Sunday, October 11, 2009
Written by Jeff Thredgold, CSP, President, Thredgold Economic Associates
The “dismal science” of economics typically focuses on “bad” news. We clearly face many significant challenges…no argument here. However, there are also many favorable developments taking place within the U.S. economy. This is our semi-annual update of “Happy Talk.” This Tea Leaf focuses ONLY on the “good” news…
• The recession is over! The consensus of forecasting economists expects U.S. economic growth during this year’s third quarter to be at a solid 3.0%-4.0% real (after inflation) annual rate, with slightly weaker (but positive!) growth in the fourth quarter and during 2010
• Violent crime dropped slightly during 2008 versus the year before. Violent crime overall is down 55% since 1993, with violence by teens down 71%. School violence has declined by half from a decade ago
• The number of American volunteers rose 2.0% to 61.8 million in 2008. Among young adults, the number of volunteers rose 5.7%
• Air pollution declined 25% over the past 30 years even as the population and the economy grew. Water quality also continues to improve. More progress will occur in coming years as companies see rising value in “going green”
• The Dow average has rebounded 50% since its low in early March 2009. The Nasdaq is up 68% from its low
• Alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the most recently reported year dropped by more than half versus 20 years ago
• The global economy seems to have returned to a modest growth pace after suffering its first recession since WWII
• Most companies that have suspended their 401(k) matches in recent quarters plan to reinstate them
• U.S. exports to China have risen roughly 24% per year since 2001, making China the fastest growing market for U.S. goods
• Men’s contribution to housework has doubled over the past 40 years, while their time spent on child care has tripled
• Energy-efficient appliances, cars, buildings, and other technologies that already exist could lower U.S. energy usage 30% by 2030
• Women now make up a record 46% of global MBA candidates. More than 70% of students surveyed name the U.S. as the top MBA study destination
• Productivity of U.S. workers rose an average of 2.6% annually during the past 10 years, the largest gains in 40 years. Rising productivity is a long-term key to higher standards of living
• The number of people who have quit smoking (46 million) now exceeds the number who still smoke (45 million). Roughly 21% of adults smoke today, versus nearly half in the early 1950s
• Traffic deaths per 100 million miles traveled during 2008 were the lowest on record
• The Consumer Price Index (CPI) has actually declined 1.5% during the most recent 12-month period, helping to stretch consumer incomes
• The number of people using public transportation hit a 52-year high during 2008
• Conventional thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages have been just slightly above 5.00% in recent weeks, some of the lowest levels on record
• New cancer cases and deaths are falling for the first time since the government began compiling a report on long-term trends
• Average U.S. life expectancy has reached 78 years (men 75, women 80), the highest ever. This compares to 76 years in 1995, 68 years in 1950, and 47 years in 1900
• For every dollar of U.S. economic output generated today, we burn less than half as much oil as 30 years ago
• The U.S. trade deficit with the world averaged $28 billion monthly during the past six months, down more than half versus an average of $61 billion monthly during 2008’s first half
• Children’s deaths from unintentional injury have dropped by almost 40% since 1987. Bicycle deaths fell 60%, while firearms-related deaths fell 72%
• Roughly 30% of trash was recycled or composted in the latest year, versus 16% in 1990
• A record 50.5 million foreigners visited the U.S. during 2008
• The number of miners killed on the job in the U.S. fell to 51 during 2008, the lowest since recordkeeping began nearly a century ago
• Seat belt usage by Americans was at 82% in 2007, versus 49% in 1990 and 14% in 1983
• A recent poll of more than 12,000 global business figures conducted by the World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. as the world’s most competitive economy
• A record 29% of men have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, versus 26% of women, also a record. This compares to a combined 7.7% in 1960. A record 84.6% of adults over age 25 now have at least a high school diploma, versus 24.5% in 1940
• Donations to charity set an all-time high in 2007, with more than $300 billion donated by individuals, foundations, and corporations. As a percentage of GDP, Americans gave twice as much as the next most charitable nation…England
• The upward “mobility” of the typical American remains the greatest in the world. Why? The U.S. economy “rewards” the combination of hard work and educational achievement more than ever before…and more than any other country in the world
• During the early 1960s, the five-year survival rate from cancer for Americans was one in three. Today it is two in three…continuing to climb…and the highest in the world
• Substantiated cases of childhood sexual abuse have fallen 49% since 1990. Physical abuse of children is down by 43%
• More than three million girls participated in high school sports last year, part of a record 7.3 million total participants
• The number of abortions performed in this country has declined by one-third since 1990 and is now at a record low
