I have not been posting on here, I have been using my own website. I may start using this instead of Facebook.
I have not been posting on here, I have been using my own website. I may start using this instead of Facebook.
I posted this a few months ago, worth a re-post.
My Dad sent me this. My great grandparent came over from Italy the right way, became Americans and worked hard for this country. I won't accept the disrespect America is shown. They don't have to stay here.
Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today's American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer. Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented.
Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home.
They had waved goodbye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture. Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity.
Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France and Japan. None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan. They were defending the United States of America as one people.
When we liberated France, no one in those villages were looking for the French American, the German American or the Irish American. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country's flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.
And here we are with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I'm sorry, that's not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900's deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags.
And for that suggestion about taking down the Statue of Liberty, it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn't start talking about dismantling the United States just yet.
I really like being small, I can adopt, move quickly and make a decision on the spot.
Economies of scale are well understood. Bigger factories are more efficient, bigger distribution networks are more efficient, bigger ad campaigns can be more efficient. It's often hard to defeat a major competitor, particularly if the market is looking for security and the status quo.
But what about the economies of small? Is being bigger an intrinsic benefit in and of itself?
If your goal is to make a profit, it's entirely possible that less overhead and a more focused product line will increase it.
If your goal is to make more art, it's entirely possible the ridding yourself of obligations and scale will help you do that.
If your goal is to have more fun, it's certainly likely that avoiding the high stakes of more debt, more financing and more stuff will help with that.
I think we embraced scale as a goal when the economies of that scale were so obvious that we didn't even need to mention them. Now that it's so much easier to produce a product in the small and market a product in the small, and now that it's so beneficial to offer a service to just a few, with focus and attention, perhaps we need to rethink the very goal of scale.
Don't be small because you can't figure out how to get big. Consider being small because it might be better.
I’ve been tied up the past month, finishing and closing my New York Times Magazine article on sugar and high fructose corn syrup, It came out in the newspaper today. But before the sugar article took over every spare minute of my life, my wife, Sloane, a source of wisdom and humor (and patience) in the family, strongly suggested I get my blood lipids checked and post the results for those who were dismayed or discouraged by my choice not to do so on the Oz show. Sloane wasn’t the only one to suggest this was a good idea. Some of those commenting on my blogs were insistent, to put it mildly.
So it took me awhile to get to a Quest lab with a prescription. Then it took another week for the results to come back. That was three weeks ago. Now I finally have the time to post them. Keep in mind as you go through these that I do indeed eat three eggs with cheese, bacon and sausage for breakfast every morning, typically a couple of cheeseburgers (no bun) or a roast chicken for lunch, and more often than not, a ribeye or New York steak (grass fed) for dinner, usually in the neighborhood of a pound of meat. I cook with butter and, occasionally, olive oil (the sausages). My snacks run to cheese and almonds. So lots of fat and saturated fat and very little carbohydrates. A deadly diet, according to Dr. Oz. Without further ado, here are my numbers,
THE air in the capital these days is thick with references to trillion-dollar deficits, debt-to-G.D.P. ratios and mandatory spending. But the budget debate that became fully engaged last week is about far more than accounting and arcane policy disputes. What is under way now is the most fundamental reassessment of the size and role of government — of the balance between personal responsibility and private markets on the one hand and public responsibility and social welfare on the other — at least since Ronald Reagan and perhaps since F.D.R.
The battle ahead “is the big one, and goes to the very major questions about the role of government,” said G. William Hoagland, a former Republican staff director of the Senate Budget Committee. “This is going to be a very fundamental clash of ideologies.”
The Democratic and Republican Parties have their own internal tensions to address as the debate goes forward in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail. But in its early stages at least, it is liberals who are on the defensive.
The aging of the baby boom generation and the costs of maintaining Medicare and Social Security have put the two pillars of the social welfare system on the table for re-examination. The growing weight of the national debt has given urgency to the question of whether the government has become too big and expensive.
The tepid nature of the current economic recovery, following big stimulus packages, has provided an opening to challenge the effectiveness of Keynesianism as the default policy option for government. And the revived energy of grass-roots conservatives has given electoral clout to the movement’s intellectual and constitutional arguments.
Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative research organization, said, “The optimistic view is that we have a confluence of the business cycle, of the demography and of the politics that makes it not just possible to achieve real change, but impossible that we not deal with these things if we want this country to continue on the path envisioned by the founders.” So just two and a half years after a presidential election that was in part a repudiation of conservative governance, and with the nation still smarting from the aftereffects of a financial crisis that grew out of failures of markets and regulation, President Obama finds himself in a somewhat surprising position: forced to articulate and sell a vision of how liberalism and the institutions it built in the 20th century can be updated for the constraints of the 21st.
The speech he delivered Wednesday at George Washington University in Washington was his most ambitious effort so far to do so. In it, he harnessed the language of both left and right to argue against the extremes on both sides while suggesting that many of their core principles were not mutually exclusive — in other words, that Great Society values can endure in a Tea Party moment.
He defined “patriotism” as a shared sense of responsibility for the vulnerable and less fortunate. Basic standards of security for the elderly and poor and government investment in a more prosperous future, he said, can not only coexist with a tradition of “rugged individualists with a healthy skepticism of too much government,” but are also a vital part of what makes America exceptional.
