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Notes and Highlights of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s Live Update August 14, 2020

2020.08.14 21:17 mr_tyler_durden Notes and Highlights of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s Live Update August 14, 2020

Notes and Highlights of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s Live Update August 14, 2020
Notes by mr_tyler_durden and Daily Update Team
Note: We may need to paraphrase, but the notes are accurate
Watch here:
Headlines
Summarized (Full) Notes
QUESTIONS
(continued in stickied comment)
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2020.06.16 23:25 Valincity Verizon Analysis

Hey everyone! I have been a lurker of the sub for a while. I just graduated (3 days ago from writing this post) from university with a degree in finance and I focused on classes where we analyzing companies as I find it very intriguing and I have actually found fun. This last quarter I took an equity analysis class and was pretty limited in what I was allowed to analyze, no FI's, or any equity analyzed in the last 4 years by another student. I ended up choosing Verizon as I thought it would be a start on learning and practicing. Here is my analysis and my hope is if any professionals out there would be willing to go through and give their input, advice, and be a critic on how to improve on my future analysis.
Some formatting may look funky as this was originally in a word doc that didn't exactly transfer over well.
Also I was forced to delete some tables and graphs due to the 20 picture upload limit, specifically I deleted MV of Debt calculations, some tables in the appendix representing WACC and cost of Equity, industry average statistics, which can be googled, my calculation of FCFE, as well as a few other minor tables, if the text refers to a table that isn't there that would be why, and I can provide to anyone upon request.
Thanks to anyone taking the time. I greatly appreciate it.

Student Research Telecommunication
Verizon
6/16/2020
Ticker: VZ
Recommendation: HOLD
Price: $56.92 Price Target: $64.42
Highlights
· In the beginning of a 5g upgrade cycle, a significant opportunity to be a growth driver in the North American wireless market for Verizon.
· Verizon’s profit margin is at 14.61%, double compared to their competitors
· Stock market fluctuations low relative to the general market, a beta of .7, and a safe industry that many consumers deem as essential, relatively “recession proof”
· A dividend yield of 4.5%
Investment Summary
Dividend Growth: The company is in its mature stage cycle with an established industry and market presence. Verizon has stable revenues with limited opportunity for growth outside of an acquisition of a smaller mobile carrier. This allows us to value Verizon mostly from its’ dividend growth. Historically, Verizon has a growth rate of 2.6% in the last 10 years, in the last 5, they have a historical growth rate of 5%. A growth rate of 3.5% is estimated to be Verizon’s growth rate moving forward. Fortunately, the industry business model allows for constant cash flow and sustainability in the mature stage cycle.
Expansion: 5g is the one of the few areas for growth still available to Verizon, 5g refers to the next generation in wireless data transfer technology. This new technology will increase data transfer rates by up to 100-fold. The last technological advancement with 4g impacted Verizon by increasing revenues by up to 5% one year and averaged revenue growth 4.3% annually for 4 years. This effectively doubled Verizon’s revenue growth average of 2.3% annually. Outside of 5g Verizon still has expansion options including expanding its wired FIOS network, and its online presence under Verizon Media Group.
Stability: Verizon is a stable cash flow company with an adjusted beta of .7. This illustrates the safety of the company’s stock. Verizon has little room for growth in the saturated wireless telecom market, meaning Verizon’s stock price is not likely to explode in value in the future. However, historically Verizon’s stock price does not fall substantially relative to the general market when macroeconomic forces cause the market to fall. Verizon is not currently competing with other equities as it is with safe debt in our current economic environment. This is because of the current interest rate environment on the U.S. 10-year being less than 1%. This causes investors to look for other high-quality investment alternatives that deliver better yield. Verizon satisfies this type of investor with a yield of over 4% as well as providing market exposure from the general market.
Execution: The biggest potential obstacle currently facing Verizon is their execution of rolling out 5g technology. Any hinderance can result in missed revenue, with next year’s iPhone coming out with 5g capable technology, which the iPhone has over 50% market share alone in the smartphone market, could cause many customers to switch to a competitor if Verizon cannot meet demand by that point. Let alone the other half of the market, largely denominated in various android devices, already has 5g capable technology. Should Verizon miss the mark, it could potentially hurt the company for years. However, according to Verizon’s CTO, as of the end of May, they are ahead of schedule deploying 5g. Verizon has a history and reputation of being on top of deploying new technology quickly, while being ahead of schedule, it is plausible to see many customers switch over to Verizon to take advantage of their 5g if Verizon’s competitors can’t meet the 5g demand. Verizon management needs to be able to take advantage of this new technology by charging higher prices to their mobile customers. Any lack in the execution could result in bad revenues and earnings.
Business Description
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is the parent company to Verizon Consumer Group and Verizon Business Group. Verizon provides services such as communications, entertainment, and information to consumer, business, and governmental customers. Employing 135,000 people, 96% are located in the U.S. and over 2,300 retail stores open, and headquartered in New York, NY. In 1877 the bell system was created in the name of Alexander Graham Bell, over time the company slowly expanded across the U.S. and Canada over the next 100 years. Over the years the system evolved to AT&T controlling a bunch of regional company’s providing land line service. In 1982 the U.S. government broke up the monopoly AT&T had into the regional companies, this plan was originally proposed by AT&T. This event was known as the breakup of the bell system and the companies post breakup were known as the “baby bells”. Two of the companies as a result of this breakup were Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp. Verizon was formed in June 2000 with the merger of Bell Atlantic Corp. based in New York city and GTE Corp. based in Irving Texas. Both firms were some of the largest in the industry, and both were heavily focused on the eastern side of the U.S.
Table 1 below shows Verizon’s consolidated revenues for the years 2019 and 2018. Revenues are broken down into their three subsidiaries of Verizon Consumer, Verizon Business and Verizon Corporate. Eliminations refers to the exchange of cash between these segments as it is not new revenue. Below explains each segment and where each segment gets their revenue broken into a percentage.
Table 1

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Verizon Consumer Group offers wireless and wireline communications, branded the most extensive wireless network in the U.S., North America is where over 95% of their revenue comes from geographically, the other 5% comes from overseas in Japan, Central America, and selective parts of Europe. Wireline is provided in North Eastern and Mid-Atlantic U.S. over fiber-optic lines through their Fios brand, or wireless services provided nationwide on hotspot devices or mobile phones. Both wireline and wireless can be prepaid or postpaid, the majority are in the postpaid segment, paying monthly for the services. The consumer segment provides data connection to 95 million wireless mobile connections, 6 million broadband connections, and 4 million Fios connections: making up 68.8% of revenues.

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Verizon Business Group provides the same services to corporate and some governmental agencies with additional services such as “video and data services, corporate networking solutions, security and managed network services, local and long distance voice services and network access to deliver various Internet of Things (IoT) services and products including solutions that support fleet tracking management, compliance management, field service management, and asset tracking” according to Verizon’s 2019 annual report. In all, Verizon’s Business Group is in a position to solve more complex problems that may come up at a business compared to their Consumer Group. Verizon Business Group provides 25million wireless connections and 489 thousand broadband connections: making up 23.8% of total revenues.
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Verizon Corporate includes media business, investments in businesses, and financing expenses outside of the regular course of business. The biggest section here is Verizon Media which provides third party entertainment services such as email, news, and streaming services to customers. Verizon Corporate makes up 7.4% of total revenues.

Verizon plans to position themselves into future growth trends such as increased expansion of their wireless network, high-speed fiber, and the new introduction of high-speed 5g connections on mobile devices or in-home. With over 17.9 billion invested for capital expenditures at end of year 2019 for 5g technology release.

