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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thoughts about last night's Hickory City Council meeting - April 15, 2014

Agenda about the City Council meeting of April 15, 2014

1) Public Hearing #1. Consideration of Economic Development Agreement with OHM Holdings LLC - This plan was unveiled and it certainly looks solid. Company chairman Paul Thompson spoke before the council and talked about the difficult choice that the company hadin deciding whether to remain in Hickory, where it was founded, or to move to Charlotte. 17th largest privately held company in North Carolina.  Company has 151 associates in North Carolina. Company wants to triple their business over the next six years. Company's growth necessitates a corporate campus.

Mr. Thompson was very forward in relating his personal thoughts to the council. Company recruits a very vibrant, 4-yr. degree, kids out of school and professionals from around the country. Since 2011, they have hired 57 college graduates. These people want a more vibrant lifestyle. They want to walk to lunch and have outside activities. The company has had difficulty in deciding whether they wanted to stay in Hickory or move their headquarters to Charlotte. Company decided that they wanted to stay in Hickory.

Mr. Thompson went into the restoration of the Lyerly Mill and its surrounding properties to include athletic facilities and green space. They are looking to create a lifestyle business. They will even have an in-house Chef with indoor and outdoor dining facilities.

Mr. Thompson and his wife enjoy the farmer's market, outdoor activities,  and riding bicycles and to paraphrase, 'they take their lives in their hands riding bikes from Catawba Country Club to Hwy 127 and around Hickory. Hickory is not Bike friendly.' He talked about successful communities. He went into talking about the young workforce and what they demand. They want activities daily. 'The taxpayer paying our bills 15 years from now, doesn't have the same motivation as the taxpayer of today.' They aren't bound by houses in suburbs and possessions. The highest turnover they have is younger people who say there is nothing to do here.

Scott Millar of the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation went into the details of the contractual agreement with the city. He talked about this area being a jobs corridor with opportunities... The company will receive a $280,000 tax break based upon $8 million in assessed value x $.50 x 7 years with a $40,000 cap in any given year.

The Hound's Note: We have gone over this for the past couple weeks since it arrived on the Consent Agenda on April 1, 2014.

2) Community Development Block Grants - Total Budget of $536,142

Paula Atwood lives in the Green Park area and thanked the city and spoke about the renovations to the Optimist Park on 2nd Avenue SW. She talked about safe access and would like to see an entrance point into the park from the surrounding neighborhoods. She talked about the positive health aspects of renovating the park and connecting it to other Green Spaces in the community. Ms. Atwood introduced the Dickinson family that lives in the Green park neighborhood and spoke in favor of the renovations to the Optimist Park.

The Hound's Note: To Ms. Atwood and all of these agencies, but especially the Neighborhood Associations... empower yourselves...
Platform for a 21st Century Hickory - "Empowering Neighborhood Associations to create Leadership"

Austin Pearce of the Hickory Soup Kitchen spoke about serving 80,819 plates to the hungry in the community. They have been in existence for 31 years. In 2010, when Mr. Pearce took over operations, they served 41,432 plates.  They have done surveys to find out where the people are coming from and what their needs are. 55% of the people served are not homeless -- 45% are. 35% of the people served were working in 2008. Most of which, 80% were working full time. Most of these people have lived here for generations. That is the upsurge. Their mission is food. They supplemented food for everyone on the board (shown above). They move $1 million worth of in-kind food contributions through the program.

He spoke about the "Furniture Fundamentals" program taught at CVCC that is helping people get hired in the furniture industry and move through the pipeline. They supported 150 families through the supplemental food pantry program.

Angela Hurd spoke about the City of Refuge after school program in its 10th year. They had 21 attendees last year and 22 this year. They had 30 academic and perfect attendance awards for program participants. 

3) Warren Wood went over the Quarterly Financial Report. The General Fund and Water and Dewer Funds are pretty much on target when compared to the 5 year average.

He went over the Wells Fargo Economic Analysis for North Carolina - Month of April - Western North Carolina - Metro areas...

Comparing Western North Carolina, excluding Asheville,  to the rest of the State's employment growth...

