The Economy and the Job Market – Searching For Growth in Troubled Times

The economy is clearly not in good shape. We may or may not currently be in a recession, and while conditions won’t get nearly as bad as the Chicken Littles of the world would have us believe, they most certainly won’t improve either. Well, dramatically, anyway.

The economy has been under a three-pronged siege of falling housing prices, rising commodity prices and an ever weakening labor market. And each aspect of this siege appears inextricably linked. What makes the current situation so difficult is that all three of these issues are and will continue to have meaningful impact on the average American’s pocketbook. Rising food and fuel costs coupled with lower wages yields a cash flow problem that we will not be able to ignore. That is what makes our current situation so different than that of 2001. That recession, spawned by the “.com” bubble burst, saw peoples overall stock portfolios and retirement accounts diminish or disappear. But in all honesty, who pays any considerable attention to that? Thanks to an increasingly innovative financial market and its willingness and ability to redistribute risk, lenders were right there to lend. And borrowers there to borrow. Consumer spending barely dipped, mortgage applications spiked, and we spent our way out of the 2001 recession.

It seems, then, that the current downturn is much more an extension of the 2001 disaster than a unique, separate situation. Can you ever really exit a recession if you borrowed the money to do so? Our economic doldrums have been a long time in the making, providing a solid base for what figures to be an extended period of zero to slow growth. And that’s why things don’t figure to improve too soon.

To exacerbate all this, the lumbering political machine in Washington has begun talking about the economy, and, more specifically, increased regulation of financial markets. This will only make things worse. It isn’t that taxes and regulations are altogether bad, it’s just that Congress has little, if any, idea how to brandish these tools. What we should expect is a weakened ability for different industries to tap into investment capital, inhibiting their ability to rebound from their current crises, and weakening the outlook overall in financial well-being for fiscal quarters to come.

So which industries stand to improve? To answer this question we need to think critically about what glaring problems the current economic situation has uncovered.

The most striking of these problems is America’s source of and need for energy. As mentioned, oil prices are high and should continue to go higher. China and India, with their burgeoning economies and swarming populations, are now dominant players in the international demand for fuel. And supply isn’t even constant; it’s falling. Our reliance on oil is clearly a very, very expensive habit. Setting aside environmental concerns (which are important), we simply cannot afford to rely on fossil fuels as we once did. The industry with the most long-term growth potential, then, is the renewable energy category.

Renewable energy is comprised of dozens of sectors, each giving rise to yet more sub-sectors. Wind, solar, and hydroelectric power are all growing, not just in the US, but around the globe. Bio fuel seems the heir apparent to gasoline (just look at Brazil), and carbon emission legislation stands on the brink of being passed. Each of these areas, and there are many, many more, represents tremendous job opportunities with long-term growth. And what’s more, they call for a broad spectrum of backgrounds.

Scientists and agriculturalists are obvious. It will become important to devote time and money into research projects, such as ethanol yield from various crops (i.e., corn, sugar, algae, etc.), and what type of return we could and should expect from each.

Carbon emission regulation would force big business to manage a certain number of “carbon credits.” Carbon credits are simply an accounting tool businesses will likely have to adhere to, by law, in an effort to keep their carbon footprint in check. Companies expecting to exceed their carbon credit limit must buy additional credits from companies willing to sell them – companies, of course, who are expecting a carbon credit surplus. Therein lies a marketplace, much like stocks and bonds, where finance and accounting professionals will clearly be in high demand.

Most importantly though, as it relates to career paths and job opportunities, small companies will be born to capture different pieces of this emerging world of renewable energy. And these companies will need the same things as any other company. Human resources, marketing, administration, law, and management are all areas that will see growth – so long they’re within the right business – as these are professional areas that will always be in demand. Exactly how much depends more on a specific company’s positioning within the greater economic landscape than it does the actual current economy.

For my money, any company with a business model that incorporates forward looking thought regarding renewable energy will fare well in the short, medium and long term.

Aiden was born and raised in northern New Jersey. He attended New York University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Finance. He currently lives in New York City and works in the equities trading division of a large investment bank. –Aiden Quinn

Forget Bailout – Here is My Plan

Anyone facing foreclosure knows that in most cases that they have been snookered. Funny how mortgage contracts will adjust for increasing payments, but none adjust down if the economy goes bad.

