On Friday September 27th, the City Council received the preliminary drawings for proposed Gateway Markers for the City of Johns Creek. The City Council was getting an early peak for the drawing and voting was to start this week from the residents. In less than 91 minutes from receiving the drawings forwarded by the Mayor, Council Members began to react.
Last April I wrote about how this effort was a complete waste of taxpayer monies. I also wrote the following(was I wrong?):
A government cannot define us. An artist will not define us. Gateway Markers will not define us. We do not need outsiders to come in and tell us who we are. Government can identify us but it will never define us. The moment we let government define us is the moment we have lost who we are. We should be defining government instead.
Is this a good use of taxpayer dollars? I’ll let you decide for yourself.
The Council reacted negatively and these drawings were withdrawn from Public View. While they were supposed to be presented and voting begin on September 30,2019, it appears that changes will now be made before presenting to the public for consideration.
How much this will cost or what the revisions are remains to be seen.
Yes, you read that correctly. People read words and phrases and never think of the meanings of the words. Notice carefully my liberal friends. We were meant to be a loose collection of states.
Each state would set their parameters for functioning. And if you did not like it, you could move to a state you did like.
Simple, clear and concise.
It’s NOT the United Citizens of America
There are those among us that want the President of these United States to be elected by popular vote. But that is NOT the basis for which we formed this nation. A popularity test is no way to run a country. Why even bother with state borders if you like that concept?
The ONLY way to get the smaller of the 13 colonies to go along with forming “a more perfect Union”(notice it does not say perfect) was to insure it was NOT going to be majority rule.
All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.
A Constitutional Republic
That is what we are and what we must strive to be. The smallest of minorities, the individual, MUST have there rights protected. And those rights are enumerated in the US Constitution
To allow the majority to strip away those rights would be a grave mistake. You would effectively be owned by the majority.
“Being on the side of the majority is often a sign that you are wrong, or the most unlikely to be right.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
You Were Lied To In School
How many times were you told that you lived in a democracy? You do not. You live in a Constitutional Republic.
When you live in a democracy without the protections of a Constitution you are owned by the majority. Whichever side makes the most persuasive arguments wins.
Think about that.
“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”
― George Carlin
The More People Vote The Better The Outcome
Nothing could be further from the truth. The more people that vote the more average the outcome will be. Guaranteed.
Imagine a society where everyone was required to vote. We are frequently told that “Every Vote Counts”. Yes it might be counted, but it will also lead to worse outcomes and not better.
Voters are not experts on every topic. It’s likely most people cast votes for individuals based on name recognition only . Is that what you want to decide issues that will affect your life, your income, your safety, and your freedom? Name recognition?
Please do not rely on campaign signs, mailers, or newspaper articles to pick your candidate. Go or watch just a few public debates or forums. See what they say, how they say it and if they know what they are talking about.
I voted for individuals currently on the Johns Creek City Council that I was and am still appalled at their arrogance, ignorance and general lack of respect for their constituents..
And I based my vote on their campaign mailers. I’ll never vote blindly for a candidate again.
At the most recent City Council Meeting, Mayor Bodker and a majority of the Council were ready to pursue reducing the lane widths on 141 as a the stated primary purpose of achieving a safer 141. The logic behind this move was clearly not thought out and was not in the best interest of the majority of residents.
Several Council Members professed a desire to lower the speed limit to 45 from 55 MPH. Why? Some residents have complained over the years of speeding along 141.
How Bad Is the Problem?
No one has defined the number of speeders or the speed at which is triggering the complaint. So Council Members seem to be deciding to take a course of action based on emotions (We gotta do something!) rather than factual data.
Should the Majority of Drivers Be Penalized for the Ultra-Minority?
That’s the question these Council Members need to ask. Assume for a minute that there are 500 drivers exceeding 65 MPH daily along 141 That sounds terrible doesn’t it?
Not really. That is approximately 1% of the average number of vehicles on 141.
Should 99% of the drivers lose the opportunity to travel safely on 141 at 55 MPH because of the 1% who do not?
Think about other aspects of you life where there are those that follow the law and those that do not. Is the 1% threshold the level at which you are willing to lose your rights to do something? Hopefully the answer is no.
