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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#4 out of 10 - Ten Cities That Will Take A Decade To Recover From The Recession

Wall Street 24/7 - Charles B. Stockdale - June 22, 2011

.... To be sure, parts of the U.S. are recovering. Experts expect the economy to grow an average of 3% in the second half of this year. Thirty metropolitan areas will have reached their pre-recession peaks by the end of 2011. More than half of the nation’s 363 metropolitan areas are expected to return to their employment peaks by 2014 or before. Others are not so lucky.

The IHS report lists 37 metropolitan areas which are not expected to return to peak employment until after 2021. These areas are facing a “Lost Decade.” Some may never fully recover, although it’s probably useless to try to predict what may happen a decade or more from today....

.... Some cities are forced to address problems beyond manufacturing, yet in the end they face the same results. Atlantic City’s gaming industry has lost its previous strength due to increasing competition from neighboring states such as Pennsylvania which have legalized gaming in recent years. Hickory, North Carolina, was once a major center for furniture production. Many jobs there have since been sent overseas, causing textile mills to close down and workers to be laid-off.

The ten American cities discussed in this article were chosen for the large sizes of their workforces and the fact that they are not expected to have recoveries to their pre-recession employment rates until after 2021. They have lost the industries which once made them prosperous and they will probably never get them back....

4. Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC
- Change in employment 2001-2011: -13.6%
- Population: 365,497
- Unemployment: 11.7%
- Poverty level: 14.4%
- Median income: $40,181

Unemployment in Hickory, NC, soared from 2% to 16% during the recession, according to USA Today. The jobless rate has since decreased to 11.7%, although this is still significantly higher than the national average of 9.1%. The area’s economy is largely based on the production of furniture and fiber optics. Both industries have seen mass layoffs in recent years. According to an article in the Washington Post, “the region has lost more of its jobs to international competition than just about anywhere else in the nation.”


Report says Hickory area jobs may not recover for a decadeWBTV - Steve Ohnesorge - June 27, 2011

- A study prepared for the U.S. Conference of Mayors' annual meeting had a bleak prediction for the unemployment outlook in the Hickory metro area.

It said unemployment levels won't reach pre-recession levels for another decade.

The HIS Global Insight research firm put the hickory metro area near the bottom in the road for recovery nationwide.

"Honestly, it's hard to predict that far out," said Ronnie Grantham, manager of the Employment Security Commission office in Catawba County. "We are actually starting to see some positive things economy-wise around here."...

... As things improve, whenever that is, say officials, they don't expect major growth in the manufacturing sector.

That was the hardest hit by the recession with thousands of jobs lost and people heading back to school to learn new trades.

"Our growth right now has been in the service sector, call centers and things like that," said Grantham.

Some manufacturers are hiring but not in large amounts. Grantham said local economic officials are working to lure new businesses in but admits it is a slow process...

Report: Local employment to recover by 2014 - Charlotte Observer - Kirsten Valle Pittman & Barbara Barrett - June 21, 2011 - Still, the study predicts the Charlotte region's employment rate will recover by mid-2014.

The Charlotte region will return to its pre-recession employment peak by mid-2014, years before beleaguered metros such as Cleveland, Detroit and Las Vegas, a new report found. But the area still faces a slow climb toward recovery, trailing cities from Raleigh to Dallas to Pittsburgh, according to the study from the IHS Global Insight research firm, prepared for the U.S. Conference of Mayors' annual meeting and released Monday....

Some places, such as Austin, Texas, and Burlington, Vt., have already recovered, and others are expected to rebound several quarters before Charlotte. The report said more than half of the country's metro areas will return to their pre-recession employment peaks by the end of 2014. Despite its struggles, Charlotte is performing better than some areas: Stockton, Calif., for instance, posted one of the highest jobless rates in April, 17.3percent.

Forty-eight metro areas, including Detroit, North Carolina's Hickory region and others pummeled by manufacturing and real estate losses, aren't forecast to reach their pre-recession employment peaks this decade, the report found.

The Charlotte area fared better in other measures of economic health, too, the study found. The area's jobless rate has fallen faster than other metro areas over the past year. And the economy continues to grow: The region's economic output totaled $117.3billion in 2010, up 4percent from the year before and 5percent from 2007, before the recession began, the report found. Metro regions' health is a critical component of the broader economic recovery, the report said. U.S. metro areas contributed nearly 90percent of the nation's economic output and jobs last year.


The Hound: What this shows me is that the decision makers in our area who want to maintain the status quo, tweak around the edges, and remain separated from Charlotte and do our own thing are hindering our ability to recover.

I would like to see a Regional Economic Partnership Entity that is focused on attracting business to our area, but we have to do this with an eye on a relationship with the other major metropolitan areas in our region, especially Charlotte. As, I have stated since the inception of this blog, one of the main attractions of our area is the geographical location of the Hickory area in relation to the other Metros up and down the Eastern Seaboard. It isn't about the natural scenic beauty of the area, because we aren't going to build a tourist contraption or retirees moving here to wind it down.  The asset of our location is the fact that it is easy to get to and from our area and we can be a natural hub of transportation for larger metropolitan areas, including Charlotte, Atlanta, Greensboro, Columbia, Raleigh, Knoxville, Nashville, Washington, Pittsburgh, and so on.

We also need to work and adapt towards becoming a cog in the Energy Hub that Charlotte is evolving into with Duke Energy, Piedmont gas, and the innovative partnerships springing up as a result of these new concepts and innovation of energy.

The biggest issue is changing the mindset, energy, and focus of many of the people in this community. There is no energy or excitement. There is no sense of urgency. It is all about cutting back and winding down. You cannot build or maintain an economy like that. We don't have a decade to spare. We can't afford to wind down, especially in the dog-eat-dog economic environment we are in today. I know these are words, but to many of us these words mean something.

The only thing that is constant in life is change and people who attempt to maintain and devote extraordinary energy towards a status quo are wasting energy and time that should be devoted towards adaptation to new realities. What SilenceDoGood has stated in some of his commentary related to this area "having to be dragged kicking and screaming" into new realities is spot on in my opinion. That is what has us behind the 8-ball presently.

We have seen some evolution from business leaders who do understand that there is a need to get moving towards a new economic paradigm for the area, but there are many people in key/vital positions who either don't understand what is going on or they are protecting certain interests or constituencies at the expense of much needed progress. These people want to qualify and lay out parameters for competition in the local area; and in the mean time, while they are arguing over peanuts, National and Global interests have taken a sledgehammer to our economic foundation. What does this show? That our community's leaders weren't asking the proper questions or focusing on what the reality was and is. I don't need to repeat myself. I'll just point to links below of in-depth articles from this blog posted 5 months ago, 17 months ago, 29 months ago, 32 months ago, and the genesis of this blog posted nearly 48 months ago in our local newspaper.If you have never read these, then please do. I do not pretend to be a prophet. I am a thinker and the bottom line is that we need to start thinking about where we are headed, where we want to head, and how we are going to get there.

The State Of Hickory - January 2011  

The State of Hickory - January 2010

(The State of) Hickory, North Carolina 2009

The Objectives of the Hickory Hound

An All-American City deserves first-class leadership

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hal Row Show - The Mayor - Hickory Alive - A lack of tolerance for Younger Generations

Once again this morning I listened to the Mayor on Hal Row's show. In one of the last segments, the Mayor spoke of the issue of unattended youth, stating ages 11 to 16, walking up and down the streets of Downtown Hickory during Hickory Alive in a mob. He says that parents need to know where their kids are at on Friday evening and he is very worried that something could happen.

I'll be the first to admit that I do not attend Hickory Alive. I have been up there a few times in recent years on Friday nights to meet people to eat at the Tap Room while Hickory Alive was going on and I wasn't paying full attention to the happenings on the Square, but I did see the crowd of people attending and yes some were unattended youth, but I have also seen this on a much grander scale during Octoberfest.

