More Opinion by The Springboard

THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY

Yesterday marked the 2nd annual Small Business Saturday®, an event snugly nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and as the people who started this event say, during one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. Of course it is a bit ironic that the folks behind this whole thing are in fact American Express, who happen to be nearly a $54 billion company.

By any measure, that's no small potatoes.

But neither is the impact that supporting small business has on local economies, and on something I often talk about in my blogs, and in the opinions I write at HubPages; competition. To my mind competition is really at the heart of the entire concept of the free markets. I have argued for some time now that in many ways, when we leave out the little shop on the corner in our regular shopping, we narrow the field. We break the opportunity for any real competition. Our choices become fewer, and what we have left is to choose from a shorter list of people in the marketplace. At the end of the day that means that they, the bigger businesses get to dictate the status quo. They get to dictate the prices in the market, and frankly the wages and benefits that worker's receive in the marketplace. It becomes more of a circumstance of "take it or leave it."

Yeah, that's still the free markets working. But is this the kind of free markets we really want? Is this really how we want our choices to be offered to us? In these narrow and limited ways?

What those big box stores, and huge conglomerations of eateries and banks, and other types of businesses are really saying to us is, "Where else are you going to shop?" For that matter, where else are you going to work?

If there is no pressure on the bigger businesses to pay higher wages, or to offer better choices on the shelves, they'll just do whatever brings them the most profit—heedless of the overall cost to each and every one of us. Keep in mind that right now when the choices are so limited, these businesses are only competing with each other on likewise limited terms. Terms that they ultimately decide because for most of us, the real competitors in the marketplace are not even considered.

Sure, it does mean that we get cheaper products. But is cheaper really better when we have to give up so much to enjoy it? If lower wages and less benefits are ultimately the result of this narrowed competition, is that truly to any of our benefit? Where has customer service gone? How about quality? Even to a large extent, where has business integrity gone? And again, what has happened to wages?

I'm not saying we give up entirely on the bigger businesses. But I do think that we should be more inclined to shop local whenever we can, and small whenever we can. Just a little bit of market share passed along to a small business operator goes a very long long way. And we're not just limited to shopping local stores by the way. It could be as simple as choosing a jar of salsa made by a small startup in lieu of a jar made by Frito-Lay.

Most of the time spending money small and local means that more than likely a much higher percentage of that money is going to stay right in the community where it gets spent in. Small, local businesses have a habit of also supporting small, local businesses, and so many of the products you'll find on their shelves will be from small, local businesses who employ people in the community, and do other commerce within the community and surrounding areas. The operators themselves often live in the communities as well, and so more of their profits wind up staying local as well as they also shop local.

I've suggested in the past that we spend about 25% locally. That's honestly a number I sort of picked out of the air. Actually devoting 25% of our spending locally, or on smaller businesses overall is a tough deal to do. But if we do spend more often locally, the impact that it will have on our economy going forward will be enormous. The money simply goes farther. The choices will become more. And the opportunity to more easily shop small and local will become more likely.

What I'm saying is that while I applaud the efforts of American Express for starting this, because really what they are doing is creating an awareness for the importance of small business to all business, we ought to be doing this far more often than just one day a year. If we do that, eventually we'll be doing it anyway without even thinking about it because improved competition will keep more players in the marketplace. We'll be spending locally naturally rather than having to do it now, contemplatively.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

TO BE OR NOT TO BE...A TURKEY

Luckily the turkey I'll be stuffing into my face today only cost me 58¢ per pound at my local grocery store. I'll have to make sure I can get all I can out of that bird considering where the markets fell to on yet another dismal day in the markets yesterday. Gazing at my wheezing portfolio, this bird, my friends, could well be my last meal.

It sometimes feels like what we have here is the Energizer Bunny of dips, doesn't it? It just keeps going, and going, and going...down!

I mean, yes. I am being a little bit fecetious. We're still above 11,000 on the Dow. And our lowest lows were in the 6000's, so we're not doing all that bad considering where we've come from.

So, what am I thankful for this fine Thanksgiving Day? I'm thankful for my gumption and my tenacity to stay the course despite it all. It's a horn I've been blowing for quite a while that the sky is not falling. The end of the world as we know it is not upon us. The world economy is not really on the brink of collapse, and certainly neither is the U.S. economy for that matter.

It just feels that way.

So yes. I'm staying the course. I'm not pulling my money out of this ugly thing, as much as I've been inclined to do so several times, having had enough of watching my hard-earned, and dilligently saved dollars slowly disappear. Nowadays it definitely seems to be true that the more I save the less I have.

But again, I'm thankful for my willingness to just keep going with it. I'm going to buy, buy, and buy some more of all of the stocks that I think will be good and strong when all is said and done—and that are quite frankly good and strong now.