Now the government is going to give Wall Street a 700 Billion dollar bailout plan. Now this plan is suppose to help the homeowner. It does not address unemployment and loss of jobs, the adjusting of mortgage rates that are the root causes.

Let us think about this:

• Gas prices are higher than ever
• We spend billions of dollars per month in Iraq
• Unemployment is high
• Food Prices have increased
• Most homes have lost value leaving little to no equity
• Utilities such as gas and electric are higher
• Credit is scarce and refinance market is dead
• Average family income is down
• Bankruptcies are high

Who wins?

• Oil companies recording record profits
• Brokers, who have taken money from the stock and equity markets
• Retiring executives from most markets with golden parachutes
• Those who are operating the banks and brokerage firms

Those responsible will not suffer; the good old taxpayer is coming to the rescue. Okay, so we bail them out and have our government, buy the homes that have lost their value in many ways. Now the government will also have to absorb the cost in foreclosure. That is an additional expense.

Here is the major question, with banks and other institutions having dumped all their bad paper on the government, what is next? The answer to that is who knows.

Here is a solution, when you wean a baby off the bottle; you just take it away from the baby. That is what we have to do to the financial institutions. This has to be fixed in part by government but with a ground floor view.

If you want to help those homeowners and reverse the economy here is the plan

• A 6-month freeze on all foreclosures and those up coming for the next year
• A $ 10,000.00 grant to all unemployed homeowners that need to get back on their feet
• An audit on all mortgage companies that financed the sub-prime market
• Allow modification of mortgage contracts on all distressed property
• Allow 6 months for homeowners to get gainful employment (if they are unemployed)
• Invest 100 billion for new “green” energy jobs
• Invest 100 billion in full scholarships in community colleges for new high tech or “green” jobs
• Financial Institutions that hold vacated property will keep them
• Those pending foreclosures will be turned over to the government
• The government will then administrate the process of implementing the above points.
• The mortgagee when employed will modify their contract with the governmental agency.
• Let the private sector sell the vacated properties through auction or other means

This is what I call trickle up economics. The intention is to assist those who are facing financial distress in most cases this will allow the homeowner to pay off their real estate taxes, allow them to find gainful employment. They will also buy food, pay utility bills, and help offset the price of gas. It is a terrible thing when you must commute 20 to 30 miles and do not have any money for gas. You must go to where the jobs are.

There are three types of people affected here, the employed, the unemployed and the multiple dwelling homeowners. The employed would need a modified contract. The unemployed would need a moratorium and financial aid if not eligible for unemployment. Then there are those who have multiple dwelling units which the economy does not directly effect their primary residence.

Implementation can be administered by HUD, the first action that needs to be taken is an instant moratorium on all forecloses and real estate tax liens.

• Set Up Special Temporary Branch under HUD to implement program
• HUD takes all the recorded default notices
• This program will be voluntary to homeowners
• Residents affected will contact a 1-800 number for the financial grant
• HUD will verify the information given
• Homeowner will fill out application and send to HUD via internet, fax or mail.
• HUD will release half of the $ 10,000.00 grant and in 30 days release the other half.
• If Homeowner is collecting unemployment benefits HUD will reduce the scheduled unemployment benefit amount from the HUD payments for the 6 month period
• Homeowner has 6 months to find gainful employment.
• Within the 4 month period Homeowner will contact HUD for mortgage contract modification
• Homeowners who are employed will contact HUD for assistance in mortgage modification
• When mortgage modification is approved by HUD then the Homeowner will start making payments to the mortgage holder of record.

Mortgage holders are not bailed out, but will be allowed have the distressed properties temporarily moved off their balance sheets into a holding company account. This will relieve their balance sheet on a temporary basis, which will allow them to qualify for appropriate credit. They will report to the SEC (if a public company) and HUD the information on the holding company, with complete details. No other transactions other than that of distressed real estate are to be post to this holding company.

When a homeowner starts to make payments on the modified mortgage contract the mortgage holder will transfer from the holding account the original value back to the mortgage holder’s original balance sheet.

In this way everybody wins, the mortgage holder, the homeowner and the government. This plan will result in more jobs; mortgage holders’ credit restored and distressed properties relieved. Of course, there are more details to work out but overall I believe my plan can be implemented in very little time.

