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Tag Archives: economy

A Day Without Immigrants

So apparently today was supposed to be some kind of statement – a “Day Without Immigrants.”

Washington, D.C., will experience a “Day Without Immigrants” along with a number of other major cities across the country on Thursday. The grassroots movement is calling for immigrants not to go to work or make purchases on Feb. 16 to show President Trump ho [sic.] much legal and illegal immigrants contribute to the economy.

2017-02-15-day-without-immigrants_0Let’s put aside the obvious economic ignorance exhibited here. One day without a fairly small percentage of the population working and making purchases will hurt no one except maybe their employers who seem more than happy to virtue signal their support for immigration, which no one has proposed to ban writ large, by giving their foreign-born workers a paid day off. Those same immigrants staging this protest and not buying anything, will purchase what they need tomorrow… or the next day. No harm, no foul. Any money “lost” from any sale today, will be made up tomorrow or the next day, because ultimately people need what they need.

Second, just how many illegal immigrants do we have working in the DC area? Do they really make such a huge impact on the local economy? And also, will it honestly impact the President, who I’m pretty sure isn’t going out to Bub & Pop’s to get a sandwich or picking up street food at a cart today.

I wouldn’t even have known this was going on if I hadn’t come across it in a news feed.

Local restaurants – if they support this “boycott” – closed. So what? This immigrant brings her own lunch to work.

The employees of those establishments that do not support this empty action and who decided not to show up for work today anyway, could find themselves shitcanned in favor of someone who will actually work. And if not, they’re simply not going to get paid for that day, unless they have earned leave. Who loses? They do.

Smoke & Barrel in Washington DC had the following up on their Facebook page two days ago.

As a Latino business owner I stand in solidarity with all of my immigrant staff. Therefore, we will close our kitchen this Thursday in support of our immigrant staff’s desire and right to protest the evolving state of immigration policies in our country. Our bars will remain open and our guests are welcome to BYOF (bring your own food.) -John Andrade, owner

OK, so they’ll still sell booze, and they’ll allow people to bring their own food, because they can’t possibly lose the profits! But yay, solidarity! No sacrifice. No business lost. So what is it, exactly, that they’re trying to impact?

Boycott school? Really? The one place that should educate and give them something of value, they’re encouraged to skip. What, exactly, will that do to the school? The teachers will continue teaching. The other students will continue learning. And the illegal immigrant kids who are skipping school are only shooting themselves in the foot.

Methinks these people have a much inflated view of their own value.

The flyer claims that without them the country is “paralyzed.”

Well, this immigrant is at work today, and for once, I didn’t experience metro fuckery. Correlation, of course, does not equal causation, but the 20 minute commute was pretty darn good today.

I bring my own lunch, and I don’t eat at the restaurants that are participating in this “boycott” anyway. (We ate at Pupatella in Arlington once, and the service was so shitty after an hour and a half wait, that I swore never to go there again. The food wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t even remotely worth it.)

I don’t plan on going shopping, because most days I work 10-11 hours, and I’m too tired to do anything but go home and go to sleep.

When I need to go shopping, it will be on a weekend, so the “boycott” ultimately means nothing to me.

If the purpose of this action was to “paralyze” the country, the organizers might want to learn economics first.

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I know it’s been a while. Shut it.

Yes, I know I’ve been remiss in updating the blog. It’s been a busy week, and I don’t have a gazillion co-bloggers like some much bigger, much better blogs. I keep opening the Dashboard, looking at the blank blog form, and deciding that a nap is a much better way to spend my time. Why? Because I’m spending 11-12 hours at the office each day. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because it’s fun, but after a while your brain just shuts down, or decides it’s going to do a tap dance inside your skull, and the only way to calm it down is a hammer…

…or a nap.

I opt for the latter.

So what’s been going on?

Well, obviously there’s this whole economic warfare thing with Russia. After Russia “didn’t” sent troops to Ukraine, and “didn’t” do anything illegal with the signed law to annex Crimea, even though the Ukrainian Constitutional Court has ruled the independence vote was unconstitutional (as I said all along – Crimea did not have the legal authority to make a unilateral decision that affects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation as a whole) and “didn’t” participate in some election fraud, the US rolled out some sanctions.