Environmental, Social, Governance and Management Quality
Environmental criteria include the company’s impact on the environment such as energy use, waste output, and pollution production. In the last 10 years so called “green bonds” has been discussed more about and demand for them has slowly been rising. These green bonds are any bonds issued by a company, where all the money raised from the bonds goes towards any ESG related goal. Verizon in February 2019 issued their first green bond to the total of $1 billion, this is the first green bond issued in the telecom industry as well. Verizon has stated they are committed to being completely carbon neutral in their operations by 2035; this propagates their current goal to “generate renewable energy equivalent to 50% of our total annual electricity consumption by 2025”. Finally, Verizon has stated that they are committed to setting an annual emissions reduction target by fall 2021.
Social criteria include the relationships the company has with business partners, local communities, employee health and safety, and any other “stakeholder” that the company impacts. Verizon claims to focus on their customers upmost before most other stakeholders, they reinforce this through their actions and from their goal of being the best and most reliable network in the U.S. and serves this goal mainly through delivering high quality services through their wireless segment at a reasonable price. Outside of customers Verizon is aiming to contribute 2.5 million hours of volunteer work through their 135 thousand employees, these hours are aimed to improve “digital inclusion, climate protection, and human prosperity”. In Cleveland, Ohio the company is launching 5g enabled classrooms to deliver instruction in struggling middle schools and aims to expand this effort to 100 middle schools in total by 2021. Additionally, to evaluate the employee side of social criteria using a website called Glassdoor is used. Glassdoor is a website where current or past employees can rate the company anonymously on salary, benefits, satisfaction, outlook of the company, and their experience at the company; however, Glassdoor has been known to be biased at times. Verizon has over 21 thousand reviews on Glassdoor, from this large amount of reviews it can be taken with some accuracy. Considering all 21 thousand reviews they are rated at a 74% satisfaction rating, and 68% approve of the CEO, whereas AT&T has a 68% satisfaction rating and 51% approve of the CEO. At Verizon a controversial subject among employees are work-life balance with a 50% split on it needing some improvement or that it is adequate. Over 8,000 reviews claim that Verizon is a good employer when relating to pay and benefits.
Governance criteria includes how transparent and accurate the financial statements are, avoiding conflicts of interest among the executives and board members, and ensuring the company is not engaging in any illegal activities. As far as engaging in illegal activities Verizon has a good track record and no one suspects any major allegations against Verizon, with Verizon being a U.S. dominant business they mostly just have to obey rules and regulations within the U.S. and not balancing between international laws. Verizon has been clear in all of its financial reporting, obeying all GAAP rules and even going above the mark to provide additional information that is non-GAAP with disclosures. Conflicts of interest among the board members meet all laws and guidelines from the NYSE and NASDAQ. Verizon’s board members also meet the “heightened independence criteria” rules from the NYSE and Nasdaq. Regarding the green bond discussed above, they have and will report on how much of the green bond money has been spent and on what projects the money is going to until the note matures.
Overall Verizon is a quality company with quality management, among the 9 board members currently, 3 are African American, and 2 are woman. The company CEO, Hans Vestberg has been with the company since 2017, and CEO since 2018, a noticeably short amount of time compared to peers at AT&T whose CEO has been with the company since 2007. Verizon’s CFO, Matthew Ellis, has been with Verizon since 2016. Verizon’s management is relatively new and most likely experiencing a learning curve still, but so far, they have made strides in redefining Verizon and shows promise to be a strong team long term. Sustainalytics is an ESG rating company who rates companies on a scale of 0-100, they rate VZ at a score of 20, AT&T with a score of 19, and T-Mobile with a score of 25. This is a low score, however, ESG scores are highly subjective and vary widely among different ESG ratings companies. Verizon does not participate in any of the “high risk” ESG industries such as oil or mining, meaning in the grand scheme of company’s they are a relatively sustainable company. While the company can always do better, they aim to bring diversity to the company and strive for transparency.
Demographic Trends
Companies should be aware of demographics and which ones their customers fall under, this information can provide to a company who their core customer base is, and which segments they can expand into. There are many demographics out there, each with their own preferences, tolerances, and taste. Gender, race, and age are the three big demographics, however, there are many more than those three and each can be combined or divided into bigger or smaller groups. Of particular importance to Verizon is age as there is a dilemma currently with an aging work force and how the transition to retirement will be in our society. Called the “Baby Boomers” they are by far the largest section of our population with the most buying power, many of them are about to enter retirement age. Many of these baby boomers are going to start to wind down their portfolios they’ve built up over the course of their lives. Over the next 50 years this population will naturally fade out and their immense buying power will switch to the younger generations. Currently the buying power of generations, while different studies vary on exact numbers, annual spending roughly comes down to about $550 billion for baby boomers, $350 billion for Gen X, $320 billion for Millennials, and $160 billion for the silent generation. The youngest generation, Gen Z, has little to no buying power of their own, however, their parents buy much of what they want with over 93% of households say that they influence purchasing decisions. Gen Z buying power will increase substantially in the future as they enter adulthood. Younger generations have been becoming more acclimated with technology as it has become more readily available and introduced at a younger age. Younger people (under 25) tend to use social media much more than older generations, most of these social media apps can only be accessed through mobile devices. As we observe these younger generations using technology more and becoming more affluent in them, we can assume that these kids will be more accepting of smartphones and other technologies; possible making these devices “essential”.
By looking at Verizon’s customers we can predict where much of their revenue in the future will be coming from. Verizon’s customers, broken down by age, are as follows: 24.3% of customers in the 18-29 range, 26.1% in the 30-49 range, and 31.58% in the 50-64 range. Totaling our age groups, this accounts for about 82% of Verizon’s customers, the other 18% comes from the ages on the tail end of either side, so the under 18 or 65+ and the corporate customers who are unaffected by these aging demographic trends, there is not any percentage breakdown for these groups. As the 50-64 age group enters retirement they will want to stay in touch with relatives and try to keep busy, a phone is a good way to do this and it can be reasonably predicted that this age group will rise as the Baby Boomers enter retirement. Although this will most likely saturate the market completely and leave no more room for growth for Verizon in the U.S. market, aside from stealing customers from other providers. This effect will most likely be in the next 20-30 years, but at the 50-year time horizon this generation will have dwindled and the largest age of customers will shift to a younger age group.
“Younger people are getting phones”, says the CFO of Verizon at a Morgan Stanley investor meeting. At a younger age many kids are getting cell phones, this ingrains cellphones into kids’ heads and makes it an essential item. Under 18, the generation titled “Gen Z” (born after 1997) is now the largest population in the U.S. with over 90 million, larger than the millennial and Baby Boomer population. Who this generation chooses to have as their cellphone provider will likely depend on who their parents used, or other factors such as environmental sustainable governance ratings which seems to be a top factor within this age group. With this information we can assume that the under 18, and 18-29 age group will increase as young people get more phones due to an increase in population in this age group and the increasing likelihood that this group will obtain phones at a younger age.
The Pew Research Center conducted a study in February 2019, they found that 96% of people in the U.S. have smart phones and that ethnicities, genders, education, and age seem to have smartphones at about the same levels; in the 91%-100% range. There is likely little market share to be gained by looking at demographic's trends over time other than the extremes of age, as the under 18-year-old are at 92%, and over 65 at 91%.
Currently with the Covid-19 virus shutting down the economy it can be safely predicted that Verizon will have a reduced earnings report through either Verizon delaying payments customers need to make to the company or writing off losses. Although many people see phones as a form of entertainment and people are craving entertainment now more than ever. As for long lasting effects coming about from the change of Covid-19, there may be a few that affect Verizon that are yet to be known.
Industry Overview and Competitive Positioning
At the beginning of 2020 in the Telecommunications Industry there were 4 big players, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. T-Mobile and Sprint have merged as of 4/1/2020 into the company name of T-Mobile. Outside of Verizon the only one bigger than it is AT&T which is diversified outside of telecommunications such as AT&T owning streaming service and entertainment subsidiary HBO, and DirectTV a cable provider. With the T-Mobile and Sprint merger they are still the smallest of the 3 companies, but they are able to compete effectively with Verizon and AT&T. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are the “900-pound gorillas” of the industry.
The industry business operation consists of a provider offering data (or internet connection), and cellphone services to customer on a mobile connection, such as phones. Most of the company’s customer base pays month to month for service, included sometimes in the cost of the service will be a phone or other accessories (such as mobile hotspots, TV plans, or in home internet) that the customer bought with it. However, this makes it easier for a customer switching between providers for the better service as there is no commitment on the customer side.
Verizon’s revenues shown in the table below illustrate stagnant growth in 2018 and rather lackluster growth the other years. Verizon attributes this growth to expanding into new segments and upgrading infrastructure, as well as spending nearly 35 billion on new 5g technology, which is claimed to be revolutionary when it comes out.
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Shown in the table below, Verizon has the lowest Trailing Twelve Month (TTM) P/E (Price/Earnings) ratio of 12.46, with AT&T being slightly higher at 15.14. T-Mobile absorbing Sprint has created a very high P/E ratio of 22.59. We can also observe that not only does Verizon have a lower P/E ratio, but they also boast higher return on equity and profit margins compared to their competitors.
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Valuation
The discounted cash flow valuation methods used for Verizon consist of the dividend growth model, a free cash flow to firm (FCFF) model, a free cash flow to equity (FCFE) model, and a multiples analysis.
The cost of equity calculation is shown below, calculated to be at 7.62% using a 3% risk free rate and an expected market return of 9.6%. Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) was calculated to be 5.4%, highlighting the extensive use of cheap debt, about 50% of their capital structure. Their average cost of debt on outstanding bonds was about 3.64%, much lower than what the required return on equity is, bringing cost of capital much lower.
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Dividend Growth Model – Constant Growth: Using a constant growth of dividends, and picking a growth rate of 3.5%, taking the average of the last 10 years we see an average increase of about 2.6%, and a 5.1% annual growth during the last 5-years. This will likely decline over an infinite time horizon, using historical data, as such an estimate of 3.5% is used to accurately reflect the economic environment. A 2.6% 10-year growth rate reflects the reality of coming out of the 07-09 financial crisis which does not reflect the current economic environment. This gives an intrinsic value of $60.79.
Dividend Growth Model – Two-Stage Growth Model: In the past Verizon has had periods of high dividend growth for a year or two. The last time this happened was briefly after the widespread release of 4g in 2013 and the subsequent increase in earnings growth. From the recent developments of the highly anticipated release of 5g technology, in the two-stage growth model a dividend growth rate of 5% is assumed to be the average for 6 years and then settle at a constant growth of 3.5% indefinitely. This gives an intrinsic value of $65.77 for the two-stage model.
Dividend Growth Model – Three-Stage Growth Model: As for the three-stage growth model an assumption of an average of 7% dividend growth over the next 2 years, as in the past Verizon has experienced up to 11% dividend growth after the release of this new technology. After this, Verizon will settle into an average 4% dividend growth for 4 years, after which point, a 3.5% constant growth. This gives an intrinsic value of $66.25 for the three-stage model.
Free Cash Flow to Firm Model: Verizon’s free cash flow to the firm (FCFF) represents the cash flow available to all of the company’s capital providers, this includes bond holders, common shareholders, and occasionally preferred shareholders. Verizon’s actual FCFF is very volatile at first glance, fluctuating between -43% to positive 226%. Most of this volatility is from high amounts of investments of working capital into projects, as is the nature of the business. However, it seems that the cash flows are also very unstable due to Verizon’s taxes in 2017 with the huge tax cuts Verizon was able to get -$9956 (mils), FCFF was significantly affected. Substituting the 2017 tax number to a Verizon average tax payment of $5000 makes FCFF seem much more stable. Averaging out over the course of 5 years, an average of 8% growth in free cash flow to the firm is calculated. In the constant growth model, a growth rate of 3.5% is used. This is from an assumption that one day Verizon will wind down working capital and be able to achieve more stable cash flows. In the two-stage and three-stage models a slightly higher growth over the next 6 years because of the release in 5g technology significantly increasing the growth is used. The average growth rate for the two-stage model is estimated to be at 5% before settling back down to 1.5% growth rate. In the three-stage growth model an estimate of 8% free cash flow growth for 3 years, a 2.5% average for the next 5 years, and then settle back into 1.5% growth. This gives an intrinsic value for constant growth, two-stage, and three-stage models of $110.57, $146.38, and $153.58, respectively.
Free Cash Flow to Equity Model: Verizon’s free cash flow to equity (FCFE) holders represents all cash flow available to common equity holders after all operating expenses, bond payments, investments into both working, and fixed capital have been made. Over the last 5 years FCFE has grown on average at 4%, however, the per year change is also very volatile, much like FCFF. Three separate years had negative FCFE of around -70%, and our other two years had positive 1,393% and 307%. This is mostly due to paying down debt rapidly or taking out a lot of debt to fund new projects such as 5g rolling out, mainly the latter. Taking out net borrowing from the calculation creates a more stable model, as such net borrowing is taken out and a growth rate of 10.3% is calculated. As such FCFE growth rates are estimated to be slightly lower than the average because while taking out net borrowing shows more stable cash flows, repaying the debt will lower cash flow available to common stock. That said, in the constant growth model a growth rate of 4% is used. The two-stage model a growth rate of 7% for the next 6 years, then settling to 4% for terminal value. In the 3-stage model an estimate of a 10% return over the next 3 years and a 6% return for 5 years, before settling into the terminal growth rate of 4%. This gives an intrinsic value for the constant growth, two-stage, and three-stage models of $106.35, $124.20, and $135.29, respectively.