John Tebar Certified Life Coach, Author and Entrepreneur sign up for weekly Ezine at http://holisticlifeplanningandresearch.com

Forget the Recession – There is More Than Enough to Go Around!

This is a frightening economic time, not just for the United States, but for the world as a whole. Everyone seems to be in a panic and perhaps rightfully so. It seems like every time you turn around some seemingly stable company is filing Chapter 11 or being acquired in a hostile takeover.

The only thing that seems certain at all about our fiscal future is that it is uncertain. Or is it?!

Perhaps I should rephrase that and say, should it be?

People seem to be under the impression that there just isn’t enough money now. Somehow, somewhere the money disappeared and there just isn’t enough to go around. They couldn’t be more wrong. The money is there, it just isn’t moving (and when it is, it may be going to different places than we are used to).

The reality is that there is plenty of money to go around. Enough money to boggle your mind. So much, in fact that most people couldn’t even fathom the riches that are out there and potentially available to them.

To add some substance to this point let’s just look at one individual: Bill Gates- or more specifically, his net worth. Okay, so Bill Gates is not your “typical guy”. Of course not, he currently ranks third on the list of the worlds richest people with a net worth of $58 Billion (yes, that’s billion with a “B”).

$58 Billion is an awful lot of money, don’t you think? As of September 2008 the estimated world population was 6.725 billion which means the Bill Gates has enough net worth that he could share over $8.6 Billion with each and every person on the face of the earth. One man could potentially turn every person in the world into a billionaire.

Now take into account that there are over 1,000 billionaires on the world list. Just in this group alone there is well over one trillion dollars of net worth and this doesn’t even account for all of the multi-millionaires out there today.

The average person is struggling to get by with a modest income probably somewhere south of $100,000 and can only hope to gain some level of fiscal comfort. Their reality probably even puts off the thought of being a millionaire. There is enough to go around! Most people just don’t know how to go about getting their share.

Most people are pigeonholed by their limiting beliefs and the jobs that they have as a result of that. There is only so much room for advancement and pay increases. The volatile nature of the markets and the uncertain economic climate make most corporate companies squeamish by the very thought of dolling out any more money than they have to.

If you want to get ahead you have to take control of your financial future! Fortunately people today have opportunities that were once held for the rich and not the masses. Today, because of the abundance of possibility in the home-based business arena, every person has the ability to take a grasp of their future and to start building their wealth and fortune. And they can do it NOW!

Finding an opportunity with quality products, a proven and easily duplicable system, training and leadership is paramount. Once this is found, success is only a short while away.

Go grab your piece of the pie. No one is just going to hand it to you.

Brian Pray is one of the truly “good guys” in the home business industry. Fueled by an unyielding desire to help others achieve great success he believes that his prosperity comes as a byproduct of this. He has built his foundation on very simple values and beliefs and knows that truth, integrity and character have made him the person he is today. More information on Brian Pray is available at http://www.AllYouWantInLife.com

Who is to Blame For High Gas Prices?

With only the possibility of John McCain and Barack Obama, I would say that whose to blame for high gasoline prices has been the most played news story across every media network over the last month or two. The national average for gasoline peaked earlier this month around $4.11 per gallon or regular 87 octane and has recently come down to about $4.03 per gallon. This obviously is a stark increase from the price range around ~$2.50 that we had seen during 2006 and 2007. The issue becomes even more important than “just an extra” $2.53 per gallon as our economy and lifestyle are based on the consumption of gasoline for transportation. The biggest question on everyone’s mind is who is to blame and how can we fix the problem? Like many other questions concerning energy, the answer is not nearly as simple as the media would have you believe. Warning: The information you are about to read may be completely foreign to you as none of the 6 major media networks have ever reported truthfully on this topic in the past.

It must be the E&P companies, right?

Not as much as you would think. While it is true that the exploration and production companies have to make some profit, when you look at the numbers the results are not as horrifying as you may have previously thought. Let’s take a look at the profit margins of some of the larger E&P companies (all of the numbers are for the trailing twelve months):

* Apache Corp. APA – 29.95%

* Anadarko Petroleum APC – 3.78%

* EnCana Corp. ECA – 14.77%

* Occidental Petroleum OXY – 29.2%

* Suncor Energy Inc. SU – 17.98%

* Microsoft Corp. MSFT – 29.26%

Now its time to play the which one of the above is not an oil and gas E&P company game? If you guess Microsoft, you probably have a bright future ahead of you and I wish you my sincerest congratulations.

