Thursday, August 31, 2006

Inspiration and New Beginnings: Can You Feel It?

I can feel the thrill upon me, like a taste in my mouth.  It’s there, nearly all the time, a level of excitement, a powerful feeling that keeps me up in the night.  A new venture is beginning!  A new chapter in my life is about to unfold!

This venture is an internet radio station, BigDawgRadio. I’ve been told a million times that internet radio stations have no future, that they’re a dime a dozen. If they’re right, this will be a short chapter.  But I’m not convinced. I have a vision in my mind, and if it’s anything I’ve learned from the past ventures, it’s to follow those visions.  They’ve come true in the past.

So lots going on, getting DJs ready to go, helping get the web site ready, checking out technology, and filling in music lists.  But it’s a labor of love, with each activity being the building block to something more, something special.  Ten years from now I’ll look back on this as either the start of something great or a waste of time, but either way I won’t regret one minute of this exhilarating process.

I was talking with a friend about the station, and they asked what ties the station together, since there is such a broad range of programming. What makes it special?  Well, that one’s easy: it’s the passion that each person, each member of the station, feels for their own particular program.  

One of the new DJs was the first person, back in grade school, to teach me about passion for the music.  Another new DJ shows a passion for the paranormal that I can only begin to understand, but that I feel tangibly.  And the passion coming from my co-owners is completely immeasurable. I can feel it in every conversation I have about the new venture.

So we move swiftly towards our launch Sunday at 6pm, trying to let that passion be felt over the air waves. And I bring my passion not only to the music, but to the process itself, to creating a station that will truly strike at the hearts and hearths of our listeners. Who knows, perhaps it will work, and BigDawgRadio will be something special, something inspiring.  As for me, I will be inspired by it consistently.

Image by Thomas Hawk


Posted by Scottage at 3:35 PM / | |  

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Minimum Wage: Don't Fix It Though It's Broken

Thanks again to David of Travel Italy for his insightful post on raising the minimum wage. The task falls on me to now write a counterpoint to such a thorough and intelligent article. I hope I do it justice. Without any further ado, Don’t Fix It Though It’s Broken:

The Minimum Wage: Don’t Fix It Though It’s Broken
by Scottage of Perspectives of a Nomad

There are many people out there who will tell you that we have to raise the minimum wage in order to raise the standard of living of people living in the lower classes. These people are on the right path with the wrong map. They recognize, as I do, the growing disparity between the lower classes and the wealthy, and believe that by increasing the hourly wage of the lower classes, this disparity will decrease.

In reality, the disparity would only grow with such a maneuver. Even more manufacturing jobs will be shipped over seas, as people will only purchase the lower priced foreign goods. The only jobs left in our society will be service jobs, which will leave more people on welfare. And the pride that has always been a trademark for our country will continue to diminish.

Meanwhile, the only real effect will be to raise slightly the income of the poorest few. Most people below the poverty line do not make the minimum wage, in fact, so would be unaffected by this policy change. Instead a more sweeping change is necessary. What type of change would that be, you may ask?

The United States needs to make the shift to a small business economy. By providing incentives for the creation of small businesses, individuals can move from lower paying jobs to a higher income bracket while taking a pride in ownership. A real pride in America would be restored by such a program, and natural incentives would be created to buy American. In all, the result would be a more balanced society.

The Minimum Wage

Let’s start with the minimum wage. I can’t help but agree that the minimum wage today is low; it’s just plain low, no other way around it. But few people are on it. Most people make more money per hour than that wage, even if they only work 20 hours a week or less. People who wind up making the minimum wage are generally people flipping burgers or mopping floors, which are good honest livings and underpaid. But they’re a minority.

Most positions are still well underpaid, and their wages don’t cover the cost of living, but they make an hourly salary above the minimum wage. Rising the minimum wage won’t help these people, and certainly won’t get the people who it affects anywhere close to a reasonable standard of living.

