Posted by: coastcontact | May 4, 2016

The Nominees

The Nominees

Neither of these candidates are good for America. I see two Twilight Zone Devils.

In other words they appear reasonable until the until the last moment when they will do their nasty acts.  Of course we won’t know that until it has happened.

Hillary Clinton is an insider who has too many donors that will have the final say on her actions as president. She is most likely to follow the philosophy of her husband (former President Bill Clinton). Recall that he signed the law revoking the Glass-Steagall act of 1933 that prohibited commercial banks from engaging in the investment business. He also signed into law NAFTA, a law proposed by Republicans and pushed by President George H.W. Bush that resulted in numerous companies relocating to Mexico.

Donald Trump has no experience in public office and does not appear to understand the workings of the federal government. He clearly does not understand the total significance of the Bill of Rights. “One of the things I’m going to do if I win… I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money,” Trump said during a rally in Fort Worth, Texas. He has limited understanding of the relations the United States has with other countries and like most of us does not know a great deal about our military capabilities. He is a scholar of business.

Let’s start with Hillary Clinton.

  1. There is no explanation to be found where she tells where she was and what she was doing when Benghazi, Libya was attacked.
  2. The use of her private e-mail server does not appear to have compromised anything. However, her use of that device calls into question her judgement.
  3. There is no theme to her campaign for president. Her entire theme seems to be she will continue the Obama administration and the banners saying “She’s with Us” and “Fighting for us.” The number one reason Hillary should be our next president according to her web site is “As a former secretary of state, U.S. senator, first lady, and a lifelong advocate for women and families, no one is more qualified to be president than Hillary.”

Let’s look at Donald Trump.

  1. He has never held any elected office.
  2. People might ask “How is Donald Trump able to file for bankruptcy so many times?” The answer is “He didn’t.” Trump himself has never filed for bankruptcy. His corporations have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy four times. This information from
  3. Is he a buffoon? A genius? An exploration of the man, his brand, and his chronic bluster at The Atlantic offers a perspective.
  4. Foreign trade is a big part of the Trump campaign. Donald Trump’s trade war could kill millions of U.S. jobs contends Jim Tankersley in The Washington Post.

Go ahead and choose your devil. Just understand that in four years you will be ready for another unacceptable president. Ugh!!

Posted by: coastcontact | May 2, 2016

Foolishly Passed Laws and the Unintended Consequences

A Tale of Two Nafta Towns

This is a story about NAFTA. The theory must have been that lower tariffs between Mexico, Canada, and the United States would benefit businesses in all three countries. Who would have thought that American companies would move to Mexico? But that is precisely what happened.

The latest that received attention from Donald Trump are Oreo Cookies and Carrier Air Conditioning. There have been many others that come to mind for me personally.

Bloomberg Businessweek reported on the case of A. O. Smith, an electric motor manufacturer in the small southern Kentucky town of Scottsville (population 4,226). The factory employed 1,100 people. Randall Williams and his wife Brenda each earned $16.10 per hour. The factory closed and moved to Acuña, Mexico. The workers in Mexico earn $1.75 per hour. The Williams have new jobs that pay minimum wage. She works in the high school cafeteria and he fills orders in a local farm store.

Brenda and Randall Williams plan to vote for Donald Trump in November.

A Tale of the Consequence of Minimum Wage Laws

Florida’s governor is fishing for California jobs now that the minimum wage will be $10.50 per hour in January 2017 and $15.00 per hour in 2022.

Laws are passed by government without adequate consideration of possible unintended consequences.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 30, 2016

President Trump Good for California?

Oh, he’ll be great, just like his border wall

by Steve Lopez Contact Reporter and commentator for the Los Angeles Times

This is a really funny, witty column.

We have a very beautiful state here.

Absolutely beautiful.

And people are always saying to me, whether they live in California or they’re visiting from somewhere else in the country or the world, hey, this is fantastic. That’s what they say about California. They’ve never seen anything like it.

Did I mention that it’s huge?