• Women earned nearly 60% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in recent years, versus 43% in 1970 and 24% in 1950. Women earned a similar share of master’s degrees
• Fewer people abused prescription drugs during 2008 than the year before
• U.S. teen pregnancy and birth rates plummeted to all-time lows in recent years, before a slight rise. The reasons? More widespread use of birth control, more work opportunities, and more girls who “just say no”
• Flexible work schedules are now the norm for 43% of workers, up from 29% in 1992 and 13% in 1985. This allows greater flexibility for more people, especially those with children
• Police officer deaths from gunfire during 2008 were the lowest in more than 50 years
• The U.S. role of dominance in the global economy in recent years has been as clear-cut as at any time since the 1950s
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I’ve become an architect and have learned a few new tricks
That when constructing a new building it’s more than just brick on brick
There’s a plan and a specific design
Which to my knowledge are great and fine
Everything is so particular from fit to finish and all
For once this building is complete it will be open and welcome to all
I proceed to walk with great expectations to confirm that there’s no flaw
But I realize there are stairs cases without railings that could cause one to fall
The stairs lead to the top as if it was a race
While the vaulted ceilings reveal their height and lots empty of space
My intention was to make this building safe and built to code
Since the appearance shows that it’s a place where anyone can abode
I then realize that people don’t know that this building dead ends
I realize this is a building where there are no friends
For I know of the traps that wait
Which are hidden and can take over ones fate
Normally constructing building like this is something I wouldn’t dare
For the dangers that lurk does not make this fare
I tell myself my intentions were good
But then realize they were as rotten and hollow as dead wood
I then realize this building has become something too large to hide
For this building is a literal a representation of my pride
I break down in sobs because of the selfishness of my of heart
I now have the challenge to take this building apart.
For as quickly as it was constructed my building is now condemned to fail
For pride is something that will quickly drag my soul to hell
My heart cries out for help to overcome my weakness as I begin to stumble.
Is there a way for a man like me to become humble?
I then hear a voice whispering inside my ear
Which calmly begins to chase away my fear
I’ve forgotten how the evil one can take peace from my soul
And that through Christ my Lord I receive peace that mends and makes me whole
Oh please allow me to renew with a new commit
That perfect or not I will never give up or quit
For pride is something we can all overcome
As long as we accept Christ and always make him number one
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
There’s an unwritten rule that we learn as we find it within ourselves to give.
It’s a rule that requires us to keep giving for something more.
It’s the kind of rule that lets us live.
Permission gives itself for us and others to do the same.
Sometimes we receive gifts that are difficult to bear.
Sometimes we seek problems for their gifts.
These types of gifts are the gifts that keep giving if we don’t allow them to destroy our mind and heart.
These gifts can take away blindness and heal a wounded heart.
When you give of yourself you give life.
To love and be loved brings out the gift of light within our souls.
The best gifts are contagious.
Our Heavenly Father through his Son promises us eternal life.
In our weak and mortal estate we begin to become like our father by giving to others.
Being a father is one of those gifts that have taught me how to give and treasure my gifts.
These gifts have given me my heaven sent angels.
It has taught me that not all gifts are what they appear to be.
There’s a hidden heavenly gift that reminds me of how much our Heavenly Father wants to give us.
Gifts are not easy because over the course of our lives we have the opportunity to give our whole self away.
Each gift carries a unique responsibility.
The most precious thing about giving is that we will one day be able to give as our Heavenly Father gives.
Monday, February 23, 2009
1) Being a parent requires you to turn in your perfect parent badge.
2) You begin to understand how much your parents really love you.
3) Cleaning is an endless battle...
4) You really begin to learn how to work with your spouse.
5) Despite the hard moments you have with your children you are only flooded with positive thoughts when you stop to think about them.
6) Children receive a specific assignment from Heavenly Father to test your patience.
7) Children have a full time job to make a mess but also full time job to love you.
8) Your ability to learn and perspective increase as you watch your children learn and they in turn teach you.
9) You relearn how to become a child.
10) Your heart is always touched with a pure Christ like love.
God gives us children and we become painfully aware of our imperfections. Ether 12:27
We become stronger as parents and children teach each other. 2 Peter 1:4-6
Patience is progressive step by step process and parenting is learning to become like a child again. Sometimes remembering is hard. Mathew 18:3
As we serve our children we are serving the Lord. Mosiah 2:17 Mathew 25:31-40
What are kids like Mosiah 3:19 emphasis on the last half of the verse.
If we can become as little children we can endure and overcome all things in this world. D&C 63:47
We love you all. Joseph and Martha.
