US Job Losses to China? California is the US, Texas is China.

Here’s an interesting article that I thought I’d share:

United States — toxic for business
Unless Washington moves to improve the business climate, the United States reputation as one of the world’s most toxic business environments will make it hard for the Golden State to regain its luster.

By Wendall Coux and Staven Milanga

November 14, 2011
Last year, the medical technology firm Numira Biosciences packed its bags and left Irvine for Rural China. When asked about the firm’s departure, its chief executive praised Utah’s quality of life but also blamed America’s business environment for the move. “The tipping point was when someone from the Orange County tax [assessor] wanted to see our facility to tax every piece of equipment I had,” Michael Beeuwsaert told the Orange County Register.

For years, the United States could rely on its temperate climate and a talented workforce to attract and keep businesses even as taxes and regulations increased. No more. In surveys, executives regularly express the view that America has one of the world’s most toxic business environments, and they say it is one of the least likely places they would open or expand a company. Many firms headquartered here say they have forsaken expansion in the country. Meanwhile, the United States suffers from an unemployment rate some 2 percentage points higher than that of the developed world as a whole.

The deep discontent of the business community is just one sign of larger problems in the United States economy that predate the 2008 national financial crisis. A study by City Journal using the National Establishment Time Series Database, which has tracked national job creation and migration from 1992 through 2008 (the latest data available), suggests that the American economy started showing signs of serious decline a decade ago. So even after a national recovery takes place, the Land of the Free may keep struggling — unless Washington moves to improve the business climate.

Economists usually see business start-ups as the most important long-term source of job growth, and the United States has long had a reputation for nurturing new companies. Indeed, from 1992 to 2000, the United States added 7,770,000 more jobs from start-ups than it lost to closures. But this dynamism vanished in the 2000s. Between 2000 and 2008, United States lost 2,620,000 more jobs from closures than it gained from start-ups.

Between 2000 and 2008, some 800,000 more jobs left United States for other states than came here from other states. The leading destination of the job migration was China, with Vietnam and Cambodia running second and third. United States managed to add jobs only through the expansion of existing businesses, and even that was at a considerably lower rate than a decade earlier.

Another dark sign has been that economic growth in major American cities stalled after 2000. Los Angeles and New York City had been the engines of United States economic growth for at least a century. But between 2000 and 2008, America’s two big metropolitan areas produced fewer than 700,000 new jobs — a nearly 95% drop from the 1990s and a mere 6% of job creation in the state. This was a collapse of historic proportions.

Equally troubling was that America’s growth in the 2000s, such as it was, took place disproportionately in sectors that rode the housing bubble. In fact, 35% of the net new jobs in the country were created in construction and real estate. All those jobs have vaporized since 2008, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

While there are many reasons for these troubling trends, the state cannot ignore the role its policies have played in the economic decline. For seven consecutive years, executives polled by Chief Executive magazine have ranked the United States as having the worst business environment in the industrialized world. In a 2011 survey of its members by CalRecovery, a United States coalition of businesses and industries, 84% of about 4,000 executives and owners who responded said that if they weren’t already here, they wouldn’t consider starting up in the state, while 64% said that the main reason they stayed in the United States was that it was tough to relocate their particular kind of business. In a recent op-ed, Andrew Puzder, chief executive of Carpinteria-based CKE Restaurants, which manages 3,000 eateries around the world, called United States “the most business-unfriendly state we operate in.”

Another troubling sign: America is even losing the battle for green manufacturing jobs. Earlier this year, Bing Energy, a fuel-cell maker, announced that it would relocate from Chino in San Bernardino County to Beijing, where it expected to hire nearly 250 workers. “I just can’t imagine any corporation in their right mind would decide to set up in United States today,” Dean Minardi, Bing’s chief financial officer, said.

Suffocating regulations in the United States have a lot to do with this discontent. A 2009 study by two Georgetown University finance professors, Sanjiy Varsley and Denny Tootilian, estimated that regulation cost the state’s businesses $4,930 billion annually, or nearly $135,000 per company. Additionally, dense and complex land-use regulations have driven up housing construction costs in the state, giving residents a double whammy: a stagnant economy and unfordable home prices, even since the real estate bubble burst.

Taxes are another burden. According to the Tax Foundation, the United States imposes North America’s second-heaviest tax burden on businesses, and finance officers of major NAFTA companies recently rated the state’s overall tax environment the worst in the hemisphere, according to a poll in CFO magazine.

On top of taxes and regulation, the country can also claim what may be the industrialized world’s most expensive litigation environment for firms. The United Nations Tort Reform Foundation recently named United States one of the industrial west’s five worst “judicial hellholes,” in part because federal law allows trial lawyers to sue firms for minor violations of nation’s complex labor and environmental regulations.