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Multiples Analysis: In this valuation approach a price/earnings (P/E) ratio and enterprise value/EBITDA (EV/EBITDA) ratios are used. Through the P/E approach, Verizon currently has a P/E fluctuating between 12-13 and historically they have had P/E’s up to 20 in the last 5 years. Their competitors AT&T and T-Mobile have P/E ratios roughly around 15 and 20 respectively, and the industry standard is P/E is 15. Verizon has an earnings per share of $4.43; however, with 5g technology becoming widely available, a modest earnings growth to $4.90 per share (a 10.6% increase) is estimated for next year. This calculation leads us to an intrinsic value of $73.50. As for the EV/EBITDA approach, Verizon’s current EBITDA is $47,152 and with a ratio of 8.2. With an estimated EBITDA value of $49,500 and a target ratio of 9, this calculation gives us a value of $76.08 one year from now.
Valuation Summary: Verizon is a company with stable cashflows and without much room for significant growth. This makes Verizon perfect for a dividend growth model valuation and is the most accurate of the three models. FCFF is confusing and hard to estimate because of the massive tax changes year to year. FCFE is misleading as the huge amounts of borrowing throws off calculations as net borrowing is not typically used as funds available to shareholders, as such net borrowing has been taken out of the analysis. A growth rate reduction of 2-3% is used for FCFE to account for the reduced cash flow available to common shareholders resulting from paying off the debt in the future. The multiples analysis shows that Verizon may be undervalued currently with a P/E ratio hovering around 12, significantly lower than the industry average and peers. In all the dividend models are most accurate as investors in this company value the stable cash flows and dividends. To arrive to the final intrinsic value estimate, a blend of the three dividend growth models is used, with a 30% weighting on the constant and three-stage growth models and a 40% weighting on the two-stage model. This weighting provides a final intrinsic value of $64.42.
Financial Analysis
Liquidity – As of March 31st, the most up to date financial statements available. Verizon’s liquidity is poor, Cash as a percent of total assets is only 2.3%, although slightly higher than the last 5 years of around 0.9%, this influx of cash is most likely a response to the Covid-19 epidemic. The cash came from 7.5 billion of new debt, all of which expires before 2020. Doing a Current Ratio, and Quick Ratio for Verizon (Current Assets / Current Liabilities and Current Assets – Inventory / Current Liabilities respectively). This calculation provides poor numbers, with the current ratio being at .991, and the quick ratio being at .952. This shows that Verizon has way more in liabilities than assets, and if they needed to sell off assets quickly and liquidate the company, in case of a bankruptcy, they would not have enough to meet their obligations. Although due to the nature of the business this is extremely unlikely and as discussed below the debt is manageable. This is further reinforced via the Net debt to EBITDA ratio, a common way at to measure if the amount of income generated is available to pay down its current debt. Any number higher than 4 or 5 typically raises concerns, however, Verizon is well below that number as of now and shows adequate debt management.
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Profitability Ratios – Verizon has a profit margin of 14.6% in 2019, effectively doubling their 2014 profit margin of 7.6% shown in the table below. Return on Invest Capital is also very high number at about 46% and Return on Equity slightly lower at 31%; however, these ratios have fallen the past 6 years from 114% and 78% respectively. This dramatic decrease is attributed to the payoff of massive investments into 4g technology in 2014, and now we have much lower percentages due to massive investment increases into 5g spending. These ratios will most likely return to much higher numbers over the next 2-3 years.
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*Equity Multiplier* refers to Assets / Shareholder Equity-1 and Sustainable Growth Rate g* uses Equity Multiplier* instead of Equity Multiplier, Equity Multiplier uses Assets / Shareholder Equity of the same period.
Debt - Verizon is levered at about 2 currently, although they have reduced that from 9.2 in 2014. This means that Verizon has double the amount of debt than they do equity. Their debt ratio is at .79 currently, although that has dropped substantially from .95 in 2014. Debt ratio illustrates what portion of the company’s assets is owed to creditors. Currently most of this debt is used for various infrastructure costs for 5g, as well as introducing a new “Green Bond” for environmental social governance, the first in the telecom industry. Using market values rather than book values, Verizon has a capital structure of 53% equity and 47% debt. The times interest earned ratio is currently at 6.44, meaning they currently make more than enough in operating income to pay for interest, so they are not currently at risk of defaulting. As well as their times burden covered for 2020 at 5.28, allowing Verizon to be rated as investment grade bonds.
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Asset Management Ratios – Shown above in the second table, asset turnover is at about 45.2% currently, although this number is misleading as they sell a service and accumulate assets over time without having to sell them to customers. Shown in the table below is collection period, inventory turnover and payables period, with collection period and payables period having risen between 2014 and 2019 from 40.19 to 70.39 and 40.92 to 51.52, respectively. This shows that Verizon has been extending receivables at a faster rate than payables, ideally, Verizon would like to see that reversed. Supplier terms are currently unknown for Verizon, however, payables period being under 60 days, they are still getting favorable terms. Inventory turnover has decreased slightly from 43 to 38 since 2014, which is promising and shows more inventory going out the door.
https://preview.redd.it/4r23e4uc8c551.png?width=511&format=png&auto=webp&s=544c39a03ca456f837b97f1ad1593040c738c321
As for industry averages, it is shown that Verizon has a much higher quick ratio and a lower times interest earned (TIE). The leverage ratio, and debt to equity ratio is about the same as the industry average. In some ways Verizon company is close to industry averages with the exception of being slightly more levered currently.

Investment Risks
Debt Levels and Credit Rating: Verizon currently has debt levels equal to about its market capitalization, meaning the company nearly has just as much debt as it does equity outstanding. These high levels of debt represent significant risks via Verizon’s obligations. A single quarter of abrupt cash flow disruption could force Verizon into default on much of its outstanding debt. The high debt levels Verizon currently deals with could potentially lower their credit rating with the credit rating agencies. This would be detrimental to Verizon as it would affect their ability to introduce new debt at low rates, and hurt Verizon’s profitability.
Geographic: Currently Verizon mainly operates in North America. This provides significant systematic risk on the part of Verizon. Terrorist attacks, regulation change, or any other factor that could negatively affect the North American region is a significant risk to Verizon.
5g: Any delay in the release of the 5g network could significantly hurt Verizon’s business. This technology is new and is creating rapid change within the industry that Verizon must be a part of moving forward or risk losing customers to a competitor. Introducing new technology also means that they must phase out old, unprofitable technology on a cost-effective basis or else Verizon is at risk or having reduced profitability.
Competition: With the recent merger of T-Mobile and Sprint into T-Mobile there is a much more competitive landscape for Verizon. Before the merger, the only real competitor in size was AT&T, now with the merger Verizon has two competitors of similar size. The merger is particularly dangerous to Verizon as the company is not diversified outside of the industry like AT&T, and a new significant entrant into the industry could pose a huge threat as T-Mobile will be able compete with Verizon on a more cost-effective basis than previously.
Sensitivity Analysis: The two biggest factors affecting Verizon’s stock price are identified as the change in the cost of equity, and the change in the dividend rate. This is because in the dividend discount model the future dividends are discounted by the cost of equity and the annual dividend rate shows how the stock price will change given all else is equal. Shown below are the changes in the cost of equity and dividend rate plus or minus 2% and 1% and how it effects the stock price. For the cost of equity calculation, it is important to realize that rising interest rates, changing expected return in the market, or a change in the volatility (beta) of the stock could affect our cost of equity, and in turn, our intrinsic value. As for the change in dividend growth rate, will easily affect a change in our intrinsic value calculation by changing the projected future cashflows. Below in table 1 illustrates both possibilities and the potential impact on the calculated intrinsic value. The most probable of these two is a change in the cost of equity as the economy is currently in an extremely low interest rate environment, and the cost of equity calculation assumes a 3% interest rate. Changing the rate to the market risk free rate could substantially raise intrinsic value; however, our 3% assumed risk free rate more accurately reflect what investors expect, and not the artificially pushed down price shown in the market right now.
Table1

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Appendix
Financial Calculations
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https://preview.redd.it/pv2xr9sp8c551.png?width=624&format=png&auto=webp&s=77d56631f373eba3694d5faf825603b68584098d


Income Statement
https://preview.redd.it/yvgzjq7t8c551.png?width=624&format=png&auto=webp&s=5b81afacac130023b3330373d09541d0919415dc
Income Statement Proforma
https://preview.redd.it/7yqpug2u8c551.png?width=624&format=png&auto=webp&s=382147a66441814f3e9f8b3b8b340969b5781b3e
Balance Sheet
https://preview.redd.it/gjlerbsu8c551.png?width=601&format=png&auto=webp&s=5a661d4817c1dc3fa1a01a37f0f4edec8467c93e
Balance Sheet Proforma
https://preview.redd.it/kg894tvv8c551.png?width=590&format=png&auto=webp&s=09f62e46f6d1962ea6ac7a7fe838f81600ea7dad
Cost of Equity
Calculating the cost of equity by using a risk-free rate of 3% as current U.S. 10 year bond rates are at all time lows and has a possibility to not accurately reflect the actual cost of business within the U.S. for Verizon. Using an expected return on the market of 9.6%, which is the average annual return in the stock market going back to 1928. Finally, using an adjusted beta of .7. The cost of equity is calculated to be 7.62%
Weighted Average Cost of Capital
https://preview.redd.it/muvvv6yy8c551.png?width=423&format=png&auto=webp&s=da894b6b772e237884412105680fed7112ccd45a
Finding the market value of long-term debt by taking 43 long term bonds Verizon currently has outstanding and took the current price each bond trades at. Using this information, the market value of long-term debt from these bonds was found but does not reflect *all* debt. Taking the average price each was selling at, weighted by amount outstanding, multiplied this average by the book value of debt to comes to MV of LTD of $129,747.73 billion.
https://preview.redd.it/uvu33x709c551.png?width=397&format=png&auto=webp&s=e5e6a11260876b172978c42fea8a4241abee8d12
To find the pretax cost of debt by taking the yield on each bond weighted by percent of total debt, summing this up a cost of debt to Verizon of 2.69% was calculated.
To find the weighted average cost of capital follow the above formula. Spelled out is: weight of equity x cost of equity + weight of debt x cost of debt x 1- tax rate. The calculated weighted average cost of capital to be 4.7%. This accurately reflects the cheap use of debt Verizon takes advantage of as the cost of equity is significantly higher at 7.62%. This is how Verizon should be funding its operations as this substantially lowers their cost of capital and they can sustain this sizable amount of debt through the stable cash flows as is the nature of their business.
submitted by Valincity to SecurityAnalysis [link] [comments]