P.S. Our new land line number is 801-798-2294
Monday, January 12, 2009
I received this by email and it was so well written I decided to share it here, however I do feel I should point out this little bit of confusion, as I searched the web to verify I learned this:
The letter to the editor (quoted below) by one Paul Allen was indeed published on the opinion page of the Santa Clarita Valley (California) Signal on 24 November 2000. Within five months, someone had re-typed the letter (because the Signal didn't then publish letters to the editor on its web site) and started it circulating on the Internet via e-mail forwards (most of which erroneously stated that it had first been published on 25 April 2002). However, the Paul Allen who wrote this piece was not (as claimed in the example above) the Paul Allen who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates (and regularly ranks high on lists of the world's wealthiest people) — he was simply a local resident with the same name. Don't get me wrong, still worth reading so please do if you haven't seen it already!
"I have heard and seen enough! I have lived in the West all my life. I have worked around them. They have worked for me and I for them. When I was young, I dated their daughters. When I got married they came to my wedding. Now that I have daughters of my own, some of their boys have dated my daughters. I would be privileged if one of them were to be my son-in-law. I'm talking about the Mormons.
They are some of the most honest, hardworking people I have ever known. They are spiritual, probably more than most other so-called religious people I have encountered. They study the Bible and teach from it as much as any Christian church ever has.
They serve their religion without pay in every conceivable capacity. Not one of their leaders, teachers, counselors, Bishops or music directors receive one dime for the hours of labor they put in. The Mormons have a non-paid ministry - a fact that is not generally known.
I have heard many times from the pulpits of others how evil and non-Christian they are and that they will not go to heaven. I decided recently to attend one of their services near my home to see for myself. What a surprise! What I heard and saw was just the opposite from what the religious ministers of the day were telling me. I found a very simple service with no fanfare. I found a people with a great sense of humor and a well-balanced spiritual side. There was no loud music. Just a simple service, with the members themselves giving the several short sermons.
They urge their youth to be morally clean and live a good life. They teach the gospel of Christ, as they understand it. The name of their church is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. Does that sound like a non-Christian church to you? I asked them many questions about what they teach and why. I got answers that in most cases were from the New Testament. Their ideas and doctrines did not seem too far fetched for my understanding. When I read their "Book of Mormon" I was also very surprised to find just the opposite from what I had been told I would find. Then I went to another church's pastor to ask him some of the same questions about doctrine. To my surprise, when he found out that I was in some way investigating the Mormons, he became hostile. He referred to them as a non-Christian cult. I received what sounded to me like evil propaganda against those people. He stated bluntly that they were not Christian and that they did not fit into the Christian mold. He also told me that they don't really believe the Bible. He gave me a pile of anti-Mormon literature. He began to rant that the Mormons were not telling me the truth about what they stand for. He didn't want to hear anything good about them.
At first I was surprised and then again, I wasn't. I began to wonder. I have never known of a cult that supports the Boy Scouts of America. According to the Boy Scouts, over a third of all the Boy Scout troops in the United States are Mormon. What cult do you know of that has a welfare system second to none in this country?
They have farms, canneries and cattle ranches to help take care of the unfortunate ones who might be down and out and in need of a little help. The Mormon Church has donated millions to welfare causes around the world without a word of credit. They have donated thousands to help rebuild Baptist churches that were burned a few years ago. They have donated tons of medical supplies to countries ravaged by earthquakes. You never see them on TV begging for money.
What cult do you know that instills in its members to obey the law, pay their taxes, serve in the military if asked and be a good Christian by living high moral standards? Did you know that hundreds of thousands of Mormon youth get up before high school starts in the morning to attend a religious training class?
They have basketball and softball leagues and supervised youth dances every month. They are recruited by the FBI, the State Department and every police department in the country, because they are trustworthy. They are taught not to drink nor take drugs. They are in the Secret Service - those who protect the President. They serve in high leadership positions from both parties in Congress and in the US Senate, and have been governors of several states other than Utah. They serve with distinction and honor.
If you have Mormons living near, you will probably find them to be your best friends and neighbors. They are Christians who try to live what they preach. They are not perfect and they are the first to admit this. I have known some of them who could not live their religion, just like many of us.
The rhetoric which is spread around against them is nothing more than evil propaganda founded in untruths. (Others) had successfully demonized them to the point that the general public has no idea what they actually believe and teach. If you really want to know the truth, go see for yourself. You also will be surprised. When I first moved here some 25 years ago there were five Mormon wards in Santa Clarita. Now there are 15. They must be doing something right."
To learn more about what us "Mormons" REALLY believe, click here.