“We are a better country because of these commitments,” he said. “I’ll go further — we would not be a great country without those commitments.”
Republicans in Congress, he suggested, would shred that tradition under cover of a debate that is only nominally about the budget. “The fact is,” he said, “their vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America.”
Conservatives would and did object to his implication of heartlessness, but not necessarily to his assessment of their ambition.
The Republican plan put forward by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Budget Committee, and adopted by the House on Friday as its policy blueprint for the next decade contains a substantial dose of deficit reduction but is really a manifesto for limited government.
It would take big steps toward privatizing Medicare, slash upper-income tax rates, repeal last year’s health care law, bite deeply into nearly all federal programs and try to cap the size of government relative to the economy. But it also imposes a self-consciously moral judgment on the government’s role, suggesting that the same kind of demand for added personal responsibility that was embedded in the 1996 overhaul of welfare should now be applied more broadly, to food stamps, housing aid and health care for the elderly and the poor.
“The safety net should never become a hammock, lulling able-bodied citizens into lives of complacency and dependency,” Mr. Ryan’s budget proposal says.
William A. Galston, who was a domestic policy aide to President Bill Clinton and is now a scholar at the Brookings Institution, said Mr. Ryan deserved credit of a sort for addressing head-on the implications of the Republican Party’s increasingly rigid antitax posture, which since it took root in the late 1970s has put greater and greater pressure on budgets and the social programs they support.
“It represents the first serious effort to begin to bring Republican social policy commitments in line with their fiscal and tax commitments,” Mr. Galston said.
But he said Democrats, too, faced a credibility test. “They have held fast to the security programs in place since the 1930s, but without being able to successfully challenge the antitax orthodoxy,” he said. “The problem the Democrats have is that they can no longer say with a straight face that raising taxes on the wealthy is going to enable them to pay over the next generation for the programs they cherish. So what do you do?”
That question is being asked quietly within both parties, each of which faces its own internal tensions about how to proceed.
There are Republicans who fear that voting for the Ryan plan will put them out of step with their constituents. There are Democrats who think the tax-and-spend label is all too accurate. There are Republicans who might countenance voting for tax increases, and there are Democrats who are willing to meaningfully scale back the benefits promised by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
In the Senate, a group of Democrats and Republicans operating independently of party leaders is trying to come up with a plan that neither party would like but both would accept as necessary. But they are debating basic values; it would no doubt be much easier if the argument was just about numbers.
Richard Stevenson should be applauded, this article frames the upcoming battle as clears as it can be; It’s about core ideology.
You can’t go straight to a debate about the numbers without going through the idealogical debate.
Mass Media vs. Blogs: What Makes Quality Content?
Here we go again…
The NY Times’ new paywall has ignited once again the rancor between mass media and bloggers. I’m a blogger, but have spent a career in media and gained enormous respect for journalists, so I am sensitive to the merits and passions of both sides of the argument.
At the heart of the debate is one of the central questions of the Internet era: What makes quality content? That’s a tough one, but I’m gonna take a stab at it.
Reporting is central to journalism. It has two main components: observing and verifying.
Observing is what drives newsroom costs. It takes a lot of money to send people to go where the news happens, whether that is to a war zone or to a city council meeting. Ironically, it is also a job that we can all do and Web 2.0 technologies are enabling citizen journalism as never before.
Verification is what separates professional reporters from the rest of us. They spend their careers building up sources. It takes countless hours meeting people and working the phone to confirm facts and tie up loose ends. It’s not glamorous, but it’s what makes news we can trust. Editorial scandals, thankfully rare, happen when verification breaks down.
So is reporting news a commodity as Cory Doctorow argues? Well, it is and it isn’t. Events happen. It rains or it doesn’t. Somebody is shot or they weren’t. Once facts are verified there is little utility in seeing them twice.
However, unearthing truths in a complex world is never simple or easy and those who do the hard work and put themselves in harm’s way deserve our respect.
I used to manage a very prominent editor who is an important voice in Ukrainian politics. He’s hardworking, intelligent and has a gift for language (and languages, he speaks four of them). He likes to tell his journalists, “write so that the sales and marketing guys can understand it.”
Before I got into senior management, I came up through sales and marketing and so was somewhat offended (which, I’m sure is one reason why he liked to repeat the phrase so often during our long whiskey drinking sessions). Now that my blog has gained a following among journalists, I take no small pleasure in telling him, “See? Anybody can write!”
Everybody, of course, has opinions and most people have expertise in one area or another. Top quality publications have a long history of soliciting content from non-journalists through columns and op-eds. So, in that sense, analysis is something anyone can do.
However, again, I would not be so quick to dismiss professional journalists. There is a wealth of tacit knowledge in newsrooms and a lot to be said for the accumulated wisdom gained devoting your life to a craft. I very much doubt that my blog would be nearly as successful without the years of exposure I’ve had to so many fine professionals.
There’s more to writing than typing.
“Curation” is fairly new to the media lexicon. So much so that when I mentioned it to an editor over a beer the other night he was prompted to blurt out, “Oh, is that what they’re calling aggregation these days?”
Yet, curation isn’t new. In fact, it’s been a core competency of editors for ages. It’s been their job to decide what gets printed, what’s important enough to make the front page of a newspaper or the cover lines on a magazine. They commission stories, hand out assignments and so on. All of that is curation.
