Every year the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) comes out with a report card on the condition of America’s infrastructure. We got a D+ this year. According to them, “Deteriorating infrastructure is impeding our ability to compete in the thriving global economy, and improvements are necessary to ensure our country is built for the future.”
They calculate that every family in America will lose $3,400 a year because of infrastructure deficiencies. If the problem isn’t fixed, they say, GDP will lose $4 trillion a year by then (2025) and 2.5 million jobs will be lost. They recommend an additional $1.1 trillion of spending on transportation (roads and bridges) over the next 10 years to correct this problem.
President Donald Trump says that we need to spend $1 trillion to “transform America’s crumbling infrastructure into a golden opportunity for accelerated economic growth and more rapid productivity gains.”
Liberals and conservatives alike get teary-eyed when they hear this. They think that massive spending, especially on roads and bridges, will “put people back to work” and make America more productive.
Here is the reality: America’s infrastructure is not crumbling, massive spending won’t create any permanent jobs, and productivity is not suffering because of our infrastructure. These are economic myths that lobbyists, infrastructure contractors, and the ASCE perpetuate to get fat contracts. read more…
Bankrate.com’s most recent survey on savings reports that only 41% of Americans had enough savings to cover a $500 unplanned expense. Which means 59% didn’t. Before you jump off a cliff, this doesn’t mean they can’t pay their bills—many have access to credit in one form or another. And, it doesn’t necessarily mean these people are poor—but they are spending more than they make and are struggling to maintain their lifestyle.
The issue here is not wealth inequality. There always has been and will be “inequality”. The fact that some people are wealthier than most people is not relevant. If the top 1% are living fabulously well that doesn’t mean they are doing so at the cost of the rest of us. It means they are better at creating wealth and jobs than the rest of us. This is about how bad economic policies are hurting Main Street.
Cottage Hospital and Sansum Clinic, Santa Barbara, California’s two largest health care providers, gave up on their proposed merger because of regulatory delays and a lack of clarity from the Federal Trade Commission, the government agency that protects us from uncompetitive trade practices and monopolies. Cottage is now our only remaining hospital and Sansum is our largest medical clinic. Both are large, state-of-the-art providers.
After almost four years, Cottage and Sansum called off their attempt to create cost savings from a more efficient organization. In a fast-changing health care world, the uncertainty of their status made it difficult for them to plan for the future.
It is likely that the FTC believes that these kinds of vertical mergers in the health care system will give the resulting organization “monopolistic” pricing power because a lack of competition which will lead to higher costs for consumers of health care services.
That may be correct, but it is not what is driving up health care costs and the problems with our health care system.
How can State Street be revived? In my last article on State Street’s retail glut, I pointed out that there are 30+ retail vacancies in the downtown State Street corridor and that Santa Barbara is following a national trend in retailing. That is, there is too much retail space, online sales are challenging retail stores, and generational spending and shopping habits have changed.
The revival of State Street lies with the City, property owners, and retailers. They have to adjust to a changed environment. This is not a transitory phenomenon; we are witnessing one of the rare times in history when there are major shifts in human economic behavior. Shopping and life-style patterns have changed and to ignore them is to see the permanent decline of State Street.
There is a belief among Progressives that rent control and other tenants’ “rights” will make housing more affordable, more secure, and more attainable for renters.
Tenant advocates such as CAUSE (Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy) have been urging the City of Santa Barbara to adopt policies they believe will help poor tenants. At a special meeting on March 21, the Santa Barbara City Council decided (5-2) to form a taskforce to examine rent control as well as other tenants’ rights policies proposed by CAUSE. read more…
Santa Barbara’s downtown core shopping district is in trouble. Santa Barbara is not alone; it is a microcosm of the retail world right now.
A lot of attention has been focused on the large number of vacant retail stores here. The Downtown Organization, a group dedicated to promoting the interests of its business members, has commissioned a study of the problem. They are concerned about the “exodus” of retailers. read more…
I live in Santa Barbara, California, which by most measures, including my own, is a paradise. It’s also very expensive because everyone wants to live in paradise. The average home price in our south coast was $1,352,000 in 2016. There were 789 homes that sold for more than $1,000,000 in 2016. Trust me, if you could figure out how to make a living here, you would pay the price.
The reason things are so expensive is that we restrict growth. No condo towers or massive tract development for us. Which causes a problem for those who can’t afford to buy a single-family residence and must rent. Apartment rents are high because we aren’t building many new apartments either. Now, those of you living in NYC probably think $2,000 to $3,000 for a one-bedroom apartment is reasonable, even cheap, but … presently there are only 15 units available in town. read more…
Some lawmakers think that the way to the American Dream is to load up on more debt at the top of the housing cycle.
Consider H.R. 898, the Credit Score Competition Act introduced into Congress by three Congressional Representatives. It would direct Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored entities (GSEs) that guarantee 90% of the mortgage loans in the United States, to lower credit standards for mortgage loans.
“Alternative credit score consideration by the GSEs is a win-win: it opens up the market in a responsible manner for those qualified to buy a home and eliminates the government-backed monopoly in credit scoring. That’s why the Credit Score Competition Act has garnered such strong bipartisan support,” said sponsor Rep. Ed Royce.
“Alternative credit score” is just a misleading obfuscation of the term “low credit standards.” Kind of like “alternative facts”. read more…
I checked out my closet to see where my clothes were made. My shirts were made in Vietnam, China, Peru, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Mauritius, Singapore, Thailand, and Turkey. My Levi jeans were made in Bangladesh, India, and Mexico. I couldn’t find any clothing made in America. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough. At Costco you can get a very nice all cotton t-shirt made in Peru for $12.
Think about all the jobs lost because of these cheap imports. If Costco was truly patriotic why don’t they buy American made clothing? Wouldn’t that keep jobs in America? Trump says that China and Mexico are stealing American jobs. read more…
One can see President Trump as a decisive leader who takes bold action to move the country forward. Or, one can see him as a leader blissfully ignorant of the consequences of his actions.
I choose the latter interpretation.
I am reading about the consequences of his edict to ban entry to people from the seven prohibited countries. This is just one edict among many that are bold and reckless. These actions reveal a pattern to his decision-making.
There are six elements to President Trump’s thought process: read more…