Share of Employment Gains in NC compared to the metros of Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham... 70% of the jobs in NC have been created in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham over the past 4 years.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

20140407 - Monday Morning Meeting with the Mayor

The following is the interview of Mayor Rudy Wright on 1290 WHKYam Radio's First talk program with Hal Row.

WHKY does not archive these programs and make them available to the public, so I am putting this important public interview up under Fair Use guidelines.

The Mayor is asked about the Officer who has been charged with assault stemming from an incident back in November. The Mayor is asked about the proposed grocery store to be located at Cloninger Mill Road at the site of the proposed public park. The Mayor talks about the "Inspiring Spaces" initiative.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- April 13, 2014

Beef prices climb to highest in 25 years - AP through CNBC - April 12, 2014 - The highest beef prices in almost three decades have arrived just before the start of grilling season, causing sticker shock for both consumers and restaurant owners — and relief isn't likely anytime soon.                  A dwindling number of cattle and growing export demand from countries such as China and Japan have caused the average retail cost of fresh beef to climb to $5.28 a pound in February, up almost a quarter from January and the highest price since 1987.               Everything that's produced is being consumed, said Kevin Good, an analyst at CattleFax, a Colorado-based information group. And prices likely will stay high for a couple of years as cattle producers start to rebuild their herds amid big questions about whether the Southwest and parts of the Midwest will get enough rain to replenish pastures.

Showdown on the range: Nevada rancher, feds face off over cattle grazing rights - CNN - Michael Martinez - April 12, 2014 - A 20-year dispute between a Nevada rancher and federal rangers over illegal cattle grazing erupted into an Old West-style showdown on the open range this week, even prompting self-proclaimed members of militia groups from across the country to join the rancher in fighting what they say is U.S. "tyranny."                       What began as a legal fight between longtime rancher Cliven Bundy and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has escalated as Bundy kept his cattle on the federal land, and the government has responded by beginning roundups of the livestock.                           A confrontation teetered on violence Wednesday when Bundy family members and dozens of supporters angrily confronted a group of rangers holding Tasers and barking dogs on leashes near Bunkerville, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Harry Reid and his long dirty fingers in the Bunkerville, NV range dispute - Before It's News - April 12, 2014 - It has been reported that there were over 50 ranchers in the Bunkerville area. Now down to one. The story to be told has yet to be revealed. What is clear, that this story is more than a rancher not paying the BLM grazing fees. What we do know is that Harry Reid has his long dirty fingerprints in this story. While the Bundy family may not be the most articulate, soon we hear from others what the BLM has been doing to ranchers. You betcha. Here we go:
The son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Rory Reid, is the primary representative for ENN Energy Group, a Chinese energy company seeking to build a $5 billion solar panel plant on a 9,000-acre Clark County desert plot in Laughlin, Nevada.                       ENN scored big when Clark County commissioners unanimously voted to sell the Chinese company the public land for just $4.5 million, despite the fact that it was appraised at $38.6 million.                      Sen. Reid has been one of ENN’s biggest supporters, having recruited the company during a 2011 trip to China. According to Reuters, last month Sen. Reid tried to “pressure Nevada’s largest power company, NV Energy, to sign up as ENN’s first customer.”                            This isn’t the first time the Reids have come under fire for alleged cronyism. In 2003, allegations emerged that Nevada industries frequently lobbied Sen. Reid through his well-connected relatives.                        (Excerpt) Read more at …
 Reid’s son, a lawyer with a prominent Las Vegas firm that is representing ENN, helped it locate a 9,000-acre (3,600-hectare) desert site that it is buying well below appraised value from Clark County, where Rory Reid formerly chaired the county commission.                          To advance the Nevada project, ENN retained the state’s largest and most prestigious law firm – Lionel Sawyer & Collins, where Rory Reid works. It is headed by Richard Bryan, a former Nevada attorney general, governor and member of the U.S. Senate

Corporatocracy: How the Corporate Welfare State Divides and Conquers - Against Fascism: Towards the Separation of Business and State - The Corbett Report - James Corbett - February 11, 2014 - Since 1996, the United States Department of Defense has accumulated an $8.5 trillion black hole in its budget. The number is so staggering that it is quite literally inconceivable. Several times larger than the annual budget for the entire federal government, it is equivalent to half of the entire fraudulent debt of the United States government itself. Aside from a recent report by Reuters or the occasional back-of-the-paper mention in one of the dinosaur media outlets, however, you’d have to turn to Russian state-sponsored media to discover this fact.