However, this increase will affect many people in the manufacturing industry, but in a negative way. The rising cost to produce a product, any product, will necessarily affect the price. Some will tell you that inflation is only affected by the supply of money in the system, but the rich get richer by always including a specific percentage of the manufacturing cost in their price, a normal profit. If the cost of producing a product goes up, the price goes up even more than the cost of production, as we see in gasoline.

So the price of the product goes up a bit, you may think. But hold on, we are in a global economy, and people can import goods from other countries now cheaper than we can produce them. Yes, many of our manufacturing positions have already been moved over seas, but don’t be fooled, there are many still here. Increasing the minimum wage will only ship more jobs overseas, and decrease the number of jobs available here.

The jobs available here will increasingly be only service positions. And let’s face it, some people just do not want to hold service positions. There are many people I know who really can’t be in service, as they would scare any customer away in seconds. And meanwhile we’re selling foreign goods while the pride in American products dwindles. Truly raising the minimum wage does not help raise the lowest standard of living.

An Alternative Solution

If you want a real solution, we need to think outside the box for a minute. What we really need is to help people own a business, to help them find a way to make money for themselves, and to be pride in their work. But, we need to do this without unduly taxing the lower classes. How can we accomplish this? I have a suggestion, but by all means it is only one suggestion, and there are others that can be tried as well.

There are still thousands of companies in the United States which manufacture, produce, and create. From higher technologies to cars to containers, a tremendous amount is still produced here. But each of these companies creates a variety of components that, when put together, make their product. What if we began providing incentives to these companies to fund companies that would provide components for their goods?

For example, what if the US government went to Boeing, and indicated that, if they invest 2,000,000 in a startup company that produces, say, wing nuts that could be used on their planes, the US will allow them to shelter the same amount from taxes? While at first the government would take a small hit on tax revenue, the overall affect would be a revitalization of our economy. Let’s take a look.

First, Boeing is not producing these wing nuts now. Most small parts used in the creation of airplanes, or in any manufacturing industry in this country, are imported from overseas. But now, despite a cheaper product overseas, Boeing has a vested interest in the success of the small business, and purchases the wing nuts from them. It still costs them less, between lower shipping costs and the tax savings, and now they have tighter control on the quality.

The small business requires employees to create the wing nuts, providing more working hours for our society. They probably diversify, making wing nuts for the auto industry as well, increasing demand for their product, success of their company, profits, and yes, the salaries and taxes they pay. More people work, jobs stay at home, taxes are restored, and people are once again taking pride in American production. All without paying a dime of the taxes from the lower classes.


This is only one solution, but it is a solution that will bring about a real balancing in our society. Unlike raising the minimum wage, it’s a real solution that will make a tangible difference in the lives of the lower classes in this country, and begin to narrow the gap between the haves and have nots here. In short, it’s a program that will bring about the real changes we hope for.

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Cartoon courtesty of Cartoon Works


Posted by Scottage at 11:30 AM / | |  

Minimum Wage Increase Debated

It is my pleasure, and true honor, to introduce the second point/counterpoint post, this on the need for an increase in the minimum wage, written by David of Travel Italy. The post is brilliant, and captures a great deal of the growing dichotomy between the haves and have nots in the United States today. Believe me when I tell you that, in this post, you are in for a great read!

Tomorrow, my task will be to write a counterpoint to this article, despite the fact that much of what I read here I agree with. Still, it is my job to take the alternative position, and I will do as much. Still, realize that this is an excellent piece that, by and large, I agree with, and suspect you will as well (assuming you share my liberal bias).

So sit back and take a read of this great, thorough and informative piece by David of Travel Italy, and be sure to express your opinions on the urgent need raise the minimum wage. And while you’re at it, check out his blog, and get a taste of what Italy has to offer. I look forward to reading your opinions.

