Saturday, January 21, 2017

Preparing for the New Trump Economy

Well, now that that's over with, where to next?

Truthfully, I'm disappointed the Fed raised interest rates last week. I expected as much, though I saw reasons why a rate hike would be ill-advised and should have been avoided.

There are simply too many deleterious impacts on massively indebted U.S. consumers, American multinational companies slammed by the strengthening dollar and emerging market economies that have taken on trillions in dollar-denominated debt that's getting more and more costly. Those impacts will come home to roost soon enough...

Now we're supposedly on the march toward three more rate hikes in 2017. Maybe - though doubtful. But we shall see.

The stock market certainly got what it thought it wanted, then promptly went nowhere.

Bonds flagged.

The dollar rallied.

Cheerleaders claim we're on the road to even higher stock prices - never mind that rising interest rates have historically meant falling stock market valuations (more on that in an upcoming dispatch).

But we're still left with the question: Where to next?

I have an idea, and you'll want to own commodities if I'm right.

Having bullied Yellen for a rate hike, Wall Street is now waiting for the Day After - January 21. It will be like no other day after a presidential inauguration in modern history.

So many promises/threats are waiting to either unfold or fizzle. Which Donald Trump will show up to his first day on the job? Wall Street's directional future depends on that answer.

The Threat of Stagflation

If Candidate Trump arrives, then we have economic challenges that will torment the market.

Immigrants who make up a goodly portion of the service-sector workforce will be rounded up and summarily dispatched back to their homelands - a massive disruption to restaurant back-of-house operations, the construction industry, agriculture, hoteling, landscape companies, etc. That's inflationary and a significant brake on economic growth.

Chinese manufacturers/exporters face stiff tariffs as Candidate Trump executes his belief that China is manipulating its currency. That, too, is inflationary and will see China lash out with similar tariffs that hit U.S. exporters, leading to layoffs here at home.

U.S. companies also face punitive measures for trying to remain competitive globally by opening production facilities overseas (made all the more important because of the anti-competitive impacts of the strong dollar). That will hit corporate profit margins and lead to declining stock prices and job losses at home.

Meanwhile, infrastructure spending combined with proposed tax cuts means a fresh round of hell for budget deficits and America's debt. That's stagflationary because the rising cost of government debt payments takes productive capital out of the economy, while infrastructure projects dump money into the economy which will be chasing goods and services - i.e., rising demand (which will be happening even as all the other inflationary moves unfold).

So, Candidate Trump arriving to work on Day One could present quite the problem for stocks and bonds, since inflation erodes corporate profits and the value of current bond yields.

A More Moderate Approach

If Presidential Trump shows up, we have a slightly brighter path to tomorrow - though economic challenges still exist.

Presidential Trump will not provoke a trade war, saving America from another losing battle, while limiting inflationary stresses at home and saving U.S. multinationals from the pain of rapid profit deterioration (nearly half the S&P 500's sales and profits come from overseas).

Nor will Presidential Trump deport 11 million illegal immigrants starting on the Day After, preventing mass pain across service-sector industries, inside American wallets and across the broad economy in general.

Nor will he impose punitive measures on American companies that are desperate to remain competitive in a modern global economy. That will preserve corporate profits and limit the impact on stock prices.

Presidential Trump will, however, pursue his infrastructure spending plan, no matter what. And that will be inflationary... which means it's time to add "hard commodities" to your portfolio - and, in particular, industrial commodities, or "base metals," as they're called, such as copper, nickel, aluminum and whatnot.

The Winner for 2017...

Inflation will drive the price of commodities higher, as will increasing demand which will stem from U.S. infrastructure spending, since new roads and bridges and airports and whatever project is on the docket require an abundance of industrial metals.

One of the single best hard commodity opportunities for 2017 is the PowerShares Deutsche Bank Base Metals ETF (NYSE Arca: DBB), an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that, among its peers, has the best track record over the last five years.

This particular ETF is tied to copper, zinc and aluminum, and its returns are based on the performance of futures contracts in those three metals. As a way to gain basic exposure to rising prices for some of the most widely used base metals, this fund is fine.

As with all such hard commodity ETFs, however, the returns are impacted by the fund's continual need to roll over the futures contracts it owns from one month to the next.