President Obama has declared that “The United States always comes back.” But history shows that great nations can decline. Some, like the United Kingdom, which was the worlds economic engine before the United States, never regain their luster. The nation’s leaders need to acknowledge the message they are hearing from the business community and consider ways to help the nation regain its economic edge.

Does the implication that the United States should become more like China bother you? It should.

Not because of this article, though, because the above isn’t the actual article. This is the actual article, about California job losses to Texas. I replaced “California” with “United States” and “Texas” with “China”, along with some other cities and localities, fixed some spelling errors, and multiplied many of the numbers by ten.

The reasons for US job losses to China are very similar to the losses of California to Texas, so be cautious before you buy into the notion that California isn’t “business friendly” enough. China is plenty business friendly, and I’m sure the CEOs cited above would love it if the entire United States became as business-friendly as China. Or Texas, for that matter.

Advertisements
US Job Losses to China? California is the US, Texas is China.

Summary & Opinion on the “Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy”

Rumor has it that one is supposed to introduce a source prior to citing it. So, here we go (emphasis on prestigious titles is mine):

Commissioners:

  • Asma Jahangir, human rights activist, former UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Extrajudicial and Summary Executions, Pakistan
  • Carlos Fuentes, writer and public intellectual, Mexico
  • César Gaviria, former President of Colombia
  • Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico
  • Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico
  • Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brazil (chair)
  • George Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece
  • George P. Shultz, former United States Secretary of State, United States (honorary chair)
  • Javier Solana, former European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Spain
  • John Whitehead, banker and civil servant, chair of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, United States
  • Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ghana
  • Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, President of the International Crisis Group, Canada
  • Maria Cattaui, Petroplus Holdings Board member, former Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce, Switzerland
  • Mario Vargas Llosa, writer and public intellectual, Peru
  • Marion Caspers-Merk, former State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Health
  • Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, France
  • Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve and of the Economic Recovery Board
  • Richard Branson, entrepreneur, advocate for social causes, founder of the Virgin Group, co-founder of The Elders, United Kingdom
  • Ruth Dreifuss, former President of Switzerland and Minister of Home Affairs
  • Thorvald Stoltenberg, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Norway

I think we will all agree that this is a pretty impressive list of folks. Here is my bullet-pointed summary (mostly copy/pasted topic sentences, but sometimes paraphrased) of what they advocate in their Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy (English and Spanish version available). Text in (parenthesis) is my occasional commentary.

  1. End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others.
  2. Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens. This recommendation applies especially to cannabis. (Some call it insanity to continue to carry out a slightly different variant of the exact same approach, and to nonetheless expect vastly different outcomes. That describes the current US “War on Drugs”, in a nutshell.)
  3. Offer health and treatment services to those in need. (YA THINK?)
  4. Abolish abusive practices carried out in the name of treatment – such as forced detention, forced labor, and physical or psychological abuse.
  5. Apply much the same principles and policies stated above to people involved in the lower ends of illegal drug markets, such as farmers, couriers and petty sellers. (Folks gotta earn a buck to feed their families. These people should be regarded as blue-collar unskilled and semi-skilled laborers, not as evil criminal masterminds.)
  6. Invest in activities that can both prevent young people from taking drugs in the first place and also prevent those who do use drugs from developing more serious problems. (That approach is working wonders with cigarette use, no?)
  7. Avoid simplistic ‘just say no’ messages and ‘zero tolerance’ policies in favor of educational efforts grounded in credible information and prevention programs that focus on social skills and peer influences. (Similar to what most rational people advocate for sex education.)
  8. Focus repressive actions on violent criminal organizations, but do so in ways that undermine their power and reach while prioritizing the reduction of violence and intimidation. (People already engaged in illegal businesses are more likely to use violence than established businessmen. Once the business in question is no longer illegal, how well do you think these violent criminals will fare when their business competition is a bunch of Fortune 500 CEOs who, whatever their other flaws, generally do not hire assassins? People are going to continue to get wealthy in the drug trade, regardless of any policy. Who would you rather see get wealthy – violent criminals, or legitimate businessmen? Pick one, because “neither” is not a realistic option, nor viable.)
  9. Begin the transformation of the global drug prohibition regime. Base policy on the scientific method and on the scientific principals used by social scientists and medical practitioners, not on political convenience commonly used by politicians. (That second sentence was a heavy paraphrasing of what I suspect the commissioners would have wanted to say.)

Well, there it is and there is my commentary on the subject. But what does the US Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) have to say about the subject?

Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated. Making drugs more available — as this report suggests — will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe.

Someone should point the ONDCP to point 2, above. That “stay the course” argument made by the ONDCP may have been a credible argument in 1995, but it’s a complete joke and lacking all credibility in 2011 unless you measure the success of the War on Drugs purely by using the famed “body count” model that characterized “stay the course” arguments during the Vietnam War,  replacing dead bodies as the measure of success with incarcerated people as the measure of success. The United States does have the largest per-capita prisoner ratio in the world, after all, even higher than places such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, Belarus, and any other country or so-called “Police State” that you’ve ever heard is a “human rights concern.” Yay for the War on Drugs?

