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Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

WHAT INFLATION?

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 10, 2016

BRYCE ON THE ECONOMY

– Are prices going up or is it just my imagination?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I wish I lived in Washington, DC. It must be very inexpensive to live there. I say this because I noticed our inflation rate dropped over the summer from 1.3% to 0.84%. The rate is calculated using the current Consumer Price Index as published monthly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The index is “a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.”

The Commissioner for the bureau is Dr. Erica L. Groshen who manages a 2,500 person organization which is the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics. Translation, they are number crunchers. It is Dr. Groshen’s group that is charged with sampling the prices of consumer items and calculating the Consumer Price Index. I therefore presume they are sampling products from around the Washington, DC area which must be pretty cheap if the 0.84% inflation rate is any indication.

This is all well and good for Washington, DC, but I suspect the rest of the country is operating at a much higher inflation rate. For example, have the prices at the grocery store been going up or is it my imagination? I have a friend who owns a restaurant and complains he is now being charged $30 more per month to have his grease trap emptied. His produce, bread and coffee bills are up as well.

At my local supermarket, steaks are $13-$15 a pound, bread is about $2.50 a loaf, and shellfish is prohibitive. Just about everything else is $5 each, including fruit. I realize we no longer live in the 20th century, but don’t try to tell me the rate of inflation is descending.

Dr. Groshen, please send your minions to the Tampa Bay area of Florida and test our prices. We must be operating on a different wavelength than Washington, DC, and I suspect the rest of the country. Don’t insult us though by stating unequivocally that inflation is a mere 0.84%.

I will wager that the people who calculate our inflation rate are the same knuckle heads who claim the unemployment rate is down to 4.9%. Gallup’s “Real Unemployment” rate of 9.7% is a much more credible figure.

The problem is such statistics have been politicized to con the American public to believe that things are better than they actually are. I’m just wondering what the purpose of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is if they cannot provide statistics the American public can believe.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  PROACTIVE VERSUS REACTIVE MANAGEMENT – We have plenty of time to do things wrong.

LAST TIME:  WAITING ON DOCTORS  – Why can’t they meet you on time?

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

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Posted in Economics | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE COUPON SHELL GAME

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 6, 2015

BRYCE ON ECONOMICS

– A clever way to conceal inflated prices.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Our weak economy is cause for concern for just about everyone. It is difficult to avoid the subject in either personal or professional settings. We’re all looking for creative ways to survive in these difficult times.

Recently I was talking to a merchant in my area who complained how the vendors who serviced his store were slowly and quietly raising their prices as if nobody was paying attention. My friend certainly was. When he confronted them about their escalating prices, they all claimed they had to do something to offset the customers they had been losing recently. In other words, they were making the merchant pay for their problems. For my Liberal friends, this is what is commonly called “Inflation.”

Nonetheless, my friend agonized what to do. He had cut costs as much as possible, tried different types of advertising, experimented with changes to his product line, etc. Regardless what he tried though, he still suffered from fewer patrons visiting his shop. Desperate for ideas, he came up with an idea that went against conventional wisdom, he raised his prices. Actually, he devised a rather slick idea whereby he doubled his prices but introduced a coupon program whereby customers could save 25% if they redeemed the coupon within a certain number of days. This worked remarkably well. More and more customers started to frequent his store thinking they were going to save a lot of money. The reality though was they were actually paying 75% more than before.

This hunger by the consumer to “save” money worked so well, my friend couldn’t print coupons fast enough. After awhile, he didn’t even have to print his coupons in the newspaper as word quickly spread customers could pick them up in the store. Then, my friend had a stroke of genius, he arranged a 50% sale on Mondays which were normally his slowest day. This resulted in a tsunami of customers flooding his store causing him to hire some additional help.

As a postscript, I visited my friend not long ago. He claims his store is doing fine now and is able to laugh about it. To hear him tell it, coupons are nothing more than a clever shell game to conceal inflated prices and driven by consumer greed. You know what the scary part is? It works.

Originally published: October 7, 2010

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  UNDERSTANDING BUSINESS PROCESS DESIGN – A primer; it’s not what tools you use, but rather knowing what you are doing.

LAST TIME:  RASMUSSEN: FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TOO BIG  – 60% of Americans think their government is too big.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Economics | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

THE DISPARITY BETWEEN CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 30, 2015

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Do young people know the difference between the two?

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I was recently invited to give a talk at a business conference designed to help high school seniors in our county who have an interest in pursuing a business career. Specifically, I was assigned two sessions to describe what the young person should expect as they make the transition to adult life, which was based in large part on my book, “MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD – A Handbook for Entering the Work Force.”