What Can Be Done?
Police Chief Densmore stated that officers could not issue citations unless a vehicle was traveling faster than 65 MPH. Council Members nodded their heads as this confirmed to them this was way too fast for a highway traveling through a residential community.
While Johns Creek has always been a residential community and has always had this parameter on 141, I found that argument to be weak at best.
Today, Johns Creek has more than 80 police officers, up sharply from 5 years ago.
Yet five years ago, we would see police officers along the 141 corridor parked on the sides of the road. With more officers today, we see less police vehicles, which is likely at the root of this problem.
Police presence alters driver behavior We all know that. Drivers see a police vehicle and they instantly check their speed. It’s the nature of most drivers.
Officers do not have to be present all the time. Drivers remember where they have seen officers in the past. Who does not slow down on State Bridge Road where they have seen officers numerous times in the past?
Police presence works.
Fairer, Easier Solution
This is the fairest and easiest solution. Were the speed limits lowered to 45 mph, we’d still have to have officers out there present to enforce the speed limits. If we did not, they we’d have the same situation we have today.
The choice is clear. We can legislate and penalize the majority for the 1%, or we can encourage a greater presence of police vehicles, which will accomplish the desired affect of drivers driving more safely along 141.
Johns Creek has used the “safety” for the pursuit of many solutions in Johns Creek in search of justifications. But should there be a litmus test when using these claims as justification in the implementation of policy changes, decisions and home inspections.
Residents have seen expensive traffic circles implemented at intersections that have functioned for decades as two or four way stops. The reason cited? Safety.
Residents replacing a hot water heater in their homes now need an inspection. Safety again.
The fourth fire station was justified as a safety issue, despite questions and observations that a Fast Response Unit might actually provide better outcomes for residents of Johns Creek.
Traffic intersections where you used to be able to turn left when there was a safe opportunity to do so now prohibit you from making a left turn unless you have a flashing yellow or green arrow. The reason cited? Safety.
We have U-Turns being eliminated at 141 and State Bridge southbound citing safety, while the other three legs of the intersection all still allow U-Turns. And a crossover just north of that intersection? U-Turns are allowed and despite the safety issue, will continue to be allowed for the benefit of the businesses.
The U-Turn crossover as you head south on 141 to make the U-Turn to head north is clearly more dangerous for drivers, especially young drivers as they leave the school in the afternoons. However, for the benefit of the businesses this is apparently a risk we can tolerate.
Somehow, at 141 and State Bridge, with a traffic light giving the drivers the right of way, the failure to yield the right of way by State Bridge Westbound drivers taking a right, is enough to get that U-Turn eliminated. Does that make sense?
I Can’t Drive 55
Now we have the lanes on 141 being narrowed from 12 feet to 11 feet AND the speed limit being lowered from 55 to 45 all in the name of safety.
This leads me to the following question:
What Can’t The City Of Johns Creek Do For Safety?
That’s not really the question to be honest. We would ask that if our duly elected officials were action the ones with oversight in making these decisions. But they are not. So here is the question we need to ask:
Are There Limits to What A Staff Member Can Do Using Safety As A Justification?
What’s process anyway? The residents here have elected a City Council to represent them. Can the City Council change this decision? If so how?
For starters, I’d demand actual data on 141 with traffic accidents to determine if we are actually implementing a solution solving a problem.
How many rear end collisions on 141 were reported for the last 36 months?
How many annual miles were driven on 141 for the last 36 months?
What is the ratio of rear end collisions to miles driven?
Is this higher or lower than the national average?
Is this higher or lower than the average for surrounding areas?
How many of the rear end collisions on 141 were in areas where the posted speed limit was 55 and how many were in areas where the posted speed limit was 45?
How many additional minutes of travel will be added daily to commuters traveling the 141 corridor in Johns Creek by lowering the speed limit? (if just 4 miles of 55 MPH road is reduced to 45 MPH, each vehicle will have one extra minute of travel or 24% longer)
During non-rush hours, adding 1 minute of travel to 15,000 vehicles daily equals 15,000 minutes of time. That is 250 hours per day lost. That is 1250 hours per week lost. Or 65,000 hours per year.