Now, don't believe that I am arguing for public youth drunkedness, because if you would want to juxtapose me into that position, then you would be very wrong. It is just that I am 44 years old and I am not all things "Senior" like most of the people in this community. That does not mean that I dislike the older generation. It means that I don't center my life around them and I think we need to be more balanced in how we treat the different generations and generational interests of this community. I believe that doing otherwise is socially and economically harmful.

What I am stating is that young people should be given the same benefit of the doubt that older citizens are given. If they break the law, then they should be punished, but they should not be looked at as guilty before hand. Are we supposed to look at our youth as terrorists? Could we not hold the same wary eye towards any citizen that walks on the streets of Hickory?

The one lady during this show stated that they wouldn't allow her to turn her car and that she was scared. If they were just crossing the street, then they do have the right of way. If they physically stopped her from turning her car that is wrong and yes it is the police's responsibility to stop that behavior. It is up to parents to teach right and wrong, but none of us can ever guarantee 100% that the youth is going to always do what they are supposed to do. If that is the onus then we are all screwed. One thing that I know is that you do have to walk in some way to the event. Should these kids be allowed to walk to a Downtown event? Should they be allowed to walk on the streets of Hickory without adult supervision? Have we really come to that?

When I was a kid my mother used to work downtown. I would walk around by myself down there. I used to go to the Carolina Theater and watch movies with my friends unsupervised. I used to walk through my on Union Square and in my neighborhood with my friends ... unsupervised. You may say that this world has changed, and in ways it has, but what has changed more is people's mindset -- the willingness to use fear to control people.

As part of the Future Economy Council our group has studied the issue of Vibrant Downtowns and we have also studied the mass exodus of young people in this community. This is having a deleterious effect on the future prospects of this community. This is lost on the Mayor, the city council, and many of the older citizens in our community. They argue that they want people from every age group in our community, but when has he gone to bat for the young people of this community? Actions speak louder than words. Tearing up swimming pools speaks volumes! I will argue that Hickory is very hostile towards young people, especially teens and twenty-somethings. This youth is where energy comes from and we are losing it folks. We are losing it.

Below is a discussion that we have had related to the issue of vibrant Downtowns. In an article from Wired magazine entitled The Economic Rebound: It Isn’t What You Think . Here is a quote from the article:
“As you might expect, smart jobs tend to cluster in cities—but not always the cities you’d imagine. The same forces of urban renewal that relaunched New York and Boston and San Francisco as bastions of livability during the 1990s have now taken hold in smaller municipalities. Even former industrial cities, without a big college or university, are finding that revived downtowns can help keep their most creative young people from moving away.”

In our discussion, I addressed the fact that certain members of the city council want to put an end to alcohol sales on Union Square - no mas Hickory Alive, Hickory Hops, or Octoberfest as we know them today. I agree that a vibrant Downtown is important. I told the group that I am ready to throw the towel in on Hickory. We're up to the 8 count and I am worried about the punch-drunk fighter getting killed (metaphorically speaking of course), because I don't see anyone stepping up to the plate to give an alternative viewpoint to the status quo, "business as usual,""All of one mindset crowd." Hickory's Downtown focuses on Rich Housewives as owners and patrons of businesses. That niche is too small to do what the Wired Magazine article and my fellow FEC members are promoting.
One of my fellow members of the FEC stated that the challenge is striking a balance with the needs of older residents as well. Downtown organizations and cities can play a critical role in facilitating discussions with residents (both young and older) and existing businesses around the appropriate mix of residential units vs. late night establishments; noise;cleanliness; parking; events; and the arts which are a critical component of a vibrant downtown.
To this I responded: that the Oldsters aren't going to have to worry (and they won't) about striking a balance. If we look at the census numbers, there won't be enough people under 45 to make a difference in the governance decision making process in another decade (probably sooner). Most of those who will be of the younger demographic will be Latinos willing to do the Fast Food/Lawn service/House Cleaning jobs on the cheap for the Seniors on fixed incomes.
The bottom line is that let's say you get 55 to 65 year olds to move in here. How much time does that buy us? When they move into the assisted living center or retirement village at age 80 who is going to buy their house? The fast food workers? The Lawn guy? The Cleaning lady? No one has answered that question yet. I have been waiting two years to hear the answer to that one.
Harry Hipps stated: How's this for irony. Hickory City Council has gone out of their way to kill nightclubs and establishments for the younger folk we are talking about here. The reasons always cited are alcohol use and noise. Well Hickory is certainly getting quieter. But as a freshman student recently told me: "there's nothing to do around here so that's why kids just go to each others houses and do drugs." I found out years ago that if there is nothing to attract and entertain younger folks they will either leave, or get drugged up for fun. Some of the most boring, small areas are often a hotbed of drug activity.
By running off entertainment venues we are creating the kind of behavior we don't want and keeping a lot of energetic, enthusiastic young people from locating here. Harry also stated, I don't think it necessarily has to be downtown. Some areas have done well by turning an older, run down street into an arts/culture area. Younger folks will like some of the same things as an older crowd, like paintings, crafts, creative food, etc. but there has to be room for garage bands (most of my older friends aren't too fond of indie rock and other genres favored by the younger set), hip comedians and the like. The location isn't specifically the issue, the cultural offerings are. We have to welcome those who are more tattooed, pierced and dyed than the norm. We all have our preferences, but more of a "live and let live" attitude would be a breath of fresh air.
To this another member of our group responded, "Somehow we need to uncinch a hole or two on the bible belt then. I'll be praying about that, quite literally."
Another member who is a nationally established, prominent creative tech guy had a couple of very good points related to this issue and how it related to other areas that he has lived in that have established creative communities:
"Speaking from a computer graphics perspective, the creatives I have gone to school with and incidentally worked with over the years want similar things wherever they choose to live. Mostly, the freedom to be creative. This is often reflected in their opinions, the clothes they wear, the music they prefer, and their personal and / or recreational preferences, such as frisbee golf, surfing, or playing guitar. None of these things make them undesirable people, but mostly exemplify what makes them creative and different in the first place. The West coast has dominated this attraction to the creative set because of it's ability to accept those who were not like them, as well as attract companies and industries that support the skills that young creatives have.
If you want creative people in industries that make a difference in the global economy, then the infrastructure (not simply technologically) has to be in place to support their lifestyle. That includes what they do for work as creatives, recreational needs, living and work space that is affordable, culture, personal freedoms without discrimination. If they have strange clothes, hair, tattoos, whatever. These things are superficial at best anyway, and have little to no influence over what these individuals can produce as professionals.
In short, open up a bit to the fact that not everyone was raised the same way, and may of these people will have to come from other places to change the place we live. Let's open our doors, minds, and communities and focus on building an environment for creative professions to call home. Plan to recruit and focus on what flowers attract the bees we want!"
And as I responded, "To me it isn't even about diversity. It is about freedom, liberty, and being able to express oneself as a human being. It is more about the individuality that makes us unique. The past factory owners in the community wanted this bred out of the workforce. They didn't want people to think. They wanted people to conform. They wanted people to do simple, repetitive tasks consistently and they didn't want their minds wandering. I think people within our group (the FEC) for the most part are what these Old School Factory Bosses would label as "Dreamers." They didn't want dreamers. Many of these people followed generations of generally accepted behavior within their community's caste/social system. If you were in the family of the people who owned this business and you were a male (for the most part) and one of daddy's favorites, then you ended up in a management position for life and if you were from the family that lived in the mill village, then you would work in the mill."
The Hound: The Mayor, whose sole focus seems to be upon the people of his generation, fully supports conservative ideals, when it comes to finances. For the most part this prudence should be applauded, but the problem is that socially he wants to impose his mindset and will upon others. This is a problem that pervades this community on many levels.

