Pondering

Labor shortage about to get worse for hospitals, police and fire departments. Also any company with over 100 employees.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

As you read the following articles, keep in mind the LA County Sheriff and the Riverside County Sheriff have both said they will not enforce any vaccination mandate for their staff. In addition, the Chicago police union is in court trying to get and order to prohibit the vaccination dictat.  Officers who are not in full compliance have been pulled off patrol.

Imminent problems:

  • There are widespread firings on near-term horizon for police officers, firefighters, and hospital workers.
  • 90% of companies with over 100 employees expect to lose staff from their already understaffed organizations because of vaccination mandates.

Chronicles Magazine – 10/18/21 – The Impending Mass Firing of America’s Unvaccinated In the midst of an existing shortage of workers and a labor force participation rate that has come close to recovering from the government-imposed recession, there is soon to be another major problem hit the economy: the pending firing of large numbers of people who refuse to get vaccinated or for whom employers refuse to provide any exemptions.

The massive hit to employment is likely to hit police, firefighters, doctors, and nurses particularly hard. The resulting, fully expected consequence will be deterioration in public services.

You cannot turn an economy off, then turn it back on. Here are the results when hubris makes you think you found the magic switch. Part 3.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The supply chain for so many of the things we buy is messed up at every step of the logistics system. Former CEO of Walmart pointed out the steps in the supply chain that are tangled up:

  • Loading ships at ports in Asia.
  • Ships are stuck in the water waiting to unload.
  • Unloading at ports in the US is another chokepoint.
  • There are not enough truck drivers.
  • Not enough labor and the various points in the distribution system inside the United States.
  • Shortage of people to put stuff on the shelves.

Essentially every stage of the distribution channel is tangled up. Biggest thing that could be done to get things moving normally would be more people to work at every step of the distribution system. Labor shortages, in other words.

This post discusses two articles:

  • California has imposed restrictions on trucking which has drastically reduced the number of trucks which can be operated in the state.
  • One article provides us a survey of a dozen other articles, each of which describes a different aspect of the supply chain disaster.

Part one of this series can be read here. Part two here.

The Last Refuge – 10/14/21 – The California Version of The Green New Deal and an October 16, 2020, EPA Settlement With Transportation is What’s Creating The Container Shipping Backlog – Working CA Ports 24/7 Will Not Help, Here’s Why Author spent three days researching reasons for the backlog of containers here in California. Checking resources, researching details, and other research showed some surprising things.

This week’s round of flaming hypocrisy from public officials.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock?

Without even trying to find such news reports, examples keep jumping out which show senior politicians, health officials, and sundry members of the elite caste ignoring the rules you and I must follow. The examples just don’t stop.

The most recent illustrations from the California governor, New Jersey governor, and New Jersey Attorney General are discussed below.

Following is a list of my previous discussions on the ever-expanding list of senior officials who don’t bother to follow the rules they imposed.

Another post published a moment ago asks the question whether these officials really believe the rules they dictate are even required.

California Governor

Yahoo! News – 10/9/21 – Gavin Newsom’s daughter not yet vaccinated as implement sweeping mandate – California has now imposed a mandatory requirement that all students in public and private schools be vaccinated against Covid-19. The diktat was announced for children 12 through 15 as soon as the FDA gave approval for the Pfizer medicine.

The governor has not had his daughter, who turned 12 recently, vaccinated yet. Does he lead by example? Does he comply with the requirement? Not yet.

The second reason is that she has

Instead of being just flaming hypocrites, perhaps our “leaders” don’t really believe Covid restrictions are needed.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Let’s picture a situation where politicians and public health officials believe eating seedless grapes is dangerous, will make a tremendously large number of people horribly sick, and will inevitably kill lots of people.

Let’s pretend that grape-sickness is so dangerous that even inhaling trace amounts of grape-breath from other people will make you terribly sick, with a frightening chance grape-breath will kill you.

Let’s picture said politicians and public health officials banning seedless grapes and insisting that none of us ever eat them again because they are so terribly dangerous.

Now let’s picture dozens of those politicians and public health officials being photographed and video recorded eating seedless grapes.

And breathing on each other.

In public.

With cameras rolling.

Knowing they are being recorded.

Consumer Price Index increase for September 2021 continues strong, with 12 month inflation running at worst rate since 1990.

The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, shows a 0.4% increase in September 2021 for all-items with a core increase of 0.2%.

The rate of inflation for the last 12 months is 5.43% for all items and 3.86% for core inflation without food and energy.

Graph at top of this post shows the monthly increase in the all-items index along with the core change. Graph also shows an average of the preceding 12 months for all items.

Watch the green line increase from around 0.1% up to over 0.4% for the last five months.

The trailing 12 month average is also grim. It shows:

What’s likely to happen with inflation? More of it and for extended time.