I wore a suit and tie for the occasion to express my credibility and out of respect for my audience, even though none were older than eighteen years of age. This was going to be an unusual talk for me as I normally address adults, not youth. Because of this, I wanted to know a little about my audience. So, using a show of hands, I inquired where the students were from, such as their high schools, but I also flippantly asked how many were capitalists and, conversely, if there were any socialists present. I received a lot of blank stares on both accounts. This caused me to deviate from my planned program and deliver a mini-dissertation describing the differences. I contended in order to be successful in business, the students would be wise to know what each meant.

Interestingly, some were brainwashed into believing capitalism was evil and simply represented another form of greed. I contend greed is a human emotion, and can be equally applied under either system. Therefore, capitalism is not greed, it is a celebration of the individual’s right to try and succeed. Whereas capitalism focuses on the rights of the individual, socialism concentrates on the rights of the group overall.

I explained, under capitalism the individual has the right to try his/her hand at anything they are so inclined, thereby representing freedom. They simply have the right to try, nothing more, nothing less. If they are lucky, they may succeed, but they also run the risk of failure. Failure is an inherent and important part of the system. There are no guarantees for success. This is why risk is important, to force the individual to work harder and smarter to avoid defeat. As such, capitalism encourages entrepreneurship (innovation and invention). If the person is successful, they are entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labor. If they are not, they must suffer defeat. This should force the person to redouble his/her efforts and try again which, of course, is evolution in action.

To encourage entrepreneurship, our founding fathers took steps to safeguard the intellectual property of the individual. This specifically includes Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, wherein the powers of Congress are defined. It states, in part, “The Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;”. This led to such institutions as the Patent and Copyright offices which were specifically designed to safeguard an individual’s intellectual property. As early as 1790, the first patent and copyright were approved. At the time, safeguarding intellectual property in this manner was rare to the rest of the world. By promoting the entrepreneurial rights of the individual, our forefathers were embracing capitalism.

As mentioned, the focus in Socialism in on the group, not the individual. Here, the rights of the many take priority over the individual. Because of this, personal initiative is discouraged and the individual cannot endeavor to do better than the next person, and failure is prohibited; the group will always bail you out. There is no notion of assuming risk and being held personally accountable for your actions. All compensation is equitable among workers with no rewards for outstanding achievement or penalties for inferior workmanship. Intellectual property belongs to the group, not the individual. Consequently, this approach discourages entrepreneurship and tends to promote apathy.

The Achilles’ heel of Socialism is the belief everyone is equal and, as such, should be treated and compensated on an equitable basis. On the surface, this sounds like a fair and noble notion. The assumption though is everyone works at the same level of effort and expertise which, of course, is simply not so. Restraining the individual from achieving higher levels of workmanship or striving for higher goals is unnatural and discourages the worker.

To summarize:

FOCUS –
Capitalism: The rights of the individual; the right to “try”; requires freedom.
Socialism: The rights of the group; collective decision making; regulations restrain the individual.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP –
Capitalism: Yes, encourages risk; enjoys fruits of labor; individual assumes personal responsibility; promotes evolution.
Socialism: No, discourages risk; individual cannot fail; encourages apathy, discourages change; unnatural.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY –
Capitalism: Yes, belongs to the individual.
Socialism: No, property belongs to the group.

Before closing my talk, I encouraged the students to become familiar with the works of author Ayn Rand, particularly “The Fountainhead” (1943) and “Atlas Shrugged” (1957). Rand’s work touted the need for individual achievement and capitalism, and saw them as two intertwined concepts.

In business, we have to be mindful of encouraging individual achievement and teamwork equally. We realize our team is as good as its weakest player, hence the need to encourage workers to strive harder for perfection. However, there will always be those people who will rise above others and it certainly wouldn’t make sense to impede their growth.

“But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made–before it can be looted or mooched–made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more than he has produced.”
– Ayn Rand

UPDATE: IS AMERICA A SOCIALIST STATE?

America may not have embraced Socialism as fervently as Cuba, China, North Korea, Viet Nam, or the old USSR, but make no mistake, America has been moving in a Socialist direction for quite some time. Whereas, the country used to embrace capitalism, and was repulsed by the very idea of socialism, now we are just as tolerant of it as marijuana. Young people today are more amenable to accepting it, probably because they were never taught what it was in school. Liberals market it as “equality for all,” while conservatives perceive it as repressive slavery.

Seventy five years ago I would have described the country as 75% capitalist, and 25% socialist. Today, I believe it is just the opposite. Socialism has been in the country since the 1820’s, but was not widely embraced until the country was faced with the Great Depression and had to rethink its economic policies under Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR’s social programs may have been noble in intent, but did not eradicate the problem. Only World War II brought America out of it. FDR’s legacy was continued by Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and now Obama. It is manifested by labor unions, welfare entitlements, economic bailouts, and handouts to friendly countries around the globe, some for humanitarian reasons, others as a bribe.

Today, approximately one third of the country is on some federally subsidized program. This includes illegal immigration. Another one third is paying not only for their own family, but those on welfare as well.