This is only one example, Goldman Sachs GS has a profit margin of 23.68% and Intuitive Surgical ISRG has a profit margin of 24.68%. Many of the energy companies actually have lower profit margins than companies in other sectors. They are not the ones that are charging you too much for the goods you rely on, they are just participating in the free market economy and helping you achieve economic satisfaction more so than most of the other companies in the world.

Well then it has to be refiners?

This is definitely the last person who is causing your wallet to thin. The refiners (excluding the major integrated companies that incorporate refining and marketing activities into their overall business structure) bring the least to the bottom line when compared to the other sub-sector of the energy universe. The problem with the refiners is that since they do not produce the oil, they are reliant on spot market prices for the input of their product. This difference is called the crack spread. The crack spread is the margin refiners make when the take a barrel of crude oil and “crack” it into another form, either gasoline, heating distillate, diesel, or a number of other products. Generally crack spreads are quoted in the 3:2:1 ratio, or 3 barrels of crude are cracked into 2 barrels of gasoline and 1 barrel of heating distillate. Recently the crack spread has been in a state of free fall as highlighted by the stock prices of Valero Energy Corp. VLO, and Tesero Corporation TSO falling more than 45% each while the rest of the energy sector rallied.

Gas station owners, thats it!

Unfortunately for gas station owners, they fall into a similar category as the refiners. They do not produce the gasoline, so their input prices are out of the control. Because there is a high level of competition and a bunch of stingy consumers, they are not able to raise prices as quickly as they would need to in order to maintain historical profit margins. More than 1,000 gasoline stations closed in the United States last year, many of which were actually losing money every time they sold you a gallon of gasoline because of the rate at which gasoline spot prices were rising over the last year and a half. You should expect more gas station closing through 2008 and maybe into 2009. The business has become so unprofitable that Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM has recently announced that they are planning to sell at least 2,500 of their company owned gas stations in the United States during the next year, mostly likely at steep discounts to their worth even 3 months ago.

What about the government?

If you read my article concerning McCain’s Gasoline Tax Holiday you would know that the government sponsored gasoline tax really has little to no effect on the price of gasoline that consumers pay at the pump. The government definitely has an indirect effect on the price of gasoline due to the current drilling policies. If all United States territory was opened, not only would the markets discount this news into the future and lower energy commodity spot prices but the supply that would come online within 2-3 years would cause the price to be pushed downward in the long run. There is also a counter argument that some day we may actually need those reserves for something truly important, not just saving you a few dollars per fill up. That type of ethical issue is one that is difficult to address because facts will not allow either side to be completely “right” or “wrong” no matter how long the topic is argued. I’ll let you make your own decision on that one.

Wait a second, it can’t be my fault can it?

Actually, yes it can. The unfortunate news is that we as consumers are the cause for almost all of the rise in gasoline price. It is not just “us,” it is actually consumers all around the world who are driving up the price. Because crude and gasoline trade on global exchanges, it is not just the United States thats affects the prices, contrary to popular belief. Increased demand from India and China as well as the rest of the developing world is one of the major factors contributing to the price inflation. For example, an American used 25 barrels of oil per year while the Chinese only use 3 barrels per person per year and the Indians only use 1 barrel per person per year. Gasoline prices could become really frightening if the rest of the world would demand even 25% of the consumption that we have grown accustom to over the past century.

Another important factor is worldwide inflation. Inflation rates are growing at historically fast rates around the world. The United States has year-over-year inflation growth of 5% (if you believe the government data which many experts are suggesting you should not), China is over 8%, Russia is over 9%, so on and so forth. With all of this extra money, it is easy to see that a good portion of the price appreciation is do to the fact that people have more nominal dollars to spend, even if each one is worth less and less every day.

Our modern American economy is so heavily based on petroleum products to function that there is only a certain amount of demand that can be destroyed at these low levels of gasoline prices (I know that sounds ridiculous to say, but bear with me). Children have to go to school and adults must go to work, no matter the price of gasoline. Use yourself as an example. Would you quit your current job because of gasoline prices? At what price would you consider quitting your job? At what price would you have no choice but to quit your job? For most of you, these numbers are going to be much higher than the current price of gasoline. Many of you would be shocked to believe that gasoline spending per capita is actually only half of the historical high percentage that was reached during the 1910s and the 1980s. Do not believe for any moment that gasoline prices cannot or will not appreciate from here.

