Tag Archives: technological revolution

RETAILERS CLOSING AND LAYING OFF EMPLOYEES

According to conservativetribune.com, some of the largest retail chains in the U.S. have announced that they are closing dozens of stores and laying off thousands of employees. Two institutions with the most closures are Macy’s and J.C. Penny’s. Uhm! Thought the economy was getting better.

Chuck Tatelbaum, an expert on business bankruptcy’s, believes we are on the verge of a number of business failures of specialty retailers and national general retailers as well.

While we all thought the economy was turning the corner with falling gas prices due to a relatively new innovation called fracking, which, by the way, liberals are against, we may have just been teased. Mr. Tatelbaum goes on the state that reasons include the changing of purchasing habits by consumers and a continuing hesitancy to spend, and less than expected sales during the 2014 holiday season.

Actually, I’ve been expecting the closing of retail stores and thought there would be more closing earlier than now. Online shopping has been around since the turn of the century. I currently buy about 90% of my clothes online. I generally purchase accessories in stores, though. While there are a lot of folks out there who feel that online shopping is not secure and have to see how everything they purchase looks on them before they will purchase it, the trend is catching on. Now that the baby boomers are growing older and aren’t the vibrant selves that they used to be, many are going to online shopping.

Also, as Mr. Tatelbaum said, U.S. consumer buying habits have changed. Once again, the baby boomers are getting older and perhaps less vain. Those of us who, twenty years ago, wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the same thing twice within a four-week period, now may not care anymore. Also, the number of home workers is increasing. You just don’t need as many clothes if you’re a home worker. Also, if you’re a woman, you’re not going to need as much makeup. If you’re plans are to work from home all day and not go out, why waste makeup when no one is going to see you except the dog or cat, the spouse, or the kids.
Guess you thought I was going to blame the current president and the Democrats for this? Am I? Well, the economy is still very sluggish and it’s definitely the result of the policies of the current administration that is doing everything it can to throw roadblocks up in front of our entrepreneurs and risk takers. But I think the reasons cited by Mr. Tatelbaum and online sales play a part also.

With the technological revolution, including the dotcom explosion, it looks like the chickens have finally come home to roost.

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WHO CREATES PROSPERITY AND WEALTH?

In 2001, President George W. Bush signed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, the largest tax relief package in a generation. In 2003, President Bush proposed and signed the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act. Among other things, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act reduced tax rates for every American who paid income taxes. It also created a new 10 percent tax bracket. Of course we all know that the Democrats called this tax cuts for the rich, when in effect everyone who paid income taxes received a tax cut. Those not paying income tax would not obviously receive a cut.

Despite being in a recession, due to the .com bust, and 9/11, the economy returned to growth in the fourth quarter of 2001 and continued to grow for twenty-four consecutive quarters. The economy grew at a rapid pace of 7.5 percent above inflation during the third quarter of 2003, the highest since 1984. The President’s tax relief also reduced the marginal effective rate on new investment, which encourages additional investment and, in the long-run, higher wages for workers.

The President’s tax relief was followed by increases in tax revenue. From 2005 to 2007, tax revenues grew faster than the economy. The ratio of receipts to GDP rose to 18.8 percent in 2007, above the 40-year average. Between 2004 and 2006, capital gains realizations grew by approximately 60%. Growth in corporate income tax receipts was strong in President Bush’s second term, nearly doubling between 2004 and 2007. With nearly all of the tax relief provisions fully in effect, the President’s tax relief reduced the share of taxes paid by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers from 3.9 percent in 2000 to 3.1 percent in 2005. The share of taxes paid by the top 10 percent rose from 46.0 percent to 46.4 percent.

President Bush’s first budget in 2001 warned that “financial trouble of large GSEs (government sponsored enterprises) could cause strong repercussions in the financial markets.” In 2003, the Bush administration began calling for a new GSE regulator. Despite resistance from Congress, President Bush continued to call for GSE reform until Congress finally acted in 2008 to provide the additional oversight the President requested five years earlier. Unfortunately the reform came too late to prevent systemic consequences.

There you have it folks, during the George W. Bush presidency, our economy was strong, wealth was created and this nation prospered. While President Bush was aware that the financially troubled GSEs (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) would result in dire consequences, he was unable to get additional oversight for these entities until 2008 when “all hell broke loose.”

