William Thien

Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Decades long (Greenspan to Yellen) monetary policy aimed at continually diminishing the strength of the currency for the regular population is in and of itself justification enough to respond.

I believe Washington has chosen monetary policy that forces the public to work longer hours for less income with the desire of increasing productivity at the expense of American working classes and their quality of life.

It has nothing to do with the general economy. The labor statistics coming out of Washington are false.  We’ve all known that for many years. The statistics don’t include the perpetually unemployed or the unaccounted for in industrially blighted urban areas. Therefor, the numbers are unreliable. So why the constant attempt to weaken the dollar?

Is it about selling more American made goods overseas? Somewhat, yes. But in my opinion it is more about squeezing the American working classes to get them to work harder for less, increasing the speed of the treadmill so to speak through weakening the dollar, thereby increasing productivity.

Again, if you weaken the dollar, if you systematically do so while steadily increasing inflation, a person needs to work harder and/or longer hours to get what they want or need or they must borrow more. A weaker dollar buys less and it buys less everywhere you use it even at home, not just overseas when you travel. The thing of it is, it’s not a function of the economy, it’s not happening on its own. It’s policy!

That’s what the FED has been up to starting with Greenspan, what the parties have been up to starting with Clinton, NAFTA and MFN for China, and the dollar.

You are getting squeezed by the FED/Washington establishment and the same people you elected. If money is speech as the Supreme Court determined, by weakening the dollar your voice is also being muffled. Directly.

The dollar isn’t too strong. Rather, Washington may be too powerful, too disingenuous.

I heard a debate on the radio this morning on the way to work. During the broadcast they were talking about a Constitutional Convention. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

I myself say, “What do you mean I don’t sound like a conservative? You are full of it. You can be a conservative and still be a working stiff! Conservatism isn’t just for the very wealthy. That’s something else altogether. That’s the monetary policy we have now.”

Copyright © William Thien 2017

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I am always a bit puzzled (not entirely, just a bit) when I hear our country’s leadership say things like “the dollar is too strong” or “we need to make the dollar more attractive in the foreign currency markets.”

What they are saying essentially is that American made products aren’t as attractive in overseas markets if the dollar is strong because the American products become too expensive or less attractive price-wise for foreign consumers.

But a weaker or weakened dollar also means that I have to spend more of my dollars to get what I want. If you don’t make that many dollars or as many as you’d like, if you are in the lower to lower middle income brackets, the argument that the dollar is too strong is a somewhat punitive statement and it means that action to bring down the value of the dollar will have a direct impact on your buying power, decreasing your buying power.

Few would disagree that America needs to sell more products in foreign markets but you would hope that our country’s leadership would find other ways to make sure such sales increase such as instituting quality controls on production or some other method rather than simply selling everything on the cheap and making everything more expensive for the American consumer, punishing the American consumer, which is what they are doing.

Manipulating currency may be easy on American producers but it is also hard on American consumers as it is the same as taxing their dollars so they have less or simply reaching into their pocketbooks and taking the money right out by decreasing their buying power.

Have you seen the price of a new car or house lately? Maybe the dollar is weak enough already.

Copyright © William Thien 2017

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This country was founded on the desire to avoid paying unreasonable taxes with the call, “Taxation without representation!” Careful scrutiny of taxes and tax law is in the DNA of every true American.

Anyone of us can make the argument that there are times we don’t see a fair distribution or proper use of our taxes.

The tax code is written with lobbied, legislated loopholes and for businesses and business people not to utilize those loopholes would be foolish financial practice. We all use whatever deduction we can use when we do our taxes. Why shouldn’t someone in business do the same? Why shouldn’t Donald Trump do the same?

Most programs used on home computers to do your taxes compute those deductions for us. If we go to an accountant or tax attorney, they do the same.

Trump isn’t really doing anything wrong in that regard. It’s a non-issue.

