The Real State Of the Union

With the onslaught of Global Warming striking destruction, and fear the United States faces ever greater challenges with each passing month. The severity of weather patterns all around the globe has only intensified the urgency that humanity is facing the most crucial point in our history. The forces of denial have already hastened the point of no return. With the clock ticking and time running out it is essential that cooler heads prevail. Yet, those climate change deniers cling to their convictions that all is well and good. But, as the wrath of nature rocks a splintered nation millions are continually thrown into an inferno of hopelessness and despair.

Today, the scientific community has sounded the alarm that the planet has at the most 12 years remaining before irreversible damage is done to all life forms all around the globe. As we are seeing right now with the scorching heat and violent storms that continue to annihilate, homes, businesses, lives and livelihoods right here in the US while other parts of the world face one catastrophe after another are all reminders that climate change is one of the most severe threats to all life. The time is now and we had better act to reduce and eliminate the effects of what fossil fuel has and is doing to our world before it really is too late.

With the advent of hurricane season coinciding with the severity and frequency of violent tornadoes and flash floods through-out the mid west and central United States the billions of dollars in damage with an already crippling economy makes it clear that decisive action is needed now to negate the root causes that has placed the United States in such great peril. Not only has our continued use of fossil fuel fueled the catastrophic weather patterns that have caused the greatest desalination point in the worlds oceans but the economic policies of not only the Trump Administration but past administrations have drastically increased the number of Americans from ever achieving the American Dream.

While the media keeps focusing on how well the economy is doing, but underneath this facade of all is well and good lies a mounting avalanche of an economic catastrophe that would make the financial crisis of 2008 look like a picnic. News that isn’t reported, I bet for obvious reasons, is a far cry from what is actually reported by the main stream media. In truth there are several facts that emphatically state quite the contrary to what the media keeps reporting about the state of the US economy. When there are over 137 million Americans faced with acute financial hardship due to medical bills with more Americans every month declaring bankruptcy due to the lack of medical coverage and the high cost of medical care is a sure sign this country needs Medicare For All.

This is just the start of the financial crack in our fragile economy. A crack that is only getting wider and pretty soon our whole economy will come crashing down on an unsuspecting public. All because the media is either oblivious to the facts or are intentionally steering the public away from the real state of our economy. With the retail industry continuing it’s decline is more evident each week when there where over 6,000 stores that closed in the first half of this year alone. More closures continue to showcase the disturbing signs that all is not well and good in the American economy.

Today, 50% of our population can’t meet their basic needs like food, shelter, clean fresh water and just about everything essential for day to day living. The disposable incomes for over 80% of the population is totally insufficient to meet today’s cost of living. The media keeps reminding us that we have a very low unemployment number but what they fail to report is that the United States has over 100 million Americans that don’t have jobs at all. Our once strong manufacturing base has only withered and died on the vine of all the corporate shifts to out source American jobs over seas. Today’s farmers are going bankrupt at a rate higher than they were in the 1970′s. Consumer spending has dropped to an all time low. All of this just adds another dimension to the nations critical condition.

When we add the Trumps tariff wars has only escalated and exasperated the crippling effects of our whole economic future. More to the point is the fact that the future is really in our hands but we must act with decisive action now, not latter, if we are going to not only survive but prosper. There are ways to do just that but we first have to realize just how bad things have gotten and use a plan of direction that details solutions to the many urgent crisis of our times. That plan of direction is what National Economic Reform’s Ten Articles of Confederation and the National Economic Security Reformation Act details. And when they are both implemented this nation and the world will become solidified in a much brighter future for all.

How A Successful Tourism Industry Led to Globalization

Most of us have heard the word “globalization” widely used in a variety of contexts over the past few years. But what is the actual definition of this commonly used term? Merriam-Webster defines globalization as, “The act or process of globalizing: the state of being globalized; especially: the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets.” Now that we’ve established the true definition of globalization, it’s probably easy to see how it plays a vital role in the tourism industry. After all, people visiting other countries would naturally be engaging in globalization as they purchase products and services in their travels. But what may not be as obvious is how successful tourism led to globalization. That is the topic we’ll explore in this blog.