Bloggers curate by choosing which sources to link to, algorithms curate by filtering which content has authority and influence. Editorial curation on the web, such as Real Clear Politics and the Atlantic Wire, has become an art unto itself.
The loss of their monopoly on curation is one of the things that scares professional editors the most. In the past, it was the source of their power and self esteem. They got to choose what we saw and heard. Now it’s a classic battle between man and machine. The humans are winning at present, but they’re understandably nervous.
User experience is probably the greatest challenge for traditional journalists. They don’t have their own term for it, but they’ve practiced it for a long time. Structuring publications, writing headlines and cover lines and choosing design elements are all examples of how print editors craft user experience.
However, it is their wealth of traditional expertise that blinds editors to new realities. They are used to working in a world of hard and fast rules. Web usability, on the other hand, is an emerging science. We learning quickly, but still have a long way to go. The only certainty is false certainty.
A complete paradigm shift in editorial operations is required. The time honored convention of the Chinese wall needs to be rethought and reengineered. Traditional editors will have to learn to collaborate with others and integrate expertise from multiple domains to a much greater extent than they ever have before.
As much as I respect editors, this is a control issue. They need to get over it.
Another lament of editors is the decline of journalistic technique. With greater competition, newsrooms are being pared down. There are fewer reporters and skills passed down for generations are atrophying. Old timers shudder to think that the hard won competenciess they honed in pursuit of their craft are falling into irrelevance.
Well, nobody cares. The world changes and skills need to change too. We don’t kill our own food anymore and haven’t for a long time.. Very few of us could survive in the wilderness for a week without supplies from a grocery store. Microsoft Word and Excel have demolished our ability to spell and do basic arithmetic.
As some skills decline, others are coming to the fore. Editors need to learn how to effectively work with search engines to uncover sources, use Google Insights to understand the zeitgeist and utilize real-time audience data in order to serve their audience better.
Whining never solves anything. Keep the old skills that are still valuable. Learn the new ones you need to be successful. Get on with it.
The debate between blogs and mass media is an important one. The reliability and quality of our information is far from inconsequential. However, histrionic rantings like this one in Ad Age don’t do anyone a service.
The simple fact is that successful media depends on successful memes. It shouldn’t be a surprise that digital memes travel differently than analog ones and it is illogical for editors to cheer mentions on the evening news while they decry links on web sites. You have to succeed in the world you live in, not one that you yearn for.
Media is, after all a business. Professional journalists need to be paid. It is therefore publishers’ primary responsibility to ensure that they learn how to generate revenue in a new digital reality. Unfortunately, as I’ve argued before, the NY Times paywall is a step backwards.
There is no worse betrayal to quality journalism than running a media business poorly.
The Plight of the Working ClassBy John Mauldin | April 2, 2011
In this issue:
The Plight of the Working Class
Can You Say Jobless Recovery?
Drowning in Debt but Getting No Growth
The Cancer of Debt
New York, Portland and La Jolla
Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the Muddle Through Middle with you!
With thanks to Stealers Wheel
I get a lot of email from readers. I recently got an impassioned letter from very-long-time reader Bill K., who asks some very pointed questions about austerity and spending cuts. It is a rather lengthy letter, so I will only quote part of it and use it is the launching pad for this week's letter, where we look at today's employment report, but from a little different slant. This letter will no doubt anger a few other long-time readers. I argue this week for the middle, but do so as a survivalist.
While Bill starts out by saying some very nice things about me (thanks), let's jump to the meat of the letter:
" . I would like to get something off my chest. I would like to know why you seem to side with those analysts who keep telling us that the only way we can sort out Western economies is by making the average guy suffer through austerity programs You are a very intelligent guy obviously. You can see how things work and what is broken. You can also see through the greed and excesses of Wall Street, and you can read the economic data which clearly shows that the wealthy continue to get more wealthy in America whilst the average Joe continues to see his standard of living going in the opposite direction. Capitalism today only works for the 'have gots'. It's been going in that direction for more than 30 years now. You saw the senseless and stupid greed of the derivative scheme which fueled the housing bubble which led to the meltdown which never melted because Bush/Obama handed out a huge welfare check to financial institutions that should have been allowed to fail.
"In the aftermath of all this, politicians in DC, you, and your guest pundits warn us that the world as we know it will end if we don't somehow reduce the average Joe's Social Security, pension, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Oh and let's not forget the budget, which is being argued in Washington as I type this. The line is that we have to make drastic reductions to spending on domestic programs, on our schools, on our infrastructure, on unemployment entitlements, on all the things that serve to give working people a chance at a dignified life. You're a smart guy. You can recognize what is fair and what is greed and excess. When the nation is as troubled as it is today and yet the wealthy are living even better than they did 30 years ago, what does that say about America? I wonder if we really care about our neighbors anymore? I wonder why such a great country with such great natural resources cannot find a way to be just and generous and a beacon to higher ideals? Ike warned us to be wary of the military-industrial complex. Looks like he was right. We're a nation constantly at war, spending trillions on defense, whilst at home we enrich the already wealthy and tell the average Joe that he has to pay for it. I wonder how you manage to rationalize all this away if indeed you do?