Not everyone wants to live in a Monastery or in a religious compound and this community should be careful not to enforce those ideals on others. It is a sad state of affairs that this type of "thing" is causing many young people to feel that their community is hostile and intolerant towards them. Young people should not be looked upon as though they are terrorists in waiting. All kids want to do is be able to mature, experience, and enjoy life. It may not be the way that certain people in this community choose, but if we don't allow our young people to have the same access to the community as adults, then why would they want to stay here when they become adults?

Without the young people, this community is on borrowed time and I will argue that that is where we are today. Look at the communities that are experiencing better economic growth. Those communities are the ones that are demographically younger. Those are the communities that invest and promote themselves to the younger generations. Our community is doing the exact opposite. Our public and private investment decisions seem to be totally centered around seniors and it seems that local leaders are obsessed with only attracting seniors to move here. As was pointed out to me the other day, many of the seniors who live in our community are living just above Social Security. Senior's money equals government money. This community pushes a notion that the Federal Government is bad and needs to be made smaller. Carry that to its logical conclusion and you will see that if we become a community that centers around people who derive most of their income from a smaller government, then our local economy is going to implode further.

I have spoken about this subject for almost 4 years now in the public arena. This is not a conviction against the older generations. This is about sowing seeds and laying a foundation for the future existence of Hickory. I am getting older myself. It would be easy to fall in line and only protect the interests of the older citizens. They will be gone to the great beyond by the time all of this plays out -- so no worries. As a person who represents these Senior Interests stated at a meeting I attended last week, "We need the younger people, because they will be the worker bees of the community."

Those younger people should not be looked upon as worker bees. They aren't supposed to be indentured servants for those winding down in life. They are the seeds that should be sown towards growth. That is what the generations of Earth's human life cycle have done. They pass along the earth to their progeny. The issue with me is that 20 years from now what impact are all of these decisions going to have on the viability of this community? And do people not worry about the legacy they are leaving behind to future generations?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- June 26, 2011

How and why to escape the web of debt

This is a talk about the trillion dollar bailout of the too large to fail banks and how it relates to the underlying crisis caused by the private control of the US - and soon the world's - money supply. Brown has an intriguing theory that she sets out to prove: Congress was initially not very interested in a bailout of the banks and needed to be shown, she says, that the situation was serious and that more money than ever before had to flow from taxpayers and the Federal Reserve into the banking system. In part ONE of her talk Ellen Brown runs down the incidents that led to the collapse of Lehman Brothers. She asks whether Lehman was purposefully bombed with short and naked short sales, and then was left unsupported by fellow banks in order to prove to Congress and to us that the crisis was serious. She quotes from a NY Times headline: "Lehman had to die, it seems, so global finance could live."

In part TWO Ellen Brown covers the little known but highly consequential role of the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland. The BIS serves as a bank for central banks and is not accountable to any national government. It plays an increasingly important role in the ever centralizing global financial system. Brown points to the risk of formalizing the money system for the world as the unregulated and unaccountable private domain of private banks - a process that is taking place right now. And you are about to hear about the Bank of North Dakota, an amazing, little known, highly successful state owned bank founded in 1919 and flourishing today. She suggests that California adopt that model to solve both the budget and the overall financial crisis - as 5 states are already planning to do. Washington, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts and Virginia have bills pending for state owned banks.

Ellen Brown is the author of Web of Debt, a book about the Federal Reserve. She shows how the private banking cartel has usurped the power to create money, and how we the people can take back that power. Listen / Download mp3:

Part 1 (29:04):
Part 2 (29:03):
Source (TUC Radio Latest Programs):

Ellen Brown Links:
Web of Debt:
Web of Debt Blog:
Public Banking:

Federal Reserve Shipped Billions to Iraq Which Were Then Stolen ... Involved in Other Unsavory Activities - Washington's Blog - June 23, 2011 - CNBC reports today: The New York Fed is refusing to tell investigators how many billions of dollars it shipped to Iraq during the early days of the US invasion there, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction told CNBC Tuesday. The Fed's lack of disclosure is making it difficult for the inspector general to follow the paper trail of billions of dollars that went missing in the chaotic rush to finance the Iraq occupation, and to determine how much of that money was stolen.

Fed freezes policy despite slow US economy - Activist Post - June 23, 2011 - The Federal Reserve left monetary policy in neutral Wednesday as it slashed US economic growth estimates, saying the slowdown was in part due to factors that were "likely" to be temporary. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) unanimously decided to hold its near-zero interest rate, end a $600-billion bond-buying program by June 30 and continue to reinvest its principal payments from security holdings. The central bank's decisions were widely expected by economists and experts. "The Fed is trapped between the proverbial rock and a hard place," said RDQ Economics analysts John Ryding and Conrad DeQuadros. "The economy is weaker than it would like to see and this prevents any reference to exiting from the current policy stance of near-zero rates and a massive Fed balance sheet."

Higher jobless claims indicate weak labor market
- Reuters - Lucia Mutikani - June 23, 2011 - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, suggesting little improvement in the labor market this month after hiring stumbled badly in May. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits climbed by 9,000 to 429,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Economists had expected claims to come in at 415,000. The claims report, which covers the survey period for the government's closely watched data on nonfarm payrolls for June, came a day after the Federal Reserve gave a downbeat assessment of the economy. The government's employment report for June will be released on July 8. Claims for unemployment benefits increased by 15,000 between the May and June survey periods, implying another soft month for jobs after employment rose by only 54,000 in May.    "The labor market remains in a funk, it doesn't seem like it has improved much this month and the rise in claims will keep expectations for June nonfarm payrolls in check," said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody's Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

‘We now have more idle men, women than at any time since Great Depression’ - US News and World Report - Motimer Zuckerman - June 20, 2011 - The Great Recession has now earned the dubious right of being compared to the Great Depression. In the face of the most stimulative fiscal and monetary policies in our history, we have experienced the loss of over 7 million jobs, wiping out every job gained since the year 2000. From the moment the Obama administration came into office, there have been no net increases in full-time jobs, only in part-time jobs. This is contrary to all previous recessions. Employers are not recalling the workers they laid off from full-time employment. The real job losses are greater than the estimate of 7.5 million. They are closer to 10.5 million, as 3 million people have stopped looking for work. Equally troublesome is the lower labor participation rate; some 5 million jobs have vanished from manufacturing, long America's greatest strength. Just think: Total payrolls today amount to 131 million, but this figure is lower than it was at the beginning of the year 2000, even though our population has grown by nearly 30 million. The most recent statistics are unsettling and dismaying, despite the increase of 54,000 jobs in the May numbers. Nonagricultural full-time employment actually fell by 142,000, on top of the 291,000 decline the preceding month. Half of the new jobs created are in temporary help agencies, as firms resist hiring full-time workers. Today, over 14 million people are unemployed. We now have more idle men and women than at any time since the Great Depression. Nearly seven people in the labor pool compete for every job opening. Hiring announcements have plunged to 10,248 in May, down from 59,648 in April. Hiring is now 17 percent lower than the lowest level in the 2001-02 downturn. One fifth of all men of prime working age are not getting up and going to work. Equally disturbing is that the number of people unemployed for six months or longer grew 361,000 to 6.2 million, increasing their share of the unemployed to 45.1 percent. We face the specter that long-term unemployment is becoming structural and not just cyclical, raising the risk that the jobless will lose their skills and become permanently unemployable.

