The Steve Jobs Act: Why It’s Time to Invest in Entreprene​urs – 10/21/2011

For Your Entertainment (FYE) and For Our Meditation (FOM) ;+)

“True, Americans struggling to put food on the table and pay the mortgage are not looking for grand notions; they need the kind of immediate relief Obama’s proposals would provide. However, an America struggling to find its way in a bewildering, humbling world needs something more — a sense of larger purpose and direction.”

” The eulogies and encomiums delivered to Apple founder Steve Jobs seemed to capture some of this longing. They were celebrations of greatness and vision in a middling, small moment. At the end of a decade that saw Iraq, Katrina, and Lehman Brothers become watchwords of American weakness, they were paeans to someone who believed, with Thomas Paine, that we had it “in our power to begin the world over again.” But, perhaps most of all, in a floundering economy, they spoke to a sense that it is entrepreneurs and innovators — and not merely infrastructure spending and payroll tax cuts — that are needed to rebuild the engine of economic growth.”

“The facts back up this assumption. Research from the Kauffman Foundation has demonstrated that new and young companies, those under the age of five, are responsible for all net job creation over the past generation. It is the entrepreneurs who start these businesses — and not the business tycoons courted by both parties — that are the true “job creators.” But while Republicans focus on tax cuts and regulatory relief for large corporations and Democrats look to keep teachers and police officers in their jobs, it is these entrepreneurs — the next generation’s Steve Jobses — who are being overlooked.
This has real consequences. At the heart of our jobs crisis is an ongoing entrepreneurial recession. Over the past three years, the number of new business being started has fallen by a quarter. The number of new companies with employees in 2009 was at its lowest level since 1992. Since the year 2000, the number of jobs created by startups has been sliding consistently to the point that in 2010 there were about half the number of jobs created by these new companies as there were a decade earlier.”

“While no set of government programs can create the revolutionary zeal needed to launch and lead a company such as Apple, we do need a set of policies to encourage and aid innovators as they turn their ideas into new, high-growth, job-creating companies — the “Steve Jobs Act.” In a Washington that worked, these ideas would be embraced by both parties. Such a measure would include elements from President Obama’s plan such as aid to small businesses and reform of the unemployment insurance system to allow for more flexibility for potential entrepreneurs. And it would build on the emerging bipartisan consensus that certain regulations such as the accounting requirements in the Sarbanes-Oxley reforms have a disproportionate impact on young firms ill-equipped to handle the onerous burdens.”

“Yet the “Steve Jobs Act” would go much further. It would make healthcare and retirement benefits more universal, personalized, affordable and portable so that entrepreneurs have a greater ability to strike out on their own. With the knowledge that companies such as Nike, Intel, FedEx, and, yes, Apple Computers all started out with the benefit of government loans, it would create a National Innovation Bank to invest in companies with a potentially high rate of return in job creation. It would open the doors of legal immigration to hard-charging, determined new Americans like those who came through Ellis Island a century ago and like the Syrian immigrant who was Steve Jobs’ biological father. And it would make sure our public schools put a greater emphasis not only on science and mathematics, but on the creative problem solving skills that are at the heart of the entrepreneurial drive.”

“As much as anything else, the “Steve Jobs Act” would give Americans a sense of direction about our economy. Despite the rhetoric out of Washington, America’s economic future lies neither in competing with off-shore tax havens over the lowest corporate tax rates nor with authoritarian dictatorships such as China to produce high-speed bullet trains. It lies in doubling down on what has historically made America an exceptional economy: an entrepreneurial culture, a willingness to dare greatly, an openness to new ideas, the ability to tap talent that other countries’ castes would overlook. If we want to create jobs and recreate a strong American economy, this is where we should focus our energies. It might not mean an iPod in every pot, but it would help innovators get their tinkers out of their garages and into our lives.”


Is Greece the Future of Viet Nam, China, EU, France, the PIIGS and all ineffectiv​e and inefficien​t “command economies” worldwide – 10/21/2011

For Your Entertainment (FYE)

“Within the McKinsey report, however, there are two additional data points that explain why more hours worked by Greeks haven’t led to a growing economy.

First, Greece has the lowest labor participation rate in all of Europe — just 66 percent of the employable population have jobs, compared with 73 percent in the European Union and 70 percent in Southern Europe.

Second, not only are fewer Greeks working, those who do are far less productive: A Greek worker’s productivity comes in at $35 an hour, compared with $49 an hour in the EU, $55 an hour in Central Europe, and $58 and hour in the U.S.”


