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The Retail Glut

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…

How to Make Housing Worse for Poor People

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…

Is More Debt the Key to the American Dream?

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…

The Thirty Dollar T-Shirt

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…

The Mind of Donald Trump

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…

Oh Vanity, Thy Name Is Trump

                    “The truest characters of ignorance are vanity and pride and arrogance.”

                    —Samuel Butler, British poet (1613 – 1680)

President Trump’s obsession about his popularity manifested itself in a shocking display of outright lies to protect his vanity. His contention that the media were lying about the number of people at his inauguration reinforces what we already know about the man: vain, egotistical, narcissistic, and very thin-skinned.

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Trump’s Big Promise

On Inauguration Day Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America. His inaugural address was stern, painting a bleak vision of America, yet promising to resurrect America from its “carnage”.

The paramount theme of his address, which will be the defining issue of his administration, was to revitalize America by protecting it from foreign competition. He will metaphorically wall off America. “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.” “We will follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American.” read more…

Who Will Drive Policy In The Trump Administration?

The rumor is that Ivanka Trump was the one who, during election night, came in and told her father that he was pulling ahead in the presidential race. His response, “What do you mean I’m ahead?” is something I made up, but it has a strong ring of truth to it. At the outset of the evening the polls and the TV commentators were ready to crown Hillary Clinton, but as the night dragged on something else happened.

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Fidel Castro, R. I. H.

Fidel Castro died.

Praise was heaped on him from every thuggish leader around the world. China’s Xi said he was a “dear comrade and true friend” of the Chinese people who made “immortal contributions to the development of socialism around the world.” Putin said he was “a wise and strong person” who was “an inspiring example for all countries and peoples” and a “sincere and reliable friend of Russia.” Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro offered solidarity and love to the Cuban people. Pope Francis prayed for his eternal rest. Even President Obama offered tactful condolences to the Castro family and said “our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people.”

They were partying in Miami, home to those who fled Castro’s terror. read more…