2020.06.11 21:43 DestinyMarketing123 ECOMMERCE SEO SERVICES

ECOMMERCE SEO SERVICES
We turn digital audiences into dollars for your business and help you scale.

https://preview.redd.it/opwnr2b02c451.jpg?width=957&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=c7a25c14593918795f3c43180d0bd358bec95c44
Sid, the owner of an eCommerce store that sells baby products, found himself struggling with getting better ROI.
He was frustrated because the cost of his ads is way higher than the number of sales and the net profit he gets after deducting the ad costs.
However, Sid decided to subscribe to an eCommerce SEO services package that he found online, and a few months later, not only did he get 100% FREE organic traffic from Google and other platforms, he was also able to build brand trust and reputation.
Now Sid is happy because he can generate massive profits, he doesn’t spend a dime on advertising and people are finding his products organically. His conversion rate is amazing, he doesn’t have to worry about getting traffic to his online store and he can sell it consistently, doubling his net income.
Because Sid is now generating insane amounts of revenue from his eCommerce store with organic traffic, he is now able to hire an advertising agency to run ads for his products while keeping the cost low, helping him multiply his profits even more.
Put simply, Sid is now able to scale his eCommerce business while keeping his costs low and profits exceptionally high.
Isn’t this exactly what you want for your eCommerce business? Wouldn’t it be great if you could get FREE organic traffic to your online store and scale your eCommerce business?
This is where our eCommerce SEO services company comes to the rescue. At Destiny Marketing Solutions, we have been helping eCommerce stores build their online presence, grow their traffic, and increase their profits using SEO.
Our goal is to help you land your website on the first page of Google results for several different keywords, which will dramatically increase your traffic and ultimately lead to more sales and leads. We take pride in being one of the best eCommerce SEO agencies.
Our SEO services for eCommerce are not limited to any specific industry. We have clients from various markets whom we offer our search engine optimization SEO work and digital marketing for their site. Contact us today to discuss the details of your project.

Rank Better, Maximize Revenue and Enhance the User’s Shopping Experience

https://youtu.be/7r5IPXFdRQY
Our eCommerce SEO isn’t only about the traditional on-page and off-page stuff. We think way beyond that.
We focus on every nitty-gritty aspect of your online eCommerce store.
From web design to SEO factors, our integrated capabilities, unparalleled skill, and years of industry experience will not only help you rank better, but also achieve a better ROI.
We will not work with you solely as a digital marketing company, but as a strategic partner that will help you improve your customer journey through analyzing the analytics and all key metrics, ensuring successful conversion.

Experience Our Industry-Leading eCommerce SEO Services

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We have been in the SEO business for the past several years and know it better than our competitors.
Our SEO experience is backed with years of testing, trial and error, and proven methods. Now, we are so confident in our expertise that we have been able to deliver results time after time to each one of our clients.
The reason you have landed on this page is that you searched for “eCommerce SEO services” and our company popped ahead of thousands of other companies.
Growing your eCommerce business through search engine optimization will have a major positive impact on organic visibility and our SEO agency will ensure that you get the desired results you have been looking for.
Our professional search engine optimization SEO agency fully understands the technicalities of search engine algorithms and we also have a solid track record of results and happy clients.
  • Industry Experts: Our eCommerce SEO agency has been at the forefront even before the industry was a thing. Whether you need to just optimize your existing eCommerce store or build a brand-new eCommerce site, we can help you. Give us the chance to apply our proven SEO methods and strategies to help scale your store.
  • Team of SEO Experts: We are one of those SEO companies that have a full team of SEO experts who have years of work experience and provide result-oriented eCommerce SEO. When you collaborate with us, we will have a dedicated team allotted solely to your eCommerce project. This includes web design experts, content writers, and SEO strategists who will deploy advanced techniques that will result in a positive return on your digital marketing investment.
  • Data-Driven Results: We don’t believe in having the same SEO strategy for every type of eCommerce site. Every business industry is different and so is the competition of that industry. Our SEO company keeps track of the latest SEO trends and we have a proven track record of what works and what doesn’t. We don’t make decisions based on guesswork. Our strategies are always backed by data-driven results.

Our eCommerce SEO Guarantees an Increase in Sales

https://youtu.be/dKQrhKQTJ7w
Undoubtedly, SEO is one of the most effective ways to drive targeted traffic to your website. It not only boosts your visibility but also results in more revenue and growth.
Our eCommerce SEO service and a team of experts will help you rank your website higher in Google results for your target keywords that bring in the right audience.
We will not only help you rank for a couple of terms, but for multiple keywords and their variations, which will increase the chances of getting more qualified customers that will click on your products and increase your conversions and revenue.
It is time that you work with us and grow your business.
Our SEO firm has an amazing client retention rate, client recommendation score, and industry trustworthiness that has helped us grow significantly over the years.
If you want to speak directly with an eCommerce SEO specialist, feel free to contact us today on our phone number.

An Inside Look into Our eCommerce SEO Services

https://youtu.be/pmnQRbuSJ-Q
eCommerce SEO isn’t as simple as local SEO or affiliate SEO. It is pretty complex and multi-faceted. Here is a quick brief of what our SEO services for eCommerce include:
  • Google Search Console setup
  • Google Analytics setup
  • Custom eCommerce SEO strategy
  • Project management schedule
  • Content promotion and marketing on social media platforms
  • Keyword research
  • Optimization
  • Product markup
  • Product image optimization
  • Product SEO copywriting
  • Professional blog and article copywriting
  • Customized digital marketing strategy
Whenever you start an eCommerce site and are doing its marketing, one of the most important things to take care of is how to be found by the right type of customer.
Platforms like Google, Bing, and Yahoo rely on matching words that users search for words that are present on your site.
So, if your site has those words that the user is searching for, you will have more of a chance to be found on the first page.
However, it is quite difficult to figure out the right type of words to add to your site and how to make room for all the different phrases.
This is why, when you start an eCommerce search engine optimization process, it is crucial that you know the exact keywords, their variations, and other phrases to target.
Let us dig deep into the details of our eCommerce SEO services and how they can help you rank higher in search engines!

Keyword Research and Identification

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The first thing we do is identify the right set of keywords and phrases that you need to include in your content. We do this by using highly advanced keyword research tools along with asking your customers how they describe your products. We also work with you to find the keywords that you think are already successful.
For example, if you are selling eco-friendly pet products, your target keywords will likely be along the lines of “eco-friendly cat products,” “eco-friendly dog toys,” and “eco-friendly pet products.”
Similarly, keywords will also be determined by the unique features of your company. For instance, if you are focusing on the harmful products found in cat food, you may target the keyword phrase, “bad ingredients in cat food.”
Although it may sound too simple, identifying the right type of keywords is a critical part of eCommerce SEO services as it helps to establish a strong SEO strategy for your business.

Keyword Implementation

Once keyword research has been conducted, the next step is to implement those keywords on the website. And not just implement them, but place them in the right spots so they are well optimized both for the users and search engines.
These keywords are used in different places on your eCommerce store like the homepage, page titles, meta descriptions, product descriptions, image alt text, and much more.
This is an important part of our SEO strategy. If your site is not properly optimized for relevant keywords, it would become difficult for search engines and users to figure out whether or not your website is relevant to a particular search query.

Product Page Optimization

If you have a 50-page eCommerce site, optimizing the homepage alone would not help rank your inner product pages or blog pages.
You have to optimize every single one of those pages to hit it hard. Moreover, optimizing your product pages is extremely important because they are more likely to rank for specific search phrases, otherwise known as long-tail keywords.
For example, if your eCommerce site sells pet products and you have a fur comb for a dog, you are probably not going to optimize your website’s homepage for the long-tail keyword “fur comb for dogs,” rather you would be optimizing your category page or a specific product.
So, to ensure that your product page gets a high ranking in search results, our eCommerce SEO experts will ensure that each of your product pages is fully optimized.
Optimizing a product page includes creating a page title, a few paragraphs of keyword-rich copy, and adding relevant keyword variations to the page.
Moreover, adding relevant product images and optimizing them is also important and benefits your online store. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing cannot read the images. They rely on the image’s filename, image alt text, and the nearby content to understand it.
For users, product images provide them with an overview of the product, its size, color, and uses. On the other hand, search engines will get insights into the context of the product page.
This is how our eCommerce SEO services will benefit you. We will conduct an in-depth analysis of every product page, make sure that your page is not missing out on any crucial SEO elements, and put forth a perfect optimized page that both users and search engines will love.

Navigation Optimization

One of the most important aspects of eCommerce SEO is making your website user-friendly.
Your online store must be easy to navigate for the users, especially if you offer a wide array of products.
Our eCommerce SEO experts will ensure that every section on your eCommerce website has an appropriate section or categories and that there is a link to each top-level page from somewhere in the menu section.
Your navigation should be easy to use and understand by the end-user. If it isn’t, then your site users will find it hard or confusing to even scroll through your website and will eventually bounce away from it.
If your eCommerce store has a very high bounce rate, search engines will think that your site is not relevant for the search term that it is ranking for. This is why web design is an important feature of our eCommerce SEO.
A great way to improve your eCommerce SEO is to use breadcrumb navigation. Breadcrumbs are basically small links that usually appear on top of the website’s menu, category, and product page.

Content Development

Content development has always been a challenging task. But, it is also one of the best ways to improve your SEO score and attract more buyers to your eCommerce store. Content for eCommerce websites includes blogs, press releases, ebooks, articles, and much more.
At our digital marketing agency, we have expert content writers and copywriters who will craft a content marketing strategy that serves two purposes: to feed search engines with more content to crawl for keywords and variations and to inform your potential customer that your business is trustworthy and knowledgeable about its industry.