This state is very huge, with lots of mountains, gorgeous mountains. We have the best mountains. And of course — I don’t need to tell you — we have the most wonderful beaches in the world.

I don’t care where you’ve been. The French Riviera. Hawaii. The Caribbean.

Our beaches are the best.

Believe me.

We have top-notch people here, too, with terrific ability, some of them. Very intelligent. They’re making rockets; that’s how smart they are.

And the women — many of the women — are beautiful, the most beautiful women in the world. Best of all, they don’t go around playing the woman card like somebody we know.

Now comes the big question, this being the middle of a presidential campaign:

What’s in store for our great state of California if Donald Trump is elected president of the United States?

I get asked this by readers, some of the best readers, and some of them are speed readers. Brilliant people. Some of them follow me on Twitter — I have great power on Twitter, by the way. I tweet, I get re-tweeted, and my enemies weep. Or call me an idiot, but that’s the way it goes.

California company, Twitter. Not Texas, home of lying Ted, who is hated by everybody.

Everybody hates him! That I can tell you, OK?

Anyhow, getting back to the readers, they want to know what a Trump presidency looks like for the country, but more specifically, they want to know what’s in it for California.

In some respects it’s hard to know, because Trump hasn’t spelled out many policy details, but look at the man’s record of success.

He is rich. Filthy rich.

I rest my case.

You think he got that way not knowing how to run things? His IQ is one of the highest, according to a Tweet he sent out.

The highest! I guarantee it.

So when Trump says he will eliminate the EPA — “What they do is a disgrace” — you have to trust that he has a plan to keep California’s water drinkable and our air somewhat breathable without regulatory oversight.

A vote for Trump is a vote for fresh air.

Some experts argue that his tax cut would blow a $10-trillion hole in the federal budget, and California — with its disintegrating bridges and cratered roads — would suffer a big hit.

But let me tell you something about these so-called experts.

They are low-energy people. They have a lower pulse than this guy Jeb Bush, and they know less than he does. They’re scavengers, really. Worse than the media people, some of whom have blood coming out of their eyes. That’s how horrible they are.

Some analysts will tell you that California, with its terrific amounts of international trade — we’ve got stupendous trade here in God’s country — could be bushwhacked under Trump’s policies. They say his proposed tariff on imported goods could actually cost jobs and lead to higher prices on Asian imports, amounting to a crippling tax on consumers.

Here’s what these haters don’t know, if I can use Trump’s own words:

“I just sold an apartment for $15 million to somebody from China. Am I supposed to dislike them?”

Trump loves China, you know? That’s my point. He loves China — it’s a beautiful thing to watch, people — at least as much as he loves the poorly educated.

And let’s not forget what he said about African Americans.

“I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.”

A state as diverse as California couldn’t go wrong under the leadership of an enlightened man like Trump, which is why true believers turned out in Costa Mesa on Thursday to cheer their guy.

Sure, there were some rabble-rousers there who don’t like what Trump has said about Latinos or Muslims or women, and police arrested 17 people who got a little out of hand.

But let’s look at the numbers, OK?

Eight thousand rabid supporters.

Seventeen party-poopers.

You don’t have to take my word for it, even though math is one of my strengths — everybody says this about me — but that’s a landslide victory for Donald J. Trump.

The supporters in Costa Mesa could be heard in Tijuana when they roared after Trump’s promises to torture terrorism suspects and make Mexico pay for a border wall, a beautiful wall, and believe me, this man can build tremendous walls.

You know what he’s going to do? I bet he’s going to build walls under the ground to block the tunnels.

That’s what this man is capable of, and as Trump stumps for California votes, I think you’re going to be seeing a lot more of what we saw in Costa Mesa.

These were high-energy supporters who would probably gladly help build the wall themselves. For pesos. Since Mexico’s paying for it.

And then what happens, once the great wall is built?

Deportations, that’s what. By the millions. With President Trump driving the bus himself if Pete Wilson is busy.

A few sniveling softies will argue that it’s inhumane and un-Christian to send dirt-poor families back to countries with even greater poverty and unimaginable levels of violence.