Yet, we’ve had to listen to six years of the current president blaming George Bush for a devastated economy that was the result of his “tax cuts for the rich.” I’ve been tired of this president’s rhetoric and lies since day one of his presidency.

We did have a slightly less than six year period of economic growth and prosperity when Bill Clinton was president, a period from approximately 1994 to 2000. This period of grown ended when Federal Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered the breakup of Microsoft into two companies, citing that the company was “untrustworthy.”  I remember that day well. I was in between careers, studying computer programming. I was listening to the radio, yes, Rush Limbaugh. During his program that day, he was continually reporting on the falling Dow Jones. This ushered in the recession of 2000 that lasted approximately one year.

What spurred the period of prosperity during the Clinton years? The entrepreneurs of the technological revolution were responsible for this era of economic growth. President Clinton, to his credit, backed away and let it happen. Think about the way you were doing things in 1992 and think about the way you are doing things now. Think about your office environment in 1992 and think about your office environment now. Many of you are now home workers. In 1992, none of us could even imagine how that would work. The term, Internet, didn’t exist. I guess Al Gore was still working on it in his basement. We had to rely on newspapers and TV for our news, although, CNN was broadcasting 24/7. Cell phones were just beginning to become affordable for the middle class. By 1999, our way of life had totally changed and it’s continued to rapidly change since that time, although, I still have some friends who are stuck in the 1980s and will probably continue to be stuck there for the rest of their lives.

What spurred the period of prosperity during the Bush years? More of the same. While President Bush signed into law the measures I cited in the first paragraph, these measures didn’t create the prosperity. Instead, they widened the road to accommodate more innovation. While most of us had cell phones in 2000, all we could do was call someone on them. By 2008, smart phones had been introduced where we could send and receive email, text messages, and download numerous applications to satisfy whatever needs we had. While widespread use of tablet PCs didn’t begin until around 2010/2011, innovation was occurring behind the scenes. Also, everyone was making the transition from bulky desktop computer systems to laptops. Laptops became smaller, lighter, more powerful, and cheaper. Now, almost everyone has a laptop as their main device.

The economy does seem to be turning the corner and we all are hoping that it does. Gasoline prices are falling due mostly to the innovation of hydraulic fracturing, an innovation that most liberals despise and want to end. Also, oil exploration has increased in recent years on state and private lands. According to americanenergyalliance.org, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued fewer leases in fiscal year 2014 than in any year since 1988 (though they leased slightly more acres than were leased in 2013). Also, according to americanenergyalliance.org, drilling permits languished in regulatory morass, resulting in production on federal lands becoming stagnant or declining. On state and private lands, oil production has surged to a 25 year high, making the U.S. the largest combined oil and gas producer in the world.

Yes, the current president’s administration has mostly avoided imposing new burdens on oil and gas development on state and private lands, much to the chagrin of this president’s constituency. However, according to americanenergyalliance.org, that could soon change. The BLM is preparing first-ever federal regulations for hydraulic fracturing and the EPA is gearing up to issue methane regulations for natural gas production.

Could this energy boom grind to a halt if burdensome regulations are placed on oil exploration on state and private lands? Absolutely! When will the burdensome regulations start having their effect? Possibly right after a Republican assumes the Presidency in January 2017? Gas prices could rise and energy bills could increase. And there sits the mainstream media waiting to pounce on the new Republican president. But wait, we have a Republican majority in Congress, surely they will stop this. While I’m a committed Republican, I’ll be the first to admit that there are many wimps and rhinos out there who just might be pressured into backing some regulations on oil exploration on state and private lands. And even if they don’t, this president has a phone and a pen; he’ll impose them through executive orders.

If a Republican is elected president in 2016, will that president have the “nads” to go through and reverse those executive orders? I don’t know. If he or she does, he’ll have the mainstream media and the liberals on his tail broadcasting to everyone that the Republicans want us to have dirty air to breath and dirty water to drink. While certain media outlets will most definitely attempt to tell the truth, these outlets will be called liars and worse. If he or she leaves them in place, the energy boom will become an energy bust and we know who will get the blame.

Am I depressed about what I just wrote? A little. But I’m still keeping the faith. Despite the current president continually trashing Republicans in almost every speech he makes, and a mainstream media that is in the tank for the left, Republicans managed to win majorities in the House and Senate in November. We’ve won elections and I pray we will continue to win elections even though this president is doing everything he possibly can to increase the number of Democrat voters while he’s still in office.