Paul Craig Roberts Interview on King World News - April 13, 2014 - Listen Here
The Beginning of the End of the Dollar. 2014 will be the year of reckoning for the United States. The threat of sanctions against Russia has brought on actions that will unhinge the Dollar as the World Reserve Currency... Russians are saying they won't take Dollars for Russian Oil... Must purchase Rubles to purchase their Oil.... Corruption is rampant in U.S. regulatory agencies..  Foreign policy Propaganda against Ukraine and others is backfiring on U.S.... String of Lies to go to war... Prestige and Dollar are taking hits... Domestic U.S. economy is turning down - actual numbers support it... People are having a hard time making ends meet... House of cards and markets manipulated can only be kept together as long as the Dollar remains the World Reserve Currency... U.S. can only survive these crises with the help of Russia and China.

Gerald Celente Interview on King World News - April 11, 2014 - Listen Here
Markets are in a downtrend... Negative sensitivity and Emotions... Cheap money into the system has caused the market to go higher through propping up the Banks... seeing more consolidation... cheap money building deals and thus a bubble... there is going to be a Lehman Brothers moment... Federal Reserve has given banks two more years to get rid of troubled loans... they are just shifting the risk from one group to another... gambling has heated up and wrong house is going to make the wrong bet and it is going to take down a lot of people... It's a House of Cards built on paper/digital money... The problem is systemic and it has grown in size and intensity... It is a bubble built on rigged games, inside deals, outright lies... We have never seen gambling at a level like this... It is even more unregulated by the latest moves signaled by the Fed... they will do unprecedented money world wide... they will blame it on the House of Cards... a cover up to justify more money printing... Interest rates will have to eventually rise and this will send the global economies into cardiac arrest. Then they will have to create more cheap money to keep the Ponzi scheme going.


Zero Prosecutions of Elites for Most Destructive Frauds in World History - William Black - - March 31, 2014 - Greg Hunter - Fraud expert and former regulator Professor William Black says, "Even today, we are well into 2014, and the Department of Justice record is intact. There have been zero prosecutions of the elite officers who led the epic epidemic of fraud. It was the most destructive in world history, zero of them even unsuccessfully prosecuted, much less prosecuted."                  What is the result of massive rampant unprosecuted fraud? Professor Black says, "If you don't have any accountability, you not only make certain that there is going to be a next blow-up, but it will be worse. . . . We have effectively removed the criminal laws for a particular elite class of frauds."                  Join Greg Hunter of as he goes One-on-One with Professor William Black of University of Missouri Kansas City.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Agenda about the City Council meeting of April 15, 2014

 This Agenda is about the Hickory City Council meeting that took place on the date listed above. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At right of this page under Main Information links is an Hickory's City Website link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the left of the page you will see the Agenda's and Minutes link you need to click. This will give you a choice of PDF files to upcoming and previous meetings.

You will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date. You can also look in the upper right hand corner of the front page of the Hickory Hound and (will soon) find the link to the past history of Hickory City Newsletters.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below:

Please remember that pressing Ctrl and + will magnify the text and page and pressing Ctrl and - will make the text and page smaller. This will help the readability for those with smaller screens and/or eye difficulties.

City Website has changed - Here is a link to the City of Hickory Document Center
City Council Agenda - April 15, 2014


 The Hound's Notes:

1) Public Hearing #1 below. Consideration of Economic Development Agreement with OHM Holdings LLC - Spoke about this issue a couple weeks ago when it came up through the Consent Agenda. Hickory Inc. is looking to help with the renovation of "Olde Hickory Mill" building (formerly Lyerly Mill). You can see this building off to the left when traveling south on Hwy 127 after passing the Railroad underpass.