A few mushy-headed economists will argue that California’s huge agriculture industry, to name one of many, would be devastated, with ripple effects throughout the state’s economy.

But these naysayers don’t know what Donald Trump is capable of, and they don’t understand California’s resilience.

We have great resilience in this state. Everybody talks about it.

Costa Mesans can move to Palos Verdes to mow the lawns at Trump’s golf course — these are the greatest links in the world, by the way. Or they can move to Delano to pick lettuce or Oxnard to pluck mushrooms out of the manure.

They would do great in the manure. We have the best manure.

Donald Trump will be president, and we’ll have a sequel to “A Day Without a Mexican,” but this time it’ll be a documentary.

And California will be great again.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 27, 2016

America First by Donald Trump

Donald Trump on Foreign Affairs 4-27-16

Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech was well written and well presented. However it lacked any detail. Lots of vague generalities was the order of the day. The New York Times commentators offered some interesting and worthwhile observations.

The only thing that can be understood is that, as president, Mr. Trump would put America first in all of his decisions. Which president and which candidate for president would to otherwise?

Mr. Trump is a master of generalities. Read the speech slowly and carefully and you will see glaring contradictions. Compare these two statements in his speech. “Our allies must contribute toward the financial, political and human costs of our tremendous security burden. But many of them are simply not doing so. They look at the United States as weak and forgiving and feel no obligation to honor their agreements with us.” “America is going to be a reliable friend and ally again.”  So which is it?

Trump repeatedly said that the United States under his administration would be a “reliable” power. But he also said U.S. policy would have to be “unpredictable” to keep the world guessing, a formula rarely used in high-stakes diplomacy.

Being president of the United States carries a major responsibility. Do you really want a reality show star to lead this country?

Posted by: coastcontact | April 25, 2016

Manufacturing and Minimum Wage Jobs in the 21st Century

Lower taxes might help domestic manufacturers but when the cost of labor in other countries is one-tenth the cost in the United States lost jobs will not be returned to this country.

Individuals assembling Apple’s iPhones in China allegedly work long hours for low pay. They work 11-hour shifts at a rate of $1.50 per hour. During each shift they are docked 20 minutes of pay (I assume for a lunch break). There earnings are $268 per month before overtime. This information is from a report in Business Insider.

GM, Ford Boost Mexico Output With $26-a-Day Workers.  Mexico’s share of North American auto production may rise at a quicker pace as General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC seek out workers making less than 10 percent of what their U.S. counterparts earn. This information is from a report in Bloomberg Businessweek.

For example crib maker Stanley Furniture Co. misjudged the willingness of Americans to pay more for domestically produced goods when cheaper imports are available. Meanwhile, the husband-and-wife entrepreneurs who founded 20-year-old Chesapeake Bay Candle have struggled to find workers who can do basic math. This information is from a report in The Wall Street Journal.

 Los Angeles, once the epicenter of apparel manufacturing has seen the outsourcing of jobs to China and Southeast Asia due to lower labor costs.

Do you really believe that Donald Trump will bring those assembly jobs back to the United States? Donald Trump does not agree with the idea of a $15 per hour minimum wage. I heard him say that. Los Angeles was once the epicenter of apparel manufacturing Los Angeles was once the epicenter of apparel manufacturing, attracting buyers from across the world to its clothing factories, sample rooms and design studios. But over the years, cheap overseas labor lured many apparel makers to outsource to foreign competitors in far-flung places such as China Los Angeles was once the epicenter of apparel manufacturing, attracting buyers from across the world to its clothing factories, sample rooms and design studios. But over the years, cheap overseas labor lured many apparel makers to outsource to foreign competitors in far-flung places such as China

Just to add to the difficulty in keeping jobs in America paid family leave regulations have been passed in New York and California.

Most web sites contend that government regulations are a significant cost to business in the USA. The problem is that every regulation has its supporters.

Unless Donald Trump intends to drive up the cost of clothing, cars, and electronic devices there is no way he can bring those jobs back to the United States. His ideas will spark a trade war.

