November 30, 2010

The De-Industrialization of America - The changes are a comin'...

Whether these changes are good or bad depends in part on how we adapt to them.

But, ready or not, here they come.

1. The Post Office. Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long term. Email, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.

2. The Check. Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with checks
by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process
checks. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise
of the check. This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never
paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would
absolutely go out of business.

3. The Newspaper. The younger generation simply doesn't read the newspaper. They
certainly don't subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the
way of the milkman and the laundry man. As for reading the paper online, get
ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has
caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have
met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model
for paid subscription services.

4. The Book. You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in
your hand and turn the literal pages. I said the same thing about downloading
music from iTunes. I wanted my hard copy CD. But I quickly changed my mind when I
discovered that I could get albums for half the price without ever leaving
home to get the latest music. The same thing will happen with books. You can
browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And
the price is less than half that of a real book. And think of the convenience!
Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find
that you are lost in the story, can't wait to see what happens next, and you
forget that you're holding a gadget instead of a book.

5. The Land Line Telephone. Unless you have a large family and make a lot
of local calls, you don't need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because
they've always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service.
All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell
provider for no charge against your minutes.

6. Music. This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music
industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It's
the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who
would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record labels
and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. Over 40% of the music
purchased today is "catalog items," meaning traditional music that the public is
familiar with. Older established artists. This is also true on the live concert
circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the
book, "Appetite for Self-Destruction" by Steve Knopper, and the video
documentary, "Before the Music Dies."

7. Television. Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because
of the economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers.
And they're playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time
that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated down to
lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are skyrocketing and
commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. I say good riddance to
most of it. It's time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. Let
the people choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix.

8. The "Things" That You Own. Many of the very possessions that we used to own
are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may
simply reside in "the cloud." Today your computer has a hard drive and you store
your pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD,
and you can always re-install it if need be. But all of that is changing. Apple,
Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest "cloud services." That
means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the
operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into
the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet
cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a
monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider.
In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever
from any laptop or handheld device. That's the good news. But, will you actually
own any of this "stuff" or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a
big "Poof?" Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It
makes you want to run to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book
from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.

9. Privacy. If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically,
it would be privacy. That's gone. It's been gone for a long time anyway. There
are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your
computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7, "They" know who you are
and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street
View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your
ads will change to reflect those habits. And "They" will try to get you to buy
something else. Again and again.

All we will have that can't be changed are Memories.

19 Facts About The De-industrialization Of America That Will Blow Your Mind

The United States is rapidly becoming the very first "post-industrial" nation on
the globe. All great economic empires eventually become fat and lazy and
squander the great wealth that their forefathers have left them, but the pace at
which America is accomplishing this is absolutely amazing. It was America that
was at the forefront of the industrial revolution. It was America that showed
the world how to mass produce everything from automobiles to televisions to
airplanes. It was the great American manufacturing base that crushed Germany
and Japan in World War II.

But now we are witnessing the de-industrialization of America . Tens of
thousands of factories have left the United States in the past decade alone.
Millions upon millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the same time
period. The United States has become a nation that consumes everything in sight
and yet produces increasingly little. Do you know what our biggest export is
today? Waste paper. Yes, trash is the number one thing that we ship out to the
rest of the world as we voraciously blow our money on whatever the rest of the
world wants to sell to us. The United States has become bloated and spoiled and
our economy is now just a shadow of what it once was. Once upon a time America
could literally out produce the rest of the world combined. Today that is no
longer true, but Americans sure do consume more than anyone else in the world.
If the de-industrialization of America continues at this current pace, what
possible kind of a future are we going to be leaving to our children?

Any great nation throughout history has been great at making things. So if the
United States continues to allow its manufacturing base to erode at a staggering
pace how in the world can the U.S. continue to consider itself to be a great
nation? We have created the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world in
an effort to maintain a very high standard of living, but the current state of
affairs is not anywhere close to sustainable. Every single month America goes
into more debt and every single month America gets poorer.

So what happens when the debt bubble pops?