Apparently the majority on the City Council has forgotten that the Convention Visitor’s Bureau is NOT a charitable organization and their funds are dollars fleeced collected in taxes on individuals who generally have no say in the matter if they need a hotel room(none of us really have a say in the matter do we?)
City Council Treats CVB Dollars as Gift
Instead we see Council Members fawning over the “hard work” of the CVB to spend the tax dollars as if they have either earned the money themselves or that they have raised it in donations.
Adding insults to injuries were many comments made to justify shifting funds away from one project and to the Gateway Markers. Wasn’t Johns Creek supposed to “be the EXCEPTION? Instead we are working overtime to do what everyone else is doing. We are establishing and operating every aspect of government all the other cities around us have implemented. Rather than challenge ourselves and ask “Is this really necessary any longer” we continue to keep collecting the tax dollars and doling them out on projects and causes that any rational person would not claim is fundamentally boosting tourism.
Working overtime is not an understatement as this issue has been addressed for many valuable hours. Think about that. What might all the costs be so far between staff hours, emails, work session meetings, council meetings and behind the scene conversations? If time is money, we should consider how much time is allocated for these issues. Better yet we should eliminate this from being an issue in the first place. Eliminate the Hotel/Motel tax.
Johns Creek had revenues of 88.6 million dollars in 2018(source:CAFR Johns Creek).
The dollars the CVB has to spend is less than 1/3 of 1% of the annual revenues for Johns Creek and yet it has consumed so much time of the seven council members for the last 6 months.
What’s Wrong With Giving Tax Dollars to a Volunteer Group to Spend as they See Fit?
Everything of course. Taxes take money by force. As a taxpayer you have no choice. Want a hotel room in Johns Creek? You’ll pay the tax.
Ironically, we all know that tax dollars are wasted at the local, state and federal levels. Yet no one with the power to actually do something about that waste does so when they have the chance. We do now. Eliminate the Hotel/Motel tax.
I’ll be blunt. Having an “expert” decide what we are missing is Gateway Markers is a farce. It’s always puzzled me why in a City with the highly educated residents we have, we seek opinions and hire people outside of Johns Creek. Why not spend the money we collect locally and boost our own economy?
We have a manufactured “problem” that government must now fix. And rest assured, the consultant was going to find something. Somehow more than 80,000 of us live in Johns Creek and yet the issue is that some people do not know where the City Lines are located. And that is what ails us?
Who knows where Brookhaven ends and Buckhead starts at every entrance? Vinings and Smyrna? Suwanee and Duluth? Does that really drive your dining decisions? Your business decisions? Your choice of doctor?
These are “political” boundaries. They are not OUR boundaries. You cannot force people to self-identify because of your arbitrary legal boundaries.
Have you considered that during the Comprehensive Land Use Plan process, we constantly heard about the different Character Areas. Residents do not know where one ends and one begins. Yet somehow we know who we are.
Or do we? Are we mere sheep waiting for the City Government to tell us who we are and what we represent? Are you? Not me.
I’m reminded of all the drug commercials on TV. I did not even know I had a problem until I saw the commercial. Now I need to call the doctor to find out how to resolve my newfound issue. Yet before that commercial, I was perfectly content.
That’s how it works when you give “experts” lots of money to come in and tell you what you are missing. If you don’t already know, then you must not be missing it.
While the CVB has been asleep at the cash box, businesses in South Forsyth are calling themselves Johns Creek. There’s even a body shop three miles into Forsyth County calling itself a Johns Creek business(perhaps a Gateway Marker there is a good idea?)
“It’s a compliment”, Council Member Bradberry said when asked about it. And he is right.
Bradberry asked about return on investment for the three items that “CVB” wants to spend money(our tax dollars) on. They were:
The Wall That Heals
The River Corridor Greenway
While Bradberry did not get any answer that one could use, other Council Members saw the benefit. There was no return on investment cited other than it was something we were missing and needed.