The solution is retraining in areas short of workers. CNN posted an article listing 30 jobs needing most workers in next decade. How many people will take the opportunity by at least investigating the opportunities?

Posted by: coastcontact | April 20, 2016

I am Drinking Bottled Water

We started using bottled water immediately after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. An article in a local newspaper warned that there was a concern about contaminated drinking water in the San Fernando Valley.

To this day we are still buying Arrowhead bottled water in 2½ gallon containers. Friends and acquaintances believe I am wasting money.

Then came the Flint Michigan lead polluted water. There have been articles in newspapers about other towns that may also have lead polluted water. Now Des Moines, Iowa’s water utility is suing to stop nitrate pollution from upstate.

 Nitrogen (it’s part of fertilizer) pollution of waterways is a problem that extends well beyond Iowa. In Lake Erie in 2014, a toxic algae bloom—caused by runoff from farms and septic systems plus warmer temperatures, among other factors—contaminated Toledo’s water supply.

The main line pipes in my neighborhood are over 50 years old and many pipes in my city are almost 100 years old. Many pipes have burst due to corrosion. Still the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) insists that the water is safe to drink. They issue semi-annual reports on water quality to reassure the residents.

From WebMD:
Occasionally, your tap water can become contaminated as a result of breaks in the water line, although one of the biggest problems is lead getting into the water from pipes. Even ”lead-free” pipes can contain as much as 8% lead.

The best way to avoid consuming lead from tap water is to only use water from the cold tap for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula and to let the water run for a minute before using it.

This is not reassuring. I will continue using bottled water.

Posted by: coastcontact | April 18, 2016

Man is Polluting This Entire Planet

Humans are destroying planet earth! It’s happening slowly enough that most of the people alive today will not realize the consequences of their behavior.

It’s not just the atmosphere that is being polluted. We are fouling the water, the seas, and the soil. Almost everything we do on this planet has a negative effect.

Business and government, in general, are only mildly concerned. Their primary concern is providing products and services to the population.

What are the long term consequences of the BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico?  What are the long term consequences of the Aliso Canyon methane gas and oil leaks in Los Angeles?

Oklahoma has experienced a major increase in earthquakes in recent years, including a 5.7-magnitude temblor that injured residents and damaged 200 buildings in November 2011. Swarms of quakes have continued in 2015. There is general consensus among scientists that the spike in Oklahoma’s earthquake activity has been triggered by disposal wells, used to dispose of waste from oil and gas drilling operations — including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — a phenomenon known as “induced” seismicity.

“Inside the Billion-Dollar Dig to America’s Biggest Copper Deposit” is the report in Bloomberg Businessweek that tells of the One Billion Dollar investment by the world’s two largest mining companies to drill down more than a mile to a copper deposit that is believed to justify the investment. The problem is that a forest is being destroyed and that land, about 2 miles in diameter (2,400 acres), and the removed soil could result in a 1,000 foot deep crater.

The issue of pollution isn’t just an American problem. Think Beijing’s air pollution is bad? There 10 cities that are worse. 13 out of 20 cities on world’s worst air pollution list are in India according to CBC News.

The Fukushima Daiichi reactors impacted by an earthquake will result in areas around the crippled nuclear plant could remaining uninhabitable for 20 years. But no one really knows. After all the crippled Chernobyl 4 reactor now is enclosed in a concrete structure that is growing weaker over time. Ukraine and the Group of Eight industrialized nations have agreed on a plan to stabilize the existing structure by constructing an enormous new sarcophagus around it, which is expected to last more than 100 years.

In the Los Angeles area alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments—like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles—are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day.

 The polar ice caps have melted faster in last 20 years than in the last 10,000. What will they call GLACIER NATIONAL PARK place once the glaciers are gone?

Of course all of this information can be found on the web. The problem is that no one wants to confront the reality that over time all of mankind is destroying the planet. Global warming deniers, pollution deniers, habitat deniers are leading the band wagon.

Fear for your grandchildren!

Mr. Sanders:

You continually send me e-mails asking me to send you money so that you can be elected to be the President of the United States.

