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June 04, 2015

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GOING BACK IN: As if on cue this morning the word is that the President will establish a new training base in IRAQ and man it with 400 US soldiers to train the Iraq army. Now this is a strategy of closing the door today when the horse left the barn 6 years ago. Do you think 400 trainers can get a country of people who watched us leave them 6 years ago can turn around their distrust? Unfortunately, their vision of the future is likely a President who as Secretary of State oversaw the pullout and opened the barn door for ISIS to ride in on the horse.

World Immigration is really a world of refugees fleeing unimaginable brutality and horror. The number of innocent people executed in the last 6 years and the number of women raped and sold into slavery in the past 6 years rivals the German and Japanese carnage in WWII and the cleansing of Cambodia and Tibet post Vietnam. For the 70 years I've been on this planet only the United States with a little help from it's friends has been willing to address and confront this horrific trait in human behavior. Now for 6 years we have circled the wagons, retreated to the homeland and we now watch the horror from afar promising a strategy next month once we have rallied people barely trained and equipped with modern weapons. Kudos to Seal Team 6 and their peers on staying the course behind the scenes. If you were the Afghan or Iraq forces fighting on our side would you believe America today would stay the course to make sure the end result was positive? Or would you watch a press conference in which the leader of the rapidly shrinking free world fumbled his words explaining that he had not yet come up with a strategy for fighting ISIS because he's waiting for Iraq to convince him they will fight. A far cry from Truman's dropping 2 A bombs on Japan, Kennedy's facing down Khrushchev, Reagan bringing down the wall, GHB kicking Iraq out of Kuwait, Reagan bombing Qaddafi's home, or GWB's retaliation against Al Qaeda. Perhaps the President should ask John McCain instead of John Kerry to go to Iraq and rally our allies. They might actually trust him. So, the world of refugee migration can only get worse. I guess we are too busy getting Cuba off the terrorist list to develop a plan to fight ISIS. Or were we negotiating with our new Iranian friends. It must give great comfort to the Iraq troops to see the Iranians helping them fight ISIS. And, look the other way and we can see Assad fighting them there. When I hear people talking about how much better off we would be if Saddam was still in power I wonder why we let his people hang him. Don't they realize how much better off they would be if they simply reinstated him? Or, would they have been better off if the USA stayed a little longer? Nope this President promised the LEFT he would pull out and he did. I wonder who will get the job of going back in?

THE ECONOMY. It's been a while since I commented on the job picture and the economy. I can understand why no one seems to really know what the state of the economy really is or the job situation. In fact it is precisely the reason, I suspect, that the Fed cannot pull the trigger and raise rates. Let's look at some of the confusion:

Real Estate: America is a real estate driven economy. Real estate has long been the primary investment and wealth building choice of the American middle class. After a nightmare of falling prices, foreclosures and bail outs Americans are like deer in the headlights frozen in their under water homes and unable to move to find new opportunities. Those who built houses have gone to other ways to use their labor and skill set. Many in home repairs. We now have a 6 year void of the development of new talent to replace the former superintendents, project managers and skilled labor. So if a developer wants a project manager with 4 years experience--too bad, there are none. In the mean time we still have 1,000,000 homeowners who have taken advantage of the relief plans to avoid foreclosure and are still more than 90 days in arrears and facing foreclosure once again. After 6 years of low interest rates we still have this situation and are only building 1,000,000 houses a year. What's hot in the real estate markets? 500-1500 square foot apartments. No wealth building there. What else? Senior citizen warehouse plans for retiring baby boomers. This industry created millions of jobs in America for decades. No longer. Immigrants build the ones we build. One strike against an economy trying to find a base of employment. One strike against the middle class being romanced for their spare gas dollars by retailers.

OIL and Gas falls from the heights. For 6 years the oil & gas industry spread to more than 20 states and provided the 2% economy we now have. It fueled a resurgence in the old oil producing states. It produced a gold rush type of stampede into the Dakota's, Colorado, and Wyoming. As it spread banks, pipelines, manufactures of pumps and compressors prospered in these 20 states. Employment soared there. It was the new American economy. Now it is fading fast. Short term it will negate the lower prices. Another reason for Feds to ponder where the economy really is.

WAGE HIKES. Really? Legislated mandated minimum wage hikes in a few states and some smoke and mirrors pay raises at Walmart have perhaps increased wages by 0.3%. temporary workers on 30 hour weeks do not get many raises and even if they do they use them to pay for the benefits they used to have. Feds know the country's workers are under employed. And, what is worse there are still millions of people who have dropped out. And, last but not least there are all these recent college grads saddled with debt who are employed is jobs they never dreamed they would have to take to be employed when they graduated.

Military. As the military cuts back more and more former soldiers look for work. More under employed proud citizens.

Financial engineering: Wall Street's darlings increase their EPS by lowering their outstanding shares on flat to declining revenues by not filling jobs, not growing and cutting expenses at the expense of small businesses.

On top of this we are seeing one positive trend in industry. High level jobs are beginning to open up as baby boomers begin to retire. Many have held off for a year or two. Higher markets have rebuilt their investments and savings accounts. In the 3rd quarter we had interviews up 61% and revenues up 68% as we filled more high level positions. But, down below the middle class is still looking for a turn around. I think the Fed knows this and I think there is little chance of any meaningful resurgence of interest rates soon. A token September boost perhaps. More likely the strong dollar and weak world economies will push rate hikes forward. Then we will wait and see how strong we are.

It would seem that all our citizens should celebrate what makes the USA "Special", a destination for lots of people. Very few seek to leave USA citizenship. Why7 Maybe we are the land of opportunity after all, where initiative means more than parentage for one's ultimate position in life?

It is a bit hypocritical for the significant % of our citizens who deplore our country? Maybe George Soros, Michael Moore, et al can set up an exchange whereby our disenchanted can swap citizenship with those mentioned in your blog?

Come to think about it, Michael Moore would be an exemplary citizen of Swaziland. Sign up, Michael. Last we heard from you was a proposal that all Baltimore police should resign and be replaced by unarmed recruits. Not certain how that would work out, but maybe you could try it in Swaziland?

Alan B.

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