"Thanks and with respect, Bill"
Bill, you ask a very complicated question. There is not a simple black and white answer, but I am going to try and address your concerns. Let's start with today's employment numbers. We got a decent non-farm payroll number of 216,000, and 240,000 new jobs in the private sector (governments everywhere are still shedding jobs). That means over the last two months the private sector has added almost 500,000 jobs. If you take the household survey, that number looks even better. So why did all the consumer sentiment numbers in March come out so awful?
Looking deeper into the data we find that wages were once again flat, for the 4th time in the last five months. We are certainly not keeping up with inflation. The chart below shows real median household income since 1967. It is published in May of each year by the Census Bureau, so we don't have the data for 2010, but it will not be good. Real median income, when the new data comes out, if I read the chart right, will not have grown for almost 14 years.
But all this has led to what David Rosenberg calls the "Wageless Recovery." Wage growth just continues to fall.
And given the rise in food and fuel costs (which are now about 23% of the average person's income), the recent lack of wage growth is even more frustrating.
Although the economy in the US is now producing more "stuff" than it did at its peak in 2007 (fact), we are doing it with 6.8 million fewer people. That means the productivity of the workforce is much better, which is good for corporate profits, but this has not yet translated into higher wages, although in past cycles higher profits have given way to higher wages (eventually, at least).
The following chart is from the St. Louis Fed. It shows the spectacular fall in jobs in the last recession and the painfully slow recovery.
And note that we have gained 30,000,000 more people in the US over the last decade! And negative job growth!
And this next chart is courtesy of my friend Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture. It is also from the Fed, but it's one I have never seen.
That is a graph of the last three recessions, with employment indexed at 100, and it shows what employment did from the beginning of the recession, and then from the end of the recession. As Barry said, we don't want to think about what the next recession will look like, if this is a trend.
The most recent survey from the National Federation of Independent Business shows that small businesses are indeed once again hiring. "The positive job creation observed in February was repeated again in March [sigh of relief here], confirming that the number of net new jobs reported on Main Street was decidedly positive. The March net increase in jobs per firm was .17 workers, a repeat of the February performance. Employment gains have not been this good since 2007."
But that still begs the question of why wage growth has been so poor. And why do we now have such structural unemployment? Although the headline unemployment number went down to 8.8%, the only way you can get to that number is by not counting the millions who have dropped out of the employment pool, too discouraged to look, but who will take a job if they can get one. If you go back and take the number of people in the labor force just two years ago, the unemployment picture is back over 10% (back-of-my-napkin math).
GDP has recovered, but jobs haven't. This chart from the NFIB shows the disparity.
Bill, I get it. The average guy is getting squeezed. You can see it in the numbers. For a while, it was masked by growing credit.
This is an older chart, but it is relevant. We grew debt in this county in all forms by over 100% of GDP in the last decade. $14 trillion. And what did we get for it? No real job increases, no increase in wages. It was an illusion. In fact, my friend Rob Arnott pointed out to me today that a piece he is working on (which I hope to be able to give you soon!) shows that the only way you can show a positive GDP for the last decade is with government spending.
And that, Bill, is part of the problem. We have become a credit-addicted, credit-fueled economy, which works just fine until you have too much credit driving too little real growth. Without government spending, "real" GDP would be at levels it was over ten years ago. And it is real growth that drives wages and creates jobs.
You write: "The line is that we have to make drastic reductions to spending on domestic programs, on our schools, on our infrastructure, on unemployment entitlements, on all the things that serve to give working people a chance at a dignified life."
That is not my line. My book calls for a large increase in funded infrastructure spending through a fuels tax (none of it going to the federal coffers!). I am not against unemployment insurance, but at some point it needs to become job training and a path to employment. I am a huge proponent of education, having spent a great deal of money on it over the years, with seven kids (and paid even more in taxes!). But does the current system really work? We have double the educational workers per student we had only a few decades ago, but no improvement in outcomes.
Yes, we have to make cuts to government programs. A 33% growth in federal discretionary spending (not including stimulus money) the last three years alone is not reasonable, given the size of the deficit. The last recession was not caused by too little government.
The problem is that the debt is like a cancer. The bigger it grows the more threatening it is. Pretty soon it consumes its host (think interest expense).
Bill, I am worried about the survival of the country economically. Another crisis caused by the bond market driving up interest rates, because they become concerned about the size of the debt and deficits, will seriously reduce the choices we have with none of them being good. Ask Ireland or Greece how it feels. They are in what can only be called a depression, and likely to stay there for some time. You think we have it bad now? Avoid dealing with the debt and see what happens.
To think it cannot happen here is to simply ignore reality. Yes, the US can go longer than we might think, but there is a limit. I think that limit will come before the middle of this decade. Perhaps as early as 2013, if the new incoming President and Congress do not deal with the deficit in a realistic manner. Then Bang! , we have our own Greek moment. I want to avoid that.
In my book and on numerous radio and TV shows, I have made the case that we must get the fiscal deficit below the growth rate of nominal GDP. That means we need to cut, over time, about $1 trillion from the current budget deficit.
And that means entitlement spending has to be on the table, as well as tax increases. The polls clearly show that people want to keep Medicare and also are against tax increases (close to 70% in both cases). Those are not compatible objectives.