I am Jewish and I fear for the safety and future of Jews in the world, especially when Iran is launching missiles – dedicating to the eradication of the State of Israel.

I will not vote for you because I believe that you do not know the difference between good and evil.  You have spokespeople, like Linda Sarsour, who decry the State of Israel and liken it to white supremacists and say that it is an apartheid state.

 After the Germans, Arabs and Japanese conspired to conquer the world and wipe out every Jew in the world in World War 2, the world (at the U.N.) voted to divide Palestine into Arab-land and Jew-land (this was after Great Britain gave 80% of Palestine to Jordan in 1922).

Israel agreed to accept the “partition” plan and the Arabs refused, claiming that they wanted 100% of the land – that the Jews could live in the Mediterranean.  After the war of 1948, the borders were fixed; except that the Arabs again refused to honor those borders or acknowledge that the Jews had any right to live anywhere.

In 1967, the Arabs launched another offensive against Israel.  Israel won that war too.   Israel ended up with more territory.  They gave most of the “gains” back to Egypt in order to make peace with Egypt.

They offered to give the “West Bank” back to Jordan to make peace, but Jordan refused to take it – because Jordan hates the Palestinians (the Jordanians have kept the Palestinians in camps for the past 60 years – rather than accept them as Jordanian citizens).

Israel kept, accepted and made citizens of the Israeli Arabs.  I’m sure that you know that 20% of Israelis are Arabs …. and 20% of Israeli medical students are Arabs.  Did you know that the new assistant head of the Police is an Arab (named yesterday)?

Your outrageous lying statement that the Israelis overreacted in the Gaza conflict is immoral.  No fighting army (against Hamas terrorists who use human shields and launch missiles from schools and mosques) has EVER acted with such restraint and morality as the Israeli’s.

Shame on you Bernie that you cannot tell good from bad; morality from evil.  You are turning your back on the only democracy in the Middle East.  You are turning your back on the country that is the nicest and best place for Palestinians to live (Syria, Lebanon and Jordan have them locked up in camps).  You support those whose motto is “From the River to the Sea” (meaning that ALL of Israel should be Arab … and the Jews should live in the Sea).  You just don’t understand the real world.  You have bought into Arab propaganda and turned against the only Jewish country in the world.

written by Michael Waterman, teacher at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles

Posted by: coastcontact | April 13, 2016

Technological Unemployment

From Wikipedia: “Perhaps the earliest example of a scholar discussing the phenomena of technological unemployment occurs with Aristotle, who speculated in Book One of Politics that if machines could become sufficiently advanced, there would be no more need for human labour.”

It has been reported repeatedly that Queen Elizabeth I of England refused to grant a patent for a weaving machine because it would put the hand weavers out of work. She was correct. It did.

I was talking with an acquaintance about the effects of AI (artificial intelligence) and IT (information technology) on the work environment and the elimination of many jobs. A touch plate at a fast food ordering counter could replace an order taker. So could many other jobs.

One job I held for 7½ years was a scheduling supervisor in a factory. I had decided to quit after about four years. The work was tedious and very stressful. It took me the next 3½ years to find work that would pay more and appeared to offer a chance of advancement. I was responsible for all the production schedules and work orders in the factory. If something went wrong in the middle of the night, the night foreman called me. Today that job would be done more accurately by a computer generated program that could accomplish my 40 plus hour weekly job in minutes.

My father was a structural engineer. He retired just as computers were beginning to be used to calculate stress analysis. His calculation tool was a slide rule. He was a mathematical genius. Today those calculations can be more accurately accomplished using a computer that would provide the results in minutes not hours. The drafting of the structure can now be provided by a computer driven drafting machine rather than a draftsman.

Perhaps the order taker at the fast food counter will still have a job preparing the order. Perhaps the mathematical genius will be working on a program in Silicon Valley. One thing is certain. All jobs that can be mechanized and/or computer driven will result in fewer jobs.

I rarely take my car to a repair garage because they too have been fitted with longer lasting components. Thanks to a well-made furnace and plumbing in my house the need for service maintenance is reduced. That means there is no growing need for service industry workers.