So that's where we stand - Wall Street waiting to see which Donald Trump shows up. But whichever one it is, it's a Trump who's likely to be quite the tailwind for commodity investments.

As a lifelong world traveler, Jeff Opdyke has been investing directly in the international markets since 1995, making him one of the true pioneers of foreign trading. He is Investment Director for The Sovereign Society and a weekly contributor to The Sovereign Investor Daily.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

We Remember - WW2

With a stunning field of 888,246 red ceramic poppies surrounding the Tower of London and poppy sellers in every town, most of the population have given thought to service men and women. When people think of the armed forces, their image is most usually of soldiers fighting in war. Whether from the air, sea or land, the military's primary task is to protect and secure their country and its people.

Modern Military

In addition to fighting wars, military personnel can take on a range of other roles that serve to protect others. Through the autumn, strike action has been supported by NHS workers and ambulance services. Military personnel have been trained and prepared to take on the delivery of emergency services on these occasions.

The Ebola crisis has also seen a number of soldiers sent to affected areas of Africa including Sierra Leone. Soldiers have taken an active role in building and equipping Ebola treatment facilities that could play a vital role in preventing the rapid spread of the disease. Our financial support for such emergency causes is greatly appreciated, but having people on the ground that can support locals in creating the necessary infrastructure and in the treatment of patients are excellent ways to provide practical help.

Training other soldiers is another essential role that the Military take on. Whilst ground troops have yet to be sent from Europe or America to support the Army's in Syria and Iraq, soldiers are returning to Baghdad in order to train Iraqi soldiers in the fight against ISIS. This move comes 3 years after the last troops returned home from Iraq, following a lengthy battle.

Protecting Military Personnel

No matter what role the military are taking on, it is essential that soldiers are provided with suitable training, equipment and resources to undertake the tasks, they have been sent to complete. Whether fighting an enemy or a disease proper protection is vital for success.

Government ministers have admitted that the UK Military were insufficiently prepared and resourced for the Afghanistan conflict, as the scale of the problem was greatly underestimated. Of the 3,300 British troops that were sent to fight, 435 individuals lost their lives. Their families will be amongst the millions who will forever be remembering on 11 November.

Although it will come too late for their loved ones, other families will be pleased to hear the Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to invest £164billion in equipment over the next decade. Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) is responsible for the purchase and support of all defence equipment. In order to deliver the planned transformation of the MoD, DE&S will be working with private sector experts on this programme of investment.

The main contractors were announced in November and it is hoped that the commitment to and budget for this transformation will advance the British military to the highest achievable standards. From personal protective clothing, weapons and vehicles to advanced technology that can operate remotely, there could be significant changes over the next ten years.

Aeroglow

Aeroglow are UK manufacturers and suppliers of vehicle emergency lighting that is widely used to support orientation and a quick escape from military vehicles. Our vehicle emergency lighting system HaLO illuminates escape hatches and emergency equipment when a vehicle has been rolled due to an explosion or extreme off road terrain.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Basic Income Will Kill the Economy

Irony isn't often as emphatic as this.

I'm sitting in the lobby of my favorite hotel in Bucharest, Romania, waiting on my girlfriend, and I'm scanning the news of the day on my phone. I come across an article, penned by an economist from the supposedly nonpartisan (but funded by labor) Economic Policy Institute that claims higher wages are the solution to America's expanding reliance on payday lending.

A few minutes later, I come across a second article titled: "This robot-powered restaurant could put fast-food workers out of a job."

The two theses are mutually exclusive. They cannot coexist. Only one will win... and, I can promise, it's not the position held by the economist. I can also promise that you and I will ultimately feel the repercussions in our paychecks and in our wallets...

The winner is, of course, the robot-powered restaurant. It's tied to a company known as Momentum Machines.

Momentum is quasi-famous (though largely unknown still) for having invented a machine that can cook - apparently perfectly - 400 made-to-order burgers per hour... all without human hands, except maybe to fill the hoppers of meat, veggies and buns from which the burger machines draw ingredients. Of course, given the profound leaps in robotic technology and machine learning, those hopper-filling humans will fall away as hopper-filling robots arrive.