According to this website it is being marketed as a $12 million mixed-use property with Delphi Development, Zapolski Real Estate LLC.   

Old Mill New Use - Hickory Daily Record - John Dayberry 
Lyerly Mill Hickory - Google 

This property is part of the Wingfoot District that was proposed by Pete Zagaroli back in 2010. This is the third redeveloped property that falls within that footprint; as does the proposed $27 million Main Avenue project. ( From the City Council meeting of January 5, 2010)

Google Map Street View 
Google Map Satellite Overhead Shot
Department of Commerce - NC Rural Development - Building Reuse Grants

Article about Transportation Insight moving to this building:
Downtown Hickory gets relocated headquarters - 15-year-old business moving a few blocks, creating 50 jobs - Hickory Daily Record - John Tinkelenberg - April 11, 2014

2) Item I of the Consent Agenda - Glad to see that Hickory Inc. is opening up the opportunity for other Craft Brewers to sell beer during their Sails on the Square Music Series this late Spring and Summer. This is all many of us were asking for last year. 

3) Budget Ordinance #5 - Parking Capital Fund being used at LP Frans Stadium. Never seen it used for anything other than Union Square. $70,000

4) Budget Ordinance #8 - Why? $15,000 of General Fund need to be transferred to the Airports Other Professional Services line item to cover legal fees related to the former FBO (Fixed Based Operators) bankruptcy.



Special Presentations
A. Proclamation for National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.

Consent Agenda:
A. Approval of a Resolution for Dana B. Roberts, Certificate of Appreciation for 43 Years of Service.

B. Proclamation for “A Day of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Awareness”.

C. Approval to Amend the Speed Ordinance for Waterford Hills Subdivision to be 25 mph Throughout the Entire Subdivision. - Staff request approval to amend the traffic ordinance for Waterford Hills Subdivision to be 25 mph throughout the entire subdivision. Residents have completed all necessary steps in the Traffic Calming Guidelines, and staff have found the residents to be in compliance with the guidelines. Currently all roadways within the Waterford Hills Subdivision;
Morning Glow Lane, Meadow Lark Lane, Waterbury Court, and White Water Court, have the default speed limit of 35 mph.

D. Special Events/Activities Application for Hickory Alive, Anna Price, President of Hickory Jaycees, June 6, July 4, August 1, and September 5, 2014, from 4:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., City Hall Parking Lot. (Times include set-up and clean-up)

E. Special Events/Activities Application for Hickory Junior Women’s Club, Megan Meade, Hickory Crawdads, May 3, 2014, from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., L.P. Frans Stadium, 2500 Clement Blvd. NW.

F. Special Events/Activities Application for Pregnancy Care Center 2014 Walk for Life, Janet Shores, RN, Assistance Director, Pregnancy Care Center of Catawba Valley, September 27, 2014, 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., L.P. Frans Stadium, 2500 Clement Blvd. NW.

G. Acceptance of Offers to Purchase and Contracts for Properties Located at 1840 and 1845 Waterbury Court, in the Waterford Hills Subdivision. - Staff requests consideration of the Offers to Purchase and Contracts for properties located at 1840 and 1845 Waterbury Court, in the Waterford Hills Subdivision. The properties were originally purchased by the City because they were on the route of the proposed Southern Cross-Town Thoroughfare. The route for the future thoroughfare has
since been amended, and the properties are no longer needed. Daniel and Georgeta Marita are interested in purchasing these lots in order to construct single family dwellings. They are offering $15,000 per lot. Staff recommends that City Council accept the Offers to Purchase and Contracts and
authorize staff to advertise for upset bids. Once the property is advertised other parties will have ten days to submit upset bids.