Minimum Wage – Class Warfare Fought Only by One Side
by David of Travel Italy

There is a war going on in the US, not as sensationalist as the war in Iraq, or other conflicts but just as important. It is the class warfare, on one side vehemently fought by the financial markets, investment class, and corporations and on the other side the normal worker. Unfortunately it is a one sided war. The one side with lobbyist, investing hundreds of millions of dollars to sway our legal representatives and on the other side no opposition. In my discussions with financial analysts and fund managers they proudly boast of how they have annihilated the unions. I listen and am again amazed. Is it possible that these people I respect do not remember history. Have the French Revolution, the fall of the Roman Empire, the fall of the Soviet Union, the communist revolution of China, the current religious fanaticism taught us nothing.

I was dismayed upon my return to the US. Workers are making less money than when I left in 1978. I have had the opportunity to meet many great new friends but found that they were working two sometimes three jobs just to make it till the end of the month. We hear stories of people who avoid going to the doctor when sick because they just cannot afford it, these are not welfare recipients; they are hard working men and women with families. Even some of our friends, that we consider “well to do”, go garage sales, buy things, fix them up and attempt to sell them for some extra bucks every month.

Minimum wage has not kept up with inflation, even with the proposed 7.35$ hour, it would still be 10% less than 1978 minimum wage. Since 1990 politicians have increased their wages over 65% to a whopping 158,000 $, 5 times the average income in the US, and guaranteed increases for inflation. The President received a raise in 1998, increasing his salary by 100%. I guess what is good for Joe Citizen is not good enough for our elected representatives.

Economists will argue several points:

1) People are not required to take the jobs. They do not say that most of these individuals are professionals, not high school kids, whose job has been outsourced to some other country or destroyed by unfair competitive practices, forcing local businesses to close shops, by offering goods and services below their real cost. If there is no competition between employers then wages will fall. Illegal immigration further exasperates the problem. Why should a company hire a legal US citizen when they can hire and pay slave wages to illegal immigrants without consequences. This is evidenced by Republican support for amnesty. The only reason to reward someone who breaks the law is that the politicians are personally receiving, or have received compensation.

2) Increasing minimum wages will create additional pressure on the working Joe by reducing the number of Jobs. Again this is a talking point, sounds real good to those who are not informed about the US economy but holds no water with those informed. First of all from a financial point of view, it is inefficient to support any business model that cannot support the true costs of doing business. Second, US GDP is 60% health and construction while 18% is Retail. That makes 78% of US GDP is generated by businesses that cannot be outsourced. In other words, there are no more jobs that can be outsourced. Since the investor class is hungry for ever increasing margins and CEO need to make 100s of millions of dollars a year, these businesses that must operate in the US, have to decrease the cost of labor.

3) Increasing the Minimum wage will reduce working Joe’s disposable income because he will no longer be eligible for Welfare. This is the first time I have heard the Republican party support increases in Welfare. I do understand it. One of the ways to make businesses more profitable is to get someone else to pay the costs associated with that business. In this case the US taxpayer.

4) Minimum wage only affects 1% of the working force. This is true for the legal market. With 25 million illegal immigrants, more than 10% of our total workforce, the number of jobs paying minimum wage is not reliable. Additionally if we consider the number of workers now making less than 1978 minimum wages the percentage jumps to one-third of all employees. Finally if we consider that many labor intensive jobs that pay a higher wage, based on minimum wage, the percentage jumps to 50% of all workers.

“About one-third of all U.S. workers earn less than $15,000 a year and an additional 20% make between that and $25,000, the study said.”

5) Higher wages will increase the cost of goods. This is not really true. Wage gains and inflation are not directly related. Inflation is a byproduct of Money Supply. If a government prints more money while the national resources remain the same the value of the piece of paper decreases. Corporations have had stellar productivity gains, this means each worker produces more, while salaries have decreased. The resulting increased margin has gone to investor returns and 100 million dollar a year salaries to the executive management. There is no reason why bringing salaries in line with productivity gains should influence in any way prices.

6) Wages should be determined by the Free Market. Free Market requires that interested parties engage with enlightened self-interest and is free of corruption. Enlightened self-interest is understanding that a contract must be considered profitable by both parties in order to be executed successfully. We have seen that there is only self-interest and none of the enlightened part when the question is labor and US corporations. Concerning corruption, Abramof, need I say more? The NFL, NBA and MLB have all determined that free market does not work in labor negotiations. Salary caps, minimums and maximums and luxury taxes are all imposed to facilitate the long-term health of their markets. We could learn something from the most successful and wealthy of businessmen.