A European's Warning to America - The perils of following us toward greater regulation, higher taxes and centralized power
- Wall Street Journal - March 11, 2011 - Why is a European politician urging America to avoid Europeanization? As a Briton, I see the American republic as a repository of our traditional freedoms. The doctrines rooted in the common law, in the Magna Carta, and in the Bill of Rights found their fullest and most sublime expression in the old courthouse of Philadelphia. Britain, as a result of its unhappy membership in the European Union, has now surrendered a large part of its birthright. But our freedoms live on in America. Which brings me to my country's present tragedy. The fears that the American patriot leaders had about a Hanoverian tyranny were exaggerated. The United Kingdom did not develop into an absolutist state. Power continued to pass from the Crown to the House of Commons. Until now. Nearly two and a half centuries after the Declaration of Independence, the grievances it adumbrated are belatedly coming true. Colossal sums are being commandeered by the government in order to fund bailouts and nationalizations without any proper parliamentary authorization. Legislation happens increasingly through what are called standing orders, a device that allows ministers to make laws without parliamentary consent—often for the purpose of implementing EU standards. How aptly the British people might today apply the ringing phrases of the Declaration of Independence against their own rulers, who have "combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws." So you can imagine how I feel when I see the U.S. making the same mistakes that Britain has made: expanding its government, regulating private commerce, centralizing its jurisdiction, breaking the link between taxation and representation, abandoning its sovereignty. You deserve better, cousins. And we expect better.

The Chinese Government Is Buying Up Economic Assets And Huge Tracts Of Land All Over The United States - The American Dream - June 19, 2011 - In 2011, America is for sale and the communist Chinese are eager buyers. The Chinese government is using sovereign wealth funds and Chinese state-owned enterprises to buy up economic assets and huge tracts of land all over the United States. Many of our politicians hail all of this “foreign investment” as something that is “good for America”, while many others see something much more sinister going on here. In any event, this is a trend that is rapidly accelerating and that is causing great concern among patriotic Americans.    In my recent article entitled “China Wants To Construct A 50 Square Mile Self-Sustaining City South Of Boise, Idaho“, I examined a potential deal that Sinomach (a company controlled by the Chinese government) wants to do with the government of Idaho. There will be more on this deal in a minute. But first it is important to note that this is a phenomenon that is happening all across the United States. For example, a Chinese investment group is buying up a very large chunk of real estate in Toledo, Ohio... Even more disturbing is what has been happening down in Texas recently. The Chinese have been gobbling up our oil and gas fields. The following is a quote from one local Texas news source about one of these deals….

Can the US grow its way out of a currency collapse?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June Rant - It is an Honor to be called a Conspiracy Theorist

Paul Craig Roberts stated that it is an honor to be called a Conspiracy Theorist yesterday during an interview with Alex Jones and I have to concur. We are constantly sold propaganda by government sources, we are given misleading statistics and out-and-out lies about the condition of our economy. We see so many of our leaders who are perfect caricatures of used car salesmen from "B" movies. The whole governmental system that we see becomes more hokey every day. Why is it? Because the government has lost relevance and has no credibility. Being labeled a Conspiracy Theorist only means that they disdain you for critical thinking and not automatically taking for granted that you are being told the truth by these sources.

I know people who voted for Obama because he was going to get us out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and many are just supporting him for the sake of supporting him. Just look at the facts. Now we are nearly all over the equatorial region of the Afro-Asian continent from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean; five specific hostile actions taking place in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan with implications of future action in Syria.  We also see connected action through NATO in the Ivory Coast and Tunisia. And yet these same people who supported Obama and derided Bush are nowhere to be found when it comes to accountability related to Obama's campaign rhetoric of three years ago. It is a joke that he was given a Nobel Peace Prize. What did he do or what has he done to deserve an honor of Peace. Actions mean a lot more than hyperbole.Our economy is faltering beyond any belief that I thought conceivable in the previous generations of my life. I don't care if a Republican or a Democrat is in charge. We cannot afford to continue these unlimited, infinite Imperial Offensive actions!!!

Then take a serious look at the United States economy. Go back to the beginnings of this blog. I told you that TARP would not fix anything. I told you that stimulus would not work. I told you that it was about fraud and padding people's pockets. I can see not understanding economics and giving the leaders that you believed in the benefit of the doubt. You see, that is what I am doing with you who gave these authorities the benefit of the doubt. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt. But now I am out of patience, because there comes a time when all credit and doubt is erased and all we are left with is the unvarnished, indistinguishable truth. It is time to separate the bologna from the real meat. These government officials are either corrupt or incompetent and folks we can't afford either scenario in these perilous times.

Gerald Celente says "Let the people vote. Let the people vote." He believes that we need to see direct democracy, because our representatives are not representing the needs and the interests of the people of the United States. Our supposed representatives have been for sale to the highest bidder for years. They represent the interests of the elite and the corporations that they own. They call it "Campaign Contributions" and we call it bribes and payoffs. That is the reason why capitalism has gotten a bad rap, because the sociopaths have perverted capitalism into crony capitalism, which is the neo-feudalistic, fascist model. We have a new aristocracy represented by these elite owners of these mega-corporations and you have a marriage of Wall Street and Washington and you see the sincerest form of flattery on the local level. You might think you are one of them, because you are a little higher up on the food chain in your small community, but soon they will gobble you up too, if we don't start working towards straightening this situation out.

A man that I consider a mentor of mine is Rick Smyre. I trained under him in a field that he calls "Master Capacity Building." It is all about making connections and seeing where one can put pieces together. Sometimes it can take years  for an opportunity to allow a connection to be made, but when that opportunity arises then you must recognize that opportunity and seize upon it. One of my shortcomings, in my opinion, in relation to Capacity Building is that I am not as diplomatic or patient as a man such as Rick. I want to see things happen while I am still relatively young and still have energy so that I can enjoy the fruits of this labor in my lifetime.

I also think that we are not going to leave this world in good shape if we leave it to the hands of the Corrupt and /or Incompetent. Rick has pushed a notion that he calls Mobile Governance that has been given to a friend and colleague Dewey Harris to formulate and relate to the public and move towards eventual implementation by governments that still are interested in more than a contrived relationship with the public that they are supposed to represent. You can listen to the Youtube presentation or read about this theory of Governance at the links at the bottom.

What is clear in my mind is that allowing the American people to have a direct say in their governance can't put us in any more of a bottom of the barrel position than we are currently in. I have started to believe that money and brains are like oil and water. We can't get back to being AMERICA, and all that is supposed to represent, until more of us begin to strive for excellence and start reaching for the stars. The possibilities are only limited by ourselves and those that we allow to control us. I don't think that the divine spirit wants us to punish ourselves through unnecessary artificial moral bondage. What the spirit of the higher power wants is that humanity be righteous and just. Are we striving towards those values today? Isn't that where we have gotten off track? Are the Power and Control mechanisms that are currently out of control in our society the root antithesis of Justice and Righteousness? I think so!


Bringing People to the table of Governance - A presentation on Mobile Governance

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of June 21, 2011

This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. 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.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the 6/21/2011 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.

Invocation by Rev. Bud Zehmer, Pastor, Church of the Master

Consent Agenda:
A. Approve Acceptance of North Carolina Health and Human Services 2011 Get Alarmed NC Fire and Life Safety Non-Matching Grant to Provide 800 Smoke Detectors, 600 Carbon Monoxide Detectors, and Funding for a Part-Time Position to Manage the Program in the Amount of $13,950 from October 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012 - For several years, Hickory Fire Department has been offering smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to target groups throughout the jurisdiction by utilizing matching and non-matching grants from federal and state funded programs. Due to the ongoing program and the high level of distribution in years past, the Fire Department requests approval to accept this non-matching grant which offers 800 smoke detectors, 600 carbon monoxide detectors and funds to staff a part-time position to manage the program from 10-1-11 to 6-30-12. This grant requires no matching funds, and

B. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance Through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs - The following applicants are being recommended for approval for assistance under the
City’s Housing Rehabilitation Program:
Gayle Bumgarner - Amount not to exceed $10,000 3364 Treadwell Lane, Newton (Blue Sky Court Neighborhood)
Detrol Ellison - Amount not to exceed $6,500 447 1st Street SW
Shaimaica Ferguson - Amount not to exceed $7,500 3368 Treadwell Lane, Newton (Blue Sky Court Neighborhood)
Brian Maddalon - Amount not to exceed $6,500 1031 14th Avenue NW
Louise Adams - Amount not to exceed $2,500 1330 5th Street NE
Dorothy Connor - Amount not to exceed $10,000 590 30th Avenue Circle NE
Harlan Crutchfield - Amount not to exceed $10,000 823 2nd Street SW
Felicia Sherrill - Amount not to exceed $10,000 610 5th Avenue SW
Funds are budgeted for these items through the City of Hickory’s former Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2009 and/or program income received through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant Program. The following applicants are being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s 2010 Urgent Repair Program for amounts not to exceed $5,000:
Edward Cunningham  - 61 5th Street SE, Hickory
Geneva Heavner - 1424 17th Avenue NE, Hickory
The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval of the above applicants.

