Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Obama Economy




*  *  *

Not long ago, overtime was a regular feature at the Ludowici Roof Tile factory in eastern Ohio. Not anymore. With orders scarce and crates of unsold tiles piling up across the yard, the company has slowed production and cut working hours, sowing worry and thrift among its workers.

"We don't just hop in the car and go shopping or get something to eat," said Kim Baker, whose take-home pay at the plant has recently dropped to $450 a week, from more than $600. "You've got to watch everything. If we go to town now, it's for a reason."

Throughout the country, businesses grappling with declining fortunes are cutting hours for those on their payrolls.

Self-employed people are suffering a drop in demand for their services, like music lessons, catering and management consulting.

Growing numbers of people are settling for part-time work out of failure to secure a full-time position.
A stealth force

The erosion of the paycheck has become a stealth force driving the American economic downturn. Most of the attention has focused on the loss of jobs and the risk of layoffs. But the less-noticeable shrinking of hours and pay for millions of workers around the country appears to be a bigger contributor to the decline, which has already spread from housing and finance to other important areas of the economy.

Official unemployment has risen only modestly - to 5.1% - but the winnowing of wages and working hours for those still employed has become a primary cause of distress, pushing many more Americans into a downward spiral, economists say.

* PLUS... LET'S BE REAL... THE 5.1% NUMBER IS TOTALLY PHONY.

(*SPITTING ON THE GROUND*)

Moreover...the nation may well be on the verge of a recession, if not already in one.

* AMERICA HAS BEEN IN RECESSION SINCE 2007. NOT "TECHNICALLY" - BUT IN TERMS OF WHAT MOST OF US PERCEIVE.

Last month, the hours worked by those on American payrolls dropped, compared with six months earlier, according to an index maintained by the Labor Department. The last time the index moved into negative territory was February 2001, when the economy was on the doorstep of recession. A similar slide emerged in August 1990, one month into what proved an even more severe downturn.

From March 2007 to March of this year, the average workweek reported in the private sector slipped slightly to 33.8 hours, from 33.9 hours, while overtime for manufacturing workers fell by a larger margin.

At the end of last month, more than 4.9 million people were working part time either because they could not find full-time jobs or because their companies had cut hours in the face of slack business, according to a Labor Department survey. That represented an increase of 400,000 since November.

* ONE... MORE... TIME...

At the end of last month, more than 4.9 million people were working part time either because they could not find full-time jobs or because their companies had cut hours in the face of slack business, according to a Labor Department survey. That represented an increase of 400,000 since November.

* DO... YOU... PEOPLE... UNDERSTAND...?!?!

And on Wednesday, the government reported that average earnings slipped in March after accounting for the rising costs of food and fuel - the sixth consecutive month that pay failed to keep pace with inflation.

As people bring home paychecks that do not go as far, they are forced to economize, eliminating demand for goods and services that once captured their dollars, spreading pain to providers like auto dealers and lawn care providers. They, too, must trim their outlays on pay, shrinking working hours more and furthering the slowdown.

"It means spending slows going forward," said Robert Barbera, chief economist at the trading and research firm ITG.

Paychecks are diminishing just as millions of Americans are finding their access to credit constricted as well.

Borrowing against the value of real estate - a crucial artery of household finance in recent years - has been pared back as home prices have plummeted and as banks have tightened lending standards in the aftermath of the collapse of the housing bubble. "At this point, those avenues are blocked," said Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute in Washington. "Consumption going forward is going to be in large part a good old-fashioned function of paychecks and incomes."

Even before the rollback in working hours, pay was barely keeping up with the rising costs of gas and food. From February to September of last year, the average hourly earnings for workers in the private sector was still growing at a slightly faster clip than the pace of inflation, according to the Labor Department.

* ACCORDING TO THE LABOR DEPARTMENT... WHICH DOESN'T INCLUDE THE PRICE OF FUEL OR FOOD IN ITS INFLATION MEASURE.

(*SMIRK*)

But from November through March, as employers began to scale back in a variety of ways, wage growth fell below the pace of inflation, meaning that paychecks were effectively shrinking.

* SHRINKING EVEN FASTER AND FURTHER THAN THE FLAWED LABOR DEPARTMENT MODELS SHOW!