So what can we do? Are we doomed?

We are not doomed. I for one am long on the idea that the United States will be able to innovate and solve this problem. The solution won’t come from the government, but from the free markets. Only time and extreme necessity can drive us closer to the solution, but I assure you that one day it will come. I will discuss the solutions in another later article, but you should not feel as if there is no hope for America because there most certainly is going into our bright future.

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Unemployment and Housing Data Point to Bleak

Existing home sales fell to 4.86 million units, about 2.6% below consensus estimates of 4.94 million units. The report also cited a huge deterioration in median home prices, down to $215,000 or down over 6% from last year. This highlights the bleak outlook for the housing market, as the housing market has yet to find a bottom. With mortgage rates set to only head higher in the coming months, I would expect more defaults on mortgages as there seems to be no slowdown in the turmoil of the housing market.

Weekly unemployment numbers also came in worse than consensus estimates, at 406,000 for the week ending July 19th, 2008. This can only mean bad things for the overall July unemployment numbers that come out next Friday, as some analysts expect the overall unemployment rate to head higher from the 5.5% that was posted in May and June. If you do not remember what happened the last time unemployment increased, just look back and you will see that the Dow lost well over 300. If we really are in a recession, it is also important to note that unemployment during a recession has always hit at least 6%, if not more. Being that the unemployment number is a leading indicator, it seems as though a recession could be imminent, if we are not already in one. That being said it seems even more likely that we will head into a consumer recession as consumers struggle to receive a consistent stream of income without a steady job, which they have become accustomed to over the past few years.

Spending habits will clearly have to adjust for this change in net income per household, which should weigh negatively on the economy, especially for discretionary companies. The further deterioration of the housing market will continue to weigh negatively on financials and home builders until there is a clear sign that there is a turn around in the hosuing and mortgage industry. It also does not help that commodities have had a huge run up in the past year, weighing on corporate profits along with food and energy prices on the consumer. I would continue to recommend staying in traditionally defensive sectors, such as Consumer Staples and Healthcare, as they seem poised to weather the current downturn since over 70% of Staples and Healthcare companies have reported earnings better than analysts estimates. With the strong possibility of a consumer recession, sticking with staple stocks such as Proctor and Gamble PG, Wal-Mart WMT and medical suppliers such as Becton Dickinson BDX, should continue to prove a beneficial strategy as these companies offer dividends and reduced volatility in one of the most volatile markets in years.

This article is brought to you by the authors at BullishBankers.com, a brand new and wildly popular stock market community on the internet.

If you would like free investment tips, stock market research and analysis… please stop by http://www.bullishbankers.com to support our efforts. You’ll find all the information you need!

Why the Right Hates Public Education

by Barbara Miner

In an article about education, it’s appropriate to start with a pop quiz. Today’s question: Republican strategists want to privatize education because:
a) Education is a multibillion dollar market, and the private sector is eager to get its hands on those dollars.
b) Conservatives are devoted to the free market and believe that private is inherently superior to public.
c) Shrinking public education furthers the Republican Party goal of drastically reducing the public sector.
d) Privatization undermines teacher unions, a key base of support for the Democratic Party.
e) Privatization rhetoric can be used to woo African American and Latino voters to the Republican Party.
f) All of the above.

OK, I admit it, the answer’s obvious: all of the above. But in the debates over education policy, the Republican political agenda (see d and e) is often invisible.

Occasionally, Republican strategists let the cat out of the bag and admit that vouchers–which divert public dollars to private schools–are about politics, not education.

Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform and one of the most influential Republican strategists in Washington, has long recognized the partisan value of vouchers, sometimes euphemistically referred to as “choice.” “School choice reaches right into the heart of the Democratic coalition and takes people out of it,” he said in a 1998 interview with Insight, the magazine of the conservative Washington Times.

Norquist and others see great political benefit in going after the teachers’ unions. During the last thirty years, as private sector unionism has declined, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) have grown in strength. Today, the 2.7 million-member NEA is the country’s largest union. The AFT has one million members, mostly in education but also in health care and the public sector.

While both teacher unions overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party, conservatives especially hate the NEA. It is larger, more geographically diverse, with members in every Congressional district in the country, and more likely to push a liberal agenda that includes social issues such as gay rights.