Economists are the same professionals who believe that inflation should not consider energy and food. I am glad that they are able to live without eating, heating or cooling their homes (with 100+ degrees in Dallas), drive their cars, or use their light bulbs in the evenings. For the rest of us, energy and food are a major portion of our income.

So why should the minimum wage be increased?

There is a serious financial crisis spreading among a large portion of our economy. People are unable to earn enough money to make it to the end of the month. This creates future generations that are less educated and can, in extreme, bring about populous revolts. We are worried about Radical Islam, I think there is a growing danger here at home of Radical Joe Worker, desperate because he cannot feed his family or send his kids to school to give them a better life than he had. For Joe Worker, the American dream is dead! Not just for him but for his future generations. President Grover Cleveland called out the soldiers to massacre the “socialist” movement resulting in Labor Day celebrated around the world. Working Joes killed because they had the unmitigated gall to go on strike because they were not paid fair wages. Today our working class is prey of a more insidious Grover Cleveland, the financial markets and executive management in companies.

Raising the minimum wage will decrease illegal immigration allowing law enforcement to dedicate resources to dangerous illegal criminals. Illegal immigration is supported by low wages. If companies are forced to pay fair wages they will be more likely to hire individuals who are actively part of the US economy, workers who speak English. Companies who still hire illegal immigrants will be easily identified by the cost structures. As fewer companies hire illegal immigrants the immigrants will search for easier destinations, reducing the number of individuals to verify and track.

Raising the minimum wage will reduce the public debt and strengthen the dollar. Since most workers around minimum wage also require public assistance the weight of their services will be moved from the public budget to those companies that actually consume their services. Since minimum wages are paid across the country to people who actually need the money, these extra funds will be immediately pumped back into the economy for goods and services supporting further GDP growth. While it is questionable that tax breaks to the upper 10% of the population actually do anything for the economy there is no doubt that extra bucks in the pocket of an individual who has difficulty paying his bills will immediately return.

Raising the minimum wage will make the American dream more accessible to all Americans and create greater financial strength for the US economy. In the film the Sicilian, Salvatore Giuliano is discussing the failure of the revolt with his mentor. The mentor made a statement that has taken on new meaning while researching minimum wage. The mentor stated, “Salvatore, you gave the people land when all they wanted was bread.”

Initially I understood that most people do not want the responsibility of creating a business. Talking with people today I realize that this statement reflects a simpler and darker truth. If individuals are unable to support their family they lose hope. They no longer are able to see a future, instead their future is keeping a roof over their head and food in their mouth every day.

Long term corporate irresponsibility and political corruption have created a dire situation that will be resolved one way or another. A pensive legislature would take the initiative and immediately raise the minimum wage to 1978 levels and tie future adjustments of minimum wages to real inflation. Failure to do so will result in further discontent on the home front, higher crime rates, lower education and could arrive at more extreme events should the situation persist during a downturn of the economy.

To put this into context:

Walmart’s CEO earned about 18,000,000 $, plus perks, last year. The median CEO compensation was 6,830,000, plus perks. By reducing the CEO compensation from 6,830,000 to a measly 1 MILLION $ year, plus perks, 583 employees could have a 10,000$ annual raise! That is an increase of about 70% over their current salary.

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Cartoon from Nicholson Cartoons


Posted by Scottage at 2:19 AM / | |  

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New Template, Tenant, Chat Room Sponsor and BigDawgRadio: It’s Been an Exciting Week

It’s been a big week around Perspectives of a Nomad, with a new look, a new roommate, and the re-launch of a radio station with a new site and new blog. It’s really cool stuff, so let’s get right to the news.