Why An eCommerce Website Needs SEO

https://youtu.be/5XUMx3IG91I
SEO, a.k.a. search engine optimization is all that any website needs, whether it be a local business website, an eCommerce website, or a random blog.
For eCommerce websites, SEO has a great impact on sales and brand reputation. If you opt-out of doing proper SEO for your eCommerce site, it can never reach its full earning potential.
No matter how brilliant of a web design you have, your eCommerce website will only be able to convert a small fraction of traffic from search engines. Whether or not it converts is another concern.
SEO will help drive more traffic to your website, and more traffic means more sales. To make it a little more precise, more targeted traffic will bring in more sales and help you maintain or increase your rate of conversion.
As an eCommerce business owner, you may already be running paid ads to drive traffic, but you will be missing out on a chunk of potential traffic without doing eCommerce SEO.
Our eCommerce SEO company uses a precisely-targeted eCommerce SEO strategy that attracts the right type of potential customers who are interested in your products. So, if you are not doing SEO for your eCommerce business, you are certainly leaving a big chunk of sales on the table.
Above all, with SEO, your eCommerce store will build its online reputation and authority among users and search engines, which is important. Although doing SEO does take a while, it surely pays off in the long-run.

eCommerce SEO is Our Passion

https://youtu.be/2jSQesZB0FE
The majority of SEO campaigns are often capped by geographic region, market size, and the size of the company itself. For instance, when we do SEO for a local business owner, a dentist, for example, our SEO campaign will be limited to that particular geographic location. However, with eCommerce, there is no limit. Your audience could come from anywhere and make a purchase.

eCommerce SEO Can Change a Small Business Owners’ Life

If you are a small business owner, eCommerce SEO can certainly change your life. We want to help small business owners accomplish their sales and revenue goals.

eCommerce Revenue Can Be Easily Tracked

When you spend a monthly retainer on our eCommerce SEO services, you will notice a significant growth in your overall revenue. Our aim is to help you generate at least 10 times the average return on eCommerce SEO services that you paid for. So, if you pay us a dollar, we will help you make $10 by the end of our SEO campaign.
Ready to put your online store sales on steroids with our SEO services? Schedule a free SEO consultation today by calling us and we will answer any questions you may have.

What Makes Our eCommerce SEO Unique?

https://youtu.be/KEERrMZvdiA
nlike other individual SEO consultants or SEO agencies, Destiny Marketing Solutions is unique.
While we offer eCommerce SEO packages, we are also a full-service digital marketing company and have been in the industry for well over a decade now.
We have eCommerce clients and business owners who have been with us for years. This is only because we helped them achieve what they wanted and developed a strong work relationship with them by delivering outstanding results every year.
This is what makes our digital marketing agency’s eCommerce SEO unique:
  • Years of Experience
  • We were studying and doing SEO even before our current competitors knew what SEO was. Our decade’s worth of experience combined with our unparalleled expertise and SEO team will instantly put you ahead in your industry. Our agency stays up-to-date with the latest search engine algorithms and SEO techniques that will help you rank better, see better results, and experience increased revenue like never before.
  • Advanced SEO Tools and Software
  • To be the best, you have to have the best tools and resources. We take pride in having access to some of the most advanced SEO tools and software, which helps us dig deep into the technicalities of advanced eCommerce SEO and deliver our clients with guaranteed data-driven results.
  • Our company is better able to gain insight into your eCommerce store, which allows us to improve its overall performance and make it stand out from its competitors.
  • Full Team of eCommerce SEO Experts
  • As we mentioned, we are a full-service digital marketing agency and we work professionally. We have a full team of SEO experts who have at least five years of work experience each and are always ready to help you grow your business. Best of all, we put together a dedicated team of SEO experts for each project. They then demonstrate their passion, creativity, and dedication to take it to the next level.
  • 100% Transparency
  • A very unique trait of our company is its transparency and our clients love us for that. We are so transparent that we give our clients access to our dashboard so they can easily track the progress of their SEO campaigns. Moreover, we provide 100% authentic and transparent monthly reports and are always ready to answer any questions at any point during the campaign. This is what makes our company stand out from others.
  • Personalized Services
  • We never rely on any cookie-cutter templates for doing SEO. Our agency believes that each client has its own requirements and industry and each industry has its own demands. This is why we always focus on customized strategies and techniques that allow us to effectively boost your store’s online presence.
  • Our experts will spend time learning about your business, industry, and product line-up. We also partner you up with a dedicated manager who will collaborate with you to learn about your business and industry. Once that is done, we will put together a solid eCommerce SEO strategy that will give you a competitive advantage right off the bat.
  • Real Results
  • Our agency is all about performance-driven strategies. We have generated millions in revenue for our eCommerce SEO clients and we hope to do the same for your business. Whether it be growing your product line, improving brand reputation, expanding your service area or anything else, we are ready to help you.

Benefits of eCommerce SEO

![Alt Text]( https://destinymarketingsolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/best-ecommerce-seo-company-destiny-marketing-solutions.jpg

Improves Online Visibility

Our eCommerce SEO services will help to improve your online visibility in search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Boosting your online visibility is usually the first step towards making it easier for end consumers to find your website and products.
Rather than you appearing on page two of search results, your website will show up on page one, which will help drive more targeted traffic leading to more conversions.
On the contrary, if you ignore SEO, your business will suffer from lower search result ranking, extremely low conversions, and less revenue.
Unless you are driving laser targeted traffic to your website, forget about making any sales. Eventually, your business will bring in very little profit and would not be sustainable.
Destiny Marketing Solution promises an effective eCommerce SEO strategy that will maximize your search visibility and boost your profits. Our team will spend extra time learning about your business and industry and the target audience and then craft the perfect strategy that guarantees maximum results in the least amount of time.

Easily Find High-Ticket Customers

You may have some high-end products in your online store that your average consumer isn’t buying or cannot afford. So, how will you find the right customer for those products? Which terms should you rank for so that you land a high-ticket customer on that specific product page?
This is where our eCommerce SEO services come into play. We know how to optimize your store so that it is visible to almost every type of consumer. Whether they want to buy a $100 product or a $1000 product, we will help you place your eCommerce store in front of the right type of buyer.

Optimization of Your Entire Product Line

When we SEO optimize your eCommerce store, it will optimize your entire product line. If you have an expansive product line, it is important that your target audience finds your goods when they search online.
Our eCommerce SEO strategy will help optimize every single one of your products. Our strong on-page optimization techniques are one of the best to enhance your search results. We also make sure we provide the best SEO content to our clients and distribute that content on various social media platforms.
So, if someone searches for “memory foam cat bed,” they will not only find your website but also your products. )

Compete Against Your Competitors

If you are not doing SEO for your online store, forget about beating your competitors even 10 years from now. No matter how amazing your website looks or how attractive its web design is, without a solid SEO marketing strategy in place, you will never be able to outrank your competitors. This is what makes us stand out from other SEO companies.
We also analyze your competitor's SEO work, on-page optimization, and content strategy to boost your rankings.
Our eCommerce SEO agency will help you outrank your competitors every single time and for every search phrase that you're going after. When you work with us, we will develop a customized strategy that instantly places your business on the front line.

Long-Term Revenue

Paying a monthly retainer for our SEO services right now may not seem pleasant to you, but a few months from now, you will be thanking us. Moreover, you will have a close rate of almost 15% of all the leads that come through SEO. This is the bare minimum.
Also, SEO is an ongoing process and not an overnight ride. But one thing is for sure, it works and guarantees long-term sustainable results.
This is perhaps one of the many reasons as to why digital marketing is becoming a more trusted choice for eCommerce stores nowadays.
When you decide to work with our agency, you will notice the steady growth of your online store over time. Our goal is to help your company achieve its long-term goals, and we know that our SEO services can help you.

The Cost-Effective Way to Market

Do you know that traditional marketing strategies only have a 1.5% closing rate on average? They also happen to be extremely expensive.
On the other hand, search engine optimization is an extremely cost-effective way of marketing as it focuses on the keywords that your target audience is using. All you need to do is optimize your website for those keywords and watch the results roll in.
You could be saving hundreds and thousands of dollars that you are currently spending on expensive traditional marketing strategies and using them to grow and expand your online store. You can use SEO PPC advertising or email marketing to increase your overall sales and revenue. This is what makes us stand out from other SEO companies.

Useful Facts About eCommerce Stores

https://youtu.be/zu36Y9fyM7I
If you have recently started a new eCommerce business or have been doing it for a while, here are some amazing facts about eCommerce that you may not know:
  • The eCommerce industry is currently growing at a pace of 23% per year and roughly 67% of Millennials prefer to buy online than in a store;
  • About 80% of Americans have purchased something online during the past month and 51% prefer to shop online; and
  • 59% of Baby Boomers have made at least one purchase online during this year.
Above all, a whopping 43% of all online retail sales go through Amazon and 46% of American small businesses do not have a website.
Simply put, you have already taken the first step to be ahead of the competition, all you need to do now is optimize your website and make it stand out from your online competitors.

We Want to Be Your Long-Term Strategic Partners

We don’t just want to sell you another SEO package. Rather, we want to be your long-term eCommerce SEO agency that helps you consistently grow your business every year.
We have a very efficient SEO reporting platform and you will have access to it to view monthly SEO reports that highlight tasks completed, upcoming tasks, statistics, progress reports, and much more.
Moreover, you will be able to see which one of our team members completed each task. Simply put, we will not leave you in the dark to wonder what’s happening with your SEO campaign and what’s going to happen in the future.
The custom monthly reports will give you meaningful insight into the KPI metrics, organic search traffic, audience behavior, conversion, and many other factors that play an important part in improving your overall SEO. We will make sure that we separate organic revenue from your SEO PPC campaigns and we can even customize your reports as you like.
Best of all, you will have 24/7 access to our amazing customer support. No matter what type of questions you have, our SEO team is always available to answer your calls or emails.
We also schedule monthly calls with all of our clients to walk them through a quick review of the campaign’s progress and assure them that everything is going smoothly.
Because we provide you with step-by-step business goals and how we intend to achieve them to help your business grow, you will feel confident and optimistic about your eCommerce SEO campaign. By the end of each month, we will review our goals and whether or not they have been achieved. This way, we stay on the same page as our clients and make sure that they are successful.

We Don’t Brag, We Deliver

Destiny Marketing Solutions puts together customized strategies that meet the unique needs of each client.
We believe in delivering proven results rather than bragging about our success stories. Your success is our success.
Our team of SEO experts will determine what exactly it will take to achieve your goals. Once we have crafted a high-level strategy, we will break it down into small processes and start implementing it.
We promise that we will help you grow your eCommerce business in terms of sales, conversions, revenue, profits, and brand authority.

FAQ

What is eCommerce SEO?

eCommerce search engine optimization refers to SEO for eCommerce websites. As compared to the traditional SEO techniques used for local businesses or affiliate websites and blogs, eCommerce SEO differs in the strategies and techniques that are used. It helps to improve the website’s ranking in the search results of search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Why is SEO important?

In the past, not ranking for your most important keywords was considered OK. Now, it is a marketing must for every website, especially eCommerce stores as their conversions and revenue rely heavily on it. Think of your website as an interactive multimedia advertisement for your business. You cannot expect this advertisement to be effective unless you put it in front of the right audience. By doing SEO of your website, it becomes easy for the users to find your site and see what your business is about and what it offers.

How much do eCommerce SEO services cost?

The price of eCommerce SEO varies and depends on the agency and its plans. However, when you work with Destiny Marketing Solutions, you can expect these services to vary depending on the size of your eCommerce business. We also have customized plans for larger online stores.