Many folks scoffed, claiming, “Meh. Only 29 people were sanctioned along with one bank,” but consider the consequences of sanctioning some of Putin’s closest and richest allies (look up Ozero collective on Wikipedia, if you don’t know what I’m talking about) and a pretty large bank. Result? Russian media reports that one of Putin’s pals – a guy named Kovalchuk (known as Putin’s banker), along with the bank is losing about 20 percent of his holdings (link is in Russian). Oh, and did we mention the Fitch and S&P downgrades of the Russian Federation? And the long lines at Rossyia’s ATMs?

Yeah.

Some may smirk at these measures, or stupidly call them an “act of war” (yeah, I’m talking to you, Ron Paul and the Paulbots), but that just shows an ignorant lack of understanding of what this listing does that I cannot even begin to address without getting frustrated at the utter stupidity of those claims, so I won’t.

What else has been going on?

Saw the new 300 movie last week. Decided that Sullivan Stapleton is incredibly hot.

Am going to see Wicked next month in Richmond with a high school buddy of mine, whom I just don’t get to see enough. It is my early Mother’s Day present.

I loved “The Walking Dead” last week, and for those who wail about it being “too far,” because children are dying… WHAT THE FLYING, SNIVELING HELL DO YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN DURING A REAL ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE (or more realistically, an outbreak of some kind of hideous disease)? Do you actually think children would be spared, because they’re… uh… children and cute? Do you think human nature, sociopaths, even dangerous “bad seed” children will cease to exist just because of the need to band together and help one another? Shut up and turn off the damn TV, Sparky!

Oh, yeah – and I don’t know where that damn plane is, OK? So stop asking.

My Putin Paranoia (FYI – some sources cited are in Russian)

This is my blog, and I’m allowed to don the tinfoil hat every once in a while. Now… if you’re looking for inane conspiritardery about U.S. involvement in Ukraine, us funding protests, chemtrails, using supersonic, nuclear generated EMP weapons to foment unrest in Ukraine in order to capture the considerable assets of Oleksandr Yanukovych, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m paranoid, not insane.

Besides, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Right? RIGHT???

In all seriousness, I’ve been quite a bit perplexed by the actions of Vladimir Putin these past few weeks.

I explained the background on the Ukraine situation already, so I’m not going to get into it here. You can certainly read what I’ve written on the topic here and here. But what I haven’t done is write down my theories on the Russian reaction to the unrest in Ukraine and the ultimate fall of Ukraine’s ever-so-corrupt government.

I will admit I was a bit surprised.

President Vladimir Putin spent a lot of time and resources integrating Russia into the global economy, positioning Russia as a legitimate member of the international community, entering the World Trade Organization, developing economic ties with the European Union, freeing political opponents, including Mikhail Khodorkovsky, had been imprisoned for more than a decade, and brokering a deal with Syria. Putin has endorsed some free market principles, such as privatization and improving Russia’s business climate.

But on the other hand, I also understood that Putin wanted to return Russia to its former world power status, and that was the ultimate goal all along.

But on the third hand, I figured economic development and GDP growth were critical to Putin’s ultimate goal. After all, returning  the country to its superpower status also involves not only the modernization of the Russian economy, but also the Russian military – a goal toward which Russia claimed it would commit between $650-$700 billion in procurement dollars.  That’s a lofty goal for a nation whose armaments programs had a tendency to fail due to inefficiencies, corruption and inflation. Russia needed the money after its little incursion into Georgia in 2008 showed just how ill-equipped its military was. Russia expert Dmitry Gorenburg says the military received no funding for new equipment between 1993-2008, and post-2008 programs were a big fail in executing the Russians’ lofty rearmament goals.

As a result, the vast majority of its armaments are both physically old and based on outdated designs. To deal with this problem, the Russian government has begun to implement a 10-year and $650 billion State Armament Program. The program’s goal is to ensure that 70 percent of the Russian military’s equipment is modern by 2020. The program’s top priorities are to re-equip the Strategic Rocket Forces, the air force, the air defense and space forces, and to provide more advanced command and control equipment for the military.

The problem is there’s just not enough money. Russia’s crumbling economic infrastructure needs urgent updates, and Russia’s economic growth is unable to support the planned levels of military spending. Hell, former Minister of Finance Alexey Kudrin resigned over the issue! And Putin himself admitted that GDP needs to grow before Russia can afford to fund all its ambitious military plans.

“We are setting the goal of accelerating economic growth to 6 percent, better to 6-7 percent, and join the list of the world’s top five economies in five years but not only because advanced economies will be falling but also because we’ll be growing,” Putin said at a congress of Business Russia public association, which unites the country’s medium-sized businesses.

