JBS CEO Art Thompson's weekly video news update for October 24-30, 2011.
At a news conference in Washington yesterday, a group of U.S. solar panel makers accused China of dumping Chinese-made solar panels on the U.S. market and asked the government for protection by raising tariffs on the offenders. Executives from SolarWorld, which makes its panels in Oregon, were at the conference along with both Oregon Senators.
Said SolarWorld President Gordon Brinser, his company “can compete with anyone in the world [but] illegal subsidies in China [are allowing] the Chinese solar industry to come in and gut and own the U.S. solar industry.” Because the alleged dumping has caused prices to decline, it has put several panel makers into financial difficulty, and was a proximate cause of the disintegration of Solyndra. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) claimed that because of the dumping of panels at below-market prices, “the American solar industry has been collapsing.” Part of the reason is that the Chinese government has been extending low-interest loans to Chinese panel makers, which Wyden called “cheating,” thus allowing them to offer panels for sale below the production costs of U.S. makers.
The group wants the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission to impose a duty on all panels imported from China sufficient to bring the price back up to where the U.S. makers can be competitive, and profitable, again.
While high unemployment persists and the U.S. economy remains stubbornly flat, Washington, D.C. now hails as the nation’s wealthiest metropolitan area, according to new data from the Census Bureau. Dethroning Silicon Valley from its royal chair, the hometown of Congress and the White House is flourishing, as the median household income for Washington residents stood at $84,523 in 2010, when the nation’s average household income was $50,046. The data shows that San Jose, home of Apple and Cisco Systems, held an average income of $83,944 in 2010, falling from $84,483 in 2009, and now riding on the coattails of America’s political stronghold.
Federal worker compensation last year averaged $126,369 (including healthcare and other benefits), a more than $3,500 increase from 2009, and as of June, the D.C. area had 170,467 federal employees. According to a Bloomberg analysis, the nearly $35,000 disparity in income largely attributes to a high concentration of lawyers and federal workers whose earnings far exceed $100,000 a year.
The data illustrates how the political elite continues to thrive — while overall poverty in the area remains high — as the U.S. economy remains stagnant and unemployment maintains its 9 percent mark. "There’s a gap that’s isolating Washington from the reality of the rest of the country," asserted Kevin Zeese, director of Prosperity Agenda, an advocacy group in Baltimore. "They just get more and more out of touch."
As unpatriotic and insane as it may sound, an economic depression may be the best thing that could happen to America in a long time. It will force Americans to get back to the basics of life, and rebuild their lives on a foundation of productive work and sensible spending. We should not forget that the Pilgrims came to these shores when there was nothing here but wilderness, and it was through their hard work and faith in their Creator that they started to build this great nation.
Of this miraculous process, William Bradford wrote: “Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by his hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone to many, yea in some sort to our whole nation. Let the glorious name of Jehova have all the praise.”
Lee Eisenberg wrote in now defunct Portfolio magazine (March 2009): “The bottom line here is that things that truly matter in life do not come with daunting price tags attached. Sure, we all need food, health care, and shelter from the storm. But other than that, we don’t need an especially big Number to buy that which we ‘can’t live without,’ things that are ‘bedrock important.’… To sell a house we love is no small lifestyle relapse. But if the tradeoff is freedom gained — the opportunity for creative expression, doing good for others, keeping loved ones connected — well, I call that comfort, even if it’s cold comfort, in this, the winter of our discontent.”
Over the course of the last few weeks, the Occupy Wall Street protests have increased in size and volume, and have been given generous attention by a sympathetic mainstream media. A number of media outlets have attempted to present the demonstrators as merely disgruntled Americans who are unhappy with the current plight of the American economy, despite evidence that the protests have been staged by Marxists, socialists, unions, and other left-wing organizations with intents greater than merely bringing light to the struggle of the average American. For those behind the demonstrations, though not necessarily the demonstrators, the goal is in fact to bring about global government.
Prior to the start of the Occupy Wall Streets, which began on October 15, the UNPA Campaign — the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly — reports that a group of leftists “issued a manifesto that includes a strong call for global democracy and, in particular, democratic rule over the international financial system.”
UNPA is a group that describes itself as “a global network of parliamentarians and non-governmental organizations advocating citizen’s representation at the United Nations.” It might be worth noting that the group receives much of its funds from the Ford Foundation, whose mission indicates that its finances will be used “to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.” As noted by former board member Henry Ford II at the time of his resignation from the board, however, those endeavors amount to nothing more than anti-capitalist leftism. In his resignation letter, Ford wrote, "In effect, the Foundation is a creature of capitalism, a statement that, I'm sure, would be shocking to many professional staff people in the field of philanthropy.
According to the Associated Press for Oct. 20, more than 100,000 people assembled in front of the Greek parliament yesterday to vent their opposition to the proposed austerity legislation. The AP added of today's scene:
Protesters gathered by the tens of thousand[s] outside the Greek parliament Thursday, ahead of a vote on intensely unpopular new measures needed to secure continued payment of international rescue loans that have so far prevented the country from sliding into bankruptcy.