As the conservative Landmark Legal Foundation complained this fall, the NEA is “the nation’s largest, most powerful, and most political union.”

The teacher unions back up their support for the Democratic Party with money and grassroots organization. After all, public schools exist in every municipality and county in the nation. Unlike manufacturing, teaching cannot be outsourced to Mexico, China, or Bangladesh.

In mainstream publications, conservatives tend to muffle their partisan antagonism toward teacher unions. Not so in conservative publications and documents.

The issue comes down to “a matter of power,” said Terry Moe, a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution and co-author of the book Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools, in an interview with the Heartland Institute in Chicago this summer.

The NEA and AFT “have a lot of money for campaign contributions and for lobbying,” he said. “They also have a lot of electoral clout because they have many activists out in the trenches in every political district. . . . No other group can claim this kind of geographically uniform political activity. They are everywhere.”

School vouchers are a way to diminish that power. “School choice allows children and money to leave the system, and that means there will be fewer public teacher jobs, lower union membership, and lower dues,” Moe explains.

For those in the thick of the debate, it’s long been obvious that vouchers are an attack on teacher unions. Even Wisconsin State Representative Annette “Polly” Williams, an African American who helped start the Milwaukee voucher program, the country’s first, now admits as much. “The main motivation of some of the choice supporters was to weaken public education unions,” she wrote in a letter this summer to Governor Jim Doyle.

Eliminating public education may seem unAmerican. But a growing number of movement conservatives have signed a proclamation from the Alliance for the Separation of School and State that favors “ending government involvement in education.” Signatories include such Washington notables as David Boaz and Ed Crane of the Cato Institute; conservative author Dinesh D’Souza; Dean Clancy, who is an education policy analyst for House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert; and Howard Phillips, president of the Conservative Caucus.

Wisconsin State Representative Chris Sinicki, who was a Milwaukee School Board member when vouchers began in Milwaukee in 1990, says there is no doubt that vouchers “are a Republican strategy to take down public education and the unions. This is partisan politics, completely.”

Which brings us back to our pop quiz and, in particular, to Answer e: Privatization rhetoric can be used to woo African American and Latino voters to the Republican Party.

In the 2000 Presidential election, Bush garnered only 8 percent of the African American vote and about 35 percent of the Latino vote. (Overall, less than 10 percent of Bush’s votes came from minorities.) The following year, Republican strategist Matthew Dowd outlined a plan to boost African American support to 13-15 percent and Latino support to 38-40 percent for the 2004 election.

While universal vouchers remain the goal, for tactical reasons conservatives have wrapped vouchers in the mantle of concern for poor African Americans and Latinos. Indeed, voucher supporters are fond of calling school choice the new civil rights movement. This plays well not only with voters of color but also with liberal suburban whites who, while they may be leery of allowing significant numbers of minorities into their schools, nonetheless support the concept of equal rights for all.

Conservatives and their front groups in the African American and Latino communities have not been shy about comparing voucher opponents to Southern segregationists. During the Congressional push for vouchers in Washington, D.C., this fall, groups such as D.C. Parents for School Choice launched a particularly vicious campaign against prominent Democrats. “Forty years ago, politicians like George Wallace stood in the doors of good schools trying to prevent poor black children from getting in,” one ad said, comparing voucher opponents like Senator Edward Kennedy to Wallace.

Virginia Walden-Ford, executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, was vague in explaining to the Washington community newspaper The Common Denominator how her group financed the ads. She did admit that over the years her group had received money from the Bradley Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and Children First America–all prominent conservative organizations supporting vouchers. The Institute for Justice, a libertarian legal group, provided media support. So did Audrey Mullen, a signer of the Separation of School and State proclamation.

Even if Republicans fail to woo African Americans and Latinos to the Republican Party, they may dampen African American and Latino voter turnout–a neutralization strategy, as it were.

“The strategy is to get young black people not to vote,” says Michael Charney, editor of The Critique, the newspaper of the teachers’ union in Cleveland, which also has a voucher program. “These radio commercials are aimed at the hip-hop generation. The goal is to discredit Democrats and breed cynicism.”

The commercials, he continues, “are part of a conscious strategy by the most advanced elements in the electoral Republican machine. It’s smart from their view, even if it is disgusting.”