We have to have a national conversation about how much Medicare we want and how we want to pay for it. Writing the words tax and increase in the same sentence is difficult for me. Tax increases taken from private producers do nothing for economic growth, which is where we get new jobs. But I would rather have higher taxes than for deficits to be at a level where they threaten the economic survival of the republic. (And I make the case that if conservatives give in on tax increases, that means there needs to be a complete structural change to the tax system, gearing it more to encouraging growth, real Medicare reform, and even larger spending cuts, etc., that are linked to real, measurable metrics!)
I am just as frustrated as you about the bailout of banks, that we still have banks too big to fail, that credit default swaps are not on an exchange, that Fannie and Freddie still even exist in their current forms, and a host of other problems you mention. (Frank-Dodd was a disaster! It almost guarantees another crisis.)
I have become all too familiar with cancer of late. It tends to focus the minds of those who are suffering, and their families, on survival. Chemotherapy is nasty. It means putting a toxic drug into your body. That is something you don't want to do under normal circumstances, but when your survival is the issue, you do it.
It is no less than economic survival we are talking about. Oh, the US has been through worse. Civil war, depressions, panics. We will survive as a nation, but the pain we will endure is simply more than most people can comprehend, Bill. Whole generations of savings and investment will be wiped out. Think the cuts I am talking about are serious? Wait until interest payments are eating up 25-30% of revenues in a 12%+ unemployment world. Think the underfunded pension problems are bad now? Let's have a REAL bear market, with inflation.
I have some friends who think that is what it will take to get government smaller. They relish the thought, as they also think their gold portfolios will go through the roof. I am not in that camp. That is not a world I want for my kids and grandkids, Bill, most of whom are (for now) your average person. (Well, except for my exceptional grandkids.)
I want us to find that middle path, to cure the cancer of debt. Yes, I want smaller government and lower taxes, but survival is now my fixation. The cure for too much debt is not more debt. We can get it under control, but it is going to mean compromises, a word that I hate but I also hate chemotherapy.
I get that we need to do things to make government more efficient. And we need to provide safety nets. We need a lot of things.
But most of all we need an adult conversation about what it is that we need, and what we can afford. The American people have to understand that the path back to a sustainable economy will not be easy. As I have written many times, cutting government spending will mean lower GDP numbers in the short term, but survival in the longer term. This is not a typical business cycle. We cannot simply grow out of our problem. We haven't really grown, except for government spending, for ten years. Yes, there are numerous steps we can take that will make it better and easier and quicker than if we wait until we are forced by a crisis to act. But there are no "Easy" buttons.
Gentle readers, I promise you we get through this, one way or another. The 2020s are going to be a heck of a lot of fun!
I worry that I may have to go into hiding after this letter, as the middle is a lonely place. Oh well, I leave Sunday for New York. I had to cancel Utah at the last minute to go on a secret mission, but will be doing the media rounds in NYC next week to promote the book. Fast Money on Monday, Bloomberg on Tuesday morning, a guest host spot with the lovely Liz Claman on Fox Business on Wednesday, and videos with Yahoo Tech Ticker, thestreet.com, the Wall Street Journal, and with Steve Forbes himself. Lots of meetings with cool people, so should be a fast and fun week.
Korea has been postponed, which gives me more time at home in May, which I need. I am already starting to work on my presentation for my Strategic Investment Conference, April 28-30. There are only a few spots left. Best speaker line-up of any conference anywhere. You can learn more at https://hedge-fund-conference.com/2011/invitation.aspx?ref=mauldin.
Endgame has now been on the New York Times best-seller list for three weeks. And this week, if you have not yet bought your copy, let me commend you to my friends at Laissez Faire Books. I have been buying books from them for nearly 30 years. They are the best source for Austrian economics and libertarian books, along with the usual offering of investment books current in the market. They have matched the Amazon price for Endgame; but if you are interested, move around their website and pick up a few other things along with my book. http://www.lfb.org/product_info.php?products_id=1014&PromoCode=L401M301
It is time to hit the send button. Daughter Amanda and her husband are in town. I didn't know it when I gave him permission to marry my daughter, but he is a Red Sox fan, and as they open the year with the Texas Rangers at the Ballpark, he finally decided to bring my daughter back to Dallas for a long overdue visit. At least we won the opener today. I see margaritas and talk of baseball and family for the next few hours, with no mention of the worries of the Endgame and deficits. Have a great week!
Your hoping I don't lose too many friends with this letter analyst,
Copyright 2011 John Mauldin. All Rights Reserved
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When I got to Manhattan the other day, it was raining (heading towards snow). There was a very long line waiting at the cab stand for a taxi away from Penn Station. Walking back and forth near that stand was a man with a bag full of umbrellas. He kept saying the same thing.
“Umbrellas. Don’t get wet.”
It was a simple sale. Honestly, I wanted to change it just a little. I wanted to tell him to say, “Umbrellas. Stay dry.” Because that would sell the benefit of the umbrella. But then, what did I know? He was out there doing his thing.
I didn’t talk to him. I watched him. It was a simple experience. I’m sure he bought the umbrellas from a distributor for cheap, maybe around $2 a unit. I’m pretty sure he would sell them for $10. Maybe if it really started to pour, he’d go for $20. It was an obvious win for him to stand there and get those things sold, because if he bought 20 umbrellas for $40, and he sold them for $200, he was going home with more money than he started with for a very straightforward effort.
