Weeks of solid surf this winter – today is no exception. I have participated to the best of my ability – as many days as possible for me. It’s been a great run. Some days are crowded, other days the crew is just too worn out or not engaged by the weather. There is no doubt I drift back and think about the warm Baja weather and water I enjoyed a few months ago, but a new booty and cap have helped me to stay enthusiastic on the coldest of days. The Steps has been on for the most part, except for some due west long period swells that seemed to turn the bottom part of the Point into a closeout beach break. Tiburones has also had its day – but the shape has not been as consistent as the Steps. Of course, Tiburones is often out of character in the winter. The pics show a beach break – and if you zoom in, you can see a taker – provides some scale.
Jobs and the economy. I listened to an interview with a scientist/author about his new book discussing the unsustainable economy built on technology. His premise is that as technology and machines – jobbots or humines – become more prevalent – taking over more and more jobs – the unemployment rate will climb with no end in sight. Literally, a time will come when there are many more people than jobs. He posits that when that time comes, people will need to be provided with a guaranteed wage. This comes about because our economy is consumer driven (although you hear otherwise by some). If a large sector of the population does not have jobs or income, they will have no money to consume – and the present economy falls apart. And it’s a vicious cycle. People are not buying goods and services, providers of goods and services go out of business, workers at the providers of goods and services are without jobs, more people are left without the means to buy goods and services. Economy is a relationship between people – community – so the relationship breakdown, the community breaks down – unsustainable economy. At least that is the vector the author described. Its not hard to see – there are plenty of examples today of machines and technology – jobbots taking the place of humans. How about smart meters? Sold to the public as a great way to monitor your utility use – I’m not sure how it saves you money now when your cold – you can watch in real time as utility dollars get spent – and if you want to save money – be cold – same as before the smart meter. Really, the jobbot allows savings and higher profits by streamlining the billing process, trimming down on the staff required to read meters, and reducing liability costs associated with employees and meter readings. Another example I saw recently was really fascinating. I guess picking nuts is pretty labor intensive – picking, sorting, packaging, and waste removal. Well there is a humine that takes care of it all much more efficiently. It has a scanner with thousands of eyes that can sort nuts much faster than a person; it has high-pressure jet streams that act like hundreds of fingers removing bad nuts, separating nuts by quality, removing debris and trash; it moves the “product” to another machine that packages up the “product” ready for sale – it’s amazing. And of course there are many more examples of jobbots working right now or plans on the table of jobbots. I’m not against it. It’s fascinating. But there is fallout.
In the past, the Chinese dynasties had a system where certain members of the population were chosen to be educated and work in government positions. The rest of the population – artisans, craftsmen, farmers and the like provided the goods and services – the jobbots. The educated government employees were expected to spend their time being administrators, poets, artists, educators, and the like. Similar to the science fiction utopia where all is supplied by jobbots and humankind is left to contemplate the ethereal things of life and pursue poetry, art, and a sun tan. In practice within the existing economy – jobbots, humines, and a guaranteed salary – definitely not the current vision. The other day, Eric Cantor stated: “We will advance proposals aimed at producing results in areas like education, health care, innovation and job growth. Our solutions will be based on the conservative principles of self-reliance, faith in the individual, trust in the family and accountability in government. Our goal – to ensure every American has a fair shot at earning their success and achieving their dreams.” It’s obvious this is in direct conflict with the concept of guaranteed wage or even recognizes the unsustainability of our current course. First, there is no community in his vision. It’s a lot of self, individual, individual family group, and of course a government of individuals overseen by individuals for the benefit of individuals and selfs. Pretty much – no relationships – like individual atoms of an insert gas bouncing of each other in a balloon called earth. It seems to me that economy without community is not going to work – and self isn’t going to contribute to a guaranteed wage.
Krishnamurti says: “ Life is a process of relationship. There is no life without relationship. This is a fact. You may be a hermit, you may be a monk, you may withdraw from all society, but you are related. As a human being, you cannot escape from being related. You are related to your wife, to your husband, to your children, you are related to your government, you are related to the hermit who withdraws because you feed him, and he is related to his ideas. So relationship is the basis of human existence. Without relationship there is no existence. You are either related to the past, which is, to all the tradition, to all the memories, to the monks, or you are related to some future ideation. So relationship is the most important thing in life. Do you see the truth of that, not verbally, not intellectually, but actually with your heart and mind?” And so community – the economy? However out of balance the community – the economy is today, at some point it must come back into balance – community – either by will or necessity. What does this balance look like? Should we begin to visualize this balance and in doing so help to make it reality. First, we must all agree on community.
Income inequality – “Income inequality is better addressed through expanding education and opportunity and economic growth,” he said, “not by taxing the rich.” Indeed – there are those that will always vilify the government for wealth redistribution, even while the government is slashing public sector jobs and turning them over to the private sector. The inference is that the market is the wealth distributor – i.e., better education, more “marketable skills”, supply and demand, etc. But can everyone form the bottom move into the top half? And if redistribution is not a governmental function, either by creating and maintaining jobs or through the tax system, then what about the market – the private sector (since we are moving to a predominately private sector)? Instead of money and wealth, how about value. How valuable is the foundation of a house? How valuable are the workers in a factory? What makes up the foundation of business and corporations – the management or the rest – the hospital janitor or the surgeon? What about redistributing value – and then the wages? A burger would cost the same, profit could still be part of the pie, as would shareholder value – but the pie would be distributed differently.