David Sheridan, an analyst for the NEA, agrees it will be tough for the Republicans to win over African American voters. “But I think it’s different with the Hispanic audience,” he says. “I think they see this as a major effort to get more Hispanic voters into the Republican camp.”

The Republican emphasis on vouchers runs the risk of alienating moderate Republicans who support public education. Such support is strong not only in rural areas where public schools are a vital part of the community and private schools are few, but also in suburban communities with strong, well-funded public schools.

Senator Norm Coleman, Republican of Minnesota, cautions his Republican colleagues that they shouldn’t even use the word “vouchers,” which he refers to as “the deadly V-word.”

“In my state, it’s a pretty divisive word,” he warned them in a speech on the Senate floor this fall.

But that won’t stop conservatives like Norquist, who view vouchers as a key ingredient in their effort to “downsize” government services. “The problem is that the federal government hands out billions of dollars, and people will lie, cheat, steal, or bribe to get it,” Norquist said in an interview with Reasononline, the website of the libertarian Reason Foundation. “If you have a big cake, and you put it under the sink and then you wonder why the cockroaches are in your kitchen, I don’t think any sprays or blocking the holes in the walls are going to get rid of the cockroaches. You’ve got to throw the cake in the trash so that the cockroaches don’t have something to come for.”

The American people do not view public schoolteachers and students as cockroaches. The overwhelming majority strongly support public schools. They don’t want them dismantled; they just want them to work better.

The attack by Norquist and his ilk is nothing less than a highly partisan attempt to undermine teacher unions and the Democratic Party, destroying our American tradition of public education in the process.

— Barbara Miner is a Milwaukee-based journalist specializing in education. via

3 Tips For Finding Your Best Home Based Business

If you are looking for a good business to start up form home, no doubt you want to find the best home based business possible. Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of scams out there too, and it can be hard to come up with a good business opportunity while avoiding all those scams. If you find a great business from home, you have the opportunity to really make some money; however, you may end up losing a lot if you accidentally choose a scam. So, here are three great tips for finding your best home based business that will help you avoid scams and find a great home business opportunity that really works for you.

Tip #1 – Don’t Pay to Work – One of the first tips to remember when you are looking for the best home based business is that you should not have to pay for work. You don’t pay to work for a boss at a company and you should not have to pay to work from home either. If you went to a job interview and they asked you to start paying money in order to get the job, you’d be wondering what kind of people you were dealing with. Well, this is not acceptable online either. Don’t be drawn into paying to work from home. The best home business opportunity won’t require that you pay a fee to be able to work.

Tip #2 – Do Your Research – Before you decide on the best home based business for you, it’s important that you definitely do some research on the companies and opportunities that you are considering. The last thing you want to do is get involved in an opportunity that is only a scam. Take some time to do some research online to see if you can find information about the company or opportunity. Read reviews, look for complaints, and make sure that there is real contact information for the company as well.

Tip #3 – Be Patient and Find the Right Business – Being patient is important if you want to find the best home based business for your needs. Jumping into an opportunity too quickly can be a big mistake and may land you right in the middle of a scam. So, if you want to go with the best home based business out there, then you need to take your time and be patient. Do everything you can to make sure it is the right business for you, even if it does take a little bit of time.

Using these three tips can definitely help you to find the best home based business. Today there are so many scams to watch out for, but using these tips can help keep you from falling prey to scams that are out to get your money. You want to make sure that you find a business that will really help you become successful, so make sure to use these three tips today to find the best home based business so you can get started right away.

This article written by Mark Johnson.

Visit this website for lots of free Home Business advice and tips. Download a free ebook.

What Are the Top 10 Home Businesses in 2008?

If you want to join the thousands of people who are starting to work at home, there are many great opportunities available to you today. However, you definitely want to make sure you get the best possible opportunity for your needs. So, here is a list of the top 10 home businesses in 2008 to consider getting involved in to make money from home.

Home Business #1 – Medical Transcription – One of the top 10 home businesses this year is medical transcription. For those who are great with a keyboard and fluent in English, this is a great choice. Doctors often will outsourcer transcription and it offers the opportunity to make great income without costing a lot to get it started.

Home Business #2 – Gift Basket Sales – Another of the top 10 home businesses in 2008 is gift basket sales. Gift baskets have become extremely popular in the past few years, and more people are finding that making and selling gift baskets can be a lucrative stay at home job.