That’s the basics of entrepreneurial thinking: find a gap, fill the gap, profit.
When people say they’re entrepreneurs, I’m often skeptical. I think they tend to think that having more than one pursuit makes them an entrepreneur. No, that makes you an ADD sufferer. I had a really hard time calling myself an entrepreneur, but starting and running three companies that fill a need seems to have me feeling like I can say that about me.
But also maybe not.
Because I don’t always think the way that Umbrella Man does. If I did, I’d be doing many more deals. I’d be making bigger wins. I’d be helping people more directly.
I think we need to think about the Umbrella Man more often, if we want a healthy business. Because I’m pretty sure he’s not wasting his time on half the stupidity we are.
I consider myself a pretty social person, but I’ll admit I need my “cave” time – those periodic hours away from everyone and most everything. After a long and compact business trip, a joint vacation with extended family or friends, the ruckus of the holidays, or a week of house guests, I hit my threshold – beyond which I slip into an irritable, irascible version of myself. Usually my wife catches it before I do and gently reminds me to retreat for a time until I’m fit for society again. After a brief self-imposed seclusion (usually a day of hiking), I’m as good as new. In short, a bit of regular solitude keeps me civilized.
Last week The Boston Globe ran a piece called “The Power of Lonely: What We Do Better without Other People Around.” The article mentioned a number of recent studies that underscore the need to go it alone once in a while. Solo time, the article explains, is apparently good for the brain as well as the spirit. New research suggests that we remember information better when we go it alone. Even as subjects sat back to back unable to see one another, the mere suggestion that the other person was performing the same task was enough to diminish recall. The researchers explain that we’re inherently “distracted” and “’multitasking’” in the presence of others – attuned to their responses as well as the task at hand.
Sociologists from New York University and University and Virginia have offered the same conclusion. Their research, detailed in the book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, showed that students who studied solo had better recall and got better grades than students who did their studying with a group.
The Globe article also cited collaborative research by Christopher Long and the National Forest Service examining the nature and potential benefit of solitude. In contrast to our society’s stigmatization of seclusion, Long’s survey showed that subjects more often than not had a positive view of their alone time. Later, unmentioned research by Long also found an interesting, gender-based pattern in how people seek their solitude. Women in the study showed an inclination toward finding solitude at home, while men sought alone time outdoors.
Research related to adolescents’ experience of solitude offers confirmation that solitude makes an essential contribution to development and mental health. Although the teenagers in the study didn’t describe alone time as a positive experience, the majority reported feeling better afterward. Furthermore, the study showed that “kids who spent between 25 and 45 percent of their nonclass time alone tended to have more positive emotions over the course of the weeklong study than their more socially active peers, were more successful in school and were less likely to self-report depression.”
Clearly, social wellness is an integral part of overall health. Studies have demonstrated the supportive effects of close friendships and frequent social contact. We evolved to throw our lot in with others because, frankly, we had a better chance of making it than if we didn’t. The physiological advantages remain today in the way of better immune function, disease survival, motor skill and cognitive preservation, and increased longevity. As with anything, however, social well-being is about balance more than absolutes.
Hunter gatherers’ lifestyle undoubtedly supported the chance for solitude in both daily tasks and leisure time. Living in small bands on large stretches of land offered a chance to get away that many of us in large cities likely crave. With traditions like vision quests, many tribal societies sanctified the power and necessity of solitude. Time away from the tribe is seen as a test of self-sufficiency as well as a time of growth. The individual returns to the group stronger, wiser – with more to offer the group as a result of the seclusion.
Our modern culture couldn’t be more different. These days we’re also impelled by the technological imperative to stay connected. People take laptops on vacation, their smart phones to bed with them. With the constant access to virtual if not actual socialization, experts wonder if we’ve forgotten how to be completely alone, wholly cut off for a time. Can we truly submerge ourselves in solitude when we’re fighting the urge to check email or Facebook “one more time”?
We use alone time to process our relationships and recalibrate our sense of self. Solitude confirms that we’re more than the sum of our reactions to other people and encounters. In solitude, we return to center. I have a friend who for the last twenty years has gone on a solo camping trip for 10 days in the wilderness. The extended seclusion and physical challenge of living off the land gives her chance to clear away the brush of her life, so to speak. She explains, “I have the chance to listen to my own thoughts during those days. I use the time to reflect on the past year – what’s it’s meant for me – and to simply just be.” Solitude reminds us of what is essential to our identities. It inspires deeper deliberation and allows for the perception of more subtle sentiment. It gives us the chance to take inventory and hear the messages that fill our day. In doing so, we can hone in on what is vital to our well-being and what we will take with us to return to the world.
How do you seek out solitude for yourself? What do those hours mean for you? Share your thoughts, and thanks for reading.
Do you have an opinion about nuclear power? About the relative safety of one form of power over another? How did you come to this opinion?
For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the same amount of power produced... You might very well have excellent reasons to argue for one form over another. Not the point of this post. The question is: did you know about this chart? How does it resonate with you?
Vivid is not the same as true. It's far easier to amplify sudden and horrible outcomes than it is to talk about the slow, grinding reality of day to day strife. That's just human nature. Not included in this chart are deaths due to global political instability involving oil fields, deaths from coastal flooding and deaths due to environmental impacts yet unmeasured, all of which skew it even more if you think about it.
