#2013Shutdown’s effect on Business and the Future of America…

Professor David Victor, Ph.D.

Professor David Victor, Ph.D.

One of my former (and future, no doubt!) professors from Eastern Michigan University, Dr. David Victor, posted this morning about a possible future oil boom for Iceland, noting that a recent survey and discovery shows Iceland sits on a *LOT* of the possible undiscovered oil reserves in the world, estimates place it at 13%.  With the thawing of the northern ice cap, and the North Atlantic Current keeping ice from marring up the major ports of the island nation, all of these things could conspire to bring a well-needed boon to it’s economy.

However, another follower on Facebook of Dr. Victor, the Chair of CitrinGroup, also threw in his two cents, stating that while the Chinese are courting and betting on future oil producers, such as Iceland, the United States, already suffering an anemic economy, is wasting it’s time on policy matters that in the grand scheme of things, don’t really matter.  I tend to agree.

The United States’ economy is JUST starting to  gain traction, while sitting fairly stationery and spinning it’s wheels, begging to move forward since the crisis began in the Subprime Mortgage market in 2007.  We’re finally starting to see forward momentum beyond the familiar numbers of “0.04% gains.”  People are beginning to feel confident in the economic system again.

However, when people see the Government itself can’t get it together and pay it’s OWN bills, that’s when people begin to hold onto their OWN money, going “What if I find myself right back in 2008 again?”  I admit, I found myself thinking twice when I made a relatively small purchase this morning, because the well-being of MY household budget is determined by the fiscal health of the Federal Government.

When recessions and slumps hit the nation, the Government is there to provide relief, to buffer the blow with benefits, stimulus and other some-such capital, by pumping money into the system.  However, if that money is cut off too soon, the economy can slump again.  Bad news breeds bad feelings.  Bad feelings breed either a binge on spending, or a lack of spending, more often, the latter.  When people stop spending, the economy grinds to a screeching halt — as we saw starting with the credit freezes of 2008.  While one can argue the merits of policy on both sides of the aisle, the latest budgetary and policy debate is doing nothing but killing consumer confidence, and indeed, making foreign markets question the stability of the American economy.

While Obamacare is certainly an expensive program, so was the F-35 Fighter — which estimates have the cancelled fighter costing as much as a trillion dollars — a number often attributed to the cost of Obamacare.  Oddly enough, I haven’t heard it mentioned once by Republicans on the Hill, even though it is now essentially a great waste of capital and expenditures.

Who’s right?  Who knows.  One thing I do know is — #2013Shutdown can be a death knell for the fragile traction the American economy took years to get.

Are Athlete Fraudsters Liable for Reimbursing Funders?

Lance Armstrong finishing 3rd in Sète, taking ...

Lance Armstrong finishing 3rd in Sète, taking over the Yellow Jersey at Grand Prix Midi Libre 2002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Late Tuesday afternoon, the United States Government filed a lawsuit against former Olympic-Gold Medalist cyclist Lance Armstrong, citing the fact that he defrauded them out of millions of dollars in his doping campaign.

The Government, citing the False Claims Act, state that he defrauded the United States Postal Service by doping, and under that law, the USPS is, technically entitled to triple the amount of funds spent, or money in excess of US$120 Million; as the Government is contesting US$40 Million.

The United States asserts in its suit that a use of performance enhancing drugs is a violation and breach of contract of the agreement he signed with the USPS, originally in 1998 – through 2004.

Should any entities who chose to fund people be entitled to collect monies if they were unable to  prove during that time that the athlete/etc in question was doping, or taking other performance enhancing drugs?  While I agree it’s a great deterrent, when people make bad investments, often they are told they “are out of luck.”

Could such a ruling, for instance, be worked into such a precedent as Bankers and Executives for financial companies making and funding bad loans to be held responsible for them; and repayment as well?

The Best Media on the US Government… isn’t in the USA?

This post contains a lot of opinion.  Please bear this in mind.

Pentagon_Press_Room_SecDef_Rumsfeld_Briefs_China_SituationOne of the things I’ve noticed in the past year or so is how biased the media in the United States is — particularly in favor of the image of the United States.

This isn’t to suggest it happens all the time.  Indeed, often, the United States media portrays our leaders more combative and aloof than they like actually are.  While no doubt, there’s combativeness and a major adversarial relationship in the Legislative branch of Government alone, the media often makes it out that this is the only relationship they have.

However, many examples of government-censorship seem apparent.  A Republican committee on the House Energy and Commerce committee released a report showing that the Obama Administration’s Department of Energy coerced Solyndra to hold off announcing major plans, including layoffs and other potentially embarrassing bits of information to avoid muddying the waters further in an already ugly midterm election; until after the said election.

The veracity of this report is questionable — as it could very well serve to be an example of bellicose and vehement partisan fighting that’s become common in the last decade; but the accusation alone is disturbing.

Another example that comes to mind specifically is Barbara StarrCNN‘s Pentagon Correspondent.  When I hear her reports, often citing “unnamed sources,” or “an unnamed Pentagon official,” or someone who “declined to identify themselves,” are more and more being used.  To me, this sounds like a Department of Defense brief, being placed in her hands, and the DoD saying “Say this, citing “an unnamed Pentagon official.”  Should Barbara Starr change her title from “CNN Correspondent to the Pentagon” to “The Pentagon Correspondent to CNN?”   This is only one example of reporters from the Pentagon I’m singling out.  She’s not the only one who does this.

In the year since I took Dr. Victor‘s International Business class, I’ve learned to trust other sources other than just domestic media for information on the Government, and America itself in the terms of the Media.  The Economist, Deutsche Welle and BBC being the top three.

What does this say about the state of our media?  Is this just the accepted new normal, or the beginning of something else?