was there, singing songs, and it was work, but it was also family time. Now, an Amish farmer is likely to be milking forty cows, and the children are at school. That’s practical living, and you’ve got to keep up. But at the same time, it takes away from that balance, and you have to ask yourself, ‘How far do you let technology affect your business?'”

Miller answers his own question in the next breath: “I guess you just have to stay true to your convictions and draw your own lines and not overdo it where you lose the values and your way of life.” To top of page

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The Sky Is NOT Falling – Take a Ride on the Wild Side with the Dow

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on May 6, 2010

It was a wild twenty minutes, and lots of questions still unanswered, I was listening to CNN on the TV and thought I didn’t hear that right, then I sat down and watched…watched the plunge of the market…the phone started ringing – a right wing conservative conspiracy theory lover, predicting the end of the US,  it was because of Greece, and the US is going to fall just like Greece is!!!!  It was interesting to watch the news headlines on the internet – Dow Jones Plummets, Wall Street Plummets! Horrific Tumble on the Dow!  The Sky is FAlling!!!!!

The facts are not all in, but it seems it was a “glitch”…a major factor is according to multiple sources, a trader entered a “b” for billion instead of an “m” for million in a trade possibly involving Procter & Gamble, a component in the Dow.   Since P&G is a component, a gold standard almost of the Dow Jones, this is a significant event.  As the Dow started to fall, this triggered sell orders, meaning the standing instruction was left if the Dow goes to “X” sell, the sells push the market further downward, triggering more sells.  A New York Stock Exchange spokesman confirmed the trading error did not occur on the NYSE and there were “a number of erroneous trades” in P&G shares.   At one point P&G shares were trading $34.64, it closed at $60.75.

Yes, the Greek problem has an impact, but it isn’t a new impact, this has been well known in the international market for quite awhile.  I am sorry to disappoint all those right wing conspiracy lovers who are sure that this “Administration” will destroy the US, we are still standing in spite of your  glee.


The Monkey

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Full Circle – Unemployment in the US and the Tea Party or Angry White Men

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on May 6, 2010

Again, another plug for NPR and their insightful reporting.  It is their ability to connect the dots that is admirable, and to connect the dots in a logical, and  not a conspiracy theory angle, it is their objectivity that is so very valuable.  I, obviously am quite fascinated with the rise of the Tea Party, and their philosophies.

So here’s the story:


The pain of current unemployment rates has been keenly felt by the white working class, where men in particular have seen long-term jobs turn into long-term joblessness. It’s a trend that hit black working-class men 30 years ago with the decline of the industrial economy, and the effects it had on families and neighborhoods then are happening again.

WILLIAMS: Well, if you look back to the end of the 1970s, start of the 1980s, it’s black men. Black men went through a period in which they saw a historic leap in terms of unemployment rates, especially older black men who were up then – you know, by about ’83 – to about 12 percent, 13 percent unemployment.

And that’s also the period when you saw a tremendous expansion in terms of young black men experiencing record levels of unemployment. This was during the course of that recession.

INSKEEP: Let’s remember that historic period of time. There’d been the civil rights movement. There’d been improvement – there’d been a spread, rather, of union activity. There were a lot of blue collar jobs for African-Americans for a while. And these are the jobs – manufacturing jobs that went away as the economy shifted drastically in the early ’80s, right?

WILLIAMS: Exactly, right. I think, you know, if you wanted a – sort of an icon at this moment, I think people might think of Michelle Obama’s dad, you know, as someone who was working in a boiler room in Chicago. Hardworking guy, able to support his family, able to be a good dad, able to send his children to school.

That moment, in terms of black American life, is something that I heard about in a recent conversation with a top White House official, who was saying, you know, you look at that period and that you can trace, then, to the development in terms of not only high unemployment but out-of-wedlock births, absent dads, crime, drugs, deterioration of so many communities.

NSKEEP: I feel like you’re telling me the back story of a lot of the news stories that I remember for the last 25 years, when you talk about higher crime and rising single motherhood and so forth.

So now you’re focusing on white men, one of the groups here that seems to be going through a similar retrenchment. Serious, serious suffering, loss of manufacturing jobs. What are some of the possible effects of that?

WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, the effects now – and I think this is what the White House is picking on – the effects are quite similar in terms of increasing rates of out-of-wedlock births among white men, increasing rates of absent dads, lower marriage rates and the consequence it has for family formation.