This chart unsettles a lot of people, because there must be something wrong with it. Further proof of how easy it is to fear the unknown and accept what we've got.
I think that any time reality doesn't match your expectations, it means that marketing was involved. Perhaps it was advertising, or perhaps deliberate story telling by an industry. Or perhaps it was just the stories we tell one another in our daily lives. It's sort of amazing, even to me, how much marketing colors the way we see the world--our reaction (either way) to this chart is proof of it.Seth Godin
ACLU vs USMC
ACLU vs. US Marines THIS NEEDS TO GO AROUND THE USA MANY TIMES SO KEEP IT GOING!
If you look closely at the picture above, you will note that all the Marines pictured are bowing their heads. That's because they're praying. This incident took place at a recent ceremony honoring the birthday of the corps, and it has the ACLU up in arms. "These are federal employees," says Lucius Traveler, a spokesman for the ACLU, "on federal property and on federal time.. For them to pray is clearly an establishment of religion, and we must nip this in the bud immediately."
When asked about the ACLU's charges, Colonel Jack Fessender, speaking for the Commandant of the Corps said (cleaned up a bit), "Screw the ACLU." GOD Bless Our Warriors. Send the ACLU to France !
Please send this to people you know so everyone will know how stupid the ACLU is getting in trying to remove GOD from everything and every place in America May God Bless America , One Nation Under GOD!
What's wrong with the picture? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING
GOD BLESS YOU FOR
PASSING IT ON! I am sorry but I am not breaking this one....Let us pray
Prayer chain for our Military...please don't break it
THIS NEEDS TO GO AROUND THE USA MANY TIMES SO KEEP IT GOING
THOSE SNEAKY MARINES...
See it now?
If a Muslim sees a naked woman --- they are supposed to kill themselves.
Ya got to love the Marines.
If you don't stand behind our troops, please feel free to stand in front of them. Have a Great Day and pass it along...
All-Nighters is an exploration of insomnia, sleep and the nocturnal life.
You know you’ve scaled the ranks of the sleepless elite when your editor notices the berserker late night time-stamps on your Facebook posts and asks you to contribute to a forum on insomnia. How flattering! How alarming! Isn’t it remarkable that, despite how isolated and alone we feel in our wakefulness, our numbers are so great we warrant our own special exploration? Fellow night owls, we have arrived. Three hoots for the weary.
I come by my insomniac bona fides honestly. My earliest memory is of sleeplessness: I’m a toddler, still in the crib, hearing first the routine evening siren from the firehouse in our suburban town, then much later another blast, signaling danger. Awake and aching between both sirens, I rocked myself back and forth against the midnight blue lonelies.
My mother was at a loss as to how to help her insomniac child. She’d try back-scratching. Then singing. Then back-scratching while singing. Warm milk? Ha. Maybe if it were laced with knock-out drops.
Facebook, I’ve found, is the Promised Land for the awake and alone.
In frustration, we’d wait it out together. I had afternoon nursery school and noon-start kindergarten, so my mom would let me stay up well past a reasonable bedtime. As the youngest of five kids, I was pleased to have Mom to myself for a spell — the first silver lining of sleeplessness. We’d watch “The Tonight Show,” sometimes even Tom Snyder. Even now, I can’t hear the opening strains of the Letterman theme without feeling a strong maternal tug.
When Mrs. Land, my bossy-boots kindergarten teacher, asked the noon-class students “What time do you go to bed?” I wasn’t about to rat out my own mother by saying, “Oh, between midnight and 1 a.m.,” so I made up something fast. Um … Seven o’ clock! (My guess did not impress Mrs. Land. To her, the ideal kindergartner’s lights-out was 8 p.m.)
I struggled with sleep until my adolescence, then, sometime around freshman year of high school, I flipped the script: If I were doomed to fail at sleeping, then I would excel at being awake. My circadian rhythms shaped my life as a Jersey wannabe libertine: Midnight showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the mall; being waved past the velvet ropes at a local gay dance club that was sympathetic to wayward kids; all-night diners on Route 3. I was an ace at greeting the dawn during slumber parties. Between punk, Goth and gay culture, I found a nourishing nocturnal life full of happy social misfits.
Adulthood intruded, as it must, and that meant finding work that accommodated my late-night habits. The road to my current freelance status had a couple embarrassing detours, including a few jobs that ensure I’ll never be able to run for public office, and a brief turn in a windowed junior executive office at HBO, where, in a case of life imitating “Seinfeld,” I napped under my desk.
Now I’m married to a man who keeps a soldier’s schedule — up with little effort at dawn and asleep by 11. Each night, I turn on “Family Guy,” get in bed with my husband and watch TV with him until he falls asleep. Then I wait out my insomnia alone, until I collapse between 2 and 6 a.m.
I wish I could tell you I still had a wild-child’s fun to go with the hours — that I replicate my glory days, dancing around the walk-in closet, listening to vintage techno, drinking bourbon, trying on wigs. Party of one! But no. In the here and now, I’m constrained to the Wild, Wild Web.