Bradberry said “It would be great if people knew they were in Johns Creek because the streets were cleaner, the medians were beautiful and the traffic lights and intersections were such that traffic was better, and that is how you knew you were in Johns Creek- that we did it better than our neighboring cities”.
Bradberry is correct. That is leadership by example. Not leadership by Gateway Markers.
Bradberry’s desires are basic government functions. Nothing is stopping this Council from doing this today. Not money. Not time. Even Mayor Bodker seemed to acknowledge we were not doing as good as we once did.
Council Member Zaprowski believes it would be nice to have a Gateway Marker to help people find his business when giving directions. Seriously? Your patients do not use Waze for navigation? Google Maps? After all, Johns Creek is a Partner City. And we do have signs announcing Johns Creek is a partner with Waze at all of our entrances.
Zaprowski gets the award for the strangest logic of the evening. He was against Gateway Markers but voting for it and for the Greenway but was voting against it.
This City Council really needs to grow up. Wasting hours and hours on this is beyond ridiculous. For example, after six months of fiscal year 2019 we have $1,000,000 more in revenues and $1,000,000 less in expenses. That’s $2,000,000 that only one Council Member asked about. Council Member Endres asked several questions while the City Manager gave brief and less than helpful generic responses. This is the same Council that could not see fit to cut property taxes despite the overwhelming evidence presented by Council Member Endres that we were actually increasing taxes.
The same City Council that will spend dozens of hours debating BS “feel-good gotta do something” projects seem to be blind to the multi-million dollar issues.
It needs to quit treating tax dollars as charitable contributions and the CVB as a benefactor. It needs to address the real issues.
Of course that is really hard work. And it is certainly more mundane. The truth is that they will spend less time debating the millage rate this summer than they have spent on Gateway Markers.
This Council would rather dream and fantasize on pie in the sky concepts rather than follow through with the major issues that are most important to the majority of residents within Johns Creek. At the last meeting they bumped the Police Chief and Public Safety for Gateway Markers. Think about that!
“Be the Exception”-how long before we get rid of that slogan and adopt a new one:
Same as Everyone Else
A government cannot define us. An artist will not define us. Gateway Markers will not define us. We do not need outsiders to come in and tell us who we are.
Government can identify us but it will never define us. The moment we let government define us is the moment we have lost who we are. We should be defining government instead.
The sooner the majority on this Council gets that concept, the better off we will all be.
And if you are waiting for the proposal from the CVB so that you can see what we are, then you are part of the problem.
This problem is NOT going away, unfortunately. Next year will have even more dollars to allocate. And as long as they get tax dollars, we will face this issue.
End the Hotel/Motel tax. It’s a minute amount of our budget. And it’s a waste of time and resources to continue to debate these issues.
If they are worth doing, then do them out of the General Budget, and be accountable.
Do that and we can be exceptional.
The very last thing we should want to see in the fall are Gateway Markers this City Council is compelled to approve because they are now to far down the road to say no.
Everything that is wrong with Government can be seen in this Process
One has to look no further than the debate on Gateway Markers and the desire of some Council Members to give the “volunteers” what they want when it comes to spending taxpayer monies to understand what is wrong with government.
“They gave it great consideration and they came back with the same recommendation and added further data to it, so to me it’s supporting the people we ask to work on a volunteer basis for the city.” -Council Member Steve Broadbent
What about the actual taxpayers Council Member Broadbent? The ones that are forced to work for government? Have you considered what it takes to actually earn the monies you are suggesting being spent on “Gateway Markers”?
A total of $508,900 was collected in fiscal year 2018 by the Hotel/Motel tax. Council Members forget that this money had to be earned before it could be collected and then spent by volunteers on frivolous endeavors through the Convention Visitors Bureau(CVB).
IT IS NOT FREE MONEY
At 7% that represents revenues of 7.27 million dollars in hotel/motel sales to collect.
If you divide the $508,900 by an average hourly wage of $25 per hour, that equals 20,356 hours of labor. This is not volunteer labor, but effectively forced labor to support these endeavors such as painted pedestrian tunnels(A cultural attraction according to the CVB), gateway markers and kiosks in hotels that effectively do the same thing as Yelp and Google(only worse-you cannot carry it with you).