This is a moment when all of a sudden, you see white men, who experienced half of all the job losses since ’07 the country’s lost 8 million jobs, half among white men. And when you think about blue collar white men, in specific, blue collar white men, who are about 11 percent of the workforce, lost over 36 percent of all the jobs.

So when you add that to the idea of the average length of unemployment now, being at a historic high – more than 31 weeks – what you’re seeing is white men going through something very similar to what black men went through a long time ago, and it having the same consequential effect on sociological issues – and, I might add, on politics.

INSKEEP: Well, let’s talk about the politics. What are some of the political effects, as best you can judge them?

WILLIAMS: Well, if you stop – you know, take something like the Tea Party movement in this country right now. There’s a lot of anger at Wall Street bailouts, at stimulus packages that did more about public sector unemployment than private sector unemployment – specifically, manufacturing and construction, where these men lost so many of their jobs.

But in a recent New York Times poll about the Tea Party, for example, it said two-thirds of the men who identified as members of the Tea Party – of the people, I should say – who identify as members of the Tea Party, said that the recession had caused them a hardship or a major change of life. And 41 percent of white men, remember, voted for President Obama in ’08. Now, his approval rating among white men is down in the mid-30s.

And those are people who say they are now less likely to vote for Democrats in the fall. So part of this, I think, is tied into what we see going on in terms of American politics – people who feel that this administration may be looking out for Wall Street, may be looking out for the poor or immigrants in terms of health-care reform, but not looking out for them.

INSKEEP: Juan, thanks very much.

WILLIAMS: You’re welcome, Steve.

INSKEEP: That’s NPR news analyst Juan Williams.

That was a tremendously crippling period for black American men – and one that they really haven’t recovered from even as we go forward because, you know, black unemployment remains very high right now.

Then I went and dug up the Gallup Poll Results:

Posted in Economy, Tea Party | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Arizona’s Con$equence$ of Ignorance – or Burning Up Your Tax Dollars for Political Punches or What Recession?

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on May 4, 2010

It is nothing short of shameful and some how at the same time well deserved.  I read that 2/3 of the people in Arizona support this law, these must be the same 2/3 of the people who do not have any vested interests in the economy of Arizona, and not part of the 10% of unemployed people in Arizona, right? Right?

Listening this morning to NPR ”

Arizona’s tough new immigration law has led more than a dozen U.S. cities, organizations and foreign governments to warn against traveling there. Many hotels say guests have canceled reservations. In a state that depends on tourism and conventions, business owners who had been looking for signs of an economic thaw are concerned.

On a recent lunch hour at the Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix, owner Ben Bethel talked about the latest punch to the gut. Customers canceled 80 room reservations in just one day last week, Bethel says. That translates to about $8,000 — a big deal for a small boutique hotel, particularly one trying to emerge from a recession.

“We were so hopeful that things were recovering,” he says, “but this is a situation where it’s actually going to be very difficult to recover from this.”…..

Cities like San Francisco and St. Paul have banned public employees from traveling to Arizona on business. Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland have considered banning future contracts with Arizona businesses.

“We don’t want to hurt Arizona, but we don’t want this kind of law to continue,” says Oakland City Council President Jane Brunner, who co-sponsored a bill to boycott Arizona-based companies.

Opponents are also targeting Phoenix’s bid for the next Republican National Convention and Major League Baseball’s 2011 All-Star Game. The World Boxing Council will no longer send Mexican fighters to Arizona.

Gov. Jan Brewer, whose signature on the bill started this frenzy, says she doesn’t understand why people would use boycotts to inflict any more damage.

“Why would they want to hurt the legal citizens?” Brewer says. “You and I, and everybody else in this state. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to me.”

Brewer counters that the legislation is aimed at making Arizona safer, and better for businesses.

(Gee Jan,  ya think maybe,  just maybe you screwed the pooch on this deal? )

Many experts are reluctant to speculate whether the sanctions will actually work. But economist Elliot Pollack is not one of them. He says Arizona is no stranger to controversy — or to boycotts.

“And you know what the long-term impact of those things were? Zero!” Pollack says.

In the 1990s, Arizona lost the Super Bowl because of the state’s refusal to recognize Martin Luther King Day. Even then, Pollack says, the pain was temporary. But this time might be different.

