Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Olympic Woes for the US

There's an interesting graphic online at Washington Post that shows how the Winter Olympics tends to be a race for medals by rich nations. Certainly, it's the colder nations that show up, but with the cold comes expense for some, if not all, of the sports. You can't just run and be a good cross-country skier. Rather, you have to train, have facilities, compete. With, let's say, marathon, Ethiopians can run on the street to train (which they do). Which goes to say, what's with the US? The likes of Canada, Norway, Netherlands, and Germany, are making hay. They're turning in gold medals despite their relative smaller population. It's an Olympics that will force the US Olympic committee to re-evaluate what's happening with the program. Or perhaps athletes only have a certain level of excellence to achieve, and the rest of the world is catching up.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Colorado Pot Sales Massive

All other States ready to legalize marijuana for personal use take not, lots of people smoke pot, and lots of people want to buy it legally. Colorado practically ran out within a week. http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2014/01/pot_sales_denver_5_million_five_days.php The sale of pot topped 5 million. Now, everyone is wondering to watch extent does pot sale price differ than street? It's more expansive for sure (the coffers are certainly going to cash in), but the expense appears to be manageable enough for smokers as they're willing to pay higher prices for legal weed.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How Far Does NSA Go?

If youre on the web then you're being watched. Doesn't seem to matter where you are. And to make things worse, if various web companies, the biggest in case you're wondering, are part of the game. Usually they don't have a choice, take for example Yahoo where the CEO claims they faced jailtime if they refused the NSA surveillance. Incredible that there isn't more outrage. THe average American is happy to truck along in their own unrealistic and hyper-supervised daily routine. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/sep/11/yahoo-ceo-mayer-jail-nsa-surveillance

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Race for NY Over - Detroit Declares Bankruptcy

With scores of city blocks empty that gives farmers envy (empty land fully serviced by utilities like water), Detroit is bleeding people and therefore vastly important tax dollars. Pegged at the turn of the century as a possible NY, both cities were racing to attract the best and brightest. The beauty of Detroit infrastructure was on par with the grandeur of NY. That was a 100 years ago. Nowadays what old monuments remain stand in eerie and sometimes imposing silence. If you want in on some cheap real estate, Detroit is the place. Unfortunately, the once mighty city, that was at least given legitimacy from all the auto work, has hit a disappointing low. With China stealing all the manufacturing jobs, now under 700000 people live in the city. Declaring bankruptcy means they don't have to worry about paying creditors nor face the possibility of lawsuit. Although, right now there are challenges against the filing with some judges calling it a contravening of the State's constitution. Chapter 9 bankruptcy allows the city to restructure its debts in order to pay them off. However, it does require 'permission' of the state to proceed. Chapter 9 is different than CHapter 11 for businesses or Chapter 7 for personal fillings. It will also mean lay offs for municipal employees, selling off assets, raising fees and scaling back basic services such as trash collection and roads. Detroit is the largest city thus far to declare bankruptcy in the US. The journey now, after hitting rock bottom (can it go any lower) will be the road to recovery. That will start with jobs, and that's impossible to do with businesses on the way out. Detroit has a unique opportunity to try something new to save the city. That's balanced with the catch-22 of the need for tax dollars yet lower taxes might encourage businesses to relocate to the city. Not only are creditors affected, but pensioners as well. There could be a massive loss to the savings of many city workers. Once the CHapter 9 mess is underway the recovery will follow, but the dust won't settle from this vastly expected outcome for years to come. With notes from San Diego corporate lawyer CC Legal.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Snowden and the Whistleblower