What I will say, though, is that the circumstances at hand are to me the best reason for a flat tax, in that not only will everyone pay their fair share when there is a flat tax, we would all be equally invested in seeing that the tax rate is kept under control. As it is now, the tax code only treats some favorably or fairly. All you have to do is read my essay America’s Unfair Tax Code and The Brown Headed Cowbird to know that.

Trump not paying any income taxes for years is the best reason for a flat tax.

Copyright © William Thien 2016

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Profits are profits until the method used to achieve and generate those profits is no longer a valid method of profit generation and instead becomes a generator of future liabilities, turning profits into false prophets, ahem, false profits.

We know that ultra low interest rates, something we have been seeing for over a decade, have resulted in incredible surges in stock market strength and gargantuan growth in the real estate market. Yet, we also know that even slight upticks or the mere talk of increases in lending rates can result in sizable market corrections. We have seen this phenomenon during the last year and a half during public discussions by the FED to increase interest rates, causing the FED to abandon all such plans time and time again as the market plummets over several days. Just the mere whisper of an increase in rates causes panic.

Therefore, has the method of keeping interest rates so low for so long actually created an environment where today’s profits are actually future liabilities? If so, then they are false prophets, ahem, false profits.

Copyright © William Thien 2016

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The FED and the administration have been saying inflation is under control but the numbers tell us otherwise. In a recent article on Reuters it was determined that many major pharmaceutical manufacturers are charging prices as much as one hundred percent (100 %) higher than just five years ago for necessary medications. Is it inflation? Is it price gouging? Is it ethical? One thing is for sure, the prices are up. That signifies inflation.

Read the article here, Makers took big price increases on widely used U.S. drugs.

Drug price increases at 100 percent over five years and inflation is under control? What’s that you say?

Copyright © William Thien 2016

One thing socialists and communists don’t want the public to know about socialism and communism is that the social programs they derive make things more expensive for those who are taxed to pay for the programs.

Let’s take rent assistance, for example. If you skim tax dollars off of the middle class (that’s where the money comes from) to redistribute it to pay for single women having children out-of-wedlock (nearly half of all babies born last year were born to single mothers), single mothers who need to stay home and take care of their babies, what is effectively happening is that an increase in the demand for rental housing is taking place and there is a corresponding supply of money, rent assistance dollars, to satisfy that demand. The socialists are using your money, tax dollars, to pay for that rent assistance. You are thinking, “Awe, isn’t that nice, I’m helping someone keep a roof over their heads.” But that’s only a small portion of it really, the good part.

The social programs put more money into the rental economy and thereby enable landowners to increase their rents. If all people don’t have enough money to pay the rent, landlords have to lower the rents. When demand is high, when money is available as in the form of rent assistance, prices are kept high, artificially high. The key word is “artificially” high. When demand is low, prices go down.

Now there is nothing wrong with landowners getting paid for renting their property, but social programs such as rent assistance are a double whammy to you and your dollar in that they totally undermine your very own housing dollar by working against it, driving the price of housing up for you and also taxing you for the dollars to do it! That’s what the socialists and communists don’t want you to know! They are forcing you to screw yourself right out of your very own place!

The same holds true for most major social programs and entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid, you name it. If you examine the cost of health care since the implementation of those two programs, what has happened? Recognize a pattern, yet?

Shhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone. They don’t want you to know, either. I’m not supposed to say anything, or else!, they say.

The media doesn’t tell you, do they? No, they want people sitting at home in front of the television or making more babies on the rug in front of it. If people are working, they can’t watch TV. Only those who ascribe to the socialist system can stay at home and watch TV all the time because they get the check, the assistance, and the food stamps. And many do. One in six Americans now receives food stamps, almost fifteen percent of the population. How many of them are working?

Corporate media actually likes the socialist system because it creates a large audience of viewers that they can market their products to in order to get the money from the food stamps and assistance checks. Is it big business? No, ladies and gentlemen, it’s huge!

How about food stamps? We’ve been talking about that lately. As I’ve described, when you throw a bunch of money in to any market, prices go up. It’s basic economic theory. If the supply remains constant and demand increases, prices go up. When you put $74 billion dollars into the market economy demand increases and so prices go up. And prices have gone up, haven’t they?