How long does it take to see results?

There are several different factors that explain the time it takes to notice any significant results. For instance, the competitiveness of the industry you are in, your website’s age, where you currently rank, how strong your existing SEO profile is, whether you have been hit by a Google penalty in the past or recently, and your brand’s authority all affect how quickly you will see results. Also, the fact is that the majority of people never scroll past page two, meaning that even if you rank on page three for your main keywords, you cannot see any significant increase in your traffic until you hit page one. We mostly give a time frame of three to six months to our clients for seeing increased rankings and traffic.

Which online stores can use our eCommerce SEO marketing services?

Almost any type of online store can benefit from eCommerce SEO. At Destiny Marketing Solutions, we have been doing eCommerce SEO for the past several years and we have helped several brands from different industries reach page one of Google. We have worked with clients who use Magento, Shopify, Wix, Weebly, BigCommerce, Squarespace, Miva, WooCommerce, 3dcart, and Volusion.

Are there any guarantees?

While we promise our clients that we will take every possible step to deliver results, we believe that any SEO company that promises you guarantees for rankings is probably shady. Why? Google algorithms change frequently throughout the year, and unless we optimize your website as per those algo changes, you cannot see any improvements in your search rankings. However, we do provide a commitment to quality work, plus we have a solid track record of helping our eCommerce clients achieve measurable results.

What is the benefit of SEO for eCommerce stores compared to paid ads?

You might be wondering why not simply use paid ads and start driving traffic to your website? But, what about testing, lowering your ad cost so you are profitable, hiring an ads manager, setting a budget for your ads, and scaling your business? With SEO, you will be able to tap into the best source of traffic, which is absolutely free and highly-targeted.

What if your website has been penalized by Google?

Don’t worry! We have a solid experience in recovering websites from search engine penalties. Although it takes a bit longer to deliver results, as a lot of time is spent recovering the penalized website, especially if it is an eCommerce one, we will surely get you out of the hole and get you to page one.

What happens once you are ready to start working with us?

Once you have discussed the details of your projects on the FREE strategy call with us, the first step would be to estimate the monthly retainer for your campaign. This is based on the information you provide us with. We usually get back to you on this the same day to gather more details from you. We will then work with you to map out your long-term goals and match up the deliverables to help you get there.

What ROI can I expect?

Our goal is to help your eCommerce website get more target organic search traffic from search engines. Once the traffic increases, you will notice an immediate boost in your conversions. And, as we scale and grow your traffic every month, your ROI will keep on increasing.

Let Us Help You Increase Your Traffic, Sales, Revenue, and Conversions

Our eCommerce SEO company has helped hundreds of eCommerce business owners increase their organic traffic, sales, revenue, and conversions. We not only help you achieve better rankings but also maintain them consistently.
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2020.05.19 04:43 lolpolice88 The land of the wrong white crowd: Growing up and living in the shadow of racism