Rising costs and constrained shipping capacity is driving inflation and disrupting supply chain across the economy. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Indicators I can see suggest inflation is going to continue at a high rate for quite some time. Here are a few of the articles I have read recently pointing towards ongoing rise in prices:

  • Rent component of CPI will increase substantially over the next year because of the way the index is calculated.
  • Shipping costs have already skyrocketed.
  • Multiple food producers are struggling with rapidly increasing costs.
  • Major food producer expects their costs go up 11% in the next year with prices they charge to go up by 4%.
  • The phrase “stagflation” is back in play. Oh joy, a possible (likely?) return to the Carter administration.

Asia Times – 8/27/21 – US rent hikes will explode consumer inflation in 2022 – Anecdotal information indicates rental prices are skyrocketing.

A friend of mine priced the apartment they are living in to help a relative who was moving into the area. Price for this exact unit is 50% more than when they signed their annual lease a number of months ago.

An acquaintance reports the price for renting a particular house went up while they were thinking about it for a day or so.

Two friends report landlords renting apartments expect six months rent in advance and some landlords renting houses are expecting a year in advance. A year.

Article mentioned above says the reports floating around in the media indicate rent hikes overall are around 10%. Yet the CPI shows only 2% increase in rent.

How can that be?

Fascinating detail of how the CPI is calculated explains the anomaly and also points towards dramatic increase in the rent component of CPI over the next year.

You cannot turn an economy off, then turn it back on. Here are the results when hubris makes you think you found the magic switch. Part 2.

Modern cargo container ship giving an idea of the amount of cargo that can be carried. Each of those containers is one semi-load on the freeway. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Seems like most industries have a tangled supply chain. The entire transportation system is sorely distressed.

The elitists in federal and state governments have a staggering level of hubris. They think waving their hands, clicking on their laptops, issuing press releases will make the entire economy bend to their will. What they accomplish is willfully causing disruption in your life and in my life.

Here are merely a few of the recent articles describing the tangled impact of Covid dictats and sundry government policies:

  • Lots of cargo ships are waiting to unload off the California coast.
  • Large port operator expects disruptions to last into 2023.
  • Workers in transportation sector warn of possible system collapse.
  • Chip shortage for carmakers will last into late 2022.

Looks like it might take another 15 or 18 months to untangle the worldwide supply chain.

Wall Street Journal – 8/17/21 – Cargo Ships Are Again Idling Off Jammed Southern California Ports – Back in the middle of August the tally of cargo ships sitting off to coast of California was 37.

A tweet I saw this morning (10/9/21) from someone flying out of Long Beach indicated the individual counted 50 ships waiting to unload.

At around 10,000 containers per ship that is somewhere around 370,000 containers waiting to be unloaded back in the middle of August and is now currently somewhere in the range of half a million containers sitting off the coast.

Article says a few months ago it was only nine. Normally it is zero.

You cannot turn an economy off, then turn it back on. Here are the results when hubris makes you think you found the magic switch. Part 1.

Random stock outages are still common. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The supply chain in most industries is tangled up somehow somewhere.

The people in federal and state governments with the staggering level of hubris to think they can wave their hands and make the entire economy do their bidding are willfully causing disruption in your life and in my life.

Financial conflict of interest on the federal bench and stock trading by presidents of regional Federal Reserve Banks. Alternate headline – Is there any group of powerful people who bother to follow the rules?

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Major investigative effort by the Wall Street Journal revealed 131 federal judges who own stock in one of the firms appearing before them in 685 lawsuits.

The Journal found that about two thirds of all federal judges disclosed ownership in individual stock. Of those who made such disclosure about one fifth had a conflict of interest but did not recuse themselves.

For CPAs, this illustrates the importance of our independence rules, both independence in fact an independence in appearance.

What shall we call judges who were trading stock of litigants who were appearing in front of them? Perhaps a reasonable label would be integrity impaired fools. Even those judges who had a trivial investment and had a mere procedural motion in front of them have a serious appearance of conflict of interest and thus impaired integrity.

It would be wise for CPAs to read this story as a caution to keep a scrupulous eye on their own independence. The same lessons can be drawn by leaders of nonprofit organization.

The story doesn’t end with the federal judges, but we start there. More discussion in a moment about stock trading by presidents of two regional Federal Reserve Banks, who are the ultimate insiders.

Failures to recuse when federal judges have financial conflicts of interest

The investigative report may be found at the Wall Street Journal, published online 9/28/21:131 Federal Judges Broke the Law by Hearing Cases Where They Had a Financial Interest.

A 1974 federal law requires federal judges to monitor their investments, maintain personal awareness of those investments, and then recuse himself of any case in which they have a financial interest, no matter how small their interest may be.

In spite of a 40-year-old law and in spite of software that checks disclosed ownership against parties to the lawsuit, 12% of federal judges completely blew off the ethical obligation. That means one out of eight judges failed to recuse themselves when they had a financial interest in a case before them.

I’m wondering if there’s any group or category of people in this country who have significant power or influence who actually bother to follow the rules

More specific tallies from the article:

America is Land of the Free, Because of the Brave. My ‘thank you’ to those who made it so.

Heavy bomber crewman, U.S. Army Air Force, World War 2. Photo from Legacy Flight Museum in Rexford, Idaho by James Ulvog.