H. Approval of the Appointment of Sandy Jones to City of Hickory Tax Collector for a Two-Year Term. - Staff requests approval to appoint Sandy Jones, current Grants Coordinator in the Finance Division of Administrative Services as City of Hickory Tax Collector for a two year term. The appointment will be an additional job duty added to Ms. Jones’ current Grants Coordinator position. Due to additional costs and the ability to provide quality customer service to cit izens associated with tax billing and collection, it is recommended to include the Burke County/City of Hickory billings as a responsibility of the City’s Finance Division. In order to comply with Chapter 105 of the North Carolina General Statutes, the City should appoint a designated Tax Collector for the municipality to cover the additional tax duties at the City level. The City appointment will have no impact on the current Catawba County Tax Collector designation for all other City of Hickory taxes.

I. Approval of Contract from Local Beer Brewery to Serve Crafted Beers on Friday Nights in May, June, and September in Conjunction with the City’s Music Under the Sails Series. - City Council approved the Sails Music Series events for Fridays in May, June and September, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. on the March 18, 2014 agenda. In the application it states that local brewers, that have special ABC permission to distribute crafted beers from Hickory, will be asked if they would like to pay a $25 fee to serve the locally crafted beverages during these events between 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. on these Fridays in 2014. They will need to provide a copy of the special ABC permit from North Carolina, a copy of insurance to the City, and a signed contract. Staff requests approval of the contract to allow local Hickory Brewer to serve locally crafted beer during the Music Under the Sails on Friday in May,  June, and September 2014.

J. Approval to Issue a Pyrotechnic Display Permit to Lake Hickory Country Club. - Chris Moncourtois, President of Class A. Fireworks Inc., has submitted a request to obtain permission to conduct public fireworks displays on May 17, 2014.  The North Carolina Fire Code requires a mandatory operational permit for the use and handling of pyrotechnic special effects material. The Fire Prevention Bureau shall review all required documentation. The Fire Prevention Bureau will also inspect the pyrotechnics display area prior to the event to ensure compliance with all guidelines and codes. Staff recommends approval of the request.

K. Sanitary Sewer Backup Payment Policy Revision. - Staff requests Revisions to Council Policy 01-01 to establish criteria as to when the City of Hickory will reimburse property owners for damages incurred due to sanitary sewer blockages which result in reverse flow into residential or commercial dwellings or structures. Section D under procedures was added to the new policy, giving the City of
Hickory the opportunity and flexibility to retain service professionals for a more timely response and to speed-up the mitigation process.

L. Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 22.
1. To budget a total of $1,281 of donations in the Youth Council expenditure line item. $1,181 of the donations is for the Backpack Program. The remaining $100 is for use in other Youth Council activities.

2. To transfer $16,333 from General Fund Contingency to the Economic and Community Development Incentive line item. This transfer is necessary to fund the third incentive payment to Fiserv per the incentive agreement.

3. To budget an $11,692 insurance claim payment in the Traffic Division M&R Traffic Signals line item. This insurance claim payment is for damage sustained to a signal box during a driving accident that occurred at the intersection of 1st Ave. NW and 2nd St. NW.

4. To transfer $14,791 of General Fund Contingency to the Landscape Services Division Capital Outlay-Other line item. This transfer is necessary to pay for the new Sally M. Fox sign, installation, masonry product and installation, and permit fee at the Ivey Arboretum.

5. To transfer $70,000 from the Capital Reserve-Parking Fund to the LP Frans Capital-Improvement to Facilities line item. This transfer is necessary to pay for the crack sealing, seal coating and remarking at the Winkler Park and LP Frans Stadium parking lots.

6. To budget a total of $50,168 of Insurance Claim Payments from Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company in the Water and Sewer Insurance Claims and Refunds line item. These payments are the insurance reimbursement checks for a sewer backup occurring at 5th St. NE in December 2013.

7. To budget $119,345 of Water and Sewer Fund-Appropriated Fund Balance in the Water and Sewer Debt Service Interest line item. This amendment is necessary to cover a first year balloon interest payment which is part of the Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant debt financing schedule.

8. To appropriate $15,000 of General Fund Contingency and transfer to the Airports Other Professional Services line item. These funds are needed to cover legal fees related to the former FBO (Fixed Based Operators) bankruptcy.

New Business - Public Hearings
1. Consideration of Economic Development Agreement with OHM Holdings LLC. - This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on April 4, 2014.