Russia has set the ambitious task of expanding its per capita gross domestic product by 50 percent in the next decade “to achieve the level of more than $35,000 per person from the current $20,700,” Putin said.

In 2011, Russia’s GDP will grow by 4.2-4.5 percent, the premier said.

It did. According to the Economist, Russia’s GDP grew by 4.4 percent in 2011. You know how much it grew in 2012? 3.5 percent. You know how much it grew in 2013? 1.4 percent. Hardly close to Putin’s economic goals. And between the rising inflation and the possibility of sanctions that could impact the Russian economy, and the continuing capital flight, Russia’s economic modernization and its military rearmament goals aren’t likely to happen.

But on the fourth hand, if Putin did, indeed, want to return Russia to some semblance of a “держава” or world power status, he wanted a customs union to counteract the EU, and he needed Ukraine to join, since the latter is a significant Eurasian economy. This is why Russia put so much political and economic pressure on Ukraine to not sign the Association Agreement with the EU, which ultimately caused Yanukovych to turn away from the West and pursue closer ties to Russia, and precipitated the demonstrations which later turned violent.

And that’s why I was a bit perplexed. Turning around into an aggressive invader shortly after hosting a Winter Olympics and after joining the WTO, and claiming to embrace economic development is incongruous. But it happened, didn’t it?

But what if…?

What if Putin’s plan all along has been to contribute to the destabilization of Ukraine and ultimately annex the Crimea?

What if Putin very carefully worked on crafting Russia’s image for the past decade, integrating his country into the international community and global economy, and lulling the west into a false sense of security?

What if Putin was playing the long game, working to ensure that the economy of Russia was so connected to the economies of the West and the United States that any significant economic decline in Russia would mean severe economic consequences for the United States and the European Union?

Because the result seems to be the following:

Any sanctions imposed on Russia or its assets will affect the EU and the United States. Andrey Klishas, chairman of the Federation Council committee for constitutional legislation has introduced a bill in the Duma that would seize the assets and accounts of American and European companies should sanctions be imposed on Russia.  Europe’s sanctions on Russia could cut the oligarchs and members of the Russian government off from the European cities where many have properties and European banks, where many have cash. Meanwhile, Russia is threatening retaliation if sanctions are imposed. A Kremlin aide publicly warned a few days ago of the repercussions. Sergey Glazyev said if America were to impose sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, Moscow might drop the dollar as a reserve currency and refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks.

Frankly, Russians are used to economic hardship. Us spoiled first-worlders in the West are not so much.

Could Putin’s calculus include the fact that the West would be just as impacted by Russia’s economic downturn as Russia itself?

Could he understand that despite the current economic slowdown and Russia’s obvious intent to annex the Crimea after the latter holds a vote on independence this weekend, his approval ratings are still fairly high?

Could Putin’s intent all along have been to play long-term chess? To integrate Russia into the global economy and make it a vital source of energy for the West, and then to foment instability in Ukraine and move in with practical impunity, because he knows that the West would be loath to tank Russia’s economy for fear of taking themselves down as well?

It’s a pretty convoluted case, but it’s not unlikely.

Consider the fact that the European Union gets 37 percent of its oil and 39 percent of its natural gas from Russia.

Consider also that Russia is one of the largest economies in the world.

Consider also that economic growth in the EU and in Russia generally mirror one another, although Russia’s swings are a bit more extreme.

EURussianGDP1.

What if Putin has decided that the West won’t do much if he decides to annex Crimea after Sunday’s vote, and has ensured this by working to ensure that any sanctions would bite all parties involved?

After all, Russia has already been conducting “exercises” on the Ukrainian border.

After all, the Duma has already passed legislation outlining how Russia will annex new members of the Federation.

And according to at least one report, pre-marked ballots have already been delivered to Crimea in time for Sunday’s referendum. Yes, I said “pre-marked.”

So what if this was Putin’s plan all along?

The entitlement state vs. America

Yes, you read that right. No, I don’t think it’s hyperbole. The entitlement state is as far from what the Founding Fathers had in mind as possible, other than perhaps Hamilton, who was a statist outlier.