As the construction business deteriorated rapidly last fall, so did demand for the ceramic tiles produced in New Lexington, Ohio, at the Ludowici factory. In November, the company began drastically cutting overtime for many workers. The following month it fired several people. Last month, the factory resorted to layoffs, cutting the hourly workforce to 81, from 93. It idled the kiln on weekends. But even as sales fell, the company kept producing, building up stocks of tiles that it assumed it could sell eventually. "We thought that would be a smart way to do it in order to keep people working," said Derek Thomas, the plant manager. "The philosophy around here is we remain hopeful that things are going to pick up." But if fresh orders do not arrive soon, Thomas acknowledged that his hopes were likely to be dashed. In that case, he said, "the company was facing further head-count reductions."

* AND OBAMA WANTS ANOTHER "TRADE DEAL."

* FOLKS... IF OBAMA'S PLAN ISN'T TO DESTROY THE AMERICAN ECONOMY... AND AMERICA IN GENERAL...

(*SHRUG*)

With his overtime pay gone and faced with the ugly potential of a layoff from the job he has had for 14 years, Baker, the plant worker, is streamlining his spending every way he can. This time of year, he would usually be planning a trip through Ohio in his camper. But he does not expect to take to the road anytime soon. "Not with the money flowing the way it is," he said, "and the price of gas."

(*SIGH*)

To John Silvia, chief economist for Wachovia, the banking company based in Charlotte, N.C., Baker and his boss are representative of a national economy that is hunkered down and awaiting better while worrying about worse.

"You've got a lot of people sitting around now," he said, "waiting and hoping for orders."

From Cattle Futures Trader to Real Estate Developer to... Philanthropist...?



The Clintons are crooks, folks; always have been... always will be. Crooks.. liars... degenerates... SCUM...

*  *  *  *  *  *

The charity...

(*SMIRK*)

...run by the Clintons has raised $2 billion since it was founded in 2001 - $144.3 million in 2013 alone - but only a small fraction of the take went to its “life-saving work,” according to analysts who monitor non-profits.

* DO YOU CARE, FOLKS? YOU SHOULD. AND IF YOU DON'T... DO SOCIETY A FAVOR AND SERIOUSLY CONSIDER KILLING YOURSELF.

The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation claims...

(*SNICKER*)

...that 88% of the money it raises goes to actual charity work, but...

* BUT...

...experts who have looked at the books put the number at about 10%.

* TEN PERCENT. TEN FRIGGIN' PERCENT!

The rest, they say, goes mostly to salaries, benefits, travel and fund-raising.

The foundation, originally called the Clinton Global Initiative, has come under close scrutiny as Hillary Clinton prepares for a presidential run. Revelations in the soon-to-be-released book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer, have spurred numerous media investigations into the relationship between Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the foundation’s solicitation of foreign money and the ex-president’s lucrative speaking engagements around the world.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon defended the charity's work in Africa and elsewhere and said in a statement there isn’t “a shred of evidence” that Hillary Clinton did anything to benefit Clinton Foundation donors while in office. The foundation has an unlikely defender in conservative newsman Christopher Ruddy, founder of Newsmax and author of the 1997 book, "The Strange Death of Vincent Foster," in which he darkly theorized that the Clinton White House lawyer's death was not a suicide. In a recent post on his site called "In Defense of the Clinton Foundation," Ruddy blasted "numerous unsubstantiated, unconnected, and baseless allegations being made about" the Clintons.

* CHECK OUT THIS APRIL 28TH PALM BEACH POST STORY ENTITLED, "CLINTON CRITIC-TURNED-PAL CHRISTOPHER RUDDY DEFENDS CLINTON FOUNDATION, LIKES JEB BUSH" BEFORE TAKING RUDDY TOO SERIOUSLY.

(*SHRUG*)

The foundation raised $144.3 million – and spent $84.7 million in 2013 – allocating $8.8 million to grants for other organizations, Davis said. The Clinton Foundation’s own IRS tax filings show the organization spent $8.5 million, or 10%  of all 2013 expenditures, on travel, and another $4.8 million - or 5.6% of all expenditures - on office supplies, Davis said, questioning whether plane tickets, hotel accommodations, ink cartridges and staplers “directly change lives.”

* $4.8 MILLION ON... OFFICE SUPPLIES...?!?!

Organizations that rate charities on their effectiveness in spending donations on the causes they champion say gauging the Clinton Foundation is difficult, but they have raised flags.

Charity Navigator added the Clinton Foundation to its “watch list,” noting the organization officials “had previously evaluated this organization, but have since determined that this charity's atypical business model cannot be accurately captured in our current rating methodology.” While maintaining its removal of The Clinton Foundation from its website is “neither a condemnation nor an endorsement of this charity,” the Clinton Foundation is one of only 23 charities on the watch list.