2. Consideration of the Community Development Block Grant 2014 Annual Action Plan.  - In April of each year staff prepares an Annual Action Plan for its Community Development Block Grant allocation from the federal government. The City of Hickory will receive approximately $310,314 in 2014 through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and approximately $235,000 in program income for a total of $545,314. Funds will be used to develop stronger communities by providing decent housing, creating suitable living environments, and expanding economic opportunities, principally for people of low and moderate incomes. The Citizen’s Advisory Committee reviewed the draft action plan at their meeting on March 6, 2014 and recommended approval of the proposed budget. Staff recommends that City Council approve the Community
Development Block Grant 2014 Annual Action Plan. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on March 14, April 4, and April 15, 2014.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Quarterly Financial Report

2. Proposed Changes to the City’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program.  Staff recommends changes to the Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program which include changes to the type of eligible repairs, the addition of a deferred loan program for households making less than 50 percent of the area median income, and the addition of more explicit underwriting standards for the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. The Citizen’s Advisory Committee reviewed the policy at their April 3, 2014 meeting and voted unanimously to recommend approval.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Unemployment rate falls, but so does Labor Force again

The latest Labor figures for Catawba County February were released today by the St. Louis Federal Reserve and the Bureau of Statistics:

fell from 7.6% to 7.2%

2014-02: 7.2
2014-01: 7.6
2013-12: 7.3
2013-11: 7.8
2013-10: 8.6

The Civilian Labor force fell by 767 people, which is 1% (0.01062)of the Labor Force dropped away.

2014-02: 71.406
2014-01: 72.173
2013-12: 70.419
2013-11: 71.484
2013-10: 71.396

(Hound Note - OK, sounds good that unemployment fell by .4% in February until we look at the fact that the Labor force shrunk at 2.23 times that rate. Upon further statistical analysis, we see that 344 fewer people were Unemployed compared to the 767 that left the workforce.)

Hickory Area Population Remains at a Standstill

The latest population figures for Catawba County and the surrounding region were released today by the St. Louis Federal Reserve for the year 2013 and these numbers show that  

Catawba County Population grew by 471 people from 2012 to 2013, which is an increase of an anemic 3/10's of 1% (.00304)

2013 - 154,810
2012 - 154,339
2011 - 153,958
2010 - 154,250
2009 - 158,953

Alexander County Population grew by 77 people from 2012 to 2013, which is an increase of  2/10's of 1% (0.00208)

2013 - 36,930
2012 - 36,853
2011 - 37,092
2010 - 37,234
2009 - 36,822

Burke County Population lost 663 people from 2012 to 2013, which is a decrease of 7/10's of 1% (.00732)

2013 - 89,842
2012 - 90,505
2011 - 90,861
2010 - 90,774
2009 - 89,540

Caldwell County Population grew by 60 people from 2012 to 2013, which is an increase of  7/1000's of 1% (0.00073)

2013 - 81,990
2012 - 81,930
2011 - 82,259
2010 - 82,950
2009 - 79,748

*** Unifour Population actually shrank by 55 people from 2012 to 2013 -- from 363,627 in 2012 to 363,572 in 2013.

In a time when population is at a standstill in our area, let's look at Charlotte (Mecklenburg County) population numbers and Raleigh (Wake County) population numbers.

Mecklenburg County Population grew by 2.3% (0.02264) last year and has grown by 8.5% (0.08503) over the 5 year span, while Catawba County has lost 2.6% of it's population over that 5 year span.

2013 - 990,977
2012 - 969,031
2011 - 945,251
2010 - 923,386
2009 - 913,311

Wake County Population grew by 2.3% (0.02325) last year and has grown by 8.7% (0.08740) over the 5 year span, while Catawba County has lost 2.6% of it's population over that 5 year span.

2013 - 974,289
2012 - 952,151
2011 - 928,693
2010 - 906,905
2009 - 895,975

North Carolina Population grew by 1% (0.01022) last year and has grown by 4.2% (0.04217) over the 5 year span.