Momentum, an exceedingly reclusive company that declined my request for a meeting when I was in San Francisco earlier this year, has filed a permit to build a restaurant - a largely robot-powered burger joint - in San Fran's SoMa neighborhood.

Thus, we come to the irony of those two articles I read.

Basic Income: Dead on Arrival

In a world where machines can make perfect burgers, there's no need for burger flippers earning $15 per hour.

Already, there are kiosks taking orders and payments, obviating the need for front-of-house staff earning $15 per hour. And in parts of Asia, robotic waiters have begun popping up, albeit with some glitches. Once they come to America - and they will - gone is much of America's waitstaff.

The obvious point is that we are very near to the day when the value of human labor in the fast-food and casual-dining industries, among many others, falls to precisely zero. Pushing for higher wages, à la the Economic Policy Institute and a broad collection of politicians and labor unions, only hastens the arrival of that moment.

Unpopular as this sentiment might be, the truth is that flipping a burger, punching buttons on a computer, delivering food and taking payments from customers are not skill sets worth $31,000 a year, as the $15-per-hour movement implies. I'm not saying there is no honor in that job, and I'm not aiming to belittle fast-food workers making an honest living. I'm simply saying that technology is doing to them what mobile phones did to the pay-phone booth.

Fast-food franchises operate on thin margins, and driving up the cost of a commodity - labor - so dramatically will, definitively, turn profits to losses. Franchise owners will respond by either raising prices (not a winning strategy in a lame economy) or by replacing high-cost workers with technology that radically lowers costs, negates human-resource annoyances and greatly improves efficiency.

And that's where problems start for me and you...

Economy-Crushing Unemployment

What will America look like when millions of workers have no place to earn a paycheck?

Some people I've talked to take the position that losing these jobs will pave the way for a new class of jobs not yet even created. Maybe.

But given the expansiveness of technology's capabilities, such new jobs will be fewer in number and will require a more educated and skilled base of workers than currently exists at the service-sector level.

We're looking at an economy soon enough imperiled by mass joblessness - not just at the fast-food level, but across a broad swath of industries. Think: self-driving taxis hailed via app; self-driving commercial trucks and delivery drones; computers that can read mammograms and CAT scans better than human technicians; technology that can prepare taxes, underwrite insurance and bank loans, track and order office supplies, fetch parts and orders from a warehouse, restock store shelves. The list is extensive.

Unemployment will be epidemic, easily exceeding 20% of the workforce, if not more.

How will people live?

Some have begun talking of a "basic income," a minimum monthly income on which people can pay for their lives. I won't comment on the moral and philosophical shortcomings of such an ideology. I will only say that "someone's got to pay."

If we assume that the government targets basic income at the unemployed only, that $15 per hour is what labor thinks people need to earn to live a middle-class existence, and that unemployment is in the 20% range, then the government will need to disburse something on the order of $1 trillion every year in basic income payments. That's more than the government sends to Social Security recipients.

But basic income, as envisioned, would go to every adult. Assume the average payment is $15,000 a year, and the government is on the hook for something close to $4 trillion in annual payments - larger than the entire federal budget.

Western governments/economies already struggle under a corpulent quantity of debt. They cannot simply print the money needed to fund a basic income program without fueling uncontrolled inflation, a collapse of the dollar and a debt crisis that would prove terminal for America. The only solution would be to fundamentally restructure the tax system so that remaining workers and businesses pay sharply higher taxes.

That's the second-derivative impact of the push for higher wages that, in turn, is driving faster adoption of worker-replacing technology.

Your Protection in This Dangerous World

It's the world we're rapidly racing toward. And aside from expatriating to some place like Uruguay, pretty much only one investment will protect you from this certain future: physical gold.

Gold will rise in value as the dollar falls and as the U.S. fiscal situation worsens, because you can be sure that politicians, loathe to lose their jobs, will fashion a solution that preserves their jobs at the cost of fiscal prudence for the country.

Like I said, irony is rarely so emphatic as it is when it comes to labor's desire for higher wages and technology's mission to destroy the need for those workers in the first place.

