Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Yes We Are in A Recession

Today the Federal Reserve Chairman told the Congress, ""Recession is possible," Bernanke told the Joint Economic Committee. Possible, did he really say possible? We are IN a recession, and a Depression is possible. it is obvious from the questions asked the Congresspeople and the answers given by by Mr. Bernake that they have not got a clue as to what is going on. Small business in America is dying, due to raising energy prices, escalating insurance costs, property tax increases, unaffordable health insurance and most of all, our customers have no money to spend.

As a small business owner for over 30 years, I can see the trends on a daily basis. In 2005, customers were willing to spend, but only on credit cards (which also cuts into the profits of small business because of all the charges associated with accepting credit cards). As 2006 approached, there was more of a shift to Debit Cards, but customers were very careful about how much they spent and most often opted for the less expensive items. In the latter half of 2006, sales were noticeably slower to the point of laying off staff or not replacing those that left. 2007 saw the slowest sales I have seen in 30 plus years of retail. The last couple of months of 2007 customers avoided any kind of add on and opted for only products that were on sale. Now in 2008 the credit cards have been put away, the debit cards are used, but sparingly and the drastically slowed sales are paid with cash. The typical customer comments, that they don't want to put anything on a credit card.

What can Congress do about this? Regulate the amount of interest that can be charged on Credit Cards. There was a time in America that usury laws were in place. The erosion of Usury laws stared under The Acting Presidency of Ronald Regan and has been consistently eroded though all the succeeding President until they were basically disposed of with the signing of the most recent Bankruptcy Bill. The Bankruptcy Bill that was supported by all three major Presidential Candidates. So there is no hope on that front. Congress must act. Limiting interest rates by law would be the biggest financial stimulus to this economy that would not cost the US Treasury any money. Limiting interest rates by law would only require a moral conscience. Is Congress capable of a moral judgement?

A major push towards alternative energy would put thousands of people to work, spur on inventions, research and development jobs and would save the American Family from energy poverty. The Congress can take the 18 Billion dollars in tax credits to the oil companies and begin a program of installing solar hot water on every home in America. The program could be administered with grants and no interest loans to all the States in the West and South, and as the efficiencies were enhanced by competition they could be expanded to the States where the sun is not always the best choice, but the efficiencies of American ingenuity would compensate for this. A ten year program to have every building in America producing hot water through solar power is achievable, it only takes leadership and a Government that is concerned and willing to act.

Mr. Obama has a slogan " Yes we Can" Yes we can as a viable Country tackle and conquer energy independence. A program that will solve many of the current problems we as a Nation are facing. It will help to lift us out of one of the deepest recessions that this country has ever seen by fostering new industries, new research, innovation and leave us with a non-polluting source of hot water production, which would save tons of carbon pollution.

The same type of program should be instituted for home heating and electric production. A similar program to make every Public Government building energy self sufficient. The savings in yearly local and State budgets would be enormous, which would enable fiscally responsible local governments to cut local taxes, again boosting the buying power of the American family.

The solutions are all around, what we need is leadership who really wants change.

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