318.9M – people in America
109.6M – on welfare

58.7% – pay income tax
43.3% – do not

The socialist way of paying for entitlements is through heavy taxation, including personal, corporate, and foreign. The capitalist way is to reduce tax rates, stimulate the economy, and put more people to work.

Socialism represents a redistribution of the wealth. When you hear politicians say, “free education,” “free health care,” and “free” everything else, without having a way to earn it yourself, that is the voice of slavery, not freedom. This explains why the federal debt is so high.

So, Yes, I believe the country is at least 75% socialist and 25% capitalist. It also appears the Democratic Party has turned socialist. Even DNC Chairman, Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, cannot discern the difference. Further, there is the distinct possibility the Democrats will elect Senator Bernie Sanders, an admitted Socialist, as their candidate for president. The only difference between Sanders, and the other Democratic candidates, is Sanders is honest about his position, the others are not.

First section originally published: November 28, 2012

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHEN HAVOC STRIKES – What to do when someone loses their cool at the office.

LAST TIME:  MANAGING COMPLEXITY  – It’s really not difficult as long as we use a little common sense.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

WHY WE NEED A MIDDLE CLASS

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 28, 2015

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– An argument for capitalism.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Do people truly understand the power of the middle class? I think they’re starting to overseas. We may not have invented the concept of a middle class, but we sure perfected it, and everyone wants to emulate it. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, countries around the world have been reconfiguring their economic policies in order to remain competitive in a global economy. In case you haven’t been paying attention, new middle classes have slowly emerged in such places as China, Belarus, Brazil, Russia, Vietnam, and amongst South African blacks. People in these countries now have spending power thereby causing a demand for products and services, not to mention a call for construction of new houses and businesses.

The rise of middle classes around the world is significant as it is a recognition that capitalism works as opposed to socialism or communism. A sizable middle class represents an economic engine for a country. Capitalism encourages people to work and to invest and spend their money and allows a country to collectively compete. The average person wants nothing more than to earn a respectable livelihood, so they can enjoy life and raise a family unencumbered by overbearing government regulations. As President Calvin Coolidge observed, “After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world. I am strongly of the opinion that the great majority of people will always find these the moving impulses of our life.”

In order for capitalism to work, you need to be allowed to have certain freedoms, such as the freedom of expression, the freedom to innovate and invent, the freedom to choose your own path, the freedom to conduct legitimate business, etc. This is why it is rather ironic how some of our former communist foes are now embracing capitalism.

In the absence of a middle class, you have just the rich and the poor (the “have’s” and the “have not’s”) which lends itself to being a feudal state controlled by dictators or monarchies. Such a state does not operate harmoniously, corruption is rampant, and unrest is common. The “have not’s”, which is a sizable majority, have little to earn and spend. Consequently, the economy sputters and stagnates which our communist friends discovered the hard way.

As mentioned, in order for capitalism to work, certain freedoms have to be permitted to allow a person to work, earn, and save their money, not to have it redistributed to others by government decree. This means there is an explicit relationship between freedom and capitalism. Implicitly, it means capitalism requires a certain amount of democracy to allow the citizens to participate in how the government runs, which means capitalism cannot work under a dictatorship (see Cuba, Iran, North Korea, et al). As an aside, it is the middle class who elects government officials, not the upper or lower classes. The upper class may support politicians economically, but it is the middle class that casts the votes.

When someone asks me about my political leanings, I tell them I am an unabashed capitalist. This of course means I believe in liberty, and the right of the individual to lead a meaningful life, and I abhor any attempt by government to alter this or forcibly redistribute the wealth earned by the individual. I can understand government monitoring the legality of someone’s occupation, but aside from this they should not hinder a person’s right to earn a living.

Capitalism is our greatest export. It represents the seeds of freedom and economic prosperity. If it spreads, it could lead to world stability and peace which, of course, certain tyrants and crackpots openly reject. For example, Iraq will be an interesting experiment in capitalism. If Iraq succeeds, freedom and democracy will succeed, which is why Middle Eastern terrorists desperately want to see it fail as it represents a challenge to their authority. It’s not so much about religion as it is about control. Capitalism is a genuine threat to feudalism, a system which has no regards for the rights of the human-being and respect for the human spirit. Make no mistake, feudalism is barbaric.

To summarize:

1. In order to effectively compete in a world economy, you need capitalism.

2. In order for capitalism to flourish, you need freedom and democracy.

3. A byproduct of capitalism is a sizable middle class with spending power.

4. Therefore, any attempt to change capitalism is a threat to freedom, democracy, and the middle class.

No, I am not a proponent of government sponsored bailouts, stimulus packages or the creation of artificial jobs. Such devices does a disservice to capitalism and is unnatural. It is not government’s role to tamper with capitalism, only to establish the environment for capitalism to flourish, namely assuring freedom and democracy, serving its constituents, and providing incentives to encourage new avenues of business.