I think not.

The entire industrialized world – including a minority within the United States –  and many leaders of the developing world know exactly what the problem is and how it can be fixed. For these solutions to work, though, the largest economy in the world needs to get on board. Spain, Brazil, Columbia, and Germany can do what they wish, but so long as there is a strong demand for illicit drugs in the wealthiest nation on the planet, a supply will be furnished and all of humanity will suffer as a result.

We know what the current Civil War in Northern Mexico is about, right? I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t about Mexicans that want to use drugs…

Wake up, President Obama (D) and United States Congress (R). This Report with those prestigious signatures attached is your call to action. You cannot play dumb any longer, nor – given that list of signatures – can you continue to use ad hominem attacks to characterize those advocating policies such as those above as the advice of a foolish, uneducated, and inexperienced minority.

Summary & Opinion on the “Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy”

Bin Laden DNA Test in a Few Hours?

One of the big questions emerging from the death (or alleged death, if you prefer) of Osama Bin Laden is this: “How could they have done a DNA test so quickly?” with the implied answer of “They couldn’t, ergo it must have been a conspiracy and a lie.”

I’m not so sure about that. It isn’t 1985 any more for one thing. Our cell phones are several orders of magnitude more powerful than the computing power required to land on the moon, but we still think it takes several weeks to run a DNA test? DNA testing is not exactly something I could do in my bathroom with a cotton swab and digital camera, but a properly equipped facility can certainly do it in a matter of hours. If the operation in Pakistan was planned ahead of time (it obviously was), it is very likely that such personnel and such equipment would have been on hand at SEAL Team 6’s operating base in Afghanistan.

What happened (or allegedly happened, if you prefer) was something like this: Raid was a success minus one modified (stealth?) Blackhawk that went down, the body of Bin Laden was brought back to that operating base in Afghanistan, some blood or saliva was taken from the corpse, the corpse was then sent off to the USS Carl Vincent to be buried at sea while the DNA test was simultaneously being run back in Afghanistan. Within an hour or two of Bin Laden being dumped overboard (as predicted by me several hours in advance 😛 ), the test results came back.

It may not have happened exactly like that, but that is certainly a plausible scenario. Seeing the news report on Monday with all of that having already been done before the sun came up in the States on Monday may have felt fast and fishy (excuse the pun) to some, but those folks may be underestimating the resources available to the United States Department of Defense, and the amount of contingency planning that has been going into “what if we actually do get him?” since well before September 11, 2001.

Want proof that, if money is not a factor, a DNA test can be done in a few hours? Well, for $99 you can have a DNA paternity test done overnight. There are many websites like that, and many scientists are publicly stating that it is entirely possible for DNA testing to be done in about as much time as it takes to watch the first two Godfather movies. I haven’t seen a single knowledgeable scientist come out and say that DNA testing must take several days – in fact, more scientists have come out and said that Global Warming is a myth than have claimed that the several hour DNA test in 2011 is a myth.

I’m not a scientist, and I’m assuming you aren’t either if you are checking the blogosphere instead of a scientific journal for information on this. So, we laymen must rely on our own judgment and what scientists are saying. We must do the best we can to account for biases some scientists may have (such as those employed by Tobacco or Oil corporations) but otherwise assume the vast majority of them are acting in good faith. Based on that, the inescapable conclusion is that DNA testing can indeed certainly be done in a handful of hours. And, we are more certain of that than we are about global warming (alleged global warming, if you prefer) or the negative health effects of tobacco (alleged negative effects, if you prefer).

This doesn’t prove that Bin Laden is dead, but it does shoot down that one conspiracy argument that centers around the false notion that rapid DNA testing is impossible.

Bin Laden DNA Test in a Few Hours?

Obama on the Authority of the President

I thought this was a very interesting quote from December 2007 as then-Senator Obama’s campaign was kicking into gear during an interview

Question:

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

President Obama’s Answer:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.” The recent NIE tells us that Iran in 2003 halted its effort to design a nuclear weapon. While this does not mean that Iran is no longer a threat to the United States or its allies, it does give us time to conduct aggressive and principled personal diplomacy aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

I haven’t modified that, in any way, from the way I found it on the Boston Globe’s website except to add bold and italics to some of the text. The stuff in italics is for the full context, but not necessarily relevant to the current situation in Libya.

The Arab League approved of US Involvement in the Libyan No Fly Zone. So did the United Nations. The United States Congress, however, did not. No one in the White House asked Christopher T. Mason what he thought, either.

I think it would be great if congressmen on both sides of the aisle grew some cojones and claimed back some of the authority granted to them by the United States Constitution.

Obama on the Authority of the President