” Put it all together and it led McKinsey to one inescapable conclusion: “A relatively smaller percentage of Greeks work longer and harder hours than their European peers to support a generally unproductive system.”

Therein lies the problem—the Greek economy is uncompetitive, and until that changes it will be unable to grow at a sufficient rate to generate enough tax revenues to pay its bills.”


“McKinsey paints a vivid picture of why the Greek economy is so uncompetitive — primarily, its extensive bureaucracy and rigid labor rules. Both are strangling Greece’s ability to compete in a global economy, whether in the shipping industry, tourism, or even exporting its high-quality olive oil and famous yogurt.”


“Chrysochoidis adds that the ministry has identified 72 additional obstacles to entrepreneurship and has introduced new legislation that will eliminate them.

Among those obstacles are the role the government plays in many sectors of the economy — either through outright ownership of assets, such as a utility; price controls; and high barriers to entry, such as strict limitations on the number of players in a profession, and/or difficult licensing requirements, according to the McKinsey report. Add to all that very tough labor restrictions on large enterprises.”


” The result is that very few businesses have been able to get started or grow in size, and among those that do small family-owned businesses still dominate — 30 percent of manufacturing employment in Greece is in firms with nine or fewer employees. In Italy, that number is 15 percent, while in Germany it’s just 5 percent.

Without what economists call “economies of scale,” such as the advantages achieved when you have a large factory versus a small one, it is impossible to achieve higher levels of productivity. That means lower profitability and fewer jobs — something desperately needed in a country where unemployment is at 16 percent.”


” “Cumbersome licensing processes and a volatile tax framework discourages investments,” according to the McKinsey report.”


“McKinsey also takes aim at the power of unions in the country and the collective bargaining agreements struck over time. Greece, because of its location on one of the largest intercontinental routes, ought to be a good place for cargo port hubs. Yet the country is losing customers to Bulgaria, Turkey, and Romania, because they offer “better operational stability (e.g. fewer non-operating days due to strikes),” the report said.

Perhaps the most difficult hurdle for Greece to overcome, at least politically, is the size of the public sector versus the private sector.

“We cannot serve this huge public economy,” said Chrysochoidis.”The small private sector cannot serve the huge public sector.””


“In June, Dimitri Papalexopoulos, the head of Titan Cement, one of the largest publicly traded companies in Greece, said the country needs to reduce the size of the public sector, and “take a hatchet to this bloated system that pervades all economic activity, cut it down, reduce regulatory burden, (and) cut red tape.””


“Downsizing the public sector is going to be enormously difficult, because the mere notion violates a long-held social compact between the government and the Greek people. The Greek Constitution states that once you are an official government worker, you have a job for life. This rule is the result of a well-intentioned labor reform from early last century—at the time government workers were fired every time there was a change in the party in power.

The government’s attempts to lay off a mere 30,000 workers out of 800,000 is already meeting stiff, and sometimes violent, resistance.”


“For the most part, the public sector has stopped functioning already: Garbage collectors have stopped collecting garbage; tax collectors have stopped collecting taxes; and the permitting office isn’t issuing permits. The city is set to run out of gasoline in a few days because workers are on strike. (These are known as “white strikes,” when employees go to the office but don’t actually do any work.)”


“The leader of one of the nation’s Communist parties refutes the notion that the government sector is too large. Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Syriza coalition for the radical left, says the government is just too inefficient.

McKinsey agrees: The report found that northern European countries have even larger governments relative to their sizes—however, they’re far more efficient.

In addition to contributing to a lack of efficiency, giving government workers a job for life has led to another tough economic consequence — Greece has the lowest employment turnover rate in Europe, the sign of a stagnant economy.

It contributes directly to high levels of youth unemployment, which minister Chrysochoidis acknowledges: “Imagine that in Greece we have 45 percent of young people unemployed,” he said. “It’s a defeat for Greece because the economy could not employ and absorb those people.””

Sergio Leone & Ennio Morricone the Italian Films Maestros – 10/19/2011

For Your Entertainment (FYE)

I found it peculiar that two (2) of Western Civilization cradles, Greece and Italy, are in financial and demographic trouble despite all the inspiration they provided us! Something must be wrong!  ;+)

I know I must be an incorrigible romantic optimist, but I do NOT believe in: “Everything passes, everything breaks, everything wears out. (tout passe, tout casse, tout lasse)”! That is usually a cynical disguise for the wounded incorrigible romantic optimist……….got to be a better way!  ;+)

BTW, “Ben Hur” was the “Star Wars” of its days! Tastes change, or, do they?  ;+)

France Says Rating Safe Despite Moody’s Warning – 10/18/2011

For Your Entertainment (FYE)’s

“France insisted on Tuesday its triple-A credit rating was safe despite a warning shot from ratings agency Moody’s but it acknowledged growth would probably miss its target and more belt tightening may be needed ahead of elections next year.”