Yes, the failing financial companies and automotive manufacturers should have been closed. They were corrupt, made bad decisions based on greed and stupidity, and do not deserve any sympathy for their plight. If they had been allowed to fail, new institutions would have surely been created to replace them which would have been leaner, stronger and smarter. It’s called “evolution.” By bringing back our right to fail, you assure our right to succeed.

Originally published: August 4, 2010

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE FINAL ROUNDUP – What I learned during the years I spent on the Board of Directors for nonprofit organizations.

LAST TIME:  PROTECTING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY  – Copyrights, trade secrets, patents, trade marks, and other things that go bump in the night.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

THE BUDGET BATTLE

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 22, 2015

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Just how badly do we want to manage the budget?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

We are finally coming down to one of the pivotal differences between Democrats and the Republicans, namely the federal budget. This is something the GOP has wanted to address for a long time, and now that they control both chambers of Congress, a confrontation is finally at hand. Most voters understand the overwhelming amount of debt we have incurred over the last seven years, that deficits and government spending is out of control, and to fix the problem certain cuts have to be made, like it or not. We certainly do not want this to be a legacy for our grandchildren to address. Now is the time to clean it up, but we face the problem of a divided nation over ideological differences.

President Obama, the Senate and the House have assembled three different budgets. Of the three, the Senate’s and the House’s are similar and represent the Republican’s proposal to straighten out our financial mess and work towards a balanced budget. The president’s represents the Democrat’s point of view and is not concerned with a balanced budget.

According to a recent analysis by the Associated Press (AP), there are significant differences between the three:

In terms of REVENUE:

President – “Would increase taxes on wealthy people, corporations and smokers.”

Congress – “Tax hikes do not figure in either GOP budget, though both Republican blueprints call for a tax code overhaul — with details to be worked out later. Curiously, the Republicans make repeal of the Affordable Care Act a key provision of their blueprints, but they still assume the tax revenues created by the law will still flow to the Treasury.”

In terms of SPENDING:

President – “Increases spending on public works, education and defense, and would eliminate the automatic cuts imposed under a 2011 budget deal.”

Congress – “Boosts defense spending but makes cuts to domestic social programs like Medicaid and food stamps. The House plan would convert Medicare to a voucher-like program, and both GOP budgets would repeal the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature domestic achievement.”

In terms of THE DEFICIT:

President – “Sees deficits stabilize at about 2.5 percent of GDP.”

Congress – “Seek $5 trillion in reductions over the next decade.
Both Republican plans bring the budget into balance in 2025 – a modest $3 billion surplus for the Senate plan, a $33 billion surplus in the House plan. Democrats accuse the GOP of using shady accounting practices.”

In terms of THE PUBLIC DEBT:

President – “Debt held by the public does not fall appreciably, declining from 75 percent to 73 percent by 2025.”

Congress – “Both GOP budgets project a debt below 60 percent of GDP by 2025.
Public debt is still expected to exceed $20 trillion in 2025, with interest reaching $857 billion. Under the GOP plans, interest be less than $625 billion in 2025.”

In a nutshell, to reduce the debt without raising taxes is good news for both the wealthy and the middle class (not to mention smokers). Not surprising, the GOP plan is an open attack on the Affordable Health Care Act, Obamacare, a plan that Americans still do not embrace (see Gallup). All three budgets make use of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which, frankly, is limping along (currently 2.2%) and reflects a sluggish economy. If we had a robust GDP, the country would feel its effect through more money from taxes. Finally, the president’s plan openly does not support a balanced budget, but raises spending instead. As another AP report contends, “While his (Mr. Obama’s budget) leaves a projected deficit exceeding $600 billion 10 years from now, the Senate plan claims a surplus of $3 billion.

So, the question comes down to: Do we compromise again or do we really want to address our economic problems? If we want the latter, we must surely move beyond the status quo and take corrective action. However, the battle lines have already been drawn. According to a statement by the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, the Senate-passed budget “relies on top-down economics and gimmicks,” and “refuses to ask the wealthy to contribute a single dollar to deficit reduction.” He goes on to say, the Senate bill would lock in severe spending cuts “to investments in the middle class like education, job training and manufacturing,” and it fails to “responsibly fund our national security.” As to national security, this is simply not so, as the GOP proposes more money for defense as opposed to the president’s plan. Further, we would generate more money for education, job training, and manufacturing by simply lessening the regulations and taxes on corporate America, thereby allowing them to thrive.

The next step is to have the two chambers of Congress negotiate a compromise budget in mid-April. Interestingly, the legislation is non-binding, meaning that it will not require the president’s signature, but will inevitably lead to veto fights with Mr. Obama in future bills.