While the entire amount proposed to be spent on Gateway Markers is much less, the issue is the same.
Assume we spent $50,000 on Gateway Markers, that would represent 2,000 hours of labor at a minimum. Let’s weigh that against the time of “volunteers” in making these decisions.
Certainly the bar should be much higher on how this money should be spent other than “volunteers worked hard.” Certainly the money should be spent in a way that shows a real return on the investment by the taxpayers that paid it, even more so than the volunteers that offered to spend it?
If Council Member Broadbent and others feel that being a volunteer qualifies you to spend taxpayer money(and this is what we are talking about), then I would like to volunteer to decide how to spend some of the budget surpluses generated by this City each and every year.
And I would bring you a list of proposals AND return on investments that are specific and quantifiable, not pie in the sky “we should do it because some marketing people said so”.
What should concern you the tax payer is that if they are this frivolous with tax payer dollars on this issue what keeps them from being frivolous with spending on other issues?
The answer is they spend frivolously very often, rarely demanding a real return on investment for taxpayers(have you seen the lights along Kimball Bridge). Instead, it’s about optics. It’s about feeling good. It’s not about real returns.
Council Member Zaprowski wants to pursue the Gateway Markers now. He seeks it so much that he is willing to push aside a greenway along the river which would benefit all residents. Would residents benefit from Gateway Markers? Of course not. A greenway? Absolutely.
Just look at the activity in Roswell along the river or in Sandy Springs along the river. Is there any question that it attracts people and provides health benefits to boot? How can someone even question which would be best for Johns Creek in the long term?
The residents of Johns Creek have given this Council what it sought in past elections: A Parks Bond and a TSPLOST Tax. More and more money. Before you ever do this again, you need to ask yourself if you can trust them with millions if they are willing to waste thousands.
Residents have made it clear we want to get traffic moving. Yet we have spent more time on this issue and seen more passion from Broadbent and Zaprowski on Gateway Markers than we have seen on getting traffic moving. It took months and months to get the traffic signals back on the agenda. And somehow the CVB and Gateway Markers are so important, this Council seems to have to address the issues again and again until the CVB gets what they want. Is this Council here just to give the CVB what they want?
I challenge this Council to demand a real return on investment on these tax dollars. Do not simply go along to appease the CVB. If that was what was intended, then the CVB would NOT need Council approval to spend these funds.
I ask each of you the following questions:
How much do you expect business to be boosted by a Gateway Marker in Johns Creek?
How are you going to measure this return on investment?
Which of you has chosen to do business in a city because of a Gateway Marker?
Which of you does not know when you enter or leave the City of Johns Creek?
Isn’t it time we quit spending money just because we have it? And since we cannot really spend it on something worthwhile, we will just spend it just to spend it.
I’ll be blunt. The hotel motel tax should be eliminated. The CVB should be disbanded. This City Council needs to work on the REAL Issues.
We do not need outsiders to come in and define us. We do not need Gateway Markers to “reflect” who we are.
We know who we are. Unfortunately, this City Council seems hellbent on redefining who we are. Maybe it’s this City Council does not like who we are. Or maybe this Council does not know who we are. They certainly seem out of sync with the majority within Johns Creek.
More importantly, they seem unwilling to say NO to bad ideas.
If we are going to put up a Gateway Marker, I’d suggest Dollars flowing into a paper shredder and pennies coming out of the bottom.
Wasting taxpayer money is no way to run a City. And rewarding “volunteers” for bad decisions should never happen.
Gwinnett County has the opportunity to join MARTA with the promise that the majority of tax dollars will be spent in Gwinnett. But is it too late to save MARTA?
MARTA ridership was below forecast for all of 2018 for buses and rail passengers. Will forecasting be any better with the addition of Gwinnett County?
The 3% Solution
So far MARTA is a 3% solution to the Metro Atlanta Urban population. If you assume that each MARTA patron takes a trip to and from their destinations, only 3% of the population uses MARTA on a daily basis.
That begs the question: How much more shall the 97% continue to vote and support the 3% solution?
MARTA has evolved into a two purpose system. The first is to get lower cost workers to employment areas.