C. Renewal of Taxicab and Other Passenger Vehicles For Hire Franchises
Company Taxicabs / Other Passenger / Vehicles For Hire
Mile High Enterprises d/b/a Hickory Hop / 0 / 5
Yellow Cab / 10 / 4
Diamond Cab of Hickory / 3 / 0
Select Car Service / 0 / 1
Hickory Limousine / 0 / 3
Total / 13 / 13
Annually, these companies apply for a renewal of their taxicab and other passenger vehicle for hire franchise. The fee for FY 2011-12 is $22.50 per vehicle. A total of $585 (26 vehicles) has been collected.

D. Budget Ordinance
1. To transfer $12,107 from the Inter-basin Transfer Project Legislative Lobbying line item to the Water and Sewer Fund Balance Appropriated line item. This amendment is necessary to close the capital project and return $12,107 of unspent monies to the original funding source.

E. Capital Project Ordinance
1. To decrease the Inter-basin Transfer Project Legislative Lobbying line item by $12,107 and transfer to the Water and Sewer Fund. This amendment is necessary to close the capital project and return $12,107 of unspent monies to the original funding source.

New Business - Public Hearings:
1. Request by Hickory Police Department for Approval to Apply for 2011 Justice Assistance Grant in the Amount of $37,161 - Hickory Police Department and Catawba County have received notification of
approval to receive a combined allocation of $52,713 (Catawba County is applying for $15,552 of the Grant and hickory the remainder) under the 2011 Justice Assistance Grant Program. Cities and counties are required to file joint applications for the available funding. Hickory Police Department requests permission to apply for a grant in the amount of $37,161 to soundproof interview rooms and upgrade the camera security system and door-locking security system at the police department. The City of Hickory has agreed to serve as lead agency in the grant application process. There is no match required.

Chief Tom Adkins made the presentation. Jag Overview – The JAG Program, administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), is the leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. The JAG program provides states, tribes, and local governments with critical funding necessary to support a range of program areas including law enforcement, prosecution and court, prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, planning, evaluation, and technology improvement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.

JAG Formula – The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) calculates, for each state and territory, a minimum base allocation which, based on the congressionally mandated JAG formula, can be enhanced by: (1) the state’s share of the national population. (2) the state’s share of the country’s Part 1 violent crime statistics. Once the state funding is calculated, 60 percent of the allocation is awarded to the state and 40 percent to eligible units of local government.

Hickory Police department and Catawba County have received notification to receive a combined allocation of $52,713 under the 2011 Justice Assistance grant Program (JAG). The JAG program is a formula based grant through the Office of Justice Programs/ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) that utilizes Uniform Crime Reporting statistics of all law enforcement agencies to determine eligibility for direct federal grant awards. Cities and Counties are required to submit joint applications for the available funding. Catawba County is eligible for a direct award of $15,552 and the City of hickory is eligible for a direct award of $37,161. There is no match required.

The Benefits of Soundproofing Interview Rooms: State Law requires homicide investigation interviews to be recorded. Interview rooms at HPD are next to each other which makes it difficult to interview multiple suspects/witnesses at the same time. The recording for court will be clearer without any noise from the second room.

Benefits to upgrading camera & security system at HPD: Current camera System can not keep up with volume of recordings. Door key pads are starting to fail. Provides for greater security of HPD assets and coworkers. Provides officers with video evidence from booking that can be used in court cases to increase successful prosecutions.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Second Reading – Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 23 Due to the closing of FY 2010-2011, staff is requesting a second reading be held on this matter.

2. Second Reading – Capital Project Ordinance Amendment No. 5 Due to the closing of FY 2010-2011, staff is requesting a second reading be held on this matter.

3. Update on 800Mhz Radio System by Chief of Police Tom Adkins (Deputy Chief Clyde Deal Presentation) - Benefits of the new system: System is compliant with public safety standard (P-25). System can move data as well as voice. Architecture allows for low cost cell site expansion. Changes in radio programming can be made over the air instead of having to take radios and co-workers off the street. Logistic overhead is reduced, as well as service cost, due to radio integration. Rebanding funds were available to help offset the coat of new system. System has the flexibility to adapt to future technology.

Alder Patton does mention a Hot Dog - Ice Cream Social to be held in the Kenworth Community next to Christ Lutheran Church this Saturday June 25, 2011 from 11am to 2pm to support the Zahra Baker Park Fund. Everyone is invited. The Mayor announced that he is very much pleased with how much money has been raised thus far and said that donations are well ahead of the pace that everyone expected.

The Hound: Not much happened at this meeting. It's summer and usually things slow down around Independence day and the vacation time that surrounds it. There will be an upcoming meeting of the Citizens for Equity in Government in July after the holiday is over, The last meeting lasted about an hour and a half and it was great, even if only 13 people attended. I hope that some of you will think about attending that upcoming meeting. Once the date is set, I will get the information out on this blog ASAP.

These are perilous times in which we live. That may be hard for some people to accept, but if people pay attention to what is being exposed by the non-mainstream media and what is happening behind the scenes, then they will understand what we talk about here on the Hound is the news. I would be wasting my time if I just spread propaganda. You can get that anywhere. I know the people who read this blog are thinkers and now is the time to take it a step forward and start talking. If we don't talk about this stuff, then we who are vulnerable will be subject to the whims and fantasies of people who are basically sociopaths. These people don't care about you or I. If we are going to right what is wrong with our economy, then we are going to have to look to the interests of everyone, not just those who think they are better than us.

Don't buy into the fake politics any more. In the upcoming election, don't buy into Professional Wrestling Politics. If you play the party game, they will continue to party over those who are ignorant enough to fall in line. You want change, then you are going to have to change!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- June 19, 2011

The Ponzi Economy

Pimco's Bill Gross on Scoping Out Subprime - The co-founder of Pimco, the $1 trillion-plus fund manager, avoided the subprime bubble by turning his analysts into fake home buyers - Bloomberg Businessweek - Diane Brady - June 9, 2011 - In 2006, there were signs that this had become a highly leveraged Ponzi economy and that housing was at the pinnacle of this leverage. The temperature of the U.S. housing market was always best read here in Orange County [Calif]. But one day that August, as I was going across the street for my daily yoga exercise, it occurred to me that we needed to get a feel for the rest of the country... We had 40 credit analysts covering companies like IBM (IBM) and General Motors (GM). I thought: Why not take 10 of these people and turn them into pretend real estate buyers? Instead of sending them to Armonk to interview the treasurer of IBM, let's send them to places like Detroit, Miami, or Vegas to pretend to be in the market to buy a house. They didn't have a bankroll, and they obviously weren't going to buy a house. Nonetheless, I gave each of them a territory and told them to go there two or three times a month until June 2008. They were told to be serious buyers, to get serious information... There was no pushback, but I wondered whether it was kosher. I wasn't necessarily proud of the obvious deception. But this little bit of trickery alerted us to what was really going on: the liar loans and the extravagant lending practices. We got much better real-time information, and we learned homes were being bought without a down payment or without documents to prove income. The extent of the lending malpractice—to use a nice word—was shocking, and it caused us to stay out of the subprime market.

