Sunday, April 22, 2012

How's That European Austerity Working Vs America's Stimulus?

So Europe, how's that austerity plan working for ya?

When the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression hit the world economies starting in late 2008, Europe took the "austerity" route while America took the "stimulus" route.  So  how's that austerity strategy working for you? What was the result compared to the American "stimulus" strategy?

VERY different.  After embracing austerity and cutting budgets for the past three years, in 2012 most of Europe is near death economically. Growth is NEGATIVE. At best it will be FLAT. Austerity means budget cuts. That means jobs lost and that cuts tax revenues. As a result unemployment in Spain has surged to 20%. England's economy is comatose after conservative Prime Minister David Cameron made "austerity" the British plan. 

Meanwhile, despite the demands for austerity in 2010 by the GOP Congress, America took a different rout after the 2008 collapse. It followed a "Stimulus" path not unlike what Franklin Roosevelt did when he was elected to create jobs after the Great Depression started. People forget that Roosevelt's predecessor Herbert Hoover, took the "do nothing" approach to deal with the Depression, and was swiftly voted out of office!

In 2012 the United States economy will grow between 2-3%. That may not sound like much but is light years ahead of the negative growth territory Europe finds itself buried in.  Even during "normal" years a developed country like America will grow about 3%.  Only a developing country like China or India can mange growth rates greater that that (China's is about 8-9%).

In short, because of our leadership that took the right road, America avoided making the same mistake as FDR did in 1937 when he panicked at the surging deficit and reversed course when he tried to balance the budget and change to an "austerity" plan. When he did that, America's economy went right into the tank - and never fully recovered until the huge demand sparked by World War II got things moving again. 

The lesson?  In face of a severe depression, austerity is the worst strategy to follow, as the Europeans may yet figure out.  In the U.S. we not only are growing but we have over 2 million job that are available TODAY, enough to drop our unemployment rate another 2%!

So what's the problem? We don't have enough AMERICANS with the skills to fill those millions of jobs - and the GOP Congress has ignored the President's repeated requests for retraining funds needed to give Americans the skills for those jobs instead of sending them overseas or giving them to foreigners who DO have the skills required.

For example, we have a shortage of skilled truck drivers. The tuition cost: $4,000. That's more than what people can afford. If the government stepped in to cover those costs, those jobs could be filled and the taxes generated by the newly employed American truck drivers would greatly exceed the $4,000 investment in the first year! We also lack skilled machinists, etc. because people don't have the math and science skills needed.  Texas just adopted math standards that are BELOW the national standards, guaranteeing that our students will not be competitive in the jobs of the 21st century.

Bottom line: The Conservative Mr. Sarkozy could well lose the Presidency because of his choice of austerity. Had President Obama followed the same road, America would have lost millions of jobs, from hundreds of thousands of auto workers to even more teachers and first responders -- and we would be facing negative growth and substantially higher unemployment than what we have today.

Instead, we have turned the corner and have the opportunity to address our increasing "skills gap" instead. We can fix that, if Congress would do something other than vote "no" on everything, including education and job training.

Moral: Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

Michael Fjetland
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The 2012 Presidential Choice - The Guy Who Grew up Poor Vs The Guy WHo Grew Up Rich

Now that Mitt Romeny's last major opponent, Rick Santorum, has dropped out the Presidential race is become quite clear.

Here is what we know:

1. The 2012 decision for Americans will be between two Presidential candidates from entirely different backgrounds. One grew up POOR and the other grew up RICH. One had to finance his own way through Harvard, the other had wealthy parents paying the Harvard tuition.

2. It's RomneyCare vs. ObamaCare. ObamaCare was modeled on RomneyCare. Enough said.

3. One Presidential candidate paid under 15% in taxes and favors more tax cuts to the top 1% (Romney). The other candidate paid what most Americans pay (about 30%) and favors all taxpayers paying the same tax rate (Obama) - which means the top 1% would have to pay the same rate as their secretaries (the "Buffett Rule").

4. One candidate supports the Ryan plan to give the top 1% yet even more tax cuts and would continue the 'trickle down' economics that lead to the recession of 2008. To pay for the tax cuts, social services would be slashed (Romney).

5. The other Presidential candidate would invest more in research and development to maintain America's technology lead and more for retraining of workers to improve their skills for the high tech jobs that are currenly available, but many Americans don't have the skills for. He would invest in rebuilding our infrastructure, including the thousands of 50-year old bridges that have become dangerous and crumbling highways (Obama).

Which one of these two candidates reflects American values?

For a summary of the events that lead to the economic collapse of 2008, written by someone who witnessed elections and economic actions since the 1970's as a Fortune 500 negotiator (and then as an entrepreneur), I have made available my ebook chapter entitled "Agenda for American Greatness" FREE as a public service. The link is at:

Our future is at stake - will we back fall on voodoo economics and concentrating wealth at the top and failure to invest in education? Or will we move forward with a vision in which all Americans pay taxes at the same rate and our leaders give us the tools to prepare us for the 21st Century global, high tech economic challenges from our global competitors?

"Agenda for American Greatness" is based on my experiences in nearly 50 countries and as an entrepreneur. Read and decide. Pass it on.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

If a movie was ever made of my book, I would pick Brad Pitt as the one

If a movie was ever made of my book, I would pick Brad Pitt as the one to play my character...My No. 1 choice.

Why? Because from his movies, it just seems to fit this very unusual life - from one economic extreme to another, from one city to the world.

"Agenda for American Greatness" - the final chapter - is FREE as a public service to answer the critical question before Americans today - how to fix the mess and win the future. That is answered in my "American Greatness" chapter. It will take a GLOBAL STRATEGY to win. Being local won't cut it when other countries have more educated people than America has, or will have, if we don't act.

America can't win the future unless its people deal with FACTS -- not Fanstasy. You need to hear what is happening in the world from someone who has actually been global and knows what we are up against -- and how we LEAD AGAIN in the global economic, space age high tech 21st century...