There were some questions sent to me asking about how such assistance programs drive up the prices of things and as you can see, not only do social programs drive up the price of things you buy, they use your money to do it. That’s what the socialists and communists in the government don’t want you to know.

Well, what’s in it for the socialists and communists in the government, you ask? A job, a job helping you screw yourself it appears, and judging from the size and scope of social programs in the US in comparison to the 1950’s, apparently they take great pleasure in seeing to it. Maybe Senator McCarthy from Wisconsin was right. Yes, I suppose he was.

Shhh! I shouldn’t be telling you all of this, any of it.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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Someone I know and respect asked me to write something about the difficulty of finding a job these days on behalf of one of their loved ones and so here it is. This could very easily be about myself, though, or you.

Could it be that one of the reasons it is so difficult to get a job these days is because those who have the jobs make it so difficult to get the jobs in the first place? Or do they really have that many jobs to begin with? Are all of these numbers the government is always throwing around and employers are touting for real? Do they really have that many jobs or is there something else going on?

The reason I ask is that when I was younger, often getting a job meant asking someone, “Hey, I’m looking for work. Do you have anything right now?” If they had work and thought you could do it, they would put you right to work.

If you were still there at the end of the day, they would have you fill out an application which consisted of your name and address and where you’d worked previously and some contact information for those employers. You completed a tax statement regarding withholding from your check and that was it. Sometimes it was a little more complicated than that, sometimes less. But you were paid for that day’s work and hired if they asked you to come back. Not these days.

Today when you apply, many corporations make you complete an online application that frequently takes several hours of your time and requires that a rather intrusive, personal questionnaire to be answered. Many companies make you enact the actual job you will be doing by using role-playing software online that requires you to role play in the job of the potential employee. By the time you are finished with the application, often you have spent three or four hours, sometimes more of your time and still don’t have any response from the employer. You are working and not getting paid. I’m talking about the larger corporate employers of course, but many if not most have something similar involved nowadays. Is there a need for all of this pre-screening? To be sure, it has value, value in more ways than one of course as well shall see.

The reasoning behind it all is that employers believe they can acquire employees that are more suitable for the particular position and protect themselves from potential liability at the same time. And those are good reasons! But just as often employers are merely acquiring data on the person who wants to work there because the applicant also patronizes the place of business. People are known to apply to work at places they like to visit. In other words employers are telling applicants they have a job but instead what they are doing is testing the applicant in a marketing sense and acquiring extremely valuable data about your likes, interests, and financial position, in order to be more competitive.

To acquire that data by collecting it in another fashion, legitimately that is, they would have to pay an agency a lot of money. By having you answer some questions during the application process, they can essentially force you to provide the data to them for free. Employers are known to take a resume that you have sent to them in an email, populate it into a database, and then send you targeted advertisements based on the information, such as your hobbies and travel interests that you list in your resume, when you simply thought you were applying for a job. Employers are also known to accumulate information from all of the resumes they receive and create a picture of the potential customer by melding and merging information from all of the resumes. Not a bad idea in a business sense really, just a little bit unscrupulous, that’s all.

What’s really frightening is that the entire process dramatically increases your vulnerability to identity theft as your information is traded from one interested party to another. Your file is enlarged as more information is added along the way. Soon, someone, a corporation or a political party perhaps, is bound to have everything about you that they need to do whatever they want to you when all you were doing at the onset was looking for a job.

Let me add that I am a conservative and believe business needs to be able to function in the most unrestricted manner possible.

Yet I think the type of behavior I describe here should be regulated. At a time when many Americans are desperately looking for a “decent” job, many employers are taking advantage of the circumstances and doing just what I describe. I know others who have had to endure the same process over and over again never to hear from the potential employer once they jump through all the hoops. Kind of tells you something, doesn’t it?

That is why I believe the application process should be limited to merely asking the necessary questions to determine if the person is eligible to work in the particular environment in question and then a process should take effect whereby the applicant is promised reciprocal progress from the potential employer in some regard. In other words, there should be steps involved that require the employer to first check for potential employability for that particular position and then the employer requests that the potential employee carry on with the application process with certain promises involved.