China’s economy: Burgeoning giant or bubble ready to burst? - Globe and Mail - Brian Milner - June 16, 2011 - Unlike deficit-ridden governments in the U.S. and Europe, Beijing was – and still is – swimming in surpluses. So money was no object. The Chinese leadership was highly motivated to do whatever it took to get the economy back on the fast track. Strong economic growth is vital to maintaining the country’s improving living standards, keeping social unrest in check, greasing the wheels of China’s unique version of state capitalism and ensuring that the Communist Party’s hegemony remains unchallenged... China’s heavy pump-priming worked. Major infrastructure and social-housing projects got off the ground quickly. A flood of subsidies kept large numbers of factories open, avoiding the spectre of millions of unemployed migrant workers taking to the streets. But the influx of cheap credit and investment capital has also created dangerous bubbles in real estate and other assets... It’s on the domestic front where China’s frailties stand out – a feeble financial system, falling consumption as a share of GDP, weak job growth, major inefficiencies in state-dominated sectors and unfavourable demographics stemming from the one-child policy – and where dreams of global domination are most likely to come unglued.

Stimulating a Dead Economy
- Huffington Post - Jim Worth - 06/17/11
- The U.S. economy is surviving only because of over-stimulation. We're living on fumes in this country, and the pursuit of happiness has come to an end for millions of families! Main Street is still suffering. But, the market is on Viagra, shored up by QE2, the Fed program to buy hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. Treasury Bonds. As QE2 winds down, and the economy falters, the discussion turns to the possibility of QE3. A tremendous number of band-aids have been administered to keep the U.S. economy from hemorrhaging; to prevent not only a domestic collapse, but a global one... The Fed's covert loans, exposed by Bloomberg's lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, and brought to the attention of the American people by Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ron Paul, shows some despicable -- potentially criminal -- actions in the program including loans to Muammar Gaddafi totaling more than $26 billion. The President's Housing Affordable Modification Program, designed to help homeowners, was pretty much a failure and has done little to stabilize the housing market. The FDIC's loss-share program is a fire-storm waiting to explode and the Treasury's $300 billion guarantee to Citibank is a hidden time-bomb that falsely supports over-priced Citi stock... There are subsidies to oil companies and agriculture corporations, and other equally destructive giveaways. (The Hound doesn't believe in his summation that it is all the Republican's fault, but I am still scratching my head about why we are giving huge tax breaks to corporations who don't seem to give a crap about U.S. economic interests).

U.S. Economic Outlook

IMF Sees Risks to Global Economy Mounting
- Wall Street Journal - Sudeep Reddy - June 17, 2011 - The International Monetary Fund released its latest global economic forecast Friday, cataloging risks that have piled up in the world economy over just the past two months... The IMF says it still expects global growth of 4.3% this year, down slightly from the 4.4% estimate offered in April in what it called a “mild slowdown of the global expansion.” Among advanced economies, the U.S. is seen growing at 2.5% (slower than the prior 2.8% estimate) while Japan is expected to contract 0.7% (instead of 1.4% growth).

Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles Predict Coming Economic Crisis - Newsmax - Forrest Jones - June 18, 2011 - A crisis will strike the U.S. economy within two years if politicians don't roll up their sleeves and address fiscal spending like they did in the 1990s, warns former Sen. Alan Simpson. Simpson, a Republican who co-chaired President Barack Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, says the United States faces "the most predictable economic crisis in history" by 2013. His remarks echo comments made by his partner in studying deficit reduction, Democrat Erskine Bowles, according to CNS News. The tipping point "will come when the rating agencies find out we Economy, Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowleshave no plan" to seriously address federal spending and the national debt, Simpson says... Simpson, along with Bowles, former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff and co-chair of the spending committee, have warned that fiscal deficits must narrow if the U.S. economy is to recover at a more adequate pace. Simpson says Bowles reached across the aisle to craft policy and acted in the interest of the country, and not just in his political party when in office. "How do you think he did the balanced budget in '96?" Simpson asks... Earlier this year, Simpson told the Senate Budget Committee that the United States was headed toward financial disaster unless spending was curtailed. "This debt and these deficits that we are incurring on an annual basis are like a cancer, and they are truly going to destroy this country from within unless we have the common sense to do something about it.” (The Hound agrees with Simpson and Bowles premise, but unless the Financial Banking Cartel is brought back into line, then they are wasting everyone's time. They are talking about saving Trillions over a decade, which history shows can never be guaranteed, while trillions in spending will go on as usual. A few years ago a $400 billion deficit was looked upon as a disaster and now $1.5 trillion dollar deficits with hopefully a couple hundred billion in cuts is supposed to cure the problem. All of this doesn't even include what is taking place off budget. This is all window dressing on the Titanic. This mindset is not going to cure the ills that we face!!!)

Germany Fires Debt Shot at US - - Dr. Jeffrey Lewis - June 16, 2011 - In what will likely be the first of many European debt downgrades for the United States, Germany’s own Feri credit rating agency took down the United States’ debt rating from AAA to AA. The difference is marginal in many ways (after all, few countries ever get to become AAA rated), but for the United States, which has always been AAA, this confirms that the downside is here. In addition to downgrading the United States’ debt, the agency also had a few warnings for Washington DC. The ratings agency CEO Tobias Schmidt is reported as saying, “The U.S. government has fought the effects of the financial market crisis primarily by an increase in government debt. We do not see that there is sufficient attention being paid to other measures.” Later on in the release, he would remark that the current deficits are not sustainable.

How Miserable? Index Says the Worst in 28 Years
- CNBC - Jeff Cox - June 17, 2011
- When it comes to measuring the combination of unemployment and inflation, it doesn’t get much more miserable than this. In fact, misery, as measured in the unofficial Misery Index that simply totals the unemployment and inflation rates, is at a 28-year high, reflective of how weak the economic recovery has been and how far there is to go. The index, first compiled during the soaring inflation days of the 1970s by economist Arthur Okun, is registering a nausea-inducing 12.7—9.1 percent for unemployment and 3.6 percent for annualized inflation—a number not seen since 1983. The index has been above 10 since November 2009 and had been under double-digits from June 1993 through May 2008... Investor sentiment continues to fall. The latest Investors Intelligence survey, a weekly poll of newsletter authors, points to bulls outnumbering bears by just a 37 percent to 26 percent margin. Yes, it does indicate more people believing the market is heading higher than lower, but the bullishness is around financial crisis levels. The survey includes a smattering of comments from participants. One of the more common that represents the bearish perspective looks at how much optimism there had been in the market prior to the May 2 highs. “Frankly, we have been stunned by the disconnect that we see between these optimistic calls over the past six to nine months and the reality of what is occurring in the global economy,” wrote Boston-based Hans P. Black in the Interinvest Review & Outlook. Conversely, misery is not universal, with Elliott F. Gue’s Personal Finance Newsletter making the case for the optimists that one should not “fall prey to the panic fanned by the usual fear-mongering doomsayers,” a group that presumably includes those unemployed or bewildered by inflation and, thus, in misery.

The Top and the Bottom

Survey: U.S. trails in equal legal treatment of citizens - McClatchy Newspapers - Daniel Lippman - June 13, 2011 - The U.S. lags behind western Europe in access to civil justice and legal assistance, according to an international survey released Monday that also raised questions over whether U.S. police forces treat all citizens equally... A fair legal system provides a critical backbone and infrastructure for countries - ensuring that they run effectively, citizens get a fair shake and companies can operate under predictable rules, the researchers said... While the U.S. scored high in many areas - including checks and balances in the legal system, civil liberties, freedom of expression and independence of the judiciary - it trailed western European countries in such areas as legal access for low-income communities and ethnic minorities and also scored low in perceptions of whether police treat people of different backgrounds equally. "In the United States, rich individuals take their disputes to courts, whereas poor and low-income individuals normally don't use the formal dispute resolution mechanisms. They simply either negotiate, do nothing or resort to violence in the worst-case scenario," said Juan Botero, the director of the index... The findings echoed experts who have said that the much-heralded Arab Spring protests this year were sparked in part by major shortcomings in the rule of law and mistreatment of ordinary citizens across the region. The protests started after an impoverished Tunisian street vendor lit himself on fire after an altercation with local police. "Widespread corruption which goes unpunished and the selective administration of justice is very much part of the sense of alienation and anger which people all across the region felt," said Marc Lynch, a professor of Middle East politics at George Washington University.