As I’m sure readers of this blog are well aware, the Democrats have been the driving force behind the entitlement state and the government mechanisms that support it since the passage of the Federal Reserve Act almost a century ago, through the New Deal under FDR, the Great Society under LBJ, through to the passage of the monstrosity known as Obamacare in 2010. Granted, George W. Bush, the worst Republican President since Hoover, got in on the act with his Medicare prescription drug boondoggle in 2005, but the Democrats have carried the ball for the past century. Thanks, guys. Now that things have finally reached the point that we can’t afford them any longer no matter how we fudge the math and soak the productive and rich, the progressives are screaming and hollering like stuck pigs in defense of their venerated, precious, prized accomplishments. Case in point: everyone’s favorite former speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is squawking about how Democrats “created” (Gee, thanks!) Medicare and “will not let them (Republicans) take it away” (Kinda like not letting the doctor cure that infection!) and “We’re going to reject the Ryan plan, which is a transparent trick to end Medicare,” Pelosi said during a gathering over breakfast. “It’s just plain wrong to privatize, voucherize and end Medicare as we know it. So it’s just plain wrong to give insurance companies …more, charge seniors more, more than $6,000 a year. It’s wrong, it’s morally wrong, it’s economically wrong.”

Ah, if only it were so. Ryan, at best, wants to slowly privatize part of the program to help stanch the red ink bleeding out of the federal budget. Sadly, even this is beyond the pale to the Democrats. They’ve managed to hook enough Americans on the drug of entitlements that most don’t realize that the very nature of programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is to grow, grow and grow some more until they become unsustainable. I can hardly even address Pelosi’s assertion that it’s “morally wrong” to end Medicare, so I’ll just say it’s morally wrong to obligate your children to pay for your federal benefits as the so-called “Greatest Generation” did, and their children after them have to theirs… that would be my generation. I’ll be forty in January, and I know that I won’t see a dime of these programs, and from an ethical perspective, I don’t think I’d want to. So we need to kill these generational Ponzi schemes dead, dead, dead before they back the fiscal back of America as well as the spirit of self-reliance America’s known for, as Dan Mitchell sums up nicely.

It’s up to us, people. No one’s going to do it for us. We have to defeat ALL of one major party and much of the other to accomplish eliminating entitlements, but it has to be done.

Schumer is a dickhead. News at 11

Chuckles Schumer continues to hop over the line of common sense and sanity by demanding more quantitative easing. Because devaluing our currency the first two goddamn times sure did a metric fuckload of good.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., exhorted Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to stimulate the economy before November through some form of quantitative easing or other monetary policy, which Bernanke said could create jobs.

Hurry up, Benjy! Elections are coming up and we need to make the dollar a bit more worthless!

“Despite two false starts, we’re having a much rougher time than we ever imagined getting unemployment down,” Schumer told the Senate Banking Committee. “So get to work, Mr. Chairman.” Schumer said Bernanke needed to stimulate the economy because Congress refuses — “maybe after November we will,” he opined.

I know the first two times didn’t do shit, but… BUSH’S FAULT! BUSH! BUSH! BUSH! HIS ECONOMY! WORSE THAN WE EVER SAW! BUSH!

Oh, but we can fix it all after American idiots elect us again. No, really this time.

“We will act in an apolitical, non-partisan manner to do what is necessary for the economy,” Bernanke replied. “We have said we are willing to take further action,” he added, saying “it’s very important that we see sustained improvement in the labor market.

Hell, Benjy – I’d be satisfied with just an improvement! We’ll work on sustainment after Zero gets booted from Washington.

Before Schumer’s appeal, Bernanke praised the measures that he had previously undertaken to stimulate the economy.

“My own assessment is that quantitative easing and Operation Twist have been effective in supporting economic recovery,” Bernanke said, taking credit especially for launching the apparent economic recovery in 2009. “There’s also questions about side effects — risks that might be associated with their use, therefore they shouldn’t be used lightly,” he added, while saying that he would likely use them again if job growth remained “stuck in the mud.”

Let’s remind ourselves of the success of quantitative easing and Operation Twist:

Unemployment for 2012 so far by month:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
8.3 8.3 8.2 8.1 8.2 8.2

Yeah, that’s some awesome success there, sparky!

How about that GDP growth?

2010 2011 2012 2013
3 1.7 2.2 2.1

Oops! Damn.

That quantitative easing thing wasn’t working out so great. Someone want to enlighten me as to how diluting the value of our currency is going to help our economic situation?

If you want to find out more about quantitative easing, do listen to the dogs.

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