I hope in the end the real turkey doesn't wind up being me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An Open Letter to the Protesters

by Breakfastpop

The Occupy Wall Street Movement is going on and on and all you have to show for your efforts are filthy parks and violent behavior that has completely obscured any message you hoped to impart. You are driving small business from the area and causing unprecedented problems for the people who actually live in the neighborhood. Your focus on corporations is impossible to understand. I assume that many of you have parents who work for these companies. These "evil" corporations have put food on your table, made health care accessible, and helped your family accumulate money in 401k's. If the people at the top earn the big bucks, so be it. They earned it and they deserve it. If you want a bigger piece of the pie you ought to be willing to work hard for it. That is the American way. We have opportunity and we work hard. It is completely un-American to stand there with one fist in the air and the other hand outstretched asking for something for nothing. I agree that we are going through rough times right now, but we will come out of it if we enact the policies that have a track record of working. If you want to raise your voices in protest, I suggest you go to Washington. The trouble started there.

You are demanding loan forgiveness for student loans you received. When you receive a loan, you sign an agreement that requires repayment of the debt. In the real world, that's how things work. You enter into a contract and you are required to fulfill the terms of the transaction. It's not rocket science. What right do you have to ask the American people to shoulder the burden of your education? You borrowed the money and it is your responsibility to pay it back. If you don't have a job, ask the bank to defer the payments until you're working, but don't ask responsible citizens who take their obligations seriously, to solve your problems.

The same is true for home mortgages. When you borrow money knowing that you can't afford to pay back the loan, you become the problem. True, the banks should have never made these loans in the first place, but you can thank the government for that. President Clinton believed that home ownership was a right and he pressured the banks to lend the money to unqualified people. If you are one of these people, ask the bank to work out an arrangement until you get on your feet, but don't expect the American taxpayer to bail you out.

We are at a crossroads in this country. We can choose to turn our backs on history and common sense and suffer the consequences of our ignorance. The only system that works is capitalism done right. If you see capitalism as the problem, then perhaps you don't belong here. If socialism gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling, then you ought to take up residence in a socialist nation. It would probably turn out to be an excellent learning experience. Go to a socialist country and stand in line with your hand out. You will find yourself in a nation that is programmed to fail. Your hands will be empty.

If you expect the government to take care of all of your needs from the cradle to the grave, try Cuba. It won't be long before you are one of the refugees dying in the boats trying to come back to this country that has made you so angry. It wasn't people like you who made this nation so great. It wasn't people like you who created a thriving business, discovered a cure for a disease, or built an empire. Those people knew how to handle adversity. They used their creative energies to get through the hard times. They were not gathered in the park, sleeping in their own filth, groping females, doing drugs, destroying small business and neighborhoods. They were out in the world trying to get a job, and job to hold them until they could secure the position they really wanted. They persevered, and in the end they succeeded. Unlike you they didn't have their hands out. They are the backbone of what made our nation the most successful and generous in the world.

Get out of the parks and get a life. The party is over and now it is time to grow up.


Breakfastpop is the author of the HubPages daily blog of the same name, whose primary focus is on politics and social issues. You can read more of her work at http://breakfastpop.hubpages.com.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

THE OCCUPIERS ARE WING NUTS

I'm inclined to believe that everyone in the occupy movements going on around the country are all mad. Not mad as in angry, though they are that too. Mad as in crazy. Mad as in stark, raving nuts.
The left wants this to be their cause. We've heard from Nancy Pelosi on it. The President of the United States has touched briefly upon it, and seemed to simply nod and acknowledge it as a "real" movement that is a reflection of America's being fed up with the big boys. We've heard from wingnuts like Cornell West about it, and even Don King, the flamboyant (and let's face it, weird) boxing promoter has said he would go there and encourage the protesters to exercise their right to protest.

Have at it buddy. Whatever.

The reality is that this entire occupation is a disaster, and it's only becoming worse. Violence is erupting in the streets, people are being beaten down and businesses are being hurt. Not to mention there is one thing that is absolutely certain in this occupy crowd. Racism. And I find this hilarious when I think back to how badly the left wanted to paint the T.E.A. party crowd as racist. Yet not a shred of evidence could be found on film, on tape, or in pictures to prove that anything racist was being said or encouraged in any T.E.A. party rally. They're still crying racist to this day at anyone on the right. But, racism is rampant in the occupy movement, and most of it seems to be directed at Jews.

Funny too that when you look at the real history of the democrats, there seems to be a strong racist element there that nobody wants to truly acknowledge. It makes me want to scream something very juvenile back at them all on the left when they call me a racist because I oppose the views of the president, "I know you are, but what am I?"

The plain truth is that the left is not going to get their T.E.A. party counter. The truth is that the left should be completely embarassed by even the suggestion of it. Quite frankly, the left should be running for their lives having had any association with these nuts at all. If ever there was a living, breathing example, this occupy movement was the left's attempt to clutch at straws. This was the left's hope for a confirmation by the American people themselves that their (the left's) progressive, socialist agendas were resonating with the voice of The People.

They weren't. And they're not. And now it's time to go home boys and girls.