Recession… what recession? Pelosi's wealth grows by massive 62% (and Boehner and Cantor are also millionaires) - UK Daily Mail - Paul Bentley - June 16, 2011 - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saw her wealth rise considerably last year, from just more than $20million to a huge $35.2million. Establishing Pelosi's place as one of the wealthiest lawmakers in the country, the sudden 62 per cent rise was revealed in the annual release of forms detailing the assets and liabilities of congressmen today. New House Speaker John Boehner also remained a multi-millionaire, with his wealth jumping from $1.8million in 2009 to $2.1million in 2010, and his deputy Eric Cantor reported even higher earnings.

Working America's Dismal State - Steve Lendman Blog - June 17, 2011 - From 2007 - 2009, private sector wages and salaries declined sharply, while unemployment, underemployment, and their median and mean durations skyrocketed... In fact, "(t)he tepid recovery from the 2007 - 09 recession through (Q I 2011) marks the first time in post-World War II history that civilian employment as measured by the" Current Population Survey (CPS) "failed to register any net growth seven quarters following the end of the recession." As a result, real unemployment as measured in the 1980s tops 22%, not the manipulated Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 9.1% headline figure. Wages have also stagnated or declined, and benefits are eroding... From 2009 Q II through 2010, real US national income rose $528 billion. Pre-tax corporate profits alone increased $464 billion (88% of real national income) while aggregate real wages and salaries rose only $7 billion or 1%, despite double-digit inflation, not the manipulated BLS 3.6% CPI in the previous 12 months, excluding or underweighting food, energy, transportation, rent, college tuitions, and other sharply rising components... Since 1988, EPI published it annually, including data on household incomes, wages, jobs, unemployment, wealth, and poverty. Notably it said from 1948 - 1979, one third of average income growth went to America's 10% richest. However, from 1979 - 2007, the richest 10% got 91% of average income growth, an unprecedented disparity still widening as working households experience deepening hard times with no relief in sight because policy initiatives demand greater sacrifices when massive social spending is required to relieve need... Wealth destruction from 2007 - 2009, was disproportionately experienced by 80% of Americans. The average net worth of America's wealthiest 1% was 225 greater than the median 2009 household net worth - the highest ratio on record. In 2009, about 25% of US households had zero or negative net worth. For Black households, it was 40%. Their median net worth was $2,200, "the lowest ever recorded" compared to Whites at $97,900. In 2009, America's 20% richest controlled 87.2% of all wealth. The top 1% controlled 35.6%. In 2009 dollars, median household wealth fell from $71,900 in 1983 to $62,200 in 2009 while America's richest got richer. In 2009, the Forbes top 400 wealth averaged $3.2 billion - 523% higher than 1982. Their collective net worth was $1.3 trillion. Today it's greater... During the "Great Recession," 8.4 million jobs were lost, and long-term unemployment and underemployment registered record highs. Because of the deepening housing depression, home equity as a percent of property value fell from 59.5% in 2006 Q I to 36.2% in 2009 Q IV. "For the first time on record, the percent of home value (owned outright by homeowners) dropped below 50% - meaning that banks now own more of the nation's housing stock than people do." Moreover, one-fourth of mortgage holders are under water because of rising debt and plummeting prices. Homeowners' equity as a percent of home value fell from around 70% in the early 1970s to 36.2% in Q I 2009.

Gerald Celente - The Ponzi Scheme is Collapsing - June 17, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Do people even know? Hickory Airport Operators (River Hawk Aviation) in Bankruptcy

River Hawk Aviation, the Fixed Based Operator at the Hickory Airport, has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy as of May 19, 2011 in Western North Carolina (North Wilkesboro)  Bankruptcy Court. The case is being administered by Judge J. Craig Whitley.

U.S. Bankruptcy CourtWestern District of North Carolina (Wilkesboro)Bankruptcy Petition #: 11-50641

River Hawk Aviation, Inc.

This bankruptcy also affects River Hawk's prior acquisition of Carolina Air Charter, which is addressed on the following web page  River Hawk Aviation Acquires Carolina Air Charter, Inc. from March 19, 2008. This bankruptcy also affects Eagle Aviation, which is a FBO headquartered in West Columbia, South Carolina. Apparently River Hawk inherited a stakeholder position in Eagle Aviation through its acquisition of Profile Aviation on August 28, 2007. Profile Aviation was the former FBO at the Hickory Regional Airport.

In a Reuters article dated November 27, 2008 entitled Richard Girouard Joins River Hawk Board , Management forecasted revenues from the Company's existing operating subsidiaries to be approximately $14-$15 million for the upcoming twelve months ending September 2008. Apparently this was a rosy scenario projection when one looks at what has happened over the subsequent 3 1/2 years.

The Hound has detailed the problems associated with the former and current Fixed Based Operators and the subsequent problems partially inherited and otherwise mismanaged by all parties associated with the Hickory Regional Airport. These parties include Hickory City Elected Officials and Administration who have failed to take the bull by the horns and have allowed this problem to fester since at least 2007 and the former and current operators of the airport who have apparently not been working in good faith with City Officials since River Hawk acquired Profile in 2007. The City didn't have a clue of what was happening during that acquisition and in the subsequent time period River Hawk has struggled to meet its financial obligations including those to the City. The City has known the issues and failed to act prior to and since I wrote the following on September 30, 2009 - Mind Blowing - The City's Mismanagement of the Hickory Regional Airport.

During the past two years we have seen more information come to light that shows that River Hawk wasn't going to succeed at the Hickory Airport, but for some reason the City has decided to sit on its hands and let the situation continue to deteriorate. I think it is time that the City answer questions from outside of their constant closed sessions. I don't think those closed sessions meetings related to this issue have occurred except as a method to save face. I think everyone who is honest with themselves has to believe that the deteriorating situation at the airport is an embarrassment.

The lack of a viable airport hurts the economic prospects of Hickory! The lack of a viable airport hurts the the tax base in Hickory! The lack of a viable airport hurts existing and prospective business generation in Hickory!

I would like to ask if our City Officials would operate in the same fashion they have in this situation if they had leased out one of their personal properties for someone else to operate in the same manner that our local airport has been operated in the past several years. I personally don't think they would have tolerated it. Yet, what we see here is a situation very similar to what people gripe about when it comes to higher level politics and governance. If River Hawk would have succeeded, then their profits would have gone to Wall Street investors, but since they have failed our community is the one who has taken the hit. Aviators know of the mismanagement of the Hickory Airport and they have been bypassing it for the last several years. While other airports in the area (Statesville and Lincolnton) have been growing, our airport is dead. Our airport used to be a viable hub for Piedmont Airlines and now there is hardly any activity at all.

We have seen the loss of the viability of our airport become a huge social loss for the community and our City leaders don't seem to care. What we see here is that profits would have been privatized and benefited private parties, such as the current owners of River Hawk (and the former FBO administrator who is now a stakeholder in River Hawk), and the loss has been socialized; because the years that have gone by will probably mean that the Hickory Airport will never be able to recover and will most likely never be a viable Center of Aviation again.

We have seen this same scenario countless times involving multiple issues over the last several years. Where is the accountability? Wake up or kiss it all goodbye!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are You Ready? -- Gerald Celente

If you are having trouble reading this email, you may view the online version
KINGSTON, NY, 13 June 2011— Everything is not all right. And things are going to get worse … much worse. The economy is on the threshold of calamity. Wars are spreading like wildfires. The world is on a razor’s edge.