The Trayvon murder trial overshadowed a few things (if you were watching CNN you would've thought nothing else in the world was happening, like a coup in Egypt....) Manning, the guy who leaked US documents to Wikipedia, faces life in prison. The things he leaked were both sensitive and also damning. Edward Snowden was next in line. He leaked information that pits NSA as the massive surveillance juggernaut spying on everything and everybody. The extent of NSAs intrusion is monumental. They are literally keeping a database of ALL your phone calls and emails. Why? ... or should i say WOW.
Both are social pariahs that will be imprisoned by the US government. This amidst protection for whistleblowers touted by Obama. You can only whistleblow so long as the subject matter isn't too sensitive is the lesson here. The difference between the two is one is still on the run and may never return, the other is in custody and may never get out. Ultimately, the irony here is the often farcical Republican party were the ones who instituted the heavy handed methods. The programs really took off under Bush the II. So apparently LESS government is the name of the game for Republicans, yet they also prefer ? unwarranted and illegal collection of data for the sake of 'security'. You can't explain that one. Things are really ugly. There's no end in sigh other than years and years of legal proceedings and voters not giving a damn to make some changes (Because I guess the lobbyists are the ones with the real power nowadays hey?)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Gun Violence Winners and Losers?

The talk of the nation is gun violence and gun rights. The culture in america is unlike anywhere else in the world. The notion that guns are an inherent right of freedom is so ingrained that in some conversations it's turning asinine. Regardless of the extent of gun violence, or more aptly put, the extent of massacres (no matter the size), there's no change in the solution.

There's still a dichotomy between left and right. Now, more moderates are now swinging in support of gun legislation, particularly restricting automatic rifles (that have no use other than killing people, or as many 'enthusiasts' claim, their right to go to the gun range and shoot).

Obama is pushing this agenda, and he's being met with huge opposition. Albeit the support is growing, the NRA is massive and continues to dominate. Unfortunately, for them, and for everyone, the solutions posed by NRA is in fact more violence and more guns. They could've actually wont his debate by coming up with innovative solutions to violence, yet their old school deterrent remained the same--flood the streets with more guns.

Their solution to gun violence, the NRA, was to put more firearms in more untrained hands and use that as 'protection'. This false sense of security looks more like the streets of Afghanistan, ironically, than the free streets of America.

As it stands there is going to be no changes. Frankly, Americans as a whole don't want them. To take away automatic rifles would be too much of an afront on a culture that has grown to love and cherish their guns connecting them intimately with civil rights. No matter all other progressive societies have rules for guns with only uses in war theaters, this is a cultural issue. There are more guns per capita in many Canadian provinces yet the violence is low. Why? Because of culture (and history).

The OBama camp claims 92% support of background checks, yet somehow Congress can't pass a supposed widely supported bill. The reason? In reality, when massacres happen, people go out and buy guns. Violence is met with violence. (Forget the irony of America supposedly being a Christian nation yet are the most violent and largest supplier/manufacturer/purchaser of arms both privately and by the military).

Yes, there's a tipping point in America when it comes to gun violence, and that tipping point for the NRA is arming everyone. Unfortunately for them, and for gun manufacturers, that won't ever happen. But the converse wo'nt happen either. There's no tipping point in sight for gun legislation. How many more massacres before the bulk of lawmakers and citizens ultimately demand change? Obviously a number more, many more in fact. If decimating school children didn't mobilize a country, little else will.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Housing sputters and starts

The single greatest item to the US economic recovery has to do with consumers and their single largest debt item--homes.

The housing market must recover in order for any sizeable and sustainable recovery to happen. For 4+ years now the housing market has been in tough. People looking to sell can't because nobody will buy. Those who want to move to find jobs can't accept because they can't sell their home or the mortgage is worth far more than the home.... They're stuck putting consumers in an even deeper cyclical problem. Others would like to move up but can't because their current property won't sell to anyone. Basically a holding pattern exists in the market.

New starts are in the same boat. New home builds were in fact up in October, so that's a strong sign that builders think that things are, albeit really tiny, slowly picking up. But then with new housing start numbers slightly up, new housing SALES were in fact down in October 2012. So you have more houses on the market but even fewer people buying them.

Long story short the American economy still needs help. Primary driving force behind that will be job creation. More folks with more money will then help push the housing market (so long as the banks also do their part and lend at these historic interest rate lows).

When will this happen? Well no time soon and certainly not quickly. We're in it for a long time, perhaps a decade, in fact, certainly a decade (if you start counting fro m2008).


-- With notes from Calgary real-estate law firm TC.