Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Collapse of Paper Assets

The first time I saw it, I just had to have it.

"It," in this case, is an original movie poster - Wall Street, to be exact.

To be even more exact, "it" is the Polish version of the Wall Street movie poster - a hand-drawn abstraction of the movie's money-is-the-root-of-evil theme that looks nothing like the U.S. poster, a photo that depicts Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah and Michael Douglas set against the Manhattan skyline.

But I share this not because I think this poster is cool - and it is. I share it because I have an investment motive to tell you about today...

I came across the poster while in London back in September, visiting my friend Geoff Anandappa at Stanley Gibbons, one of the oldest coin and stamp dealers in the world. He had invited over one of his new contacts, Bruce Marchant, who makes a business connecting collectors of movie memorabilia with rare and collectible movie posters.

You'd be surprised how much these things go for. At the top end, they fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars. My Polish Wall Street and the Czech version of Terminator (one of the coolest movie posters I've ever seen!) set me back a bit more than $1,000 combined.

But this story isn't about movie posters, per se. It's about hard assets - the theme of 2017 - which are uncorrelated to paper assets.

It's those paper assets that have me writing this piece today.

Too Many Bubbles

We are in a paper bubble. A massive paper bubble.

Stock prices are not just at historic highs - they're at valuations that have been seen only a few times in history, and each time served as preamble to a monumental meltdown.

Bond prices are in the mother of all bubbles because of überlow interest rates that have persisted for nearly a decade now.

The U.S. dollar - a paper asset in that it's backed by nothing more substantial than the petty whims of politicians - is in a bubble that has seen it rise to a 14-year high. Relative to other major currencies that are worse off than the buck, that makes some sense. But relative to the underlying fundamentals of a nation strangled by more than $19 trillion in debt and a political class riven by diametrically opposed views on substantive matters that will define our financial future, the dollar is used toilet paper masquerading as art.

Each of these three bubbles will burst, possibly violently, possibly less so.

They might burst separately. They might burst in a unified implosion.

Whatever the means by which these bubbles go away, they will all go away at some point.

And at the same time we have these obese bubbles waiting on a pinprick, we find ourselves in an economy that lurches toward stagflation.

As I've written about a few times now, the economic policies that are likely to flow from a Trump White House are both inflationary and recessionary - the combination of which is, by definition, stagflation.

Catch the Countertrend

The last time stagflation visited, in the 1970s, stocks, bonds and cash suffered. All were marginally or substantially negative. Commodities rocked!

Gold rallied from a low of $100 an ounce in August 1976 to a peak of $873 an ounce in January 1980 - 773% gain.

Silver jumped from $1.28 an ounce to $41.50 an ounce from 1971 to 1980 - a 3,100% gain.

Even coffee soared from $45.20 in 1975 to $337.50 in 1977.

But of course they would. They're hard assets. They're real in that they always have some intrinsic value to someone who needs them.

No one needs a share of stock. But everyone needs energy or food or materials to build a shelter.

No one needs pieces of paper currency to buy something, but everyone needs a way to transact commerce, and if the paper in people's wallets is losing value to inflation, they can opt to use real money in the form of metals (or they will opt to trade paper money for metals, knowing that the metal will rise in value relative to the paper money and, thus, generate a larger pile of paper money that can then be used for commerce).

Just as those hard assets rise in value, so, too, do prices for real assets such as land and various collectibles such as wine, art, sports trading cards and such that might not at first seem like assets.

See, when traditional assets are under pressure, people pull out their money to keep it safe. But they don't necessarily leave it in cash, since cash is losing value to the inflation component of stagflation. Instead, they buy tangible assets that they believe will hold value and become more valuable as inflation pushes up those prices.

For that reason, hard assets are the play today.

Yes, Wall Street is hitting record highs. Yes, the buck is ripsnorting its way higher. And, yes, it seems counterintuitive to recommend that you reduce your exposure to stocks and the dollar by snapping up hard assets.

But playing the countertrends is where the greatest profits hide, and with the least amount of risk.