Instead, what is happening is that many, many employers are doing what in the statistics business is called “Harvesting Data,” and they are abusing a population desperately in need of decent employment by testing them, poking and prodding them as they apply for work with no real ability or intent to employ each and every one who completes the surveys, questionnaires, the intrusive psychological batteries of questions that so many people looking for work must complete.

But it doesn’t stop there. Oh no! Once you complete all of that, many employers will make you take a drug screen, too, a drug screen often merely to earn minimum wage, after all of that other rigmarole.

They want to know about your driving record, have you ever been arrested, can they check your credit score, do you Facebook, do you have any debts, single, married, military service, education level, and the list goes on and on today. They don’t want to know if you can do the job and do it well, they want primarily to know “ABOUT” you. Employers buy and sell the information they receive from massive numbers of resumes after the information has been put in to databases. Yes! They do. It’s a source of profit.

They are not looking for a reason to hire you anymore; the entire process is backwards. They instead are looking for a reason NOT to hire you these days. It’s called screening. It’s always been done of course but now it is has become an intrusive, predatory, profitable practice. You could be the most competent, the most capable candidate for the job but perhaps your credit score is a little low. Maybe there is a picture of you on a web site at a party living it up. Maybe they hired some firm to check you out. You are out of contention! But you know what, they still have all of your information, don’t they? Yes, they do. And they will use it. You can bet on that. They don’t purge it.

How could they make any money off of your information if they purged it? In statistics you are now what is called a “case.” You have an electronic file at that corporation. When you were filling out that app, you know what they did? They left a “cookie” on your hard drive. If you didn’t remove it, now they know where you surf the internet. Now your file grows and grows. They know all about you. They may even find something interesting about you in your resume and begin searching for information about you on the internet and build that file so they can test you. Oh, yes. They do that. Make no mistake. You have to be careful when you apply at a corporation these days. Ever look at a corporation when you are driving by and ask you yourself, “I wonder what they make there?” Maybe they are making YOU! Why don’t you send them your resume?

So, no wonder it is so difficult to get a job. The actual process of getting a job is often working against you and it is in fact designed to work against you.

It wasn’t like that when I was younger. I can’t believe that somehow all Americans have become monsters that would destroy a corporation in a way that the application process indicates they all are. Maybe it is the other way around. Maybe the reason people are having trouble getting jobs these days is because employers are making the task of getting a job simply too difficult and instead profiting from the process at the same time in what some might say is a predatory fashion. Yes, maybe that’s what is happening. Or maybe there is no “maybe” about it. By the time you complete the entire process, some “holier than thou” person you never meet has found some selection you have made online in the application process they didn’t like or you don’t match “the profile,” when instead all they really are doing is “harvesting data” only to use it against you in a sales pitch perhaps to profit from your need to work.

You might ask, well if the unemployed aren’t working, they don’t have any money, why would they want to market to them in the first place? Quite the opposite. Marketers focus intently on the unemployed because many of the unemployed are receiving weekly benefits and not working. They have leisure time, time to spend their benefit money. Marketers also focus on single women having children out-of-wedlock who receive government benefits. Last year over forty percent of children were born to single mothers, nearly half. It’s a huge market. HUGE! It’s a science.

You often hear employers clamoring that they can’t get enough trained people in the US and they want to hire from outside the US. They want the State Department to increase US work visas for foreign nationals. Why? They claim that there are not enough US applicants. Why? Because the system of hiring has screened any potential US citizens out! The US produces more thoroughly trained applicants than any other place in the world and does it well. It’s just that the hiring process precludes many of them from working in The US. And the employers want a tax break for hiring foreign nationals, too! Go figure.

Some might say, “Bill, stop it. You are killing us. We are trying to do business here.” My response, “It’s a flawed business model. You don’t treat your customers that way. That’s not how you treat the American public.”

It’s time to regulate the job application process.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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