It is the second day of a general strike which has essentially shut down the country. GSEE, Greece's largest private-sector labor union, announced that there was 100-percent participation in strikes against shipping, refineries, and transport, and 90-percent participation in strikes against construction, banks, power companies, phone companies, postal service, and water companies. Municipal garbage pickup was delayed, and hospitals, courts, and schools were also affected.
Some rioters threatened the Greek parliament building itself, and a few broke through a police barrier and ran to the tomb of the unknown solider in front of the parliament. In Thessaloniki (biblical Thessalonica), the second largest city in Greece, protesters vandalized shops which remained open in spite of the strike.
"Occupy Wall Street” has become something of a Rorschach test: observers find in it whatever they want to. If you consider protests a left-wing remnant from the turbulent 1960s, you’ll probably perceive the residents of OWS’s encampment as dirty hippies who foully curse the visiting bourgeoisie. If your hatred of the corporatist police-state lends you sympathy for its victims, OWS’s tents are friendly enough to tour with your teen-aged sons, eminently peaceful, and libertarian if not anarchic.
I can’t comment on OWS from personal experience: I avoid crowds like the plague (yep, that’s tough when you live in New York City. They don’t call me The Miracle Worker for nothing). But even if I enjoyed mixing with the great unwashed, I would still keep my distance from Zuccotti Park: regardless of his niche on the political spectrum, everyone admits the cops are swarming there. Prizing my life and liberty, I eschew police even more than I do crowds. The militarized thugs with which New York’s rulers control us will sooner or later fire on the protesters. Thanks, but I’ll mourn The Bankers’ Massacre from my safe and comfy office.
One point on which OWS’s 99% agree is that they represent thousands of opinions on virtually every topic. They also insist they don’t necessarily have any answers, that they simply want to emphasize how wrong things are.
Nonetheless, all this open-mindedness and humility didn’t keep them from issuing a “first official document for release” that “was unanimously voted on by all members of Occupy Wall Street last night, around 8pm, Sept 29.”
“Ron Paul has now walked the budget-cutting walk he’s been talking about.” The words of Investor’s Business Daily’s Andrew Malcolm sum up most commentators’ initial reactions to the Texas Congressman’s “Plan to Restore America,” and who could disagree? For decades Paul has been arguing that federal spending must be slashed, and on Monday, October 17, he laid out just how he intends to do that if elected President in 2012: Eliminate agencies, end foreign aid, repeal reams of regulations, cut military spending, reduce the federal workforce, and freeze mandatory spending. His expected results: $1 trillion in immediate cuts, followed by a balanced budget in three years. “Bold” — the word most commonly used to describe Paul’s proposal — is, perhaps, an understatement.
Both supporters and detractors praised Paul for being specific in what he would cut.
Cincinnati’s Fox19 station, for instance, said Paul’s plan “is the only full budget plan proposed thus far that proposes balancing the budget with actual cuts. Not, using fuzzy math with ‘cuts’ in defense spending that wasn’t going to be spent.”
“The contrast between the so-called super committee’s goal and Paul’s plan shows how pathetic official Washington’s gestures of fiscal responsibility are,” observed Jacob Sullum. “Paul’s detailed numbers refute the myth that the budget cannot be balanced without raising taxes while challenging his opponents to put up or shut up.”
With the announcement from Gallup that the unemployment rate had dropped precipitously in early October to 8.3 percent came the disclaimer that they could be wrong. Chief Economist Dennis Jacobe wrote that “the sharp drop in Gallup’s unemployment and underemployment rates may partly result from seasonal factors. Halloween has become the third-largest sales season for many retailers, who are likely increasing their staffing accordingly. In addition, some stores may have been minimally staffed and are beginning early to add employees for the holidays.” But it also “means it could be something of an aberration that will dissipate during the weeks ahead ... but for now, this job market improvement appears real.”
As the Occupy Wall Street protests have gained momentum over the last few weeks, many have pointed out that the protesters' anger is directed at the wrong people. Critics of the movement, while understanding the frustration of the demonstrators, contend that their focus should be on a number of other sources: the Federal Reserve, for instance, and also the elected officials who continue to support government intervention in the free market and to pick and choose winners via regulations and the “too big to fail” philosophy.
Meanwhile, Wall Street is already gearing up to buy off another round of elected officials, solidifying the very collusion between Wall Street and the federal government that has both Occupy Wall Street protesters and their critics concerned.
The Center for Responsive Politics recently posted data regarding the financial contributions of Wall Street firms to each presidential contender’s campaign for the 2012 elections.
According to the data, Mitt Romney has received the most donations from Goldman Sachs — nearly $400,000 to date. The next closest is President Obama with $49,000, followed by Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, and Ron Paul, the latter of whom received just $2,500 from the company.