Is this a Bubble or a Long Term Period of Inflation?

Since 2009:
– Food and beverage costs have increased by 18%
– Transportation costs have increased by 16%
– Housing costs have increased by 23%
– Medical costs have increased by 32%

Austin, Texas, is arguably the hottest real estate market in the country, with home prices up more than 40 percent since last April. According to Zillow the estimate of my home’s value in the San Fernando has increased by 5.1 percent in the past 30 days.

Car dealer lots have only a fraction of the vehicles — both new and used — that they typically have. That’s helping send prices to record levels and lifting the nation’s overall inflation rate. About two-thirds of car buyers paid within 5% of the sticker price in May, with some even paying above sticker.

Your next Costco run could be more expensive as the company warns of expected price hikes for key goods, including trash bags, cheese, plastic plates, and beef. My favorite Choice tri-tip steak has increased from $8.00 per pound to $11.00 per pound in the past six weeks.

Whether this is a temporary price bubble or a new long term period of inflation, one fact remains unchanged. The Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. That wage was set on July 24, 2009.

America’s Oligarchs

America’s super wealthy are oligarchs.

Let’s start by defining the word oligarch.  

Oligarch | Definition of Oligarch by Merriam-Webster

A person who belongs to a small group of people who govern or control a country Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may or may not be distinguished by one or several characteristics, such as nobility, fame, wealth, education, corporate, religious, political, or military control.

Now let’s look at the super wealthy and powerful in the United States. The nonprofit news organization ProPublica has just performed a significant public service by publishing federal tax records of some of America’s leading billionaires, including Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zukerberg, Geroge Soros, and Elon Musk. Actually we all already know who they are.  Forbes magazine publishes an annual list of the 400 richest people in the United States.

Jeff Bezos’ wealth grew by $99 billion from 2014 to 2018, but he paid only about 1% of that growth in federal taxes. Elon Musk’s fortune grew by about $14 billion in that time frame, but he paid only about 3.27% of that increase in federal taxes.

The fact is they get away with paying little or no taxes.  And it’s all legal.  They pay lobbyists to influence our legislators to sustain the system.

ProPublica’s publication of the taxes paid by our oligarchs will not change this situation.

Senator Elizabeth Warren Tweet:

The rich & powerful run Washington. Here’s one benefit they wrote for themselves: After making a killing from the economy they’ve rigged, they don’t pay taxes on that accumulated wealth. It’s a system that’s rigged for the top if I ever saw one. 1:10 PM · Jan 24, 2019

Warren is correct and calling those super wealthy oligarchs won’t change a thing.

Poor Latin American Populations Dream of a Better Life

Waves of poor and mostly illiterate people are trying to enter the United States from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.  They all have one thing in common.  They want to escape their economic condition and gangs that terrorize them.  And so they beg for asylum.

Caution Immigrant Crossing Sign on California highways near Tijuana, Mexico

The U.S. response has been to send most of those people back to their country of origin.  This is not a new issue. It existed under the Obama, Trump, and now the Biden administration.  Even before Obama the issue of illegal immigrants into the United States was an ongoing problem.

The issue of Mexican and Central American people trying to obtain entry into the United States by any means goes back decades.  The year 1980 marked the opening of a decade of public controversy over U.S. refugee policy unprecedented since World War II. Large-scale migration to the United States from Central America began, as hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans fled north from civil war, repression, and economic devastation. That same year, in the last months of the Carter administration, the U.S. Congress passed the Refugee Act, a humanitarian law intended to expand eligibility for political asylum in the United States.

Until those countries provide their people with education, jobs, and safety from marauding gangs there will be no end to illegal entry from those nations. 

As long as there is little opportunity for those people in their native countries this issue will not go away.

A Long Hot Summer in California

It’s already started and summer isn’t here until officially until June 20. “May Gray” wasn’t gray other than overnight clouds that dissipated by 10 a.m. June has started with sunny days that are summer hot rather than “June Gloom.” Those expressions describing May and June weather are the words of local weather reporters.

A heat wave swept through California’s Central and Sacramento valleys this week, setting temperature records and prompting heat advisories, even as coastal regions remained temperate. Triple-digit temperatures in the San Joaquin Valley for the past three days have prompted a heat advisory through at least 8 p.m.

Each year Lake Oroville in northern California helps water a quarter of the nation’s crops. This is how the lake looks now.

Countries like Israel have designed irrigation and water projects that enable that country to provide water to the West Bank and Jordan as well as training to the Chinese on water management.

It is obvious that California government has chosen to ignore the water shortage issue.

Looking for a reason to recall Gavin Newsom? Water management is a real issue.     