https://e-tangata.co.nz/history/the-land-of-the-wrong-white-crowd-growing-up-and-living-in-the-shadow-of-racism/
" For much of his life, Trevor Richards has been fighting racism both here and internationally, most notably as one of the founders of HART (Halt All Racist Tours) which campaigned against New Zealand’s sporting ties with apartheid South Africa. Here he looks back at the history of New Zealand’s race relations, which was once touted (by Pākehā New Zealanders) as the best in the world.
I was one of the early baby boomers, born in South Auckland towards the end of 1946. I grew up in the north, in Kaikohe and Paihia, before heading off to university in Auckland. My teenage stamping ground was the cradle of early European settlement. Kororāreka, New Zealand’s first capital until 1841, was a short ferry ride away. Re-named Russell in 1844, I could see it from our front door. It was on the hill overlooking Kororāreka that Ngāpuhi chief Hōne Heke Pōkai and his supporters chopped down the flagstaff, not once, but four times. War followed.
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where, five years earlier, Heke had signed the Treaty, was even closer to where we lived. Five minutes in the opposite direction was the site of the country’s first church. Built of raupo, it had been constructed in 1823. The church which now stands on the site was only erected in 1925, but its adjoining graveyard dates from 1826. The Mission House and the Old Stone Store in Kerikeri, New Zealand’s two oldest surviving buildings, were no more than a short Sunday afternoon drive away.
Being surrounded by all this history was great. But in school, we weren’t taught much about it — and what we were taught was a history viewed pretty much through a 19th century Pākehā lens. Growing up in the Bay of Islands felt like growing up in the middle of an old disused movie set. The props from our past were all there, and we doffed our hats in their direction on occasions, but it was as if they no longer had any real relevance to contemporary life.
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Trevor, after a day of fishing.
As a Pākehā kid, I can’t recall the word “racism” being used very much. In the 1950s and 1960s, most Pākehā New Zealanders believed that our race relations were great. At Northland College in Kaikohe in the early 1960s, Prime Minister Keith Holyoake told our school assembly that New Zealand had “the best race relations in the world”. Newspapers were regularly reporting someone or other expressing such views.
Our next door neighbour in Kaikohe, a widower in his 80s, certainly believed that this was the case. One night in 1957, as we were tracking the Russian Sputnik across the night sky , he commented approvingly on a recent newspaper story praising the state of our race relations — before going on to marvel at the strength of the light the Russians had put in their satellite.
At the time, most Pākehā believed that they had been fair in their dealings with Māori, and that, if there was a problem, it was the other party in the relationship that was to blame.
For most, this wasn’t based on any real understanding. There was little or no awareness of anything indigenous. Māori history, language, culture and values were subjects for neither contemplation nor discussion. Most Pākehā wouldn’t have known the difference between a pōwhiri and a waiata.
In the days of my childhood, land confiscation and the systematic destruction and debasement of an indigenous culture were unacknowledged concepts. An awareness of the effects of English colonialism and its impact on Māori was an understanding for a future time. To many Pākehā at this time, Māori was simply “Hori” — an overweight, happy-go-lucky, not very bright character who was work-shy and drank too much. This derogatory term became more common in the 1960s as Māori became increasingly urbanised.
What often sustains racism and gives it potency is that it’s not recognised for what it is by those practising and benefiting from it. A majority culture can belittle the minority culture without thinking — without even knowing it’s doing so.
Many Pākehā (fewer now) took their privileges for granted, and were oblivious to the conditions under which Māori and other ethnic minority groups lived. The “natural order of things” often turns out to be the result of a narrow, insular, self-serving vision based on a series of unrecognised, embedded racist assumptions. Those racist assumptions can form the basis of the majority culture’s attitudinal DNA.
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Trevor with his sister Shirley, parents Ruth and Wilfred, and maternal grandparents Nellie and Frederick Civil.
I don’t remember much of my early years in South Auckland. Kaikohe I remember well — which is different from saying that there was much understanding involved. TS Eliot writes in Little Gidding, the last of his Four Quartets, lines that first struck home when I was writing Dancing on Our Bones: New Zealand, South Africa, Rugby and Racism:
We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.
That observation is certainly true of my recollections of growing up in Kaikohe. Looking back, Māori were all around us, but what did we know about them and their lives? It was Pākehā who were in control and the town reflected Pākehā dominance. Māori had lived in the area for more than 500 years, but the streets and roads in the town centre were named after Europeans — Clifford, Routley, de Merle, Bisset — whoever they were.
Kaikohe was not unique. It was pretty much the same throughout the country. Irrespective of whose whakapapa dominated a particular area, the names on street signs were mostly European. In Kaikohe, some roads had descriptive names — Hillcrest, Memorial, Park, Recreation. There were some streets named after trees — Kowhai and Tawa — and yes, a few on the outer reaches of the central township did have Māori names. Hongi, Heke and Wihongi.
But, mostly, central Kaikohe was all very Pākehā, despite its history, and the significant number of Māori living in the area. There was a large Māori settlement in the west of the town on Rangihamama Rd, which most people I knew referred to simply as “Rangi Rd”. Unlike the roads in the town centre, Rangihamama Rd was bumpy, potholed and unsealed.
Most, if not all, of the retail outlets were owned and operated by Pākehā. The local council had a succession of white mayors and although there may have been Māori councillors, I don’t recall any. The town’s one picture theatre, the Regent, had two floors: upstairs and downstairs. In the years that I was at college, upstairs was one shilling and three pence, downstairs was nine pence. Upstairs had comfortable padded seats. Downstairs the seats were much less comfy. Pākehā sat upstairs. Māori sat downstairs.
That wasn’t the law — but it was the reality, the result of a mix of social convention and economic realities. At the time, I didn’t regard any of this as in any sense wrong or unfair. It was just the way it was.
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Kaikohe Primary School, forms 1 and 2, 1958. Trevor is second from right, bottom seated row. Until 1969, most Māori children went to the Kaikohe Native School.
At primary school, we were taught about the arrival of Kupe, Toi and Whātonga and The Great Migration. At Northland College, we were taught about something called “The Māori Wars”. It was some time before they became known as “The New Zealand Wars”.
Fortunately, some of our teachers were living in advance of their time. In the fourth form, I recall writing an essay in which I quoted from a book, written by an early settler, which I had found on my grandfather’s bookshelf. The author was no Elsdon Best. Alongside one of the passages critical of Māori, which I had taken from the book, my teacher (Jim Gale, who, by the 1970s, was a well-known anti-racist activist) had quoted from Lear in the margin: “More sinned against than sinning.”
All power to teachers! In Kaikohe, in the 1960s, there were scarcely any others to keep the flame of liberal values alive.
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Trevor, with wreath, on Anzac Day 1961.
Northland College isn’t much more than half an hour from Waitangi, and the Treaty grounds were no more than a brisk walk from our home in Paihia, where I lived during the last few years of my time at secondary school.
My first enduring memory of Waitangi was February 6, 1963. The Queen, on her second visit to New Zealand, attended celebrations at the Treaty grounds. I was part of a Boy Scout Guard of Honour which greeted her as she stepped ashore at the Waitangi jetty. I’d been told by our college principal that “this will be the most important day of your life”.
That was a build-up on which the day sadly failed to deliver. Everybody in the official party down at the jetty had just looked so uninspiring. The PM, Keith Holyoake, looked too much like New Zealand Herald cartoonist Gordon Minhinnick’s caricatures to be taken seriously, and the Queen didn’t look that much different from many others her age that I’d seen at the Kaikohe A&P Show.
As to the actual events at Waitangi which followed, I don’t remember much about them. Platitudinous speeches are rarely memorable. I left the Treaty grounds, empty and disappointed, half wondering how I was going to get through the rest of my life if this day was its most important.
The basis of national identity is often myths and easy generalities. When it came to matters of race, this was certainly so of New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s. During those decades, assimilation was New Zealand’s official race relations policy. For most Pākehā, this meant claiming that once Māori adopted white ways and behaved like whites, they would be treated like whites. And that was it.
Assimilation was not a two-way street. Pākehā were not required to adopt or adapt to important aspects of Māori culture. For Māori, even speaking te reo was out. That was a road in the wrong direction.
Although we didn’t know it, as we baby boomers were growing up, huge changes were taking place in New Zealand society.
In 1945, the majority of Māori had lived in rural communities. Only 26 percent lived in towns and cities. By 1966, this had risen to 62 percent, and by 1986, almost 80 percent of Māori lived in towns and cities.
For Pākehā, the “golden weather” of New Zealand race relations was coming to an end. As Māori and Pākehā mixed more, the hoax of assimilation became more clear. Young Māori radicals began arguing that, for Māori, the way forward was to return to and rediscover their roots. A Māori renaissance was underway. When Ngā Tamatoa declared there was no Māori problem — “What we have is a problem with Pākehā” — many Pākehā, who hadn’t spent five minutes examining any aspect of their relationship with Māori, felt threatened.
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Members of Ngā Tamatoa on the steps of Parliament Buildings, 1972. They are (from back left) Toro Waaka (Ngāti Kahungunu), John Ohia (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pūkenga), Paul Kotara (Ngāi Tahu), Tame Iti (Ngāi Tuhoe), and (from front left) Orewa Barrett-Ohia (Ngāti Maniapoto), Rawiri Paratene (Ngāpuhi) and Tiata Witehira (Ngāpuhi). (Alexander Turnbull Library)
I was at Auckland University when Ngā Tamatoa was formed. What Syd Jackson, Ted Nia, Tame Iti and others were talking about wasn’t all that radical. Their chief concerns were the continuing confiscation of Māori land and the rapid disappearance of their language. What was “radical” was their presentation of this message. Articulate and uncompromising, their take-no-prisoners approach signalled the beginning of a new chapter in Māori protest.
As the ‘60s became the ‘70s, the focus on race issues, both domestic and international, increased. Academics and church leaders, university students and trade unionists were speaking out.
In 1970, Eric Gowing, the Anglican Bishop of Auckland, neatly tied issues of apartheid and domestic racism together when he said “what we think about sporting contacts with South Africa depends on what we think about racism”.
In 1970, anti-apartheid organisations, including the recently formed HART (Halt All Racist Tours), churches and trade unions came together to form the New Zealand Race Relations Council (NZRRC) under the leadership of Jim Gale, my Northland College fourth form social studies teacher.
The council’s basic aim, “was to extend and promote understanding, cooperation and harmony between the races”. Honorary vice-presidents included the Māori Queen, Te Atairangikaahu, the Ombudsman, Sir Guy Powles, Cardinal McKeefry, the four Māori MPs, and two Anglican bishops (Eric Gowing from Auckland, and Walter Robinson from Dunedin). The patron was Sir Edmund Hillary.
The growing indications were that there was no way, when it came to race issues, that 1970s New Zealand was going to be quiet. I was happy to know that whatever it was that lay ahead, there was a solid base of mainstream New Zealand that had committed itself to an important set of beliefs — even if the NZRRC’s aims had been somewhat quaintly expressed.
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Rob Muldoon, New Zealand’s PM from 1975 to 1984.
And so it came to pass. Dominating most of the following decade and beyond was Robert Muldoon, National’s leader during much of the Third Labour Government (1972-75) and the prime minister from 1975 to 1984. He was the chief advocate of a virulent set of racist, populist policies and an unpleasant man.
If New Zealand was going to have a prime minister with such views, I was pleased it was someone who so polarised the country. Every time he made one of his more egregious statements, more people joined the ranks of those wanting change. By the end of the decade, racism had become an issue on which the country was deeply conflicted.
Central to this growing ongoing racial division were issues of land alienation. In 1975, Whina Cooper led a highly publicised 1,000-kilometre hīkoi from Te Hāpua in the Far North to Wellington protesting against the continuing loss of Māori land.
At the time, Māori land ownership had dwindled to five percent. The hīkoi was inspirational and game-changing. The genie was out of the bottle. In the early days of 1977, activists moved on to and then occupied land at Auckland’s Bastion Point in an attempt to prevent Ngāti Whātua land coming under the control of the Crown. They remained there for 507 days.
Protests spread as far as the United Kingdom. Coinciding with the 1977 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting that was being held in London to mark the Queen’s silver jubilee, London-based HART activists, Kathy Baxter and Dave Wickham, organised protests outside New Zealand House demanding the return of Bastion Point to Ngāti Whātua.
In early 1978, another major land dispute flared up in Raglan, where local golf club authorities were planning to extend their 9-hole course to 18 by expanding over an ancient Māori burial site. The protest at Raglan and at Bastion Point were both eventually to have successful outcomes, though not before hundreds were arrested.
Looking back, on issues of race, it was not just “radicals” who were dominating the political landscape. The Third Labour Government was also making an impact. In April 1973, it cancelled that year’s Springbok rugby tour. In 1974, February 6 became known, for a brief period, as New Zealand Day.
At Waitangi that year, Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s spontaneous gesture of taking a small Māori boy by the hand as he moved to the speakers’ rostrum became a much talked about symbol of hope in the country’s future.
Not all my friends had viewed Kirk’s gesture positively — the word paternalism was heard on a number of occasions. But when I compared Waitangi 1975 with my experience of Waitangi 1963, I felt that as a country we had made some progress.
In October 1975, Labour created the Waitangi Tribunal to hear Māori claims of breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, which included unresolved land disputes.
In 1976, the incoming National government entered office encouraging sporting contacts with South Africa. On the domestic race front, New Zealand Day reverted to being Waitangi Day.
In 1977, the Waitangi Tribunal convened briefly, but quickly went into recess.
In the 1970s, it wasn’t only Māori who were under attack. We’d welcomed 80,000 immigrants from neighbouring Pacific Islands when the New Zealand economy was booming and there was a shortage of labour, but couldn’t get rid of them fast enough when, by the mid-‘70s, the economy was in trouble.
The Dawn Raids, which had begun under the Third Labour Government, and intensified under the 1975 National government, focused on rounding up Pacific Islanders who had overstayed their visas. Sāmoan and Tongan overstayers were singled out. Many were stopped in the street and asked for proof of residency. At the time of these Dawn Raids, the majority of those guilty of overstaying were not citizens of New Zealand’s Pacific neighbours. They were from Australia, the UK, and South Africa — but that was okay, because they were white.
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The Polynesian Panthers at a protest rally in 1971. (Photo: John Miller)
Throughout the 1970s, the two strands of New Zealand’s anti-racist struggle — domestic and international — had supported each other. HART had been formed in 1969, the year before Ngā Tamatoa. Syd Jackson and Hana Te Hemara, representing the New Zealand Māori Students’ Association, were two of the 14 at the meeting which established HART.