As a lifelong world traveler, Jeff Opdyke has been investing directly in the international markets since 1995, making him one of the true pioneers of foreign trading. He is Investment Director for The Sovereign Society and a weekly contributor to The Sovereign Investor Daily.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Riders On The Storm

In today's chaotic world one can relate to the Doors rendition of "Riders On The Storm". We as a society especially after the Trump election victory that's if you can call it that, precludes that we all are riders on a storm. A storm of unimaginable upheaval in the world around. I can remember a time back in the late 60's when Vietnam tore this nation apart. The song that set the tone of that period was "Riders On The Storm". Now today the mood is almost the same when the unexpected occurred with Trump winning the Presidency.To quote the lyrics of that song is as symbolic as it was back then as it is today. "Riders on the storm, into this house we're born, into this world we're thrown, like a dog without a bone, an actor out alone." As profound as these lyrics are they have had a resiliency that depicts history repeating. The times have changed the bit players are new but the general theme of discontent that has invoked a national consciousness to rally around the wrongs against society whether it was Vietnam or the election of Trump remains the same.

We are all riders on the storm. With apprehension, worry and dismay we grudgingly await each day to a realm of reality far removed from the times of just yesterday. The sheer shock that has settled in is an irreversible reality. It has already affected the moral fiber of our whole society. Like Limburger Cheese the aroma that has now permeated from this Presidential election has spread into every pore of our nation today.

It is not too well known that the United States is the only democratic republic that has two sets of criteria in choosing the head of state. And, in America today that head of state is the President. The Electoral College that was established when our founding fathers framed the Constitution wanted to safeguard this new nation from becoming a monarchy or becoming a totalitarian state. The Electoral College originally was set up to thwart tyranny of the majority. In doing so they incorporated rules that align themselves with the requirements for treaties to be ratified. With today's Presidential outcome where the majority of the voters chose Clinton over Trump but the Electoral College over ruled the popular vote questions have now surfaced. Is the electoral college in violation of majority rule?

Since 2000 the electoral college has overturned and over ruled the popular vote which allowed the minority to succeed in selecting the President. As a result the electoral college didn't prevent tyranny of the majority but instead provided the gateway for tyranny of the minority. What this past election says is that the electoral college chose a candidate supported by just one particular social group over not only the majority of voters but also over the vast number of minority interests in the country.

We are all riders on this post election storm. It can be arguably said that the Electoral College violates political equality and popular choice. The perverse consequences of this Electoral College has now become the exact opposite of what our founding fathers initiated. It has not protected American democracy from tyranny of the majority it has only allowed tyranny of the minority. And until we understand this and correct the huge flaw in our democratic process we will continue to be riders on the storm.
By Dr. Tim G Williams

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Telecoms for Business

Any business relies on technology to operate. With fast and reliable internet connections, strong mobile signals and advanced telecoms systems, it is possible to effectively communicate with customers and colleagues, suppliers and partners in a variety of ways. Any business that doesn't have access to the latest technology is put at a disadvantage.

The accelerated rate at which digital technology has grown in recent years and our reliance on it has put great pressure on the capacity of copper based networks. The wide scale deployment of fibre (often referred to as Fibre to the Premises or FTTP) networks is being seen as the only way to address this and equip homes and businesses with what they need.

A recently released 'Building Gigabit Britain Report' compiled by leading UK businesses highlights the importance of a wide spread fibre network to the long term prospects of British business and the wider economy. As the population embraces advances in digital communications, wireless devices, remote working and competition in global markets, the need for fibre is obvious.

The Report highlights a number of ways in which the Government could, and in opinion of the authors should, support the roll out of a new fibre infrastructure. These include investing in a clear strategy that commits to 80% of the population having access to fast fibre broadband by 2026, with near universal coverage by 2030.

In regards to the regulations which currently govern the industry, it is noted that whilst some regulations help to protect customers, others are more of a hindrance to progress. It suggests that some of the financial barriers are removed and that current regulations are reworked in order to encourage both competition and collaboration from telecoms companies. This is seen as vital for innovation in communications and private investment in rolling out the fibre networks.

The report also raises the importance of advertising guidelines being enforced, so that clear and transparent information is available to the public. The success of many local economies could depend on the timely roll out of fibre and how the process is communicated and managed by local councils and telecoms companies.