2013 - 9,848,060
2012 - 9,748,364
2011 - 9,651,377
2010 - 9,559,533
2009 - 9,449,566

(Hound's Note: This area has been at a standstill for 5 years when it comes to population. We have actually shrunk. We also know that it is the younger people who have left the area and moved to the cities, which are continuing to grow. Thing is that anyone paying the slightest bit of attention has known this has been going on and you can actually feel it. This is where the misery index numbers come from and correlate to. Anything else is pure and simple propaganda.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- April 6, 2014

9 Of The Top 10 Occupations In America Pay An Average Wage Of Less Than $35,000 A Year - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder - April 2nd, 2014 - According to stunning new numbers just released by the federal government, nine of the top ten most commonly held jobs in the United States pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year.  When you break that down, that means that most of these workers are making less than $3,000 a month before taxes.  And once you consider how we are being taxed into oblivion, things become even more frightening.  Can you pay a mortgage and support a family on just a couple grand a month?  Of course not.  In the old days, a single income would enable a family to live a very comfortable middle class lifestyle in most cases.  But now those days are long gone.  In 2014, both parents are expected to work, and in many cases both of them have to get multiple jobs just in order to break even at the end of the month.  The decline in the quality of our jobs is a huge reason for the implosion of the middle class in this country.  You can't have a middle class without middle class jobs, and we have witnessed a multi-decade decline in middle class jobs in the United States.  As long as this trend continues, the middle class is going to continue to shrink.                        The following is a list of the most commonly held jobs in America according to the federal government.  As you can see, 9 of the top 10 most commonly held occupations pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year...                        
Overall, an astounding 59 percent of all American workers bring home less than $35,000 a year in wages.                             So if you are going to make more than $35,000 this year, you are solidly in the upper half.                          But that doesn't mean that you will always be there.                                   More Americans are falling out of the middle class with each passing day.

Government Confiscation And Lifting The Veil On "The 401(k) Scheme" - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - April 6, 2014 - From Presidential edicts of 'MyRA' being for your own good and "will never go down in value" to Poland's 'precedent-setting' confiscation of public pensions funds for the good of the nation's debt load; and from the IMF's "one-off" wealth tax 'idea' to Europe's recent consideration of 'wholesale savings confiscations and enforced redistribution', it appears Marc Faber's warning that "from now onwards, the bailouts will also be at the expense of the asset holders, the well-to-do people. So if you have money I am sure the governments will one day take away 20-30% of my wealth," is becoming more likely every day. As the following mini-documentary explains, confirming Ron Paul's warning that "there is more chaos to come," Jim Rogers' fear that "they won’t take our bank accounts...they will take our retirement accounts," is coming true.

All The Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power
- Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - April 5, 2014
- Wall Street’s War - While the protests against the Vietnam War intensified in the first years of the Nixon administration, the financial elite was fighting its own war—over the future of banking and against Glass-Steagall regulations. National City Bank chairman Walter Wriston was a steadfast warrior in related battles, as he fought with Chase chairman David Rockefeller for supremacy over the US banker community and for dominance over global finance.
Rockefeller’s sights were set on a grander prize, one with worldwide implications: ending the financial cold war. He made his mark in that regard by opening the first US bank in Moscow since the 1920s, and the first in Beijing since the 1949 revolution.                     Augmenting their domestic and international expansion plans, both men and their banks prospered from the emerging and extremely lucrative business of recycling petrodollars from the Middle East into third world countries. By acting as the middlemen—capturing oil revenues and transforming them into high-interest-rate loans, to Latin America in particular—bankers accentuated disparities in global wealth. They dumped loans into developing countries and made huge amounts of money in the process. By funneling profits into debts, they caused extreme pain in the debtor nations, especially when the oil-producing nations began to raise their prices. This raised the cost of energy and provoked a wave of inflation that further oppressed these third world nations, the US population, and other economies throughout the world.