Once my husband’s out, I go to the kitchen to microwave some popcorn, then retreat to the spare bedroom to log hours and hours on Facebook. Facebook, I’ve found, is the Promised Land for the homebound awake and alone. I have a core group with whom I consort. Mostly women, mostly moms. One by one, we come forth to curse our uncreased pillows.
The tone is light and conversational, but cut through with melancholy: What are you up to right now? What’s keeping you awake tonight? What’s your favorite sleep aid? What’s your favorite midnight snack? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done on Ambien? I want to know it all. I’m fascinated by the dazzling variety of ways we occupy the span before sleep: Baking. Crafting. Online financial planning. Google stalking. Fretting. Writing. Jamming. It seems the hours are equally divided between creation, organization, entertaining miscellaneous anxieties and just killing time.
Squinting in the screen-glow, posting back and forth with my fellow insomniacs, I still have fantasies of easy slumber, of slipping effortlessly into a place called Sleepland that’s forever soothing, where the air smells of lemon verbena and lavender, and feels like a quilted hug. I don’t know that I’ll ever visit, but I have some hope that I might. But that would mean leaving my wee-hours friends behind, and I would miss them.
We live in different time zones and hail from differing backgrounds, but what unites us is the alienation of living counter to the conventional rhythm. We’re all nighttime overachievers in a sunny-day world. It’s lonely stuff and when you find other people who suffer — or luxuriate — the way you do, the tonic effect is profound. The silver lining that I discovered as a small child is that, with some luck and effort, sleeplessness begets togetherness. In isolation and frustration, one can find community.
Lily Burana is the author of three books, most recently a chronicle of her life as a misfit military wife, “I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles.”
Sleep is over thought. I get so much done when the rest of Hawaii is sleeping.
Official: It's 'business as almost-usual' on island
by John Burnett
Tribune-Herald Staff WriterPublished: Monday, March 14, 2011 9:13 AM HSTThe head of the Big Island Visitors Bureau said there's no reason for prospective visitors to change their travel plans in the aftermath of Friday's tsunami.
"It's business as almost-usual," George Applegate said in a written statement. "The best way to help us is to come visit and enjoy all we have to offer, which is an inspiring experience and vacation."
Meanwhile, state Civil Defense has brought in two teams to assess damages, county Civil Defense Administrator Quince Mento said Sunday.
"We should start getting harder dollar figures attached to the damages starting this week," Mento said. "Hopefully, with the statewide damages, we can get some kind of federal assistance for all the damages that were incurred."
Gov. Neil Abercrombie has declared the state a disaster area; Mayor Billy Kenoi made a similar declaration for Hawaii County.
Applegate described the tsunami's impact on tourism as "minimal" and added: "What can be damaging for visitors is bad information."
Some hotels and businesses along the Kona and Kohala coasts sustained significant damage and were flooded with sea water and debris, but many are up and running as they assess their damages. The tsunami was caused by a devastating earthquake near the east coast of Honshu, Japan. The temblor's magnitude has been upgraded to 9.0 from a preliminary reading of 8.9.
"We send our aloha and heartfelt sympathy to the people of Japan, and to everyone who sustained losses due to the earthquake and tsunami," Applegate said.
King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua-Kona remains open despite a report to the contrary Friday by a county official.
The hotel's website states: "The rooms were untouched by the water. Some of our guests are choosing to stay at the hotel, since only the public areas have been affected, however, we are happy to work with our guests to relocate elsewhere, if desired."
According to hotel General Manager Jak Hu, most guests are opting to stay put. The hotel's Billfish Bar reopened Sunday and is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The pool has also been re-opened, as well.
The hotel's luau "will take a hiatus until the end of the month," the website noted. "We continue the clean-up in the lobby, restaurant, retail areas, and meeting space."
Kailua Pier, which had been erroneously reported as "condemned" Friday by the U.S. Coast Guard, has resumed some commercial boat charter activity, according to BIVB.
"This town is pretty resilient. We're all willing to go the extra mile to make things happen," said Maggie Brown, owner of Body Glove cruises. Brown said her company's whale watches and historical cruises were up and running Sunday. Brown temporarily canceled snorkeling cruises due to poor visibility caused by swirling surges and waves that have now subsided.
On the Kohala Coast, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai remains closed as its staff surveys tsunami damage. Ciro Tacinelli, the resort's marketing director, said guests have been relocated. The resort is calling those scheduled to arrive through Tuesday to inform them of the situation.
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park remained closed Sunday as staff continued to assess damage. Starting today, visitors will be granted limited access to the park including parking, the visitor center, amphitheater and canoe halau between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
"We're opening it to a certain extent to allow people to come in, and they'll be able to see the damage," said park ranger Eric Andersen. "We hope that once we get clearance and we are able to move further into the royal grounds. we'll be able to open it up in increments. But the park being totally open will probably take a week."
At Kaloko Honokohau National Historical Park, the Hale Ho'okipa visitor contact station is open between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, but the unimproved road to Kaloko Fishpond remains closed due to damage to the pond, the coastal trail and picnic and parking areas.
Hulihe'e Palace also remains temporarily closed due to flooding in the basement, but the palace's artifacts were successfully relocated.
E-mail John Burnett at- email@example.com.
A look at the Big Island economy
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Check out the blog I wrote yesterday on the indomitable spirit of the Hawaii Island people.