Our freedom is under rapidly increasing assault by many politicians who think they are kings and queens appointed by divine right instead of having merely won a few more percentage points of the vote than their opponent in the last election.  In the last year public health officials at the federal, state, and county levels who lack self-awareness of how often they beclown themselves have joined in the efforts to shred our liberty.

As a result of these attacks, it is ever more important that on this Memorial Day we remember those who shed all their blood so that we may be free.

A ‘thank you’ from me is so trivial, yet that is all I have.

I will demonstrate my appreciation for freedom purchased by others by exercising freedom.

Yesterday I exercised my freedom of religion. Tomorrow I will exercise my economic freedom, also called pursuit of happiness, by running my business the way I choose.

I have posted variations of the following ideas several times before.  I will continue to make these points routinely.

To everyone on active duty today, I often accept a ‘thank you’ on your behalf.

Union Infantry private, U.S. Civil War, 1961-1865. Photo from Legacy Flight Museum in Rexford, Idaho by James Ulvog.

While touring the U.S.S. Midway Museum in San Diego early this month, I wore a “U.S. Air Force” ball cap with various stuff pinned to it, such as the rank I wore, a missile badge (“pocket rocket” for those who know), SAC logo, and a rectangular piece of metal that declares “Combat Crew.”

During the course of walking around, I got lots of glances and several comments of “thank you for your service.”

Also got some joshing comments from the retired Navy guys about them ‘allowing’ me on their ship. Since we were all on the same team back in the day, the kidding was pure fun.

I was on active duty for only four years and that was decades ago. I never got within 3,000 miles of hostile action. (Of course if the flag had gone up, I would have been radioactive dust at 20,000 feet altitude about 40 minutes later.)

As a result, I was uneasy for a long time when someone said “Thanks for your service.”

It took me a few years to get to get comfortable with those comments.

I now graciously and proudly accept those expressions of appreciation from my fellow Americans, but not because of what I did so long ago. 

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

Easter is the high point of the year for Christians.  On this day our Savior rose from the tomb after having suffered a brutal death at the hands of the Roman government, urged on by the religious leadership.

What’s the big deal?

On Good Friday, the death of Jesus paid in full the penalty for my sins, yours sins, and the sins of every person who ever lived or ever will live.

On Easter Sunday, His glorious resurrection proves his sacrifice was accepted by God the Father.

In rising from death, Jesus proved he had ultimate power over death, hell, and the devil.

By that sacrifice, our sins are forgiven, and we will enter heaven for eternity, not because of what we do or how nice we are, but solely because of His sacrifice on the cross.

A few selections of the wonderful and so comforting hymn Jesus Christ is Risen Today to help you celebrate. Go ahead, crank up the volume. First up is an organ only version:

For a beautiful processional:

King’s College Choir, Cambridge

The lyrics:

“An Ulvog Journey” – Tales of growing up on a South Dakota farm in the 1930s and 1940s.

Casting my CPA eye on the 1946 probate document for my grandfather’s estate led to a series of posts on my other blog describing what we can learn about farming in the 1940s from a legal filing.  Those posts have been combined into one section of my newest book: An Ulvog Journey.

The book also provides recollections of growing up on a South Dakota farm in the 1930s and 1940s, written by my dad and his seven siblings.

One of my uncles, Carl Ulvog, was a captivating storyteller. His autobiographic tale of experiences in the South Pacific during World War II are also included.

Description from back page of the book:

Restrictions on holiday celebrations in California. This is not a spoof. You will think it is a joke, but it is not.

No fun allowed sign. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The California Department of Public Health has listed their specific restrictions on holiday gatherings. There are serious limits on what you can do for your Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year celebration.

I’m not making this up.

Check out for yourself the Guidance for Private Gatherings published on 10/9/20.

In case you think I imagined all this, I will quote select portions of the guidance.

So, if you happen to be one of the people who have not yet moved out of California, or you are waiting for the moving van to arrive, here are the requirements for your holiday celebrations –

(Again, this is not a spoof.)

You may not gather with friends inside your home. You are still allowed to let guests use your bathroom, assuming you scrub down the bathroom quite frequently:

“All gatherings must be held outside. Attendees may go inside to use restrooms as long as the restrooms are frequently sanitized.”

No more than three households may gather together.

Economic destruction from the shutdown is expanding.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Economic damage from the shutdown is becoming more obvious as more reporters spend time covering the destruction. Here are two articles each on the overall economic impact, specific impact on individuals, and concentrated impact on two cities:

  • GDP in Italy expected to shrink to the level it was 23 years ago
  • Airline CEOs expect it will take years for the airlines to recover
  • Additional 8 million Americans drop below the poverty level, joining the 55 million who were there before the pandemic
  • All 1,600 orchestras in the country have gone dark; their 160K musicians are unemployed
  • San Francisco has 14% vacancy rate in commercial office space
  • Impact on employment in New York City is more severe than the national average

How long will we let this go on?

 

Broad indication of the damage:

10/11/20 – India Today – Italy’s GDP in 2022 shrink back to the same level as 23 years ago: Report – …