Fast and Reliable Broadband

So, if fast and reliable broadband and embracing digital technology is so essential to the future of the British economy, how does it impact on your business? Did broadband speed influence your decision on where locate your business? Are you reliant on the roll out of fibre in order to realise the goals in your business plan?

Has fast reliable broadband enabled you to make the most of the latest business telecoms systems? If so, your employees could be as easy to contact (by you and your customers) whether they are at their desk, out at a business event, or working remotely. You could be saving time and money by conference calling partners and clients, rather than meeting in person. You can avoid missing that important call with voice mail and printed transcripts of the message.

Many companies haven't upgraded their business telecoms in recent years, it simply hasn't seemed like the top priority, but much like your IT, there can be significant benefits from streamlining procedures, increasing productivity and integrating one system with another.

Business Telecoms Systems

Your company may have to wait several years before fast and reliable fibre systems are in place, but you can give your operations an advantage by investing in the latest business telecoms systems. If your team are finding it increasingly difficult to manage the increasing volume of calls, or seasonal peaks, then this could be a sign that an upgrade is due.

Other indicators include issues with resolving problems with the system and the prohibitive challenges associated with adding new lines or integrating the phones with other technology. Whilst many Company Directors have concerns about the cost of an upgrade, the reality is that the latest business telecoms are often far more cost effective that older systems and can lead to considerable savings in the long term.

If you would like to find out more about how improved communication systems could support your business objectives, Opus Telecoms can assist. We are a Corporate Associate of the Institute of Telecommunications Professionals (ITP) with expertise in the supply, installation and support of a range of high specification business telecoms.

We can help you to find the ideal solution for your business and provide the on-going support and maintenance which will ensure it is fit for purpose as your business evolves. For further information visit Opus Communications: http://www.opus-telecoms.co.uk/

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Shadow Rider

Out of the pages of history galloping across the western plains of the Old West rides a lone crusader bringing law and order to an otherwise lawless land. With stealth and cunning many an outlaw met his fate. Horace Mann was broad of shoulder and narrow at the hip and everywhere he went the long arm of the law was not far away. With steely blue eyes wearing his white Stetson he struck terror in those who broke the law. The Stetson, the hat that was to become synonymous with western lore became the embodiment of truth and justice which set him apart from the outlaws of the time. Atop his Appaloosa sitting tall in the saddle with his Winchester at the ready everyone knew in an instant that justice would soon be served. As fast as he was with a six shooter the deadly aim of his Winchester many an outlaw found himself entombed on Boot Hill. His fame and his legend spread through-out the West. Soon news of his exploits reached places like New York where newspapers dubbed him The Shadow Rider. The man and his Winchester found it's way into dime novels where many a young boy fantasized riding the plains of the wild west.

It wasn't soon after that one of those dime novels made their way to the desk of Grover Cleveland. Intrigued by his exploits and with consistent news of Indian uprisings and cattle rustling through-out the Dakota and Wyoming territories the President looked no further when he read of the daring do of the Shadow Rider to restore order and peace. By the summer of 1887 the Indian affairs office was alerted to a potential all out war brewing in the plains of Wyoming and the Dakotas. The Sioux and the Arapaho were joining forces with the Cheyenne. The tribes realized that their way of life was being threatened. The buffalo herds that were once so plentiful now were disappearing. Tensions were high, violence was all to commonplace, and the only law was the quick of the draw or the straight of an arrow. To tame this troubled land there was only one man, The Shadow Rider.

While the Arapaho and the Sioux were sounding war drums the existing climate of lawlessness and tolerance by lenient judges and juries sympathetic to rustlers continued to spark more violence into an already violent land. To make matters worse the onslaught of homesteaders made the cattle barons eager to do anything to stop the influx of people who have threatened their livelihoods. Wyoming during the 1880's was the epicenter for violent confrontation with the combined tribes of the Arapaho, Sioux, the Cheyenne, the homesteaders, and the cattle barons. A tough spot for Horace Mann to be in. But if one person could defuse this ticking time bomb the Shadow Rider was the one person who could.

