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03/15/2003 Archived Entry: "Economic change..."
On the Political/Economic Front:
For months, I've been speculating on what I expect will be a rush to raid pension funds by many North American companies who will view them as standing pools of available cash. Such a trend is only one aspect of the redefinition of the relationship between businesses and employees.
A news story from yesterday embodies another shift. "The stock brokerage firm Charles Schwab Corp., which is struggling through its worst slump, has become the latest in a string of large U.S. companies to tell employees it will stop making matching contributions to their retirement-savings plans....Other companies that have said they are reducing or halting such contributions include Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler AG, Goodyear Tire Rubber Co., Great Northern Paper Inc., Tech Data Corp., El Paso Corp. and CMS Energy Co." This shift in business policy will have significant ripple effects because the popularity of certain types of investment -- e.g. mutual funds -- spiked partly as a result of the "free money," a/k/a matching funds, that companies ponied up. But, with unemployment rising and money tight, businesses no longer have to offer expensive percs. Employees are just happy to have job security...and there's precious little of that out there. Lifelong, secure jobs like our uncles had -- e.g. as autoworkers at Ford, with massive union benefits and protections -- are a phenomenon of the past. Now a comfortable retirement may be going in the same direction, even for those who paid into a fund in good faith.
Meanwhile, the possibility of a draft draws nearer... Federal law already requires all young men in the United States and its territories to register with the Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday, with failure to register being a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Now a new bill in Texas would automatically register young men for a possible draft when they apply for or renew a Texas driver's license.
On the Personal/Movement Front:
Don't expect any financial relief or assistance from the government, which continues tospend like a drunken sailor on a 48-hour shore leave. To cite just one plan that the Bush administration has for your money... Consider this quote from an LP press release, "A plan to put one out of every 10 Iraqis on the U.S. government's payroll is a case of nation-building gone haywire...'Hold onto your wallets, because the U.S. government is going on a hiring binge -- in Iraq,' said Geoffrey Neale, chairman of the Libertarian Party." How will Bush pay for his Iraqi civil servants? Judge for yourself from another libertarian initiative. "The Libertarian Party of Georgia has launched an online petition to stop a half-billion dollar tax increase proposed by the state's new Republican governor." The LP these days makes me wish I could vote in good conscience.
Jacob (Bumper) Hornberger has a nice article that begins, the "announcement that the U.S. government had relied on fake and false evidence in the attempt to secure approval of its upcoming invasion of Iraq was, by and large, met by a collective yawn from the American people, especially the members of Congress. Itís just one more example of the depths of moral depravity to which our nation has fallen." And thanks to David Theroux of the Independent Institute for passing on an excellent tho' disturbing analysis entitled "Whose War? A neoconservative clique seeks to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in Americaís interest."
Best to all,