Another charity rating organization, GiveWell, said the Clinton Health Access Initiative declined in November 2012 to participate in its review process, and hasn’t since.

(*SMIRK*)

The Clinton Health Access Initiative in 2008 and 2009 acted as a drug distribution powerhouse, purchasing $226 million in prescription drugs at a discount to distribute worldwide, a practice ended by 2012.

In 2012, the Better Business Bureau reported the Clinton Foundation did not meet the standards of an accountable charity, failing on six counts, largely because of a lack of transparent financial reporting. According to the Better Business Bureau website, the charity is again under review and a new report will be released soon.

(*SHRUG*)

Some of the financial reporting can be messy to follow, in part because the Clintons created separate entities, such as the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Haiti relief initiative, Clinton Global Initiative, the Clinton Presidential Center and the Clinton Climate Initiative.

While IRS filings show the Clintons do not receive a "salary," compensation comes through other means, such as travel, speaking fees and consulting contracts.

* AND BY GOD ARE THEY COMPENSATED...!!! (IN FACT, I COULD SEE GOV. CHRISTIE TAKING A JOB WITH THE FOUNDATION ONE DAY; HE FAMOUSLY ENJOYS LIVING HIGH OFF THE HOG ON SOMEONE ELSE'S DIME AS WELL!)

As first noted by Politico, the organization’s 990 forms show travel costs for the Clinton Foundation more than doubled in 2013 to $8.448 million largely because of “extraordinary security and other requirements” for the Clintons.

(*SNORT*)

* SECRET SERVICE PROTECTION IS FREE. (TO THEM AT LEAST!)

Schweizer’s book explores one way the foundation brought in money from donors who had business before the State Department. The charity accepted millions of dollars from the head of Uranium One, and a firm promoting its stock, while the Russians sought approval from U.S. agencies, including the State Department, to take over the company. The deal had to be approved by the State Department... then-headed by Hillary Clinton... because the sale gave the Russians control of 20%of the uranium production in the U.S.

During negotiations, Uranium One's chairman donated $2.3 million to the Clinton Foundation.

* JUST AN INNOCENT COINCIDENCE I'M SURE...

(*GAGGING*)

Bill Clinton also reportedly received $500,000 from a Russian firm promoting the company's stocks, for a speech in Moscow. None of these transactions appear in Clinton Foundation disclosures.

(*SMIRK*)

A separate investigation by government watchdog group Judicial Watch revealed Bill Clinton earned $48 million from 215 speeches he made while his wife headed the State Department, and State Department officials, who were charged with flagging conflicts and ethics concerns, did not object.

* AND STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS - WHO WORKED FOR HILLARY CLINTON - DIDN'T OBJECT.

(*SNORT*)

A Washington Post investigation revealed Bill Clinton’s earnings for speeches were closer to $100 million.

* WOW...

In another deal, Canadian mining executive Stephen Dattels donated 2 million shares of the company Polo Resources to the Clinton Foundation, which the foundation did not disclose...

* FOLKS... YA CAN'T MAKE THIS $HIT UP!

...and weeks later, America’s Bangladesh ambassador reportedly used political influence to convince the Bangladesh prime minister to approve open pit mining there, boosting Polo Resources’ profits, according to the Wall Street Journal.

(*RUEFUL CHUCKLE*)

“It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons,” Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the government watchdog group, Sunlight Foundation, told the New York Post.

Reg Baker, a certified public accountant who has offices in Hawaii and Las Vegas and has served on several non-profit boards, told Fox News the foundation is not run like most charities. “It sounds like another out-of-control family affair,” Baker said. “It is totally out of sync with charitable organizations' best practices.”

* AGAIN... RE-READ FROM THE TOP IF NECESSARY... CHARITY NAVIGATOR... GIVE WELL... EVEN THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU FOR GOD'S SAKE...

(*JUST SHAKING MY HEAD*)

The 2014 fundraising numbers for the Clinton Foundation have not been released publicly yet, but the amount raised is likely to increase.

In 2008, the Clinton Foundation raised $188.2 million, and that revenue spiked to $249 million in 2009.

In 2010, while Hillary Clinton headed the State Department, the foundation’s revenue dropped to $140 million in 2010, $56.3 million in 2011, and $51.5 million in 2012. Since she’s returned, the foundation’s revenue jumped back up to $144.4 million, Davis noted.

After a barrage of investigative reports across a wide variety of media highlighting the foundation’s lack of transparency and disclosure, including during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation announced last week it will amend its tax returns for the last five years.

* "AMEND..." HA! HA! HA! THIS SHOULD BE INTERESTING...