It will be interesting to see if we truly have the fortitude to manage our finances responsibly. If we do not, God help our grandchildren.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE MEANING OF LIFE – It is ultimately about good versus evil.

LAST TIME:  BUSINESS WRITING  – A crash course on writing for people in a business setting.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

WHAT DOES CORPORATE ‘INFUSION’ MEAN?

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 10, 2014

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Or is it a misnomer?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

One of the latest $3 words invented by the media is “inversion” and is used to describe the transfer of corporate headquarters, and jobs, to another locale outside of the United States. When I first heard the expression, it conjured up an image of an office turned inside-out, but that is not exactly what is meant. Perhaps the best example for describing the concept is the recent merger of Canadian based Tim Horton’s restaurants (coffee and donuts) with fast food giant Burger King of Miami, Florida. In doing so, Burger King opened the door to move their headquarters from Miami to Toronto, thereby escaping America’s high corporate tax rates.

A handful of Senate Democrats cried foul when they learned of the move and accused Burger King of being unpatriotic and not paying their fair share of taxes. Patriotism has nothing to do with it. This is a smart business move in these troubled economic times and, frankly, I’m surprised we do not see more of it.

The impetus for this, of course, is America’s high corporate tax rate. Of all of the modern industrial countries in the world, America has the highest tax rate at 40%. By comparison, Canada offers a paltry 26.5%. Since Canada began dropping their tax rate in 2008, the Canadian economy has rebounded and turned into a dynamo.

Likewise, Japan, who had higher rates than the United States, began lowering their rates in 2012 and is experiencing a resurgence in their economy. In 2008, Germany also dropped their rates from 38% to 29%.

Today, the United Kingdom is at 21%. Switzerland is at 17.92%, and Ireland at 12.5%, which explains why a lot of companies are moving to these countries. It’s not unpatriotic, it is called survival. However, in doing so, a lot of jobs leave our shores and unemployment rises. One would think the Democrats do not understand the situation, that lowering the corporate tax rates would ignite the economy. Actually they understand the concept quite well, but are unwilling to drop the rate in fear of losing tax income. By keeping America’s corporate tax rate high, they are encouraging businesses to leave. The hard truth is “inversion” is not about corporate greed as it is about government stupidity.

Even the public understands what is going on better than government officials. In a recent Toronto Sun poll, when people were asked, “Should Burger King move to Canada?”

76% – Sure
19% – No
05% – Maybe

Then again, most of the people responding were likely Canadians and fully cognizant of the benefits derived from lowering corporate tax rates.

With all this said, I tend to believe the expression “infusion” is a misnomer. Perhaps it should be called a “transfusion” as overseas tax rates provide the means to survive.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  HONEST DEBATE (OR THE LACK THEREOF) – Our lack of tolerance has a lot to do with it.

LAST TIME:  WHO SHOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHARITY?  – The government or the individual?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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THE DISAPPEARING MIDDLE CLASS

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 8, 2014

BRYCE ON THE ECONOMY

– And how energy independence can alleviate the problem.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I recently read a couple of articles regarding the shrinking American middle class. It seems the rich get richer and the poor are doing much better thanks to escalated welfare spending, but the middle class is struggling.

The middle class is an important part of our country both economically and politically. They represent the engine which fuels the economy. They purchase the consumer products, the homes, food, automobiles, and pay the lion’s share of the taxes. The upper class also pays taxes, but not to the degree of the middle class. The poor, of course, contribute nothing.

According to “Forbes,” 60% of middle class American households have experienced a decrease in income. As the Middle Class diminishes, the poor will inevitably feel the squeeze. Politically, it is not the rich or the poor who run the country, it is the Middle Class. The rich are active politically, but it is the Middle Class, representing the land owners and consumers who ultimately dictate the course of the country politically. The poor doesn’t really figure in the formula as they are the most apathetic of voters.

As Aristotle noted centuries ago, “The most perfect political community must be amongst those who are in the middle rank, and those states are best instituted wherein these are a larger and more respectable part, if possible, than both the other; or, if that cannot be, at least than either of them separate.”

As the upper and lower classes expand beyond the size of the middle, anarchy will likely ensue. This has been demonstrated in numerous countries around the world. It also means the Middle Class must be allowed to flourish. To do so, we need an increase in full-time jobs, not part-time. Currently, the Obama administration is pushing for an increase in the minimum wage. Can we not achieve the same goal by lowering costs as opposed to raising the minimum wage? According to the government, inflation is at a paltry 2%. Hardly worth worrying about, right? Interestingly, the price of gasoline is not included in their equation. This is strange as delivery costs affect everything. In reality, we have a much higher inflation rate than the government is willing to admit. I would therefore argue:

DON’T RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE, LOWER THE PRICE OF OIL!