‘There are minds which not only retain all receipts, but keep them at compound interest for ever’ – Edgar Allen
Knowledge breeds knowledge, as gold gold.’ Edgar Allen Poe
On inflation – one thing all this money-printing just hasn’t done in the US in 2012 is create the kind of substantive inflation that a lot of corporations need to beautify their revenues. Inflation creates the pretense of growth—just like salaries that have been rising, but less than inflation. It makes things look good on the surface, and analysts can go around and hype the company’s “growth strategy,” and everybody is happy.
But the special thing about having a camera there is that I can capture the flinch, laughter, or other momentary lapse from this big secret we’re carrying together: that we’re in a place where we have to believe it’s okay to kill each other. Our eyes plead with one another to keep up this pretense. Karium Delgado, former Marine Corps combat correspondent, 2012
The first fall swell, 8.1 feet from 290 at 14 seconds, showed up today – still within the spell of the fall equinox. It was kind of sloppy to start with, and way crowded. My problem is that the wave selection gets limited. South swell spreads things out whereas west-northwest and northwest swells tighten up the line-ups. Generally, Tiburones underperforms on northwest swells – and to add heartache to injury – you have to sit there and watch Second Bowl go off – with a billion takers.
South filled as the west backed off. Tiburones was on, Second Bowl for in-betweens, and First Bowl consistently good – going on a week of surf.
Thoughts on the economy: Several factors have come together to produce a frustratingly weak economy that has persisted in the U.S. for more than a decade:
- “Globalization” has opened up a vast pool of billions of workers who work for much less than Americans. This, in turn, has resulted in companies shifting formerly middle-wage-paying jobs overseas.
- Technology has continued to increase productivity, allowing companies to do more with fewer employees.
- Average hourly earnings have been flat for ~50 years (after adjusting for inflation), as companies steer their wealth primarily to senior management and owners at the expense of average employees.
- Tax policies have increasingly favored investors and high wage earners over middle-class and upper-middle-class wage-earners.
- An obsession with “shareholder value” at the expense of other stakeholders (namely, customers and employees) has led companies to cut employee costs to the bone.
When a free-market economy is functioning well, as the American economy did for most of the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s, and 1990s, the benefits of the system accrue to all participants, namely:
- Owners and senior managers
- Society at large
When the system gets out of balance, however, the benefits begin to accrue disproportionately to one or two of the constituencies at the expense of the others. And that’s the situation we’re in now. The benefits of our free-market capitalist system—which, by the way, is the best economic system on the planet, by a mile—are accruing disproportionately to owners, managers, and customers, at the expense of everyone else. Why do benefits of free-market capitalist system accrue disproportionately? If we want to fix our economy, we have to fix that. Specifically, we have to persuade companies and their owners to hire more employees and share more of their immense wealth and profits with them.
Zombies – - – -
“If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company,” Westgate Resorts CEO David Siegel
“If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come,” Arthur Allen, CEO of ASG Software Solutions
This is what it has come down to – CEOs threating their employees, many working close to minimum wage, that if Obama gets elected, they get the axe – it is job extortion. Dude, seriously – what year is it? Another instance of soul – to lack of it – zombie capitalism – economy without a soul – profit without a soul – life without a soul – all around us. It’s the new meme. Zombie bite and you become one – How does it work?
And more: CEOs of the Business Round Table and the analysts and their industry contacts of the Morgan Stanley index have enormous resources at their fingertips, and an army of experts just an email or a phone call away. They’re smart people, they’ve been around the block a few times, and they have insights through their connections that outsiders can only dream about. Still, they were wrong about the financial crisis. But now they’re predicting an economy that’s going to be nearly as tough—and mostly because of the impending “fiscal cliff.” Are they wrong again? This time in the opposite direction? Or are they finally correct in their predictions, and economic fiasco is on the way? Or perhaps they have another agenda altogether. Namely a form of extortion directed at Congress: give us our goodies, or else an economic nightmare will befall the nation, and you’ll get kicked out in the next election. Thus they added their seemingly rational voices to the already phenomenal circus about the “fiscal cliff.” Watch for these indices to climb back next year, even if the fiscal cliff stays in place.
And it goes on – health care experts have portrayed Walmart’s decision to exclude workers from its medical plans as an attempt to limit costs while taking advantage of the national health care reform known as Obamacare. Among the key features of Obamacare is an expansion of Medicaid, the taxpayer-financed health insurance program for poor people. Many of the Walmart workers who might be dropped from the company’s health care plans earn so little that they would qualify for the expanded Medicaid program, these experts said. “Walmart is effectively shifting the costs of paying for its employees onto the federal government with this new plan, which is one of the problems with the way the law is structured,” said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.