While this post is full of information that I hope all of you will save and use when necessary, its purpose is to indicate that it is not the government that creates wealth and prosperity, it’s the entrepreneurs out there with their undying entrepreneurial spirit that have made this nation the wealthiest and most prosperous on the planet.  Yes, we have government leaders that try to break that spirit and the current president has done just that, but when the going gets rough, these individuals have kept on going. That’s the United States of America.

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THAT’S SO TWENTIETH CENTURY – Part One: How I Became an IT Professional

          The technological revolution of our time that has affected every one of us began in the mid to late 1980s, and for the most part, still continues today. In the 80s and nineties, I had the misfortune of working for a company that was not tech savvy. In other words, we were primitive and as such, I didn’t learn much about computer technology from my work.

            In the early nineties, I attended a meeting where the guest speaker discussed working from home and indicated that it was a real possibility in the not so distant future. At that meeting, I was totally confused and just could not imagine how I could possibly do the work that I was currently doing from my house.

          At the time, I was a large risk claims specialist for a local insurance company and my work was done out of paper files that sometimes needed ten or more expandable folders to house. How in the world could I possibly view a claim file from a computer screen much less do the letters, reports, and documentation that were required to handle the claim. At the time, I might send out up to ten various letters and reports per day. Of course, I had a small hand-held recorder where I dictated on a cassette tape that was sent to transcription to be typed. The typed document was sent back to me for any changes or corrections. For letters that were ready to be mailed, I signed them and sent time to Central Files where clerks folded them, stuffed the envelopes, ran the envelopes through a postage meter, and placed the envelopes in a mail basket to be picked up by the postman. For reports, the final copy was placed in the claim file with copies going to whoever needed them.

          By the mid-nineties, a lot of my friends were talking “computer-eze” and I was lost. I barely knew the difference between hardware and software, much less knew about Microsoft and Bill Gates. I wanted to send and receive emails, get on the internet, and just do things on a computer, but I was ignorant.

          In 1995, I purchased my first PC, a Compaq Presario that was running a Windows 95 operating system, a revolutionary new operating system that is still the basis for today’s Windows operating systems. Again, I barely knew what an operating system was. Then to get the most for my money, I took classes at a local computer learning school. I learned Word, Excel, Access, html, the now primitive Front Page, etc.

          As you might guess, I got very frustrated at work because I saw how things could be much improved with a client server system. Our system was an AS-400 which didn’t benefit my department at all. To make matters worse, our CEO was old school and felt like typing was something that lower levels did. He was adverse to seeing what he considered high level professionals at a keyboard.

          In 1996, a CompUSA store opened in the Birmingham area near where I lived. Prior to the opening, I received through regular mail a certificate for $100 off a Toshiba laptop on opening day. Because there was a limited supply, I needed to be at the store early. So, I took a vacation day and planned to purchase one of those laptops and did. Why did I need a laptop when my desktop was not even a year old? I wanted to take it to work. I could definitely use it to prepare  letters, reports, and other documentation; plus, I could also use Excel and Access for various other tasks. I also purchased an inexpensive black and white printer.

          Now I knew that there was a chance the CEO would tell me that I couldn’t use the laptop at work, but that was a chance that I was willing to take. The first day that I had the laptop at work, I didn’t tell the CEO, but someone else did. He came over to my desk, looked at the laptop, and walked away. I was able to be so much more productive with the laptop, but very few accolades were forthcoming, and I was growing unhappier by the day. I don’t think the CEO ever knew that I was typing all of my letters and reports and printing them out on company letterhead.

          In March 1999, folks from our parent company, located in Cincinnati, came down and announced that operations would be moved to Cincinnati later this year. Thus, I had a chance to continue my career in Cincinnati or seek other gainful employment. Because I had a job that was highly specialized, there were no other jobs in the Birmingham area comparable to mine and very few in the southeast.

          Because I had grown to love computers and technology, I decided to pursue a career in computer programming. If I stayed with the company and helped pack the moving truck, I would get a nice severance package So, when I was no longer gainfully employed, I spent about fourteen hours a day studying the VB 6 programming language and the SQL Server relational database management system. I got my first IT job in September 2000 and worked as a fulltime IT professional until July 2013 when I decided to start my own business and do other things.

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