Our priorities are wrong, instead of raising capital, let’s cut spending instead. Unfortunately, this is not a popular concept with the current administration. However, if we dedicated ourselves to energy independence, we would lower the cost of living, thereby putting more money in everyone’s pocket. In addition, we wouldn’t threaten the closure of businesses, but encourage expansion, and lastly, we would be creating legitimate full-time jobs, not just flipping burgers.

Let’s not kid ourselves, spiraling inflation is the real culprit here, based on the rising cost of energy. It’s the ugly little secret the government doesn’t want you to know. However, if we pronounced a national objective of energy independence, we would be stoking the engine of the middle class, not to mention freeing ourselves from entanglements in the Middle East. We obviously have ample resources and technology to achieve the goal, but we seem to lack the will to do so, e.g., the Keystone XL pipeline, the New England pipeline, and the massive gas field in Pennsylvania.

This is all very real and all very plausible, but we either lack the vision to tackle this goal or there is a premeditated attempt to dismantel the country. Let’s be clear about one thing, if the middle class continues to decline, it puts us on a clear path to destruction. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE HARSH REALITY OF THE WAR ON TERROR – It’s not going away any time soon.

LAST TIME:  RETIREMENTLAND  – Do we ever truly retire?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE MYTH OF EQUAL PAY

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 19, 2014

BRYCE ON CAPITALISM

– In capitalism, there is no such thing; it’s what the market bears.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

The president has seized upon the concept of “equal pay,” not so much from a gender equality perspective, but taking umbrage with CEO’s of big businesses making millions, while others struggle with minimum wage. Translation: the distribution of wealth. There is no doubt we are witnessing some rather obnoxious economics today, particularly by athletes, entertainers, the media, CEO’s and politicians. For example, I never understood how a backup catcher in baseball, who does nothing more than warm-up relief pitchers, can earn a million dollars. Nor do I understand why people pay exorbitant ticket prices for sporting events, particularly at the Super Bowl where it costs as much as $2,400 for the worst seat in the house. Then there is the matter of paying over $4M for a 30 second ad during the Super Bowl.

Although I find it disturbing people willfully pay for such obnoxious economics, I am fully aware of the concept involved, which is “capitalism” representing what the market will bear.

On a recent Fox News segment, I heard liberal commentator Bob Beckel champion the concept of “equal pay,” that CEOs should not be paid bloated salaries while the workers are paid much less. Beckle balked at suggesting a salary cap for executives, probably because he is reported to have a personal net worth of $10M. Naturally, this would preclude him from asking for more money for his media appearances and columns (see “hypocrisy”). In other words, he has no means for setting the bar as to what would be fair and equitable.

We may be born equal, but what we do with our lives is ultimately up to the individual. Some may become inventors, pioneers, writers, craftsmen, and captains of industry; others will become thugs and wards of the state, blaming their woes on others as opposed to assuming responsibility. Some people will succeed, some will fail, all of which is referred to as “natural selection” a la Charles Darwin. For example:

* If the minimum wage is raised, and jobs disappear, it is “natural selection” within the free market.

* If athletes and entertainers keep raising their salaries, and ticket sales fall off, it is “natural selection” within the free market.

* If the price of a product is raised to the point where people stop buying it, it too is “natural selection.”

“Natural selection” is capitalism in action.

Socialism is “unnatural selection” and the antithesis of capitalism. For example:

* If money is taxed from the rich and given to the poor, the rich will be less likely to invest in undertakings that will produce jobs and stimulate the economy.

* Likewise, if government bureaucracy inhibits companies with stifling rules and regulations, it too will have adverse effects on jobs and the economy.

* If prices are defined by the government and not the market, it is “unnatural selection.”

The concept of a “free market” is a capitalist concept, not socialist. It means the market can behave unfettered from artificial restraints as imposed by government. To make it work though, you must assume responsibility for your actions and understand the prospect of risk. The same people who endorse equal pay, are the same who refuse to assume responsibility and risk. They want it all without having to earn it which, of course, is socialism.

If you are concerned about obnoxious economics, as I am, please be mindful that every time you order expensive tickets or merchandise, or purchase $10 hot dogs and beers, you are endorsing capitalism. If the market fails to bear idiotic prices, they will inevitably go down, naturally.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  BRYCE’S LAWS ON LIFE – We’ve done management, systems, and project management, now how about Life?

LAST TIME:  THE TRUTH ABOUT PROJECT MANAGEMENT PACKAGES  – Do they truly support project management or are they glorified punch clocks?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

MAKING BOOK ON YOUR INVESTMENTS

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 26, 2012

BRYCE ON ECONOMICS

– Some fundamental lessons on managing your portfolio.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Let me preface my remarks by saying I am certainly no expert in terms of financial planning, just an ordinary Joe who, like most of you, is trying to make ends meet and put some money away for a rainy day. As a rule, I generally do not trust financial planners. I’ve heard a lot of bad financial advice over the years and I am wary as a result. I look at most of them as car salesmen from the 1970’s when they wore polyester pants, white shoes and white belts. However, there are some good ones out there which can be typically found through word of mouth, certainly not those silly commercials on television.