Although it’s hard to say exactly when the tourism industry began, many historians would agree that it probably started when well-to-do citizens of ancient Rome began spending their summers in other parts of the region to escape the hustle and bustle of what was then (and is, even now) the metropolis of Rome. That would mean that tourism is, at the very least, about 2,000 years old. But the end of the Roman Empire also meant the end of tourism, albeit only for a few hundred years, as unrest in that region made travel of any sort a risky proposition at best. A few hundred years later, during medieval times, the tourism industry experienced a rebirth when large groups of people began to make holy pilgrimages. That meant that those people needed places to eat and sleep along the way. Another few hundred years later, people began to travel for other reasons – such as to improve their health and to view art, architecture, and visit historic locations. It was at this time, during the Industrial Revolution, when the tourism industry began to take the familiar form that we know today. Methods of transportation were developed, as were hotels and restaurants, to cater to tourists. Finally, beginning in the 1960s, as aircraft and ocean liners became more commonplace and more affordable for the masses, tourism became a global industry. In our day and age, if you have the time and the money, you can arrange to travel, quite literally, anywhere on the planet.

And, as it turns out, many people DO have the time and the money. According to The Statistics Portal, between the years of 2006 and 2017, the travel and tourism industry contributed $8.27 trillion dollars to the global economy. The greatest contributors include North America, the European Union, and North East Asia. While these regions continue to lead the tourism charge, other less-likely countries are making their own mark in the industry, undoubtedly due to the lucrative possibilities that tourism brings with it. Some of the most notable are African countries, such as Namibia, Zambia and Angola, to name a few.

In the KOF Globalization Index of the 100 Most Globalized Countries in 2017, it should come as no surprise that leading the list are many EU countries, including Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, France, and others. Also on the list – although further down than the EU countries – are Canada and the U.S. The KOF Index of Globalization takes into account three key indicators: economic, social and political. They define globalization as, “… the process of creating networks of connections among actors at multi-continental distances, mediated through a variety of flows including people, information and ideas, capital and goods.” While there’s no doubt about the economic impact that tourism has on the global scale, the other indicators of globalization are harder to measure – namely the social and political influences that the tourism industry brings to the global stage. But if we measure the impact of tourism on globalization with regard to the flow of people, information and ideas, as well as capital and goods, we can say with a certain level of certainty that the success of the tourism industry has more than likely led the way – both directly and indirectly – to globalization.

Why Money Is Failing

Anything invented by man has a short life before it fades away, and money is no exception. Invented for trade and then the wealth of those who made it their god they become so attached that it occupies their mind constantly. That means they have no room for listening to the Spirit voice within them, and they suffer the consequences. As their wealth grows many die horrible deaths from incurable diseases, suicide, or other.

The world’s economic future is now dire as manipulation of currencies and such take priorities. Wars are about money and power and we are rapidly coming to a major confrontation that will see the planet change as never before.

Already with climate change, scarcity of water, draught, famine, disease, and other things mounting pressure on countries and their economy the last thing it required was a war on trade. How will that play out in the light of the other problems the world faces?

The only place money is generated is from the environment. Whether its crops replacing forests, or animals targeted for food or pleasure, nothing about it is good for the planet. Mining minerals, oil, gas, and other things is depleting the air of oxygen while causing CO2 to dominate the atmosphere.

Overfishing of oceans and the inexcusable destruction of unwanted species is horrendous. The wastage of excesses is disgusting while the extinction of species of animals and plants the benefit of which is not yet understood is horrifying. Yet man continues on his destruction because he does not know and possibly cannot now live without money.

While its initial purpose was trade it has become so entrenched in our lives that we are asked to pay for just about everything we depend on to survive. That forces everyone to earn it or come by it in some other way. So how long can we survive with it?

The reality it that countries are already so corrupt that the governments are syphoning off the profits and people are starving. This is seen in several place as the rest of the world watches. In some regions so-called civil wars rage on as populations flee while seeking refuge and safety. As they go many of their numbers fall and die.

Money is the root of corruption and criminality and, like religion, it is so entrenched in the human psyche that nothing short of complete annihilation of the species will end it. That is rapidly coming to fruition as the planet struggles to survive, people die in their millions, but the birth rate overtakes the numbers of deaths by millions more. That is why money is failing as it’s a death sentence humans have inflicted upon themselves.