The second is to transport those with private vehicles to both sporting events and the airport, where the hassles of drive times and parking fees can be avoided.
Will Gwinnett County voters be willing to commit large sums of money going forward forever for these purposes?
Or will they be wise enough to realize that MARTA just isn’t SMARTA?
For those that are supporting this push for MARTA, I have just one question:
Outside of the airport and sporting events, will you be using MARTA for your daily trips around your town, or are you hoping that your neighbor will be doing so?
There is a term that has been used by both elected officials and their supporters over the last few years to describe individuals such as myself: “Haters”.
The term is used as a bullying tactic meant to silence those who have an opinion about Johns Creek’s government, what they are doing, what they accept in performance from City Staff, and where they are attempting to take a City that was a runaway success even before the City Council held it’s first meeting.
We know the term “Haters” is being used at City Council Meetings and behind the scenes between the Council Members (including the Mayor) in an effort to intimidate and push dissenting Council Members to go along with the grand schemes those on the Council have pursued at the expense of the majority of the Public for the benefit of the few.
In retrospect, “Haters” may be the best word that could have been chosen by those that are trying to silence us.
We do hate.
We have government overreach.
We hate wasteful spending.
We hate being told our traffic issues are because of neighboring communities instead of just doing the hard work and eliminating our bottlenecks.
We hate government contracts that are renewed despite less than stellar work performed for the residents of Johns Creek.
We hate the push for Johns Creek to be like every other City.
We hate the continued push for higher and higher densities.
We hate being lied to about how awesome the traffic lights were when in fact the lights were not even close to what they were advertised.
We hate the political games played to push agendas with statements that are blatantly false and misleading.
We hate seeing Council Members shut down when trying to discuss the issues on behalf of all residents.
Nearly every Public Comment is followed up with a “Thank you for your comment” from the Mayor. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Anything that questions, challenges or otherwise casts doubts on the direction of this City and the objectives of the current majority on Council is derided and dismissed. Items that are factually correct are portrayed as inaccurate. Even if you were to use the City’s own audited reports to make a point, it is likely you will be told that you are wrong if the point is not what the majority wants.
What should this City Council do with the “Haters”? It should embrace them. Time and again they have pointed out issues with the direction of the City that the majority of the residents simply do not seek If in pursuing their agendas, they cannot answer the questions or objections with honest answers, and instead must resort to chastising and bullying the “Haters”, then maybe the agenda is just not that good.
We do not need to run this City by personal agendas and legacy building. Instead this City needs to be run based on the Charter and what it says we are supposed to be doing as a City.
Until it does, we will continue to bring up as issues and concerns what we see happening. We will continue to challenge the decisions this City is making as it impacts all of us.
If you want to see Johns Creek become just an average City, just sit back, do nothing and hate those labeled “Haters”.
But if you want a truly exceptional City, listen to what the “Haters” are saying. See if there is truth in it.
It’s interesting that I and the others who have been labeled “Haters” are discussed in whispers and behind closed doors. We take our issues directly to the City Council.
The US economy and how it functions is truly a mystery to most people. For the most part it operates on faith. For politicians, it is generally taken as a granted. When a recession strikes, no one knows what to do.
The outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election hangs in the balance, and Trump has less than 6 quarters to turn things around in a major way, or Trump will become the first one-term President since G.W. Bush.
The data is very clear. It extends all the way back to the mid 70’s, and it is a nearly perfect indicator for POTUS election results. I have written about it in the past. It has not changed. The rules are rather simple.
Corporate Profits Are Mediocre
If corporate profits as reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis is growing by more than 6%(more or less) year over year, then the party in the White House will maintain control of the White House. The ONLY exception to this rule since 1972 is Gerald Ford, who was tossed out of office because of the overwhelming desire for any new direction after Nixon’s resignation.
With that in mind, those that hold the office of POTUS really need focus on a few major things, and one of the most major things is the real health of the underlying economy.
Why corporate profits? It’s simple. Businesses are in business to grow profit. No one should run a business just to maintain the status quo. But watching the major financial networks, it becomes clear most are clueless to this rather simple truth.