The de-industrialization of the United States should be a top concern for every
man, woman and child in the country. But sadly, most Americans do not have any
idea what is going on around them.

For people like that, take this article and print it out and hand it to them.
Perhaps what they will read below will shock them badly enough to awaken them
from their slumber.

The following are 19 facts about the de-industrialization of America that will
blow your mind....

#1 The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001. About
75 percent of those factories employed over 500 people when they were still in
operation. ( 75% x 42,400 x 500 = 15,900,000 jobs )

#2 Dell Inc., one of America ’s largest manufacturers of computers, has
announced plans to dramatically expand its operations in China with an
investment of over $100 billion over the next decade.

#3 Dell has announced that it will be closing its last large U.S. manufacturing
facility in Winston-Salem , North Carolina in November. Approximately 900 jobs
will be lost.

#4 In 2008, 1.2 billion cell phones were sold worldwide. So how many of them
were manufactured inside the United States ? Zero.

#5 According to a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, if the
U.S. trade deficit with China continues to increase at its current rate, the
U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.

#6 As of the end of July, the U.S. trade deficit with China had risen 18 percent
compared to the same time period a year ago.

#7 The United States has lost a total of about 5.5 million manufacturing jobs
since October 2000.

#8 According to Tax Notes, between 1999 and 2008 employment at the foreign
affiliates of U.S. parent companies increased an astounding 30 percent to 10.1
million. During that exact same time period, U.S. employment at American
multinational corporations declined 8 percent to 21.1 million.

#9 In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of U.S. economic output. In
2008, it represented 11.5 percent.

#10 Ford Motor Company recently announced the closure of a factory that produces
the Ford Ranger in St. Paul , Minnesota . Approximately 750 good paying middle
class jobs are going to be lost because making Ford Rangers in Minnesota does
not fit in with Ford's new "global" manufacturing strategy.

#11 As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in
manufacturing. The last time less than 12 million Americans were employed in
manufacturing was in 1941.

#12 In the United States today, consumption accounts for 70 percent of GDP. Of
this 70 percent, over half is spent on services.

#13 The United States has lost a whopping 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs
since the year 2000.

#14 In 2001, the United States ranked fourth in the world in per capita
broadband Internet use. Today it ranks 15th.

#15 Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in
2010 than it was in 1975.

#16 Printed circuit boards are used in tens of thousands of different products.
Asia now produces 84 percent of them worldwide.

#17 The United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1
that the Chinese spend on goods from the United States .

#18 One prominent economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three
times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.

#19 The U.S. Census Bureau says that 43.6 million Americans are now living in
poverty and according to them that is the highest number of poor Americans in
the 51 years that records have been kept.

So how many tens of thousands more factories do we need to lose before we do
something about it?

How many millions more Americans are going to become unemployed before we all
admit that we have a very, very serious problem on our hands?

How many more trillions of dollars are going to leave the country before we
realize that we are losing wealth at a pace that is killing our economy?

How many once great manufacturing cities are going to become rotting war zones
like Detroit before we understand that we are committing national economic

The de-industrialization of America is a national crisis. It needs to be treated
like one.

(reprinted from K1TP's "As The World Turns" - check out Jon's site at:

November 17, 2010

The very best of us

Yesterday something extraordinary happened.  Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, US. Army, became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam  War.  Sgt. Giunta received the Medal for his actions in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley in October 2007.

Sergeant Giunta's heroism has been well chronicled, and his actions and character represent the very best that this country - or any country - has to offer.

I found myself wondering yesterday how many Americans knew that their nation was honoring this extraordinary and genuine American hero as the Medal ceremony competed for media exposure with the news of Prince William's engagement  - which actually received much more airtime than did the Medal ceremony.

November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday and Semper Fidelis to the Few and the Proud

"The Marines I have seen around the world have:
The Cleanest Bodies,
The Filthiest Minds,
Highest Morale,
and Lowest Morals
of any group of animals I have ever seen.
Thank God for the United States Marine Corps"
                 attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, 1945