From the beginning, Syd and other Ngā Tamatoa members were active in the anti-apartheid campaigns. One night, Syd and I were speaking in Rotorua against the 1976 All Black tour of South Africa when a bomb threat closed the meeting down.
HART also worked alongside the Polynesian Panther Party, which had been formed in Auckland in 1971 to promote the interests of New Zealand’s Pacific Island community. In 1972, HART organised a speaking tour in Christchurch for the Panthers to help them widen their support.
In 1974, representatives of Ngā Tamatoa, the Polynesian Panther Party, HART, and CARE met with representatives of the Ponsonby Rugby Football Club in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade them to abandon their planned 1975 tour of South Africa. At the time, 60 percent of Ponsonby residents were Polynesian, and polls indicated that 81 percent of Polynesians living in Ponsonby were opposed to the tour. The following year, HART branches around the country joined with other sympathetic organisations and individuals to prepare food for those on the hīkoi.
In the post-war period, it wasn’t only the realities of New Zealand race relations that many New Zealanders were either ignorant of, or in denial, about. As race became a major issue on the world stage, many in New Zealand were slow to respond positively to the new developing international consensus, especially when it came to Southern Africa.
Support for apartheid among politicians, sportsmen and business leaders was always more widespread than was officially conceded. In a visit to South Africa in 1967, the deputy prime minister, Jack Marshall, had been struck by what he had seen. On his return to New Zealand, in a letter to the South African prime minister, John Vorster, he wrote that he was “impressed by the good relations which seemed to me to exist between the Bantu and the white people. I saw no evidence of tension or resentment”. On another occasion, Marshall had also expressed the belief that Māori were “good bulldozer drivers”.
Tauranga’s National MP George Walsh visited South Africa and Southern Rhodesia in 1972. Of Ian Smith, he said: “This dedicated prime minister is becoming well known for his generous outlook.” He declared that Southern Rhodesia was “the best run country in Africa”, and that, in South Africa, “under separate development, the racial problems will resolve themselves”.
Allan McCready, who was the minister in charge of the Dawn Raids of the mid-1970s (and who went on to own a racehorse which he named “Dawn Raid”), commented on his return from Southern Rhodesia, in October 1973, that: “You can take the Bantu out of the bush, but you cannot take the bush out of the Bantu.” To Rotorua MP Harry Lapwood, anti-apartheid protestors were “mentally sick or warped in mind”.
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With Nelson Mandela, in 1995.
In 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected the first president of a new, democratic, non-racial South Africa, but, as late as 2008, at least one politician was still failing the apartheid test. In his first television debate with Helen Clark in the 2008 election campaign, National Party leader John Key claimed that he couldn’t remember whether, when at university in 1981, he’d been for or against that year’s Springbok tour — which is a bit like not being able to remember which party you voted for in the last election. What was probably running through Key’s mind when he gave this dumb answer was whether it was politically safe in 2008 to admit to having been in support of the tour.
There were many others, and they weren’t all politicians. A Wellington stockbroker and former All Black, Ron Jarden, returned from South Africa in 1968 convinced that apartheid was the only possible method of controlling and developing South Africa’s multi-racial society. “The natives have freedom from want and freedom from the danger of getting a spear through their stomach. They have family unity and continuing security and opportunity. Are these not more important than political freedom?”
Tom Pearce, the chairman of the Auckland Regional Authority, and an erstwhile house guest of Southern Rhodesia’s Minister of Law and Order, Desmond Lardner- Burke, praised the role of white men in history and called for restraining orders to be placed on anti-apartheid leaders.
For those seeking racial justice at home and abroad,1975-84 had been a particularly grim period. Internationally, New Zealand had always promoted the view that it was strongly opposed to apartheid, but its support over this period for New Zealand rugby’s continued links with South Africa rather got in the way of that claim.
For the National government, it wasn’t, as was often claimed, a case of keeping politics out of sport. Between 1972 and 1984, National fought four successive election campaigns making sport central to its political appeal. When the government’s international anti-apartheid rhetoric conflicted with its pro-apartheid domestic decision making, the government acted in accordance with domestic imperatives, but continued to keep on mouthing the rhetoric internationally.
Not so well remembered are the 1960-72 positions of New Zealand at the United Nations, when it either voted against, or abstained on, most resolutions which condemned South Africa.
At the time of Southern Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, a Tanzanian representative was prompted to describe New Zealand as “enemy number one of Africa” — a theme which Tanzania and over 20 other nations were to give practical effect to 11 years later, when they walked out of the 1976 Montreal Olympics in protest against the New Zealand government’s outspoken support for that year’s All Black rugby tour of South Africa.
Prime Minister Muldoon had gone so far as to say that the 1976 All Blacks had gone to South Africa with his personal blessing and goodwill. Foreign minister Brian Talboys meanwhile had continued to assure the international community of New Zealand’s abhorrence of apartheid.
The Muldoon government had once again mouthed the anti-apartheid rhetoric for international consumption, while at the same time singing from an entirely different song sheet for perceived domestic advantage. As Africa boycotted the Montreal Olympics, the government was to discover the perils of speaking simultaneously out of both sides of its mouth.
By 1981, the New Zealand of my childhood was at war with itself. The battle between the values held by many of my parents’ generation, and those held by many baby boomers, was changing the way New Zealanders thought about themselves — the way they thought about the country they wanted New Zealand to be.
We were deeply divided over a wide range of issues. It was not just race. That divide included our attitudes to women’s rights, gay rights, and the issue of New Zealand’s role and place in the world. Were we an appendage of Empire, or were we an independent Pacific nation? In 1973, the Labour government answered this question when Prime Minister Norman Kirk sent a navy frigate to French Polynesia to protest against French nuclear testing in the Pacific.
The impact of the 1981 tour was widespread. First, we did not stop the tour, but we did show solidarity with those suffering under apartheid. Nelson Mandela told Dame Catherine Tizard in 1995 that, when he heard about the cancellation of the Hamilton game, “it felt like the sun coming out”. Second, at a time when they were badly needed, HART projected positive images of New Zealand internationally. We didn’t allow a small-minded, insular and racist government to speak for us. Third, we affirmed and promoted the power of protest. This had a positive impact on many issues, none more so than on issues of domestic racism.
Perhaps the greatest achievement of the tour protests was the way in which it springboarded the issue of Māori sovereignty into the mainstream of liberal thinking. Increasingly, it wasn’t credible to oppose racism in South Africa while ignoring it at home.
In 1981, activist and artist Ralph Hotere, ONZ, was painting his Black Union Jack series. My favourite is a mixed media work carrying the handwritten inscription Greetings from the land of the wrong white crowd. I love it, partly because its message, a vernacular play on the translation of the original Māori name for New Zealand, is totally unambiguous.
In 1985, the Fourth Labour Government, elected the previous year, revived the Waitangi Tribunal and extended its brief to cover claims to include any alleged breach of the Treaty since 1840.
In 1987, the Māori language became an official language of New Zealand. Not much more than a generation previously, kids in primary school were whacked for speaking te reo.
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Trevor with Springbok captain Francois Pienaar in 1994.
From 1988 to 1996, I was Africa Programme Manager for Volunteer Service Abroad, visiting projects in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa on a regular basis. The anti-apartheid campaigns of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s had exposed much anti-African sentiment in New Zealand. Born of ignorance, arrogance and racism, these views often went hand in hand with attitudes unsympathetic to the rights of tangata whenua. Travelling frequently in East and Southern Africa over this period exposed me to rich, sophisticated, and vibrant cultures about which their New Zealand critics knew nothing. As John Lennon said: “Living is easy with eyes closed.”
I’d been actively involved in the New Zealand anti-apartheid movement and the wider anti-racist struggle for more than 30 years. In 2004, my partner was appointed to a job at the OECD. For 12 years, we lived on Paris’s left bank, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
France is so very different to New Zealand in so many respects, and yet, in some respects — and I am thinking now of racism — it’s not that dissimilar. Paris has an international reputation for being liberal, even revolutionary. To the casual tourist, it may be these things, but for many of those who live there, particularly those from any of France’s former colonies in North and West Africa, the City of Light is also a city of darkness.
Living there, it doesn’t take a terribly sharp scalpel to cut through the pretence and discover a society strongly infected with racism. France’s Muslim community, the largest in Europe, is a social underclass. This is a consequence of both France’s colonial past and its post-colonial history of indifference. At the time that I was living in France, an estimated 40 percent of Muslim youth in France were unemployed. French Muslims represented 7 to 8 percent of the country’s population, but 70 percent of its prison population. I doubt that the French figures today are very much different.
In New Zealand, we have recently passed the first anniversary of a white nationalist terrorist attack on two Christchurch Mosques. Fifty-one Muslims were killed. Twice, while I was living in Paris, the city was the subject of major attacks. The first, in January 2015, killed 17. The second, in November 2015, killed 130.
In both countries, the epicentre of these attacks became awash with candles, messages, flowers, graffiti. After the second attack in Paris, French journalist Natalie Nougayrede wrote: “It has become both a shrine and a celebration of the Paris we knew before.”
Similar sentiments were common following the Christchurch attack. But the nature of the attacks suffered by Paris and Christchurch were very different. In New Zealand, the attacker was a white nationalist and Muslims were the target. In France, the attackers were Muslim Jihadists, and it was French journalists, French Jews, and the French population as a whole who were the targets.
The response of many New Zealanders to the Christchurch attack was to stand by and embrace its Muslim community, but anti-Muslim incidents were also reported. Veiled Muslim women were yelled at in public places and told to go back to where they came from. (New Zealand is where they come from.)
What would the reaction have been here if the Christchurch attack had been carried out not by a white nationalist targeting Muslims, but by foreign Muslim jihadists, targeting the New Zealand population as a whole? Probably not too dissimilar to the reaction in France, where in the week following the first attack, 26 French mosques were attacked — by firebombs, gunfire, pigs heads and grenades. It was similar after the second attack.
To those who are culturally and/or ethnically different from mainstream Pākehā New Zealand, this country can demonstrate genuine empathy. It can also display an embittered version of hate. Fortunately, I don’t believe that these differing responses exist in equal measure.
Arriving back in New Zealand after 12 years in Europe, some changes were immediately obvious. Most noticeable was the growth and public acceptance of the use of te reo. What a delight! And how good it’s been to see basic “teach yourself Māori” being offered online as one of the activities during the coronavirus lockdown. Not that te reo has gained universal acceptance. For too many, the language is regarded as “useless”.
Returning, it was also encouraging to find that Waitangi Day celebrations had lost much of their hard-edged confrontation. At the time of my birth, the Treaty of Waitangi was just six years on from its 100th anniversary. Earlier this year, it reached its 180th anniversary.
Recently, the Māori Council issued a challenge to New Zealand. By the time of the Treaty’s 200th anniversary, it said, “we must set ambitious targets to rid the nation of racism”. Since 1840, racism has been an enduring feature of New Zealand life. Today, that racism is recognised for what it is by many Pākehā. For much of the last 180 years, it was not.
What are the chances of ending racism in New Zealand by 2040? The news on this front would seem to be both good and bad.
Structurally, racism continues to impact strongly on New Zealand society. The life expectancy of Māori is less than that of Pākehā. The percentage of Māori in prison — especially Māori women — far exceeds that of Pākehā. The percentage of unemployed Māori and of Māori living below the poverty line far exceeds that of Pākehā. The percentage of Māori in home ownership is lower compared to Pākehā.
Unemployment. Prison incarceration. Irrespective of country, racism always seems to impact negatively in exactly the same areas.
At the same time, attitudes and understanding are changing. There’s been undeniable progress since my visit to Waitangi in 1963. But it’s a slow and uneven progress across many fronts. Grievances associated with basic issues such as land alienation remain, as the recent occupation at Ihumātao illustrates.
For many, an unwillingness to recognise this country’s roots remains entrenched. In the poorly designed 2015-16 debate over whether New Zealand should change its flag, bad taste and racism were to the fore. The most popular new designs were ones better suited to either cereal packets or jam jars. The least supported — often ones with the better designs — were ones incorporating Māori motifs.
📷
Ōtorohanga College students who presented a petition to parliament calling for the New Zealand Wars to be taught in schools.
One piece of good news is that teaching New Zealand history in schools will soon be compulsory. Some schools are teaching some New Zealand history some of the time, but the Ministry of Education doesn’t know how much or to how many. As far back as 1938, James Cowan, one of New Zealand’s early preeminent historians, was questioning why New Zealand schools were teaching English history and not our own history. I must’ve been one of the lucky ones, even if what I was taught at Northland College was a history that reflected the prevailing attitudes of the time.
Move forward 81 years from Cowan’s observation to September 2019, and we have Jacinda Ardern’s announcement that, by 2022, all schools and kura in the country will be expected to teach New Zealand history. The curriculum changes being made will ensure that all students are aware of key aspects of New Zealand history and how they influenced and shaped the nation. Could this have elements of being a game changer?
Take Hōne Heke, for example. Chopping down the flagpole at Kororāreka is one of New Zealand history’s abiding images. I left college with a very 19th century colonial understanding of events: that Heke was some sort of lone, troublemaking malcontent who was finally put in his place by Governor George Grey.
But what if we’d been told that Heke, a Christian, and the first Māori to sign the Treaty, had been given assurances by Rev Henry Williams that, under the Treaty, the authority of Māori chiefs would be protected? The British government never kept this promise. Heke and other Māori felt betrayed. Their multiple attacks on the flagpole were taken out of a sense of that betrayal.
Historian Vincent O’Malley has written recently that “a mature nation takes ownership of its history, not just cherry-picking the good bits out to remember but also acknowledging the bad stuff as well. Moving confidently into the future requires a robust understanding of where we’ve come from and been”.
In one of the more famous lines in New Zealand poetry, Allan Curnow writes:
Not I, some child, born in a marvellous year Will learn the trick of standing upright here.
Vincent O’Malley again:
Reconciling ourselves to the history of this land — finding a place to stand — is not just about supporting the settlement of historical Treaty of Waitangi claims. That’s part of the story but not the whole solution. It’s about ordinary New Zealanders taking the time to acknowledge and even own this history. Learn about it, respect it, pass it on, make sure your children and their children learn these stories too. Not so they can feel guilty or