At once the President put out a telegraph to Fort Laramie where Col. Trenton could contact Horace Mann and give him the dispatch that the President had sent. As the sun was setting over the Western sky Horace Mann was just riding into Fort Laramie. The sound of Taps was ringing through the evening air as the Flag was being lowered into the waiting arms of Sergeant Howard. The sober tone of the bugle is a constant reminder of the violent struggles between the encroaching white settlers, the Indian tribes and the cattle rustlers that have covered the hills of the Dakotas with blood. Sent on a mission from the President, Horace is well equipped. Mann had an unusual ability with foreign languages, a talent that likely stemmed from his early years in a bilingual family and community where he grew up. He knew German and learned to speak fluent Spanish and Indian dialects. This ability allowed him to communicate with native American tribes. It also gave him a degree of power over those for whom he was translating. For over a decade those years of reigning in cattle rustlers and navigating through the uprisings of the Sioux and the Cheyenne has earned him the fame and recognition as the one man that could tame this lawless land.

This lone crusader sent on a perilous mission was now conferring with Col. Trenton on what was needed to restore law and order for all. This was a period in American history when many settlers were not only passing through the Dakota's but ending up settling in Wyoming. During the 1870's the cattle herds were replacing the disappearing Buffalo herds had made life for the native American tribes almost unbearable. In 1870, Wyoming had a population of roughly 9,118 people. By 1890, that number reached 62,555. The Homestead Act of 1862, the Timber Culture Act of 1872 and the Desert Land Act of 1877, all of which offered government land for free or at very low cost, attracted the influx of white settlers. Meanwhile cattle barons began gobbling immense land holdings in which to raise their cattle. As a result of this population boom the wild buffalo herds were being slaughtered leaving the native Indians feeling threatened. The great land grab was just beginning pushing the Indian tribes out of their familiar hunting lands.They were forced to migrate following the remaining buffalo herds that were fast becoming extinct.

This influx of homesteaders during the late 1870's settlers increased the violence between cattlemen and the native Americans who were being displaced. The urgency to restore peace and stop an all out war was becoming more imperative every day. As dawn broke on the morning of November 10th this lone crusader, this Shadow Rider, rode out of Fort Laramie to find Little Wolf chief of the Cheyenne. It was a little after noon on this cold and damp November day when just over the horizon Cheyenne warriors were fast approaching. Upon seeing the white Stetson and the Appaloosa 12 Cheyenne realized it was Horace Mann. They knew that whenever Horace spoke he did so without forked tongue. His reputation for truth and justice preceded him. It was his unwavering insistence that the truth be told and for justice to be served that endeared him to every native American tribe.

It was well into the evening when this band of Cheyenne warriors and Horace Mann reached the Cheyenne Village. Waiting at the center tepee was Little Wolf. In no time at all Little Wolf was encouraged by what Horace had to say. Mann produced a written treaty signed by President Cleveland. A treaty guaranteeing land with water, protection against white poachers of the Buffalo and protection against the racial tensions that have been built up from years of fighting. The next morning Little Wolf with 12 Cheyenne warriors rode off with the Shadow Rider in search of Chief Black Coal and Chief Red Cloud.

Will Little Wolf and the Shadow Rider be able reach the tribe of the Arapaho and the Sioux in time to convince both chiefs to accept the President's treaty to thwart an all out war. Or will these tribes escalate the already violent attacks between the Army, the homesteaders and the cattle barons? The clock is ticking. Stay tuned for Chapter Two of the Shadow Rider. By Dr. Tim G Williams

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Poverty: Unsettled Social Dilemma of the Philippines

Poverty ranks high among the unsettled social dilemma of the Philippines that exist until today. It is one of the longest recorded predicaments that struck the economy of the Philippine government.

Poverty can be observed in every corner of the Philippine archipelago and it is craving for a sustainable solution.

"Biyaheng Totoo", a documentary program aired on the widely watched television network in the Philippines, GMA-7, featured the poorest provinces of the Philippines. On the report, it can be reflected that there is an absence of quality roads for transportation, security, electricity, good shelter and foods.

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo introduced the small and medium enterprise development agenda during her term of office believing that it was a key engine that would help boost the Philippine economy, but the program failed to uplift the means of living for both people residing in the urban areas and in the country side.