192,000 Jobs Added in March but Wages Fall - Breitbart - Peter Morici - April 4, 2014 - The economy created 192,000 jobs in March, down from 197,000 in February and still well below the pace needed to lower underemployment to respectable levels. Those mediocre results are consistent with a broadly underperforming economy.                          Manufacturing employment lost 1,000 jobs and government stalled. Other than construction, which gained 19,000 employees, most new positions were in lower paying activities like leisure and hospitality, support activities in health care, retail, and temporary business services.                      Hourly earnings fell, indicating good jobs continue to be scarce.                       In 2013, GDP growth was only 1.9 percent, thanks to the $200 billion January tax increase and federal spending cuts, but after a slow first quarter, most economists expect the pace to accelerate to 3 percent by the second half of this year.                    Improved prospects are raising home values, and President Obama is not likely to get from Congress the higher taxes in his budget proposal. Jobs creation is likely to be in the range of 200,000 per month; however, should the president get the higher taxes he wants, the situation would worsen.                    Global growth is rebalancing from Asia to the Atlantic community, as Europe shakes off the worst of its sovereign and bank debt problems. This will reduce vulnerabilities to dodgy financial practices and economic nationalism in places like China, Japan, and Latin America.                         Though the shenanigans on Wall Street—ranging from high-speed traders stealing from ordinary investors to the endless imagination of the casino gamblers at the big banks—continue to threaten financial stability, the Federal Reserve and other U.S. regulatory agencies are proving more diligent than during the Bush years.                         This spring, more robust household formation should push housing starts above 1 million this year for the first time since 2007. The burdens of student debt require that many new dwellings be apartments, but surging residential construction will boost sales of pickup trucks so ubiquitous on construction sites, and employment in industries supporting housing and motor vehicles.                          In February, unemployment was steady at 6.7 percent, and the percentage of adults employed or seeking a job—the so-called participation rate—rose slightly but remains well below pre-recession levels.

And the Next Big Thing Is … Degrowth? - Washington's Blog -  Charles Hugh Smith - This is not doom-and-gloom for society–it is only doom-and-gloom for the current unsustainable arrangement (Plan A). - The Grand Narrative of the past few centuries goes something like this: from religious authority to secular authority, from agriculture to industrial, from rural to urban, from local to global, from periphery to center, from decentralized to centralized, from low-density energy to high-density energy (from wood to coal to oil/natural gas), from industrial to communication technology, from gold to fiat currencies, from linear to non-linear (complex/fractal), from local scarcity and high cost to global abundance, from islands of prosperity to continents of prosperity, from cash to credit, from collateral to leverage,from productive to consumerist and from sustainable to unsustainable.                        Many of these linear trends are running out of oxygen or reversing. Rigid hierarchies are being disrupted by self-organizing systems, centralization is being disrupted by decentralization, lower density alternative energy is distributed rather than concentrated, commodity costs are rising globally due to demand outstripping supply and leveraged credit is destabilizing financial systems across the globe.                     In the past few decades, the growth narrative has depended on “the Next Big Thing” –the new disruptive technology that drives wealth and job creation.                         In the early 20th century, the next big things were plentiful, and they clustered around transport and communication: autos, highways, aircraft, radio, telephony and most recently the Internet.                     The progress of technologies tends to track an S-Curve, with a slow gestation (experimentation that drives rapid evolution of innovations), a period of widespread adoption and technological leaps, and then a maturation phase in which advancements are refinements rather than leaps...

What Happens After the Low-Hanging Fruit Has Been Picked? (April 2, 2014)
No More Industrial Revolutions, No More Growth? (December 27, 2012)

TEDx Tokyo: The “De” Generation (8 minutes) (de-ownership, de-materialism, de-corporatism)
Degrowth, Anti-Consumerism and Peak Consumption (May 9, 2013)
The American Model of “Growth”: Overbuilding and Poaching November 19, 2013
When Conventional Success Is No Longer Possible, Degrowth and the Black Market Beckon(February 7, 2014)

Russ in Redding: The Human Face of The End of Work (September 2, 2011)
America’s Social Recession: Five Years and Counting (August 28, 2013)
The Ten Best Employers To Work For (Peak Employment) (March 28, 2013)
The Python That Ate Your Job (December 11, 2013)

Why the Status Quo Is Doomed (June 27, 2013)