The Business Model and Today’s Economy – A Warning to Universities and Investors

As spring is upon us, this is the time deans and higher education vice presidents across the land embark on their yearly budget exercise. Given the rosy economic scenario painted by improving wages, job reports and corporate profits, it would not be out-of-place to start dreaming of expanding their own little circles and propose larger budgets and increased hiring for their respective units – what Warren Buffett has dubbed the institutional imperative. My warning: beware!

As an academician, I have often heard high-ranking officials espouse how public universities should be run using a business model. My own university president is a strong proponent of the idea. The problem is that universities are saddled with challenges most companies don’t have to deal with. For example, let us suppose that demand for your company’s product goes down. To keep your company viable and responsible to stockholders you will cut down on production. Fewer sales means less personnel will be needed leading to workforce reductions. Despite lower revenue, the bottom line is kept steady by lowering expenses for materials and personnel.

Let’s look at what happens at a university. Let’s suppose demand for your product, classes, goes down – i.e., fewer students are enrolled. The cost of materials to run a class is minimal as compared to personnel and physical plant costs. You can’t shut down buildings so your only recourse is personnel reductions. Here is a problem corporations don’t have. They never have a case where the few remaining clients demand that the company put out as much product as before the reduction in demand. But if you have a class of 40 reduced to 30 or even 20 students the university cannot cancel it. These students registered for the class well in advance, before the semester even began. Their schedules and even graduation are predicated on it. If the class does not make, students will be in an uproar and in this day and age they have no trouble letting the world know – online. As the news become viral, the university will gain a bad reputation. It will affect future enrollment. Any whisper of lower enrollment sends chills down high administrator’s backs.

Here is another difference between corporations and higher education providers. Corporation hires are more fungible. If you let go someone all you need is several weeks’ notice. Not so for academia. You may let go of staff personnel that way but instructors are on an academic year contract. University administrators may decide not to renew a contract for a non-tenured instructor after the academic year but they cannot terminate during. That means hiring and budget decisions have to be made well in advance.

Back in 2007 I was in the middle of this dilemma. I was the founder and Chair of the Idaho State University Budget Committee. Our mandate, as I saw it, was to keep abreast of economic developments so we could best advise administrators of “hiccups” leading to reductions in state allocations to higher education. Once those came about, we would provide advice on budget allocations to programs and hiring. Academic hires have to be done months ahead of time so timely input meant looking ahead at least six months. It was within that time frame I warned our higher administration of the coming economic slowdown and real estate problems at the epicenter of the Financial Crisis. That message went unheeded at the time so, for the next couple of years, our committee was saddled with helping the administration muddle through ever diminishing budgets.

The unemployment rate at the time of my warning in 2007 was 4.4%, wages increased by 0.3% for the month and 4.4% for the year, and S&P 500 profits were up 16% for the year. GDP growth was pegged at 3%. Sound familiar? There was plenty of reason to be optimistic and yet, the future did not play out that way. The same will happen this year, although the main factors behind the economic stall will be different.

There is a financial storm developing. This time around, the low-pressure front will be due to demographic forces resulting in a decrease in spending from the 46-50 age group, a group dubbed the peak spenders. There will be a prolonged and marked decrease in consumer spending that will lead to a protracted economic downturn starting this year and lasting as long as 2023.

State general accounts will dwindle as sales tax revenues drop and a rise in unemployment leads to lower personal tax revenues. These are the two main pillars filling state coffers. The two others are real estate and corporate taxes. While real estate tax revenue will remain steady, corporate tax revenue will mirror plummeting corporate profits. The bottom line is that state support for public universities will take a cut and once again these institutions will have the difficult task of managing their budgets by reducing personnel. This is, therefore, no time to be dreaming about expanding departments, but instead, a time of planning for retrenchment.

Administrators should shun the temptation to pass down the buck and use university reserves to meet the immediate challenge. Next year will be no better. In fact, this downhill process will continue to get worse, and as I mentioned above, will last until 2023. University officials will be forced to face the music at some point in time so they might as well brainstorm and come up with a 5- or 6-year plan to deal with the malaise.

The warning goes double for those invested in the stock market. The same forces at work within state finances will also hobble our economy and wreak havoc on corporate profits and prices. Stock portfolios will take a substantial hit. My advice is to heed the current stock market warning. We just went through a correction, but these are only birth pangs of the financial storm ahead. The wise will use any uptick as an opportunity to whittle down stock holdings. There will be many who will mock me now, but when the brunt of the tempest comes you will want to be totally out of the stock market.