“Moody’s raised the prospect of one of the pillars of the euro zone losing its coveted triple-A status, saying on Monday it could place France on negative outlook in the next three months if the costs for helping to bail out banks and other euro zone members overstretched its budget.”

” Moody’s also cited a downside risk to France’s economic growth outlook, which could complicate efforts to cut a budget deficit forecast for 5.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year—roughly the same level as bailed out Portugal.

Economic growth in France, the euro zone’s second-largest economy, ground to a halt in the second quarter. While most economists expect a pick-up later this year, they see weak growth continuing in the medium-term as unemployment remains mired at around 9 percent, undermining domestic consumption.”


” “The banks’ recapitalisation is just a one-shot operation. This would impact the debt, but the real problem is the trajectory of public finances and therefore growth,” said Jean-Louis Mourier of brokerage Aurel Leven BCG.

“The problem with French public finances is not so much the level of the debt, which is comparable to Germany’s: the problem is that economic growth is the road towards restoring public finances, and the growth outlook for France is weak for the coming years,” he said.”

China Tot, 2, run over twice, and no one helps + a Chinese Woman falls in a lake and an American Woman saves her” Two Stories-Tw​o Cultures – 10/18/2011

For Our Meditation (FOM)

“Last Thursday, a two-year-old girl crossing a street by herself in the city of Foshan in China’s southern Guangdong Province was hit by a car. The driver paused briefly as the girl lay between the front and rear wheels and then tore off, thumping her now-limp body again.
Soon after, a second vehicle rolled over the girl, with the driver presumably unaware that a body lay on the road. The second driver also did not stop.
As if both these acts were not outrageous enough, 18 more people – on foot, on motorbikes, or on bicycles – passed by the girl, lying inert on the ground, and did nothing. Even a mother with her own child ignored the victim.”

“It wasn’t until a female trash collector saw her and proceeded to pick the girl up that she was moved to the side of the road. The trash collector asked passers-by who the girl belonged to, and eventually the mother appeared, distraught, to claim her daughter named Yueyue.
All of this was caught on surveillance cameras. A clip was posted on China’s popular micro blog, Sina Weibo on Sunday, generating a huge outcry as netizens counted the number of people who glanced at the girl and ignored her plight – all in the seven minutes she lay on the road until the Good Samaritan carried her to safety.”One report quoted the first driver as saying, “If she is dead, I may pay only about 20,000 yuan ($3,125). But if she is injured, it may cost me hundreds of thousands yuan.””

“Some news reports and online discussions made the point that civil behavior is not always rewarded in China. Many people fear they’re being subject to some sort of scam while others remember still a well-known case from 2006, when a man helped a woman who had fallen only to have her accuse him of causing the injury to begin with.  She filed a suit against him, in which the judge ruled the man wouldn’t have come to her aid had he not caused the fall.”

“Last Friday afternoon, a woman fell into a scenic tourist lake in Hangzhou, the capital of the eastern province of Zhejiang. A Western woman who was walking by saw the Chinese woman struggling and quickly jumped into West Lake to save her.
After swimming back to shore, the foreigner dragged her onto the bank. The victim remained conscious and appeared out of danger. Police turned up ten minutes later, and the Western woman left quietly. Several websites reported she was American.
What was notable in this instance was the response of those who read the story online.
In addition to giving the rescuer high praise (“That American girl is great, she has a beautiful character”), people also made unfavorable comparisons to Chinese behavior:
“According to Chinese laws and regulations, if she hadn’t pushed the girl into the water, why ever would she save her?””

Where are all these people visiting Confucius, LaoTse, Buddha and Jesus temples, pagodas and churches?

World population nears 7 billion: Can we handle it? – 10/18/2011

For Your Entertainment (FYE)

“”My father had 25 children — I have only 14 so far, and expect to produce more in the future,” says Kasadha, who has two wives. He considers a large family a sign of success and a guarantee of support in his old age.”

“As of Oct. 31, according to the U.N. Population Fund, there will be 7 billion people sharing Earth’s land and resources.

