Bloated Pentagon Revealed

How much waste is included in the $580 billion dollar per year Defense budget?

Critics of President Obama’s reductions in the military will tell you that we have cut beyond the bone. The reduction from nearly $700B in 2008, achieved largely by reducing personnel in combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, has been impressive. But does this leave the military starved and incapable of doing its primary job of defending the United States around the world?

It’s been hard to tell because the Pentagon has proved unauditable for decades. But a new report shows that at least $25 billion every year cannot be justified no matter how you look at it. And the details of the report suggest that even a modest restructuring can save tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars without in any way hindering the men and women on the front lines.

Continue reading

How About That Economy?

With all the noise after the election, it’s been a while since we checked in on the state of the economy. There’s a reason for that. Will the election results change what has been a slow but steady march to a strong economy? Will 2017 still be the year when we look around and realize that everything has changed?

It seems that, so far, it’s all still marching along. There is a good chance that jobs and general growth will indeed strengthen, making Trump look like a genius. Last Friday’s employment situation survey showed that it is still moving forward – and combined with a strong holiday season there is at least some reason to cheer as a dreary 2016 starts to fade into what promises to be a crazy 2017.

Continue reading

2016 Holiday Shopping Forecast

It’s time for the Barataria annual Holiday Shopping Report! As we’ve done every year, the best information from those who analyze and predict the season ahead is put into one place. It’s a bit later than usual this year due to severe bizziness on my part, but it’s coming in ahead of the dreaded Black Friday.

Ready for a huge Christmas buying season? So are most retailers. But there are some important caveats.

Continue reading

Where Do We Go From Here?

What went wrong?

Trump’s victory will continue to create an uproar all around the world. Democrats in the US can be expected to be particularly vocal. After all, for the second time in 16 years our candidate won the popular vote but failed to break the Electoral College.

What can be done about this? A lot. But since we’re Democrats it starts with a lot of internal reflection. That may not feel very good this year, but it’s traditional and wise.

I will start with the obvious: Sanders people, you were right.

Continue reading

Final Thoughts

What more is there to say before we get this dreadful election over with?

No matter what, the sun will come up on Wednesday, November 9th. We will all go about our daily business even if some parts of the results aren’t finalized yet. America will survive and everything will be largely OK.

But one thing will be different. We won’t look at each other quite the same way again.

Continue reading

GDP Catches Up

GDP is 1%. That’s terrible. Our country is dying at 1% GDP.

Donald Trump, Third Debate

One of the great things about debating political points today is that anyone who actually knows what’s going on has no idea where to start. Trump was referring to the real (inflation adjusted) growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which was lagging at the start of the year. But with a new number for the third quarter of 2016 showing a net 3.2% growth you have to wonder – What is this guy talking about?

The short version is that it bounces around all over the place. The long answer takes a lot of graphs. Welcome to Barataria, land of the long answer. Prepare for some hand waving.

Continue reading

Unity

The election of 2016 is almost upon us, but already it has had its effect upon America. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Gulf to the Great Lakes, this nation has been forever changed by the process that has unfolded over the last few years as never before. Yes, this great land now stands perfectly united in one solid belief:

We will all be glad when this crap is all over.

Continue reading