Those looking for good news, take a pass

I suppose that the only thing that makes the last week a bit more palatable is the cool. Other than that, it’s close to panic mode, personal and national. Many people are holding to a ‘bunker-down’ mentality what with the state of the economy, and most are expecting much worse to come. They are right.

I wish that I could be a beacon of hope (I leave that to the president-elect) and say ‘There’s light at the end of the tunnel’, hoping that it’s not just an onrushing train. Yep, I’m the guy who thinks the glass is half-empty, forever the pessimist. Well, if there wasn’t good reason to be so before, there is now. Those looking for ‘good news’ only today, stop now. Those who want to be prepared to face reality, welcome.

Job dislocation, otherwise known as lay-offs, tops the page. As I said recently, and it was any great magic to the prediction, we are heading for probably an unprecedented wave of layoffs over the next 3-4 months. I extend the timeframe only because retailers are waiting on the Xmas season (actually some are already closing seeing little prospects of success), and the airlines and tourism service industries are also hoping for a good winter, to see how deep to cut. But cut they will.

Jobs will have to be Obama’s priority.

Citigroup, the international financial conglomerate, has just cut 52,000 jobs, an amount that no longer even deserves much comment. Wikipaedia claims that the layoffs amount to more than 75,00 employees, from a workforce of 358,000. Wiki claims that Citi has the world’s largest financial network and the group is unlikely to see profits before 2010.

It is difficult to glean certain information from the various accounts as the figures differ, and none has said specifically where the cuts are. Apparently, some are outside of the US. What continues to annoy me, is that none question why human resources is the most disposable.

This is one of the reasons why capitalism gots to go. It’s mindless anachronism from slavery and feudalistic societies, wrapped up in pretty paper and sold to the very people who suffers most from its cruelness. But I digress.

According to one survey, the American economy will lose an average of 223,00 jobs per MONTH for this quarter (I presume October to December) and the unemployment rate will 7% for the 1st 3 months of 2009. I still think the unemployment rate is closer to 15%.

Whatever the accurate numbers are, the fact is that we are in for a rough ride. And talking about rides, this brings me to the foolish debate about the auto industry’s wish for a ‘crash programme’-style bailout.

Bottom-line is that the industry is too humongous to fail without some attempt, as odious as it is, to shore them up. There’s at least a million jobs at stake directly in the ‘Big 3’ (Ford, Chrysler and GM), with millions more (mainly small businesses) from parts and services suppliers.

In this climate, cutting them off would be like stabbing yourself in the heart with a kitchen knife to let ‘bad blood’. You kill this patient, the hospital dies.

True, the automakers are arrogant and greedy pricks, but this is not the time for ego smashing. Their cars suck, yes, and until they make good cars, their demise will just be postponed. But with that many jobs hanging, well, the decision is obvious.

Let’s make it easy for you. In some shape or form, the Bush white House is reluctant to switch some of the bailout money to them, preferring not to give them money, or conjure up new billions for them. What does that tell you?

Here’s what I suggest. Bailout 2 of them. This will send the message that if they don’t get their act together, they’re next and to hell with the consequences. Fire most of the top executives… that sends another message, perform or lose the work. Radically cut executive compensation to reflect performance. Write strict, strict performance rules and goals. Make them sign to a radical makeover, not just another ‘lipstick on a pig’ touch up. Cut the marketing budget. Let them sell good cars, not bad cars on advertising gimmickry.

Then oversight, oversight, oversight. Bailout without oversight and consequences is as bad as just letting these companies sink. If they refuse, then let them fall into bankruptcy… save $25 billion.
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Obama’s cabinet is another hot topic of discussion, but partly on the basis on who gets what because of their contributions. In other words, divvying up the spoils, rewarding backers. But Obama rode the wave of ‘Change’ and should continue doing things differently.

If only one black or Hispanic gets into his cabinet because of ability, so be it. A quota system shouldn’t be allowed here… perhaps at the lower tiers where they can do little harm, yes. But top posts should be merit only.

I marvel at white people who rail against minority quotas, unless it works in their favour. Should Obama fill his cabinet with the ten best and they are all blacks and Hispanics?… trust me, you’d have a war.

This brings me to Hillary and the supposed consideration for secretary of state. Bad idea. Hillary is too mired to the old foreign policy. The leaders across the world knows that. Foreign policy should be THE drastic change for Obama. Hillary and her husband aren’t the ones to carry it through.

I believe the leaking of the ‘news’ is an agreement by both to simply let her supporters know that Obama wants her… and she spurned him but thanked him greatly for his ‘consideration’.

Hillary wants to build a base outside of Obama. Being his secretary of state would diminish her, and tie his failure if any, to her. If he fails, she can’t run in 2012.

Secondly, Bill has too many business ties abroad. Instant conflict of interest. He would have to dissolve them. Plus, just the idea of having two secretaries of state, is unthinkable. 2 for the price of 1 isn’t always a deal.

So she will play along for a little and then it will Bill Richardson or another. End of story, just about.
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You heard it here first. I put it out there that Obama will very likely address the Cuban embargo. I don’t know if he has the power to lift it, but he has enough power to make the blockade so porous as to be meaningless. Now the mainstream press is guessing as much.

I looked at the Miami Herald which took up the issue, and even its pro-change protagonist was ridiculous in argument. Camila Gallardo‘s dissertation is so coloured with negatives about Cuba, she might as well be defending the embargo.

Ruthless dictatorship, relentlessly tortured and jailed, hopelessness. But she doesn’t say to what extent US foreign policy is responsible for this. In fact, when dissected, she actually wants more serious sanctions, and far more undermining of the Castro regime (please note I use regime for both Castro and Bush). Lighten up lady.

Nowhere does she point out that America has ever replicated its policy on Cuba. Not with North Korea, definitely not with China, Saudi Arabia or with respect to South Africa in the ‘good ol’ days’.

The ‘other side’, argues that Obama should keep things as it is, because a coupla nutcases in Miami voted overwhelming against him. Bright boy, that Mauricio Claver-Calone.

America’s foreign policy should not be influenced, yet alone be held hostage by a couple thousand extremist fruitcakes. Drop the embargo and Cuba will change.

But there is another side to it which I won’t get into here. As long as the embargo is an issue, certain groups get large loads of funding from the American government and other sources. With no issue, comes no funding. Some of these people are just protecting their pockets, at taxpayers expense.

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