In Western Europe, Japan and Russia, it will be an ironic milestone amid worries about low birthrates and aging populations. In China and India, the two most populous nations, it’s an occasion to reassess policies that have already slowed once-rapid growth.

But in Burundi, Uganda and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, the demographic news is mostly sobering as the region staggers under the double burden of the world’s highest birthrates and deepest poverty. The regional population of nearly 900 million could reach 2 billion in 40 years at current rates, accounting for about half of the projected global population growth over that span.”


“”Most of that growth will be in Africa’s cities, and in those cities it will almost all be in slums where living conditions are horrible,” said John Bongaarts of the Population Council, a New York-based research organization.”


“Experts say most of Africa — and other high-growth developing nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan — will be hard-pressed to furnish enough food, water and jobs for their people, especially without major new family-planning initiatives.”


“”Extreme poverty and large families tend to reinforce each other,” says Lester Brown, the environmental analyst who heads the Earth Policy Institute in Washington. “The challenge is to intervene in that cycle and accelerate the shift to smaller families.”

Without such intervention, Brown says, food and water shortages could fuel political destabilization in developing regions.”


“Spain used to give parents 2,500 euros (more than $3,000) for every newborn child to encourage families to reverse the country’s low birth rate. But the checks stopped coming with Spain’s austerity measures, raising the question of who will pay the bills to support the elderly in the years ahead.”


“It’s a question bedeviling many European countries which have grappled for years over how to cope with shrinking birth rates and aging populations — and are now faced with a financial crisis that has forced some to cut back on family-friendly government incentives.

Spain and Italy, both forced to enact painful austerity measures in a bid to narrow budget deficits, are battling common problems: Women have chosen to have their first child at a later age, and the difficulties of finding jobs and affordable housing are discouraging some couples from having any children at all.”


“Unlike many countries in Europe, France’s population is growing slightly but steadily every year. It has one of the highest birth rates in the European Union with around 2 children per woman.

One reason is immigration to France by Africans with large-family traditions.”


“”The environment is being destroyed by the growing population. Trees are being cut down in big numbers and even now we can’t get enough firewood to cook food,” he said. “In the near future, we will starve.””


“”Children were a good labor force in the past when there was enough space to cultivate,” she said. “Today I can’t even feed my family properly. My kids just spend days doing nothing.””


” I worry about the world my 2-year old (read 9 months-old) is inheriting. The plentiful food, energy and water we took for granted are nearly gone…looks like a Soylent Green world from here on out.”

Europe’s bankers resisting bigger debt losses – 10/18/2011

Fasten your seat belts! The world financial ride is entering a Corsica Rallye road type! (and those are mean roads, believe me, I know! … more donkey trails than roads!)  ;+) The Mini Cooper S was made for them and the likes!……;+)

“After months of failed efforts to help the Greek government make good on those debts, Europe’s politicians have now finally accepted that avoiding default simply isn’t feasible, according to Paul De Grauwe, professor of international economics at Leuven University.”

“Three months later, it appears the July plan doesn’t go far enough. Now, bankers who face much bigger losses are pushing back on proposals that they cut the value of their Greek debt holdings by as much as 50 percent. Many banks are believed to have too little capital in reserve to covers those losses, prompting calls by regulators to force bankers to raise more capital.
Without stronger capital cushions to withstand Greek debt losses, European governments fear they’ll have to step in to clean up the financial mess.”

” A credit crunch couldn’t come at a worse time for the European economy, which is now teetering on the brink of another recession. That, in turn, is raising debt pressures on other countries with weak economies, including Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Unless those economies recover sharply, their governments will likely have to follow Greece down the path of debt restructuring, former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff told a group of business reporters Friday.
While a Greek debt restructuring may now be unavoidable, it will represent the beginning of a long, difficult period of recovery as investors stop lending to the Greek government. Jittery lenders and investors may also have second thoughts about lending to countries now seen as being at risk of a future default, according to Roger Nightingale, economist at RDN Associates.”

““It’s going to be pretty frightful,” he said. “There’ll be no private sector lending to Greece, and they’ll be no private sector lending to any at-risk country for years to come. I think this is no solution at all. This makes things very much worse.””

Are we going to turn Greeks into Somalia pirates? Along the past centuries, the region used to know quite a bit of ships hijacking………interesting, isn’t it , as history is stuttering…..;+)


Timo Mäkinen drives the Mini Cooper S to first of three wins in the 1000 Lakes Rally. Mini also won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967.