I have yet to hear anyone, neither politician, corporate leader, nor social engineer, explain how even the brightest people will care for their families when the number of jobs is in decline.

We have a serious societal challenge and no answers. Joel Kotkin and other commentators have observed the issue. Now what?

Posted by: coastcontact | April 9, 2016

$15 Minimum Wage: Booby Prize for American Workers

By Joel Kotkin

(Joel Kotkin is R.C. Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University. He is executive editor of New Geography … where this piece originated and executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism.)

Almost everything that Mr. Kotkin has written is accurate. It is something those who pushed the $15 minimum wage law in Sacramento knows. The question Mr. Kotkin and everyone objecting to the new minimum wage fails to answer is: How does this society contend with a population that “has seen a rapid decline in traditional blue-collar jobs?” Those blue-collar citizens are the driving force behind the crowds drawn by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. They may not have the answers but they understand that the masses are in dire straits. Or perhaps there is no solution and Mr. Kotkin is correct in concluding that we are going to return to a feudal society.

This article has been abridged.

$15 California

NEW GEOGRAPHY–In principle, there is solid moral ground for the recent drive to boost the minimum wage to $15, with California and New York State taking dramatic steps Monday toward that goal. Low-wage workers have been losing ground for decades, as stagnant incomes have been eroded by higher living costs.

Yet if the campaign to boost the minimum wage reflects progressive ideals, the underlying rationale also exposes the failure of these high-priced cities to serve as launching pads for upward mobility for the vast majority of their residents. In effect, the fight for $15 is a by-product of giving up – capitulating on the idea that better opportunities can be created than the menial service jobs that increasingly are the only opportunities for the urban poor. Higher wages will make these jobs moderately more tolerable, while further cementing the wide gulf between the haves and have knots.

New York, San Francisco, LA and Seattle are at the forefront of a new urban economy, based on industries such as finance, technology and media, that generally creates jobs for the highly educated only. Virtually every region at the cutting edge of the minimum wage movement has seen a rapid decline in traditional blue-collar jobs — notably in manufacturing — which often paid well above the minimum wage, and offered potential for further individual advancement.

In these and other core cities, we are seeing something reminiscent of the Victorian era, where a larger proportion of workers are earning their living serving the wealthy and their needs as nannies, restaurant workers, dog-walkers and the like. In New York City, as of 2012, over a third of workers were employed in low-wage service jobs, a percentage that rose through the recovery from the Great Recession, according to a study by the Center for an Urban Future.

Given shrinking opportunities for middle and working class people, it’s not surprising that many seek a more direct redress from the government.

Essentially the minimum wage campaign rests on the notion that traditional middle class uplift cannot be achieved. The problem is, a $15 an hour income represents hardly enough to pay the rent for a small apartment anywhere near the blue cities where the new minimum will hit first.

The  impact in California will, if anything be larger, as the wage hike will be imposed in a wider fashion on a hugely diverse state.

To be sure, higher wages could be a blip in wealthy and thoroughly de-industrialized places like San Francisco – if higher labor costs boost the price of beet-filled ravioli, it doesn’t undermine the market in a place where hipsters and elite workers still have dollars to spend.

Perhaps the greatest beneficiaries of the minimum wage hike will not be the bulk of lower wage workers in blue states, but the people who increasingly dominate their economies.

And as the American Interest recently predicted, those most likely to benefit down the line from the higher wages will be the tech companies that will come up with the software and automated systems that replace the service jobs now made less economically competitive by the wage hikes. It’s not a loony fringe concept: the President’s Council of Economic Advisers recently estimated that lower-wage service jobs have an 80% probability of being automated.

So in the end, a $15 minimum wage, set in the low growth economy of our times, may end up boosting the very class-based hierarchies that are already increasingly evident. Ultimately it may represent a case of a well-intentioned measure that, while sounding radical, only accelerates our road back to feudalism: a society dominated by the few where many depend on the generosity of their betters and the middle class, already shrinking, fades into the dustbin of history.

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