“It’s absolutely certain for us that we’ve never seen anything like this before,” says Will Conroy, president of Tucson’s historic Arizona Inn.

Conroy selected one of a stack of e-mails from customers who have canceled their reservations.

” ‘We will not be visiting the Arizona Inn anytime soon because of the anti-immigration climate in Arizona,’ ” Conroy says, reading the note aloud. ” ‘The small role I can play is not to add my presence as if everything in Arizona is fine. I shall miss visiting the Sonoran Desert and the Arizona Inn.’ ”

“That one got me,” Conroy says.

But the immigration legislation cuts both ways. A recent Gallup Poll shows most Americans are in favor of it. And ever since the governor signed the bill, supporters from other states have written to local news agencies to say they’re considering a move to Arizona.

I am not sure of what to make of the above paragraph – when did we become this nation that is so fearful, that we are willing to enter into a “police state”?  When did we decide it was ok to stop and question somebody because they don’t look like “us” , they speak funny, have an accent, dress differently, believe differently?  I have said it before and I will say it again, yes we have a problem with illegal immigrants, yes it needs to be solved, but I do not believe that this is the way to solve it, it reeks of Nazism, racism and general cowardliness and fear.  And I am disappointed that 2/3 of the people of Arizona evidently do not see this law for what it is – a cheap political ploy.   I firmly believe that Arizona Gov. Brewer decided to sign the immigration law because she is facing a tough primary…and this would give her the support of the conservative base…but what is the cost of this political tactic to the tax payer?  She is getting some good publicity, and it hasn’t come out of her war chest, nor will it when it is challenged in court, it will come from the tax payer…

Just like the money to file the lawsuits against health care will be footed by the tax payer of the following states:

(I confess I have not finished all the research into this one, and was so disgusted by my initial findings, I will go out on a limb and say they are all up for re-election. )

Here are some morsels to chew on….

Alabama Attorney General: Troy King – up for re-election. http://www.troyking.org/

Colorado Attorney General: John  Suthers – up for re-election.

Idaho Attorney General:  Lawrence Wasden – up for re-election. http://www.lawrencewasden.com

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum – running for governor.





South Carolina

South Dakota



Virginia – Attorney General: Kenneth T. ‘Ken’ Cuccinelli II A “Birther”

Source: http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2010/03/15/2228356.aspx Watch the video.

QUESTIONER: Um, what can we do about Obama and the birth certificate thing, ’cause that’s–?

CUCCINELLI: It’ll get tested in my view when he signs a law and someone is convicted of violating it, and one of their defenses will be it’s not a law if someone qualified to be president isn’t signing it.

QUESTIONER: Is that something you can do as attorney general, can you like-, can you do that or something?

CUCCINELLI: Well, only if there’s a conflict where we’re suing the federal government for a law they’ve passed. So it’s possible.

QUESTIONER: Cause we’re talking about the possibility he was not born in America.

CUCCINELLI: Right, but at the same time, under Rule 11, federal Rule 11, we gotta have proof of it.

QUESTIONER: How can we get proof? [laughing]

CUCCINELLI: Well, that’s a good question — not one that I’ve thought a lot about, cause it hasn’t been a part of my campaign. But someone’s going to have to come forward with nailed-down testimony that he was born in Place B, wherever that is. The speculation is Kenya.


CUCCINELLI: And that doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility.

The Political Monkey is fair and Mr. Cuccinelli’s office finally did respond as follows:

“I absolutely believe that President Obama was born in the United States. I don’t buy into the claims that he wasn’t. On the recording, I was asked a hypothetical legal question, and I gave a hypothetical legal answer in response.

“As I said previously, this issue was not a part of my campaign, and it is not part of what I am doing now as attorney general.

Ya think he got some heat on that on and had to dig himself out of shit?

All but one of those state officials, Louisiana’s Buddy Caldwell, are Republicans.  Attorney General Bill MCCollum who is leading the attack for these states also happens to be running for governor of Florida.

While I am not a legal expert everything I have read indicates it isn’t going to fly.  For example, Yale Law profession Jack Balkin says:   “Congress has the power to require the individual mandate under the commerce clause, that is because Congress can regulate economic activities that have a cumulative economic effect on interstate commerce.”

The Attorney Generals who are challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform have their own agenda, and it is at the expense of the taxpayer.

And some how this all gets overlooked….

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