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.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Global Health Crisis

In no other time in the history of the United States has our population attained the dubious distinction that as a nation we spend the most on health care and yet are one of the least healthiest of all the industrialized world. It can be arguably said that the greatness of a nation and it's ability to leave a lasting legacy lies in the health of it's people. For over two hundred years the United States achieved greatness not just because of it's military might but on the health and well being of it's citizens. Since the last quarter of the 20th century there has been a major assault on the health of this nation. It can't be more evident when we look at what is actually happening to too many citizens of the United States.

In the last 60 years we have seen many marvels of technology, medicine, and science come into play. But, with all the marvels of the age too many people are succumbing to too many preventable diseases and ailments. It seems along with Global Warming every year there continues to be a steady increase in preventable diseases and ailments. There has been steady increases in all forms of cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, dementia, obesity and even birth defects. Let's not forget all the other ailments that many are associated with these diseases. Almost all of these illnesses and inflictions can be prevented.

One has to question why this is happening with all the medical technologies and marvels there are. It is as though there is a full scale assault on the health and stability a country that is considered to be the most advanced country on earth. If we take a close look back at the way things were 60 years ago especially with the food we ate you can't help come to the conclusion that as a nation the United States was a much healthier nation compared to today. The biggest factor to consider even though life expectancy was a little lower than today generally speaking we actually were healthier. Sure, people developed cancer, people had dementia and Alzheimer's, and yes many had diabetes. There were overweight individuals as well. But, all of these developments whether they were full blown diseases, aliments or conditions or not the numbers don't even come close to the skyrocketing increases we are seeing today.

One of the biggest culprits in contributing to the steady decline of the nations health comes from the industrialization of the food we consume. Sure, there have been strides to improve the quality of food sources, but it is the corporate farming industry that continues to mount an aggressive campaign to corner the markets sort of speaking in regard to the supply of food available for the overall populations consumption.

Not too many people even realize that the FDA has been an unwitting accomplice in contributing to the deteriorating health of the population of the United States. The scientific community has found that many additives, preservatives and supplements that are injected or added to many of the foods we consume are cancer causing carcinogens. One supplement in particular is Folic Acid. Let's not confuse this supplement with the natural Folic Acid found in many of the fresh foods. But, this supplement that is added to so many of the process foods is a detriment to everyone's health. This is just one example of the monumental amount of supplements, additives, and preservatives that are processed and not natural that is purposely put in the foods we all consume.

To further understand why as a nation we are faced with a full blown health crisis is to take a look at pharmaceutical industry, Monsanto Corporation, to the medical community and health care providers all are getting rich at the expense of the health of our citizens. Sixty years ago we still had local independent family farming communities which supplied the local population with abundant fresh nutritious food. Farms back then practiced crop rotations thereby giving the soil enough time to replenish the nutriments that are a vital source of the nutritious food we all consumed.

What we are experiencing here in the United States is part of a global health crisis. This global health crisis is all attributed to fresh water shortages, lack of sanitation and decreasing nutritious food sources. Every country rich or poor is affected by this growing health crisis. Today, the whole world is faced with the reality of a global nutritious food shortages along with depleting supplies of fresh water. In many parts of the world already are facing acute food and water shortages. Even here in the US a growing number of people face horrific starvation, lack of fresh water and poverty everyday. Just this past year the humanitarian catastrophe in Lake Chad where conflict has left over 8 million people facing acute starvation failed to get everyone's attention. In Yemen famine is already a harsh reality. In that part of the world the UN Secretary-General has stated and fears that genocide will take over through-out the region. All because of the lack of potable fresh water and acute shortages of food. With civil wars raging in Syria and Iraq along with the global refugee crisis the disaster in Lake Chad is said to be on an epic scale of biblical proportions with terrifying rates of child malnutrition.

The greatest concern is that around the world at least 80% of the earths farmable land is already under productive, and of this 80% 40% is so severely depleted due to extensive chemically based farming practices. Compounding this dilemma is the increasing dependence on hybrid varieties. In actuality they don't have nearly the capacity to self-replenish due to the fact that these hybrid food sources were designed using chemicals. Added to all of this is the continuing escalation of energy prices. The rotation of crops a direct link to enriched food sources really haven't been used for the past 60 years. This leaves the land so worn out whatever food is harvested is extremely weak if not completely void in vitamins and minerals that are essential for the bodies overall health.