I’ll start with the new template.  I submitted by blog to FrogMyBlog for evaluation, and got some great suggestions.  Then I went to designer extraordinaire, LunaStone, and we began the work on a new template that would keep the original feel and strong content, but build in some of the real improvements the blog was begging for.  And voila, Luna created the new design you see here.  Tell me what you think, I would love the feedback.

I also picked up a great tenant this week.  If you haven’t been to The Cartoonist They Call the Stik, you don’t know what you’re missing.   This guy makes the funniest cartoons out of cows you’ve ever seen.  He’s made a cartoon every day for the past 165 days, and I’ve laughed through every one of them.  Tell me how a cow shows another their pissed off (from cartoon 160), and I’ll give you 50 credits on BlogExplosion or BlogMad.  Tell me which you prefer.

But the huge news is, without question, the re-launch of BigDawgRadio this Sunday. The new site is nearly completed, the blog is up, and DJs are being scheduled for the launch.  We will have live DJs all Sunday and Monday, and we’ll be taking requests the whole time. This is going to be an event to remember, and we want you to be a part of it, so tune in starting Sunday morning, and be a part of the fun.

Plus, we now have three sponsors for the radio station, two of them new: the 3 Paws Saloon, BlogMad, and existing sponsor BlogExplosion!  

Each has a chat room, and at least during my shows, and during many other BigDawgRadio shows, the DJs can be found chatting to listeners in these rooms, getting requests and keeping the party going.  These are real communities, and we hope you take part in them.

This Friday night I will not be DJing, but I will be spinning music extensively during the launch Sunday and Monday, and I’ll be letting people know what times soon enough.  So check out the new BDR site, leave feedback on this site, and remember to check out my roommate.  Plus, last but certainly not least, thanks for stopping by Perspectives of a Nomad.  And stop by tomorrow to see our next guest post and Point/Counterpoint from David of Travel Italy.


Posted by Scottage at 2:06 AM / | |  

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hybrids Could Pay For Themselves - If Bush Lets Them

Edmunds and CNN performed a study, and determined that the difference in price between standard cars and their hybrid counterparts, typically $1,200 to $7,000, could be made up within 6 years of purchasing the hybrid by savings in gas purchases and government incentives already in place. This is dependant on gas being above $3 a gallon, and incentives remaining in place.

Presently, the Bush administration plans on reducing incentives in April 2007 and eliminating it in October 2007, with no apparent reason for the reduction in incentives. Instead, the government should be looking to enhance these credits, reducing the United States’ dependence on foreign oil. This would both affect the balance of power between the West and the Middle East and lower the price of gas throughout the country.

Nearly three months ago, I made a proposal that makes even more fiscal sense today; I suggested taking one of Bush’s proposals to really better society. Bush had proposed to take a percentage of the profits realized by oil companies in the last quarter and use these profits to encourage the purchase of hybrids, by giving $1,000 to any consumer who purchases a hybrid, $1,000 to showrooms when they sell a hybrid, and $1,000 to financing companies to provide 0% financing on hybrids.

Add that into the recent study, and the hybrids can be even more cost effective. This could lead to more sales even quicker than forecasted; right now Toyota, the leading producer of hybrids, predicts selling 1 million units by 2010. And this could mean a radical reduction in the amount of oil consumed by the US. This would be extremely beneficial for all citizens in the United States, and for our Western Allies.

While prices would reduce on gas, the purchasing power of your average citizen would also increase greatly. As the demand of the largest consumer of oil would reduce, the cost for a barrel of crude would reduce world wide as well, and available supplies would be increased. And countries like Russia, England, Mexico, and the US would be able to produce a much larger percentage of the oil needed world wide, weakening the present threat from the Middle East.

So if we would see so many societal benefits from such a maneuver, why aren’t we doing it? I theorize it’s a matter of money, that such an obvious maneuver to really improve our world situation is not being enacted only because George W. Bush makes too much money with the present situation, where oil is in short supply. But only he knows the real answer; let’s hope that one day he moves past that answer, and begins working to improve our society.

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Cartoons from Brian's World.


Posted by Scottage at 10:47 PM / | |