Not so, say world leaders and mainstream media experts. Yes, there are problems, but the financiers and politicians are aware of them. Policies are already in place and measures are being taken to correct them.

Whether it’s failing economies, intractable old wars or raging new wars, the word from the top always maintains that steady progress is being made and comforts the populace with assurances that the brightest minds and the sharpest generals are in charge and on the case. On all fronts, success is certain and victory is at hand. Only “patience” is required … along with more men, more time and more money.

As far as these “leaders” and their media are concerned, the only opinions that count come from a stable of thoroughbred experts, official sources and political favorites. Only they have the credentials to speak with authority and provide trustworthy forecasts. That they are consistently, if not invariably, wrong apparently does nothing to diminish their credibility.

How can any thinking adult possibly imagine that the same central bankers, financiers and politicians responsible for creating the economic crisis are capable of resolving it? Within days of its announcement, we predicted that Bush’s TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) was destined to fail, and subsequently predicted the same for Obama’s stimulus package (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). They were no more than cover-ups; there would be no recovery.

Meet the New Plan, Same as the Old Plan

Democrat or Republican, it makes no difference. Despite the heated rhetoric, solving economic problems had less to do with the party in power and more to do with professional competence. Both sides had their turn in office. Both used their power to initiate policies that created the problems. Both sides had their shot at fixing the messes they were responsible for. Both sides failed, as we predicted. Given who they are and what they’ve done, we confidently predict an unbroken sequence of bipartisan failures in the future.

The Beltway Incompetents are in the driver’s seat. What person with a healthy instinct for self-preservation would believe the promises of politicians or trust the judgment of central bankers or Wall Street financiers whose only real interest is self interest? 

Not “Business as Usual” In the 1920s, US President Calvin Coolidge declared, “The business of America is business.” Four score and 10 years later, the business of America has become war: The forty-year War on Drugs; The ten-year War on Terror; the Afghan War (longest in American history); the eight-years-and-no-end-in-sight Iraq War; the covert wars in Pakistan and Yemen; and most recently, the “time-limited, scope-limited kinetic military action” in Libya.

While the justifications for engaging in these wars were all different, all were murderous, immoral, interminable, ruinously expensive and abject failures. Why would anyone believe the optimistic battle communiqu├ęs issued by the “czars” in charge and the battlefield brass who keep reassuring the public that reapplying previously failed strategies would, this time, lead to success?

Yet even in the face of their proven failures and gross incompetence, anyone daring to challenge the party line or the conventional wisdom is dismissed as an “alarmist,” “fear monger,” or “gloom-and-doomer.” However unwelcome our forecasts may be – pessimism, optimism, like or dislike are all irrelevant – only their accuracy counts. We correctly forecast:
  • Afghan and Iraq Wars would be debacles 
  • Bursting of the housing bubble 
  • The “Gold Bull Run"
  • The “Panic of ’08"
  • European Monetary Union crisis
  • Failure of US bailout/stimulus packages to revive housing and create jobs 
  • Falling governments, spreading civil wars and social upheaval on a global scale
We also said that the Federal Reserve’s sighting of economic “green shoots” in March 2009 was a "mirage” and predicted that their much vaunted “recovery” was no more than a temporary solution, a quick-fix to be followed by “The Greatest Depression.” And now, in June 2011, with the Dow on a down trend and the economic data increasingly pointing in the direction of Depression, Washington and Wall Street remain in denial. The only debate among the “experts” is whether or not a “double dip” recession is likely.

However, for the man on the street – pummeled by falling wages, higher prices, intractable unemployment, rising taxes and punitive “austerity measures” – “Depression,” not “recession,” and certainly not “prosperity,” is just around the corner.

According to a June 8th CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 48 percent of Americans believe that another Great Depression is likely to occur in the next year
the highest that figure has ever reached. The survey also indicates that just under half of the respondents live in a household where someone has lost a job or is worried that unemployment may hit them in the near future.

Suddenly, after years of o
bvious economic hardship experienced by tens of millions of Americans only when the suffering and pain can no longer be cloaked in abstractions and cooked statistics does an emboldened media dare utter the forbidden “D” word. 

For Trends Journal readers, alerted to this emerging trend some three years ago, the prospect of Depression should come as no surprise. Neither should the idea that, when it hits and can no longer be denied, a long suffering public will take to the streets.

When I made this forecast back then it was written off by most of the major broadcast and print media. Now, however, when one of their own, belatedly and hesitantly, raises that possibility he is elevated to sage status and it becomes big news. In early June, Democratic strategist James “It’s the Economy, Stupid” Carville, having finally mastered the higher math of adding two plus two, warned that decaying economic conditions heightened the risk of civil unrest.

As I described it all those years ago: “When people lose everything, and have nothing left to lose, they lose it.”

Trend Forecast: The wars will proliferate and civil unrest will intensify. As we forecast, the youth-inspired revolts that first erupted in North Africa and the Middle East are now breaking out in Europe (See “Off With Their Heads,” Trends Journal, Autumn 2010)

Given the trends in play and the people in power, economic collapse at some level is inevitable. Governments and central banks will be unrelenting in their determination to wring every last dollar, pound or euro from the people through taxes while confiscating public assets (a.k.a. privatization) in order to cover bad bets made by banks and financiers.

When the people have been bled dry financially and have nothing left to give, blood will flow on the streets.

Trend Lesson: Learn from history. Do you remember when it first became apparent that the US economy was in deep trouble and heading toward the “Panic of 08”? Not many will. Most people were in a summer state of mind and in holiday mode. It was late July 2007 when the stock market suddenly plunged from its euphoric 14,000 high.

Though we had warned in our Summer 2007 Trends Journal (released that June) that “trends indicators point to a major crisis hitting the financial markets between July and November,” the diving Dow was downplayed as a mere “hiccup” … a time to pause between more mouthfuls of expansion.

Biggest mistake in a falling stock market

The huge swings in the Dow are giving investors pause. But taking your money out of the market now could be the gravest mistake of all.
NEW YORK — This past Thursday was the second worst day of the year for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. But remember, it was just a week ago today that the Dow closed above 14,000 for the first (and only) time.
Fluctuations in the market shouldn't get to the 401(k) investor. Keep in mind your time horizon - most of us are going to be invested in the market until we retire, often decades from now. CNN 27 July 2007
Four years and trillions of dollars in stock and 401(k) losses later, that typical “take a deep breath, stay the course” advice looks tragically misguided. The Dow would eventually lose more than half its value and now, in June 2011, it’s fallen below 12,000.

The moral of this story is to not let your mind take a summer vacation. Conditions are rapidly deteriorating and it is imperative to remain on high alert. Another violent financial episode is looming. It may be triggered by economics (e.g., debt defaults and debt crisis contagion in Europe, a crashing US dollar, or commodity price spikes); it could be terror (false flag or real), a man-made disaster (another Fukushima) or one made by Mother Nature … or any combination of the above.

Publisher’s Note: To excel in any field – from gourmet chef to concert pianist to close-combat warrior – you have to practice … endlessly, over and over, until finally the training sinks in and becomes a part of you.

In that spirit, I again repeat: preparing for financial survival is a “practice.” And it has to be treated as if you are preparing for battle; expect the unexpected and prepare for the worst, which in these perilous times could be a declaration of economic martial law. Banks may close, currencies may be devalued and deposit withdrawals may be imposed. Remember Gerald Celente’s basic survival strategy, “GC’s Three G’s: Guns, Gold and a Getaway plan.”

In the Summer 2011 Trends Journal (mid-July release) we will provide practical strategies to cope with the coming collapse and offer approaches that, if implemented, could reverse the prevailing negative trends.


©MMXI The Trends Research Institute®