The term “investment” sounds more like something connected with fashion as opposed to finances. Obviously, it refers to the purchase of an item or asset in the hope it will generate income or appreciate in value, but years ago it meant the act of laying siege to something with military force, which seems to be a more suitable description of my finances. One of the first lessons I learned over the years about investing was:

“If you are relying totally on your own expertise to make investment decisions, then you likely have a fool for a client.” If we were all experts, we wouldn’t all be working (and I certainly wouldn’t be writing these columns).

We all worry about our financial future. Some people do well, but I suspect most of us are in the dark as to what to invest in. There is, of course, the stock market, bonds, annuities, precious metals, gems, real estate, etc. You can even invest in commercial prison systems if you are so inclined. Certificates of Deposits and Money Market Funds used to be considered solid investments years ago, but I don’t think too many people gamble on them anymore. That’s just the point, it is a crap shoot as there are so many areas to invest in and enough variables to boggle the mind. It should come as no small surprise when people get caught up in a Ponzi scheme; this is when greed supersedes common sense. Consequently, we make some bad decisions along the way. This leads me to my next observation:

“There are no guarantees for success.” Even if the company or investment seems fine on the surface, there are many other external influences affecting it, such as a market dragging it down, changing governmental regulations, inflation, or the monetary exchange rate. This brings up my next point:

“You have to watch your money at all times.”

As a child, my mother opened a Passbook Savings account for me in order to teach me thrift and the need for saving money. I basically learned to put my money in the account and forget about it. When a bank statement came in, I was giddy with the idea of earning interest. It was simple, it was predictable, and I didn’t have to worry about it. However, due to the many types of investments available today and the rules associated with them, following your portfolio can turn into a full time job, which most of us cannot afford to do.

Over the years, I have learned a few other harsh realities:

“If you hear of a new stock or investment opportunity, it’s already too late to capitalize on it.” Others are already in on the ground floor and they will be the ones profiting, certainly not you.

“The moment you purchase a stock, you can count on it declining immediately.” Investments are somewhat Newtonesque in nature and rarely violate the laws of gravity when you purchase them initially.

“The moment you sell your stock, it will either immediately soar to new heights, split, or both.” You are dumbfounded by this as you held the stock for several years and it did nothing during this time.

Some would say I have a defeatist attitude about investments. Frankly, I think I am more pragmatic than most and recognize investments for what they are: legalized gambling. Just as in a casino, the only people who truly understand the odds are those who control the game. The rest of us are just little guys placing simple $5 chips on the Pass Line.

I wonder what my Passbook Savings Account would be worth today had I not cashed out years ago? Probably a small fortune. The last lesson of investing should be rather obvious: “Hindsight is always 20/20.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE DISPARITY BETWEEN CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM – Do young people know the difference between the two?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Economics, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE VOTING BOOTH

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 31, 2012

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– The variables we know about our current president.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

In less than one week we will know who will serve as our president for the next four years. Forget the polls. As I have said all along, this comes down to a few key variables we have to keep in mind when we’re in the voting booth:

THE ECONOMY

It’s no secret our economy can be described as lethargic at best. Our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is at a paltry 1.3% and only reached a high of 4.1% in the last four years. The federal debt is now in excess of $16 trillion ($6.4 trillion added over the last four years), and we’re now in excess of 100% of the GDP. Translation: we’re spending more than we bring in.

The United States has dropped to #3 in terms of exports (with China and the European Union ahead of us). The balance of International Trade in Goods and Services is now at -$42 billion.

The federal deficit has grown to $1.2 trillion over the last four years and we have been operating without a budget for the last three years which is inexcusable.

Other indicators of economic woes include:
– The country lost its AAA credit rating.
– In 2011 we experienced 1,410,653 bankruptcies (96.61% of which were consumer filings)
– College loan debt now exceeds credit card debt.
– Average gasoline prices have risen $1.85/gallon to $3.86/gallon over the last four years.
– Food stamp recipients have risen from 32 million to 47 million (+46%)

It is rather remarkable the president discarded the report of his own Council of Economic Advisers which basically concluded it was necessary for the government to cut spending.

UNEMPLOYMENT

Despite the president’s stimulus/bailout programs, there are still 12.1 million Americans unemployed (officially). Understand this though, another 2.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in September had not searched for work in the previous four weeks.

Those worker groups particularly affected include: teenagers (23.7%), blacks (13.4%), and Hispanics (9.9%).

The country experienced 43 continuous months of +8% unemployment. This represents the president’s entire term of office, almost.