What is wrong with the Philippine government that it cannot bring their people to the next ladder of economic gain? Is it because of the uncontrolled practices of corruption in the government offices? Or the blame can be thrown to individual person for not striving hard to earn a quality living? These are just a few questions that continue to bother the minds of an individual.

Populace especially those living in far-flung areas look immune with this kind of social dilemma. The poverty scenario that these people have been experiencing for a long period of time makes them believe that whatever amount of effort they exert to earn a good living does no good to them. There's no denying that it is a reality happening in the Philippine Islands but it seems like the government is deaf and blind to the true situation.

Despite the billion dollar remittances from Filipinos working abroad to the Philippine government, still, the majority of Filipinos persist to suffer from poverty.

Some of the few factors attributed to this pressing problem are the malignant sickness of corruption, the large amount of debt in the World Bank, the lack of political will, improper handling of funds, the no transparency of government transactions and the deficiency of technical support from the government.

This poverty dilemma that hardly lingers in the government of the Philippines really needs attention and in-depth analysis why it continues to devastate the majority of the Filipino people.

Today, the Aquino's administration has been challenged by this social predicament that has been standing ever since in the forefront of the society.

He is a poet and he authored the poetry book: Whisper of Life. He is an avid lover of poetry and born and raised in Surigao City, Philippines. He earned two baccalaureate degrees: Bachelor of Science in Accountancy and Bachelor of Science in Criminology. He has also earned 36 academic units in Master of Public Administration. He is a registered criminologist. Please visit his website @ http://www.cesargealogo.com
By Cesar Gealogo

Saturday, December 19, 2015

An Early Christmas From Congress?

It was just last year that we wondered what was going on behind closed doors until the Christmas Eve vote was over and the nation had a health care plan. A bill that is 2,300 pages in length. A bill that most people in Congress did not read. A bill that few Americans understand but are fearful of. Now, we face another Christmas deadline that affects everyone: the extension of the tax cuts.

In spite of the results of last month's election and polls that show an overwhelming percentage of respondents believe it is in the nations best interest not to raise taxes for anyone, at least until the economy improves, the politicians don't seem to understand or respect the will of the people. The lame duck Congress must take action before the current tax rates expire on January 1, 2011.

Contrary to what some politicians say, there are no actual tax cuts. By not extending the current tax rate, we avoid reverting to the 2002 taxation level. The President has recently announced a compromise plan is in the works that calls for maintaining the existing tax levels for all Americans for another two years. It also includes a provision to extend unemployment for an additional year, among other things.

The sticking point has been over whether the higher earners, who already pay higher taxes, should be forced to pay even higher rates. Many believe this would adversely affect job creation, since many of these citizens are owners of small businesses. It is these small business operators who are responsible for much of the nation's new jobs.

If this agreement had not been reached, those in the upper income brackets would also have been hit with capital gains tax increases on top of the hikes on ordinary income. This could have resulted in a sizeable falloff in the stock market and have a direct influence on the value of investments held by Americans of all income levels.

New Seniors are often dependent on the financial markets to provide income, over and above Social Security, to help them through their retirement years. So another negative adjustment in the stock market could put retirees in the position of outliving their money, even though they planned and saved for the future long before the future looked so bleak.

Many economists say the government should move aside and allow the private sector to start generating jobs. This will happen only if businesses can plan ahead and see a potential return on their investments. The lower income and capital gains tax rates for investors should provide incentives to move forward.

It is up to Congress to take the necessary actions in December to set the stage so the next session can begin its work starting in January. Let's hope they keep their transactions in the open and not act like the "Grinch who stole Christmas" again this year. All they need to do is extend the tax rates and go home. That will be the best Christmas present for all Americans.

Don Potter, a Philadelphia native, was born in 1936 and is a 50 year veteran of the advertising agency business. Now living in Los Angeles, he has written two novels in retirement, frequently writes on marketing issues, and has a blog dedicated to pre-boomers (those born between 1930 and 1945).

Read more articles for and about pre-boomers with thoughts, comments and opinions designed to spark thinking, foster discussion, and stimulate debate by logging on to http://www.pre-boomermusings.com

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