But the networks seem to focus on two numbers that mask the real performance. The first is the top line, or sales. The second is the earnings per share. Both of these numbers are not worth 1/2 of what weighting analysts have placed upon them. Why?
Sales can rise 30% per year. But if you are not bringing any more profit per sale to the bottom line you are just working hard for the same result.
Earnings Per Share are Misleading
Earnings per share can make a company with less profit look like they are doing better than they really are. If a company’s earnings fall 3% but they buy back 4% of their shares, then EPS will rise. And this false signal seems to be embraced by analysts at every turn.
So why are we headed into a recession? The costs of doing business are rising, and rising fast, and there is nothing that will put the brakes on those pressures.
Back in 2008, the same two factors that accelerated the market collapse are happening once again. What are those two factors? Interest rates rising and minimum wages rising.
There has never been more debt being held by Americans in our history. And the increases in rates, while they appear small, relatively speaking, are really huge in their outcomes. Rates rising from 2 to 2.5% for instance, results in a whopping 25% increase in your interest costs. That is not insignificant.
Minimum Wages are Rising
Minimum wages increases, however, are going to push the economy over the edge. These increases are not happening because businesses have chosen to pay employees more because A) they are more productive and B) it is what is needed to get employees on the job. Rather it is the worst of reasons: despite the economic realities, government mandates it.
Minimum wage is increasing in 21 states in 2019. And by much more than what the rate of increase was back in 2008.
Politicians never seem to grasp the affect of these mandatory wage increases on businesses. And the businesses they most affect are the ones with some of the lowest profit margins in our economy: Restaurants and retail sales are going to have to raise their prices to maintain their profit margins, despite the workers only producing as much as they did last year.
That of course, will inject just a bit more inflationary pressure into our economic system, which will put even more pressure on the Federal Reserve Bank to raise rates even higher.
We know that the the odds of states and cities reversing course and lowering the minimum wage is near zero. As for the Federal Reserve, who knows what they will do? They do not even know what they are doing today.
If Trump (and most of the Republicans) want to maintain the White House in 2020, they better start acting now to lower the costs of doing business in the United States. They will need to see this recession end quickly, which means it needs to be officially acknowledged sooner rather than later.
The summer of 2019 needs to be the low part for the economy. The rate of Federal Debt growth must be slowed dramatically. Home grown energy needs to be deregulated. The constant increase in local sales taxes fuel taxes and property taxes need to be reversed just to have a shot at this objective.
Otherwise, this recession is going to be far worse than 2008. And no business is actually prepared for that.
And I’d wager good money that no state or local governments are either.
Despite the presence of Ted Metz, both the Kemp and Abrahms campaigns have had months and months to shape and promote their platforms and agendas. Yet the race is too close to call. This week they began to label Ted Metz, the Libertarian candidate for governor a spoiler. Not even close to the truth.
The vote totals will include all three candidates plus the valid write-in candidates. So for every vote for Ted Metz or a write in candidate, it raises the number needed by the “winner” by 1/2 vote. If Ted Metz gets 300,000 votes, for instance, the winner (Kemp or Abrahms) would need 150,000 more votes than their opponent to win without a runoff.
So who is winning? And by what margin? Do they want to go for the victory on Tuesday? Or should they play the game as they have designed it? One of these two candidates is NOT in the lead. Do their own parties have so much confidence as to ignore that fact? The candidate who is behind should be begging for Libertarians to turn out en masse and vote.
And if neither campaign feels that confident about their numbers, then both should be begging for Libertarians to turn out and vote for their principles.
So do not tell me our votes are wasted. Our votes just might save your candidate to make it to a runoff.
After Tuesday, if there is no runoff, rest assured one of the two candidates would have liked to have one.
They could reshape their campaigns and let the chips fall where they may.
Do you feel lucky Kemp? Do you feel lucky Abrahms? Do you feel confident that your side is in the lead sufficiently to win with 50% plus 1 of the vote? Or should you play for the tie and go into overtime?
It’s not too late to encourage the Libertarians to vote for Ted Metz, for your own good. In fact, it just might be the best move your candidate has ever made.