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Decline of Snail Mail Killing U.S. Postal Service June 5, 2011

Posted by tkcollier in Business, In The News.
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The USPS has 571,566 full-time workers, making it the country’s second-largest civilian employer after Wal-Mart Stores (WMT). It has 31,871 post offices, more than the combined domestic retail outlets of Wal-Mart, Starbucks (SBUX), and McDonald’s (MCD). Last year its revenues were $67 billion, and its expenses were even greater. Postal service executives proudly note that if it were a private company, it would be No. 29 on the Fortune 500.

The problems of the USPS are just as big. It relies on first-class mail to fund most of its operations, but first-class mail volume is steadily declining—in 2005 it fell below junk mail for the first time. This was a significant milestone. The USPS needs three pieces of junk mail to replace the profit of a vanished stamp-bearing letter.

During the real estate boom, a surge in junk mail papered over the unraveling of the postal service’s longtime business plan. Banks flooded mailboxes with subprime mortgage offers and credit-card come-ons. Then came the recession. Total mail volume plunged 20 percent from 2006 to 2010. (more…)

Our Hidden Inflation June 3, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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Government statistics are about the last place one should look to find inflation, as they are designed to not show much. Over the last 35 years the government has changed the way it calculates inflation several times. According to the Web site Shadow Government Statistics, using the pre-1980 method, the Consumer Price Index would be over 9 percent, compared with about 2 percent in the official statistics today.

While the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, this doesn’t even take into account inflation we ignore by using a basket of goods that don’t match the real-world cost of living. (For example, health care costs are one-sixth of G.D.P. but only one-sixteenth of the price index, and rising income and payroll taxes do not count as inflation at all.)

Why does the government understate rising costs? Low official inflation benefits the government by reducing inflation-indexed payments, including Social Security. Lower official inflation means higher reported real G.D.P., higher reported real income and higher reported productivity.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Easy Money, Hard Truths – NYTimes.com.

Federal pay ahead of private industry March 16, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, philosophy & politics.
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Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds.

Accountants, nurses, chemists, surveyors, cooks, clerks and janitors are among the wide range of jobs that get paid more on average in the federal government than in the private sector.

Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available.

via Federal pay ahead of private industry – USATODAY.com.

How America Can Rise Again January 7, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, philosophy & politics.
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Is America going to hell? After a year of economic calamity that many fear has sent us into irreversible decline, the author finds reassurance in the peculiarly American cycle of crisis and renewal, and in the continuing strength of the forces that have made the country great: our university system, our receptiveness to immigration, our culture of innovation. In most significant ways, the U.S. remains the envy of the world. But here’s the alarming problem: our governing system is old and broken and dysfunctional. Fixing it—without resorting to a constitutional convention or a coup—is the key to securing the nation’s future. – by James Fallows

via How America Can Rise Again – The Atlantic (January/February 2010).

How Much Is A Trillion Dollars? July 29, 2009

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Politics, Video.
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YouTube – One Trillion Dollars Visualized from www.mint.com.

A ‘can-do’ country with a ‘do-nothing’ political process May 26, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in philosophy & politics, Streamingvideo, Video.
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The Rise of Non-Americanism – washingtonpost.com
In final third of The Post-American World, which focuses on us rather than on “the rest,” is the strongest. Zakaria argues that America’s world-beating economic vibrancy co-exists with a dysfunctional political system. “A ‘can-do’ country is now saddled with a ‘do-nothing’ political process, designed for partisan battle rather than problem solving,” he writes. In this video clip, Newt Ginrich gives 2 examples our dysfunctional government. while the 1st is a rather spurious, but amusing example, the 2nd is a all too true.

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