Home Business #3 – Offering Home Renovation Services – Home renovation services are another of the top 10 home businesses this year. People are always wanting to renovate their home to make it look better and to make it easier to live in, so this is a top home business.

Home Business #4 – Home and Office Cleaning Services – Home and office cleaning services have also become quite popular this year as well. You don’t even have to do the cleaning yourself but you can find great jobs and hire a crew to do the cleaning for you, making a great profit.

Home Business #5 – Data Entry Jobs – Data entry continues to be one of the top 10 home businesses. Data entry is a simple home business to try and many companies today hire out their data entry tasks to people who work at home. There’s a whole lot of potential in this field.

Home Business #6 – Affiliate Programs Online – Of course you’ve probably heard of affiliate online programs, and they are also some of the top business opportunities for those who want to work at home. Simply sign up with companies, promote their products, make sales, and get paid.

Home Business #7 – E-book Publication – Informational products are hot, which is why e-book publication is one of the top 10 home businesses this year. If you are knowledgeable on a topic, write an e-book about it and sell it. It’s an excellent way to work from home.

Home Business #8 – Wedding Planning – Weddings are always hot, and now wedding planning is soaring into the top 10 home businesses as well. Wedding planners plan out weddings, get clients in contact with the right caterers, and make sure everything happens at the right moment on the wedding day.

Home Business #9 – Freelance Writing – Freelance writing is another top home business that many people are finding successful. It involves writing web copy, for magazines, newspapers, and more, and it’s all done from home.

Home Business #10 – Dietary Consulting – Last of all, on the top 10 home businesses of 2008 is dietary consulting. More and more people are concerned about their health and their diet, so they are turning to these dietary consulting services for help.

This article written by Mark Johnson.

Visit this website for lots of free Home Business Tips and more. Download a free ebook with a 90 day plan for Building Your Traffic.

Obama Vs McCain – May the Best Website Win!

With so much of the Internet world focused on these two candidates, I figure I would throw my hat in the ring. Instead of ranting and raving about the issues and which man is right for the job, I’m going to make my determination like any good techie would…by his Website of course! So without further ado, I will attempt to take an unbiased look at these two fine gentlemen’s Websites and may the best Website win!

I will rate them on five different categories, all having to do with aesthetics, usability and their ability to get their message across.

The first category up for grabs is color pollution. This is the ability to use a few (less than three) primary colors to make your Website attractive and vibrant without overdoing it. More than three can be distracting by giving the user too many things to look at. The last thing you want to do is take away from the most important thing on a Website: the content!

So who’s guilty of color pollution?

Well, I wouldn’t say either site is completely guilty, but one falls closer to the edge of color pollution than the other.

McCain’s site has the colors green, blue, yellow, red and white throughout the site. The site really looks busy and it’s hard to know where to look and what the primary message is.

Obama’s site, on the other hand, is very clean and organized. He does a nice job of using blue as his main color of choice with some splashes of red against a white background. Very nice and elegant.

So the winner of the first round is…Obama!

Corey Perlman, http://www.theebootcamp.com/

We Need a Miracle

Food costs will keep increasing and the hungry will have to peddle to the farmlands to find affordable food. There the farmers will let them gather unsold crops for a few bucks. Those without bikes will have to beg in the streets for food, but there will not be enough available. People too proud to beg will die of hunger because there will be no food stamps to help them survive. Governments will become dysfunctional because they will not be able to support their employees. Government workers will be forced to cut their salaries or be fired. High food costs will make it impossible to survive without a good job. Most people in the private sector will be able to survive without much inconvenience. They alone will be unaffected by higher prices.

Oil supplies are limited and precious. Paying three hundred dollars a barrel for oil might only be months away. Billions of luxury loving people in China and India want a taste of the good life. Their economies are expanding and they now have the bucks to buy the best of everything. They need whatever oil is available and they will pay any price to get it. The rest of the world has to accept this hard reality and pay higher prices for everything. Those without money might be able to find a few seeds to plant. They might not have no alternative.

I feel sorry for the poor and those that depend on government checks for support. If oil goes to three hundred dollars a barrel, a loaf of bread will cost twenty bucks. Only the wealthy and those with great jobs will be eating. It is possible that a miraculous new energy resource will soon be discovered–if that happens our problems will be solved. We must all pray for a miracle to occur.

melpol