President Joe Biden offers defense of democracy

This is a sad day when the president of the United States must defend democracy. That is precisely what he did in a speech today at Arlington National Cemetery, saying “democracy is more than a form of government — it is a way of being.”

“Democracy itself is in peril,” the president said.

“Democracy must be defended at all costs,” Biden said. “Democracy, that’s the soul of America. And I believe it’s a soul worth fighting for. And so do you. A soul worth dying for.”

It was obvious that he was standing up against those who would deny voting rights and the acceptance of free and fair elections.

Why did Biden make this speech? Because of people like Michael Flynn. Flynn is former President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser, who said that a Myanmar-like military coup “should” happen in the United States at a QAnon event in in a Dallas hotel. Sadly thousands, and perhaps millions, of Americans really believe Trump’s claim that the election was stolen.

Dictators like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are delighted with politics in the United States. They are telling their populations that democracy doesn’t work. They point to our political system in fighting as proof.

Canoga Park California Memorial Day Parade

The parade was canceled last year and again this year due to the pandemic. I would go every year or two just to see what was new. There really was not too much to see. Various groups of scouts and children’s clubs marched down the main boulevard and adults rode in cars or on trucks. It is doubtful that the children understood the meaning of the holiday. Elected people rode in cars as they fulfilled their duty. Fire engines and police motor cycles were driven down the street.

It’s all meant to show that we are one people that remembers those who lost their lives in wars past and present. This was the last parade I went to see, 2017

The primary speech at a reviewing stand called for the support of Christian values in America. I was horrified.

A solemn day made into a fun event.

motocycle club
congress man riding in an old car
children from local high school
Scots marching band from Pasadena

America is Running out of Water

The western United States is facing a an ever growing drought.  This should not be news because the facts have been with us for decades. First-ever Colorado River water shortage is now almost certain, new projections show.

On July 28, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom released a final version of the Water Resilience Portfolio, the Administration’s blueprint for equipping California to cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on groundwater and other challenges.

The rings around the Colorado River at Hoover Dam tells us how high the water reached below the dam.  That was a long time ago.

Decreasing precipitation and rising populations could bring a perfect storm of water shortages for the United States. Where is our water going?

Along with decreasing rainfall comes rising temperatures. By 2050 the U.S. could be as much as 5.7°F warmer, and extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and drought, could be more intense and occur more frequently. As temperatures warm, evaporation increases, further decreasing water in lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. For example, every degree of warming in the Salt Lake City region could drop the annual water flow of surrounding streams by as much as 6.5 percent—for cities in the western U.S. that rely on cool temperatures to generate snow and rain, warmer weather is bad news.

When Sierra snow seeps into the ground or evaporates before it can flow downstream into reservoirs, you know California is facing a severe drought.

It’s happening this spring up and down the mountain range that is a primary water source for the state.

As if the declining water supply was enough of a challenge the Metropolitan Water District, that acts as the agency bringing water to Southern California, is having a fight among board members as to who should head the agency.

In addition to the Middle East and North Africa, desalination has made inroads in water-stressed parts of the United States, notably California, and other countries including Spain, and Australia. The biggest plant in North America, able to purify tens of millions of gallons each day, is now pumping water near San Diego.  Environmentalists may have some objections but the need for fresh water takes priority.

What is American culture?

Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania, sparked controversy in an April 23 speech before the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth organization. Santorum said immigrants created a nation based on the Judeo-Christian ethic from a blank slate.

“We birthed a nation from nothing,” he said. “Yes, there were Native Americans, but there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.” Santorum later said on Chris Cuomo’s CNN show that he “misspoke.” Or another words I said what I really believe and that was a mistake.

More than his lack of regard for native American way of life is the White Anglo-Saxon belief that they are superior to all other people in the world. It is obvious to me a core belief of conservative White Americans. Those people invading the Capitol on January 6 are a part of that group.

As minority peoples are ever larger part of the United States population, White people fear their may be a day in the future when they will be the minority.

California may be an indicator of what all of America in the 21st century will look like. No race or ethnic group constitutes a majority of California’s population: 39% of state residents are Latino, 36% are white, 15% are Asian or Pacific Islander, 6% are African American, fewer than 1% are Native American or Alaska Natives, and 3% are multiracial or other, according to the 2019 American Community Survey.

Rick Santorum Tweet May 22, 2021 “When I signed on with CNN, I understood I would be providing commentary that is not regularly heard by the typical CNN viewer. I appreciate the opportunity CNN provided me over the past 4 years. I am committed to continuing the fight for our conservative principles and values.”

Is this what the conservative GOP wants to stand for?