Interestingly, the president failed to meet with his own Jobs Council for more than six months.

ENERGY

With U.S. oil exploration and drilling slowing to a crawl, Americans questioned why the president would throw the government’s weight behind Brazil, a country that also received a $2 billion loan for its state-owned oil company from the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Meanwhile he has turned his back on the Keystone Pipeline which would help the country become more energy independent while creating thousands of much needed jobs for Americans.

The United States still imports over 341 billion barrels of oil, most of which from OPEC and Persian Gulf countries, thereby cementing our dependency on this dangerous part of the world.

While energy costs have nearly doubled as a percentage of the annual family budget, heavy handed regulations from the EPA are making what we pay for energy an even greater burden on our families and our businesses.

The administration’s “War on Coal” has forced the industry into retreat, eliminating 1,200 jobs and closing eight mines in Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The president has created a regulatory environment that’s aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal, America’s most abundant, reliable resource.

And there remains no policy or course of action for energy independence, despite having considerable gas, oil, and coal resources in our possession.

IMMIGRATION

It is no secret that 13 million illegals currently reside in the United States costing taxpayers an average amount of $1,117 per household. Efforts by states to stem the flow of illegals has been rebuffed by the federal government in the form of lawsuits against them. Interestingly, a new lawsuit was recently filed by federal immigration agents against Homeland Security for policies they say prevent them from doing their job of defending the Constitution.

Then, of course, there is the failure of “Fast and Furious” which cost the life of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and destroyed the credibility of the president’s attorney general, the country’s first sitting member of the cabinet to be held in Contempt of Congress for withholding documents related to the scandal.

The attorney general has also been at the forefront of prohibiting states to secure their borders and implement voter identification programs. In addition, he has been an active proponent in implementing the Pretrial System which has jeopardized security by putting criminals back on the streets as opposed to properly processing them through the courts.

FOREIGN POLICY/NATIONAL SECURITY

True, the president is recognized for his approval to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, but the rest of his foreign policy can hardly be called credible. The Muslim Spring led to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East, not democracy. It also led to our ambassador in Libya being killed and our embassies attacked, which is strongly reminiscent of the Carter administration. No matter how the president tries to spin it, we are still engaged in a “War on Terror.”

The Muslim Spring also marked a turning point for the United States as the administration adopted a policy of “leading from behind,” whereby we allowed other countries take the lead in determining policy in the Middle East, thus putting into question our country’s credibility as a superpower.

Defense has been significantly weakened. For example, we can now only fight in one major arena, not two. This is unlike when we were forced to fight in both the Pacific and Atlantic regions during WW2. There is now a strain in America’s relationship with two of its traditional allies, Great Britain and Israel. Should war come again, we may very well find ourselves alone. A recent Pew Research poll reveals the president’s approval ratings have dropped considerably among foreign nations, including Muslim countries.

The biggest concern though in foreign policy is our hands-off position regarding the buildup of Iran’s nuclear program, a potential powder keg in the making.

UN Agenda 21, which the administration has quietly embraced, is perhaps the biggest threat to the country’s freedoms as defined by the U.S. Constitution. This is a program the administration hopes will pass before the people recognize it for what it is, a genuine threat to the American way of life.

In these dangerous times of foreign intrigue, you have to question the wisdom of dodging the presidential intelligence briefings.

SOCIAL REFORM

The president’s Obamacare reform is his signature piece of legislation, yet it is still opposed by the majority of Americans. The complexity of the law has had an adverse effect on business who still doesn’t understand its ramifications. After it was studied by the Supreme Court, Americans were surprised to learn it represented the largest tax increase in U.S. history.

The president also touted gay rights, not only in terms of marriage, but in the military as well. Meanwhile, the existence of God came under attack.

More disturbing, this administration has fostered the cultivation of a Nanny State whereby freewill is supplanted by the will of the government. This has changed the face of America from “the land of opportunity” to “the land of entitlement.”

SO, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

This sounds more like the work of an apprentice learning on the job as opposed to an experienced leader and manager. The next question is, do we stay the course or pick a replacement? Staying the course means you approve of the condition of the country as mentioned herein. True, there are people who will vote by blind devotion along partisan lines, but I would like to believe that voting for a person means you feel they are the most competent to do the job, not because of political ideology. Party politics are nice, but supporting job competency is more important, now more than ever.

Some would argue Governor Romney would not do as well as the president under the circumstances. One thing is clear, he cannot do worse. President Obama’s label as an “empty chair” president seems justified or, as I am reminded, “While Nero fiddled, Rome burned.”

I don’t want to give the impression the president is a complete failure. After all, he did succeed in making Jimmy Carter look like a star.

“If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
– Barack Obama, February 1, 2009

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  IN PRAISE OF SOPHIA LOREN – Why we still find her attractive at age 78.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, (12:30-3:00pm).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

 
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