With corporate farming where the bottom line is all that matters here in the United States and it can be said all around the globe the available soil that is the base for our food sources has been steadily over cultivated for the past 60 years. Over farmed to the point that the nutrients and minerals that are essential for healthy crops are completely missing. Consequently, the Honey bees are dying off because the soil hasn't had time to replenish itself. This is devastating to the Honey Bees and to humanity. The Honey bees are now more susceptible to viruses, mites and pesticides. This is the greatest cause as to why the Honey Bees are vanishing.

With the decline of the Honey Bee and the farming practices that corporate farms continue to use along with the GMO food sources that Monsanto produces the health of nations remains in jeopardy. And until we realize that local independent farming where proper techniques are used like crop rotation and put in place fresh water transfer technologies where everyone has abundant fresh water the health crisis we are facing today will only get worse.

Just this past year over 45% Honey Bee colonies were killed off. Millions poisoned by insecticides spraying for Zika. Other insecticides such as Bayer and Syngenta keep flooding our farmable land here in the US with toxins that have been known to wipe out bee colonies. They are still the most widely used pesticides in the country. Many other parts of the world also continue to use these bee killing pesticides.

The future of humanity rests with the action to protect not only the survival of the Honey Bee but action to stop the horrific carnage that is sweeping terror all over the world. As for the future of the Honey Bee if our newly elected President continues to ignore science the health of not only this nation but that of the world is in grave danger. Again, like Global Warming to ignore it's existence the health crisis facing the world today will only get much worse. And that is a scenario to horrific to contemplate.
By Dr. Tim G Williams

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Free Number Search

Phone numbers are cheap to get these days, and the search for a number you like can be done at no cost.

When I needed a toll-free number for my business, I turned to a service called Kall8. I was able to search through a list of available numbers without even creating an account.

Kall8 even has local numbers throughout the United States, which is useful when a business wants to provide local access to their out-of-town customers.

Kall8 is a hosted service. This means that they run the equipment that manages the call routing. You have control over the settings via a web portal, so you can customize how your number handles calls. I'll give you a quick review of features in a moment, but first it's important to ask if there are any negatives?

Before you decide to use a hosted number, you should make sure you consider anything that might negatively affect you.

Disadvantages with Using a Hosted Number

There is always the other side to consider before making a decision to use a hosted phone number. Let's review them.

You still have to have an active phone line from your local phone company if you want to receive incoming calls. The Kall8 number can forward to any other number and that's how you receive your calls.
If one wants to use his or her office number, and transfers it to the hosted service agency, there no longer will be a way to receive the transferred calls. Unless one keeps a line with another number or uses a cell phone.
Even though the monthly fees are very low for hosted services, ongoing usage charges can add up. If you do a large business and have calls coming in from, say, television advertising, you could possibly run up a big bill.
If one forwards the office number to the hosted service, they can't use that same line to receive calls that may be transferred back. That would create an infinite loop.
If none of these issues is a problem for you, then Kall8 could be a very useful service for your home or small business.

What Kind of Phone Numbers Can You Find?

Original 800 and vanity numbers can be found at no cost for the search. If you find one you like, you can register an account to start using it immediately.

Billing is $2 a month for 888, 877, 866 and 855 area codes, while 800 and vanity numbers are slightly higher.

Useful Features

There are advantages with having a phone number serviced by Kall8. With Online Management, you can set up custom Call Forwarding to other numbers or even to your cell phone. You can set up and maintain your Voice Mail. You can block unwanted numbers. You can even enable fax detection and direct incoming faxes to go to your email as a PDF file.

All this is possible because the number is hosted by a service running on an automated system. Parameters can be changed as desired for many custom configurations.

There is so much more that can be done, features not available with ordinary phone service. It's perfect for a small business that needs to control costs.

For further detailed information on Kall8's features, see this related article:

Kall8 Toll Free Phone Service

About the author: Glenn Stok is the founder of Stok Software, Inc., a New York business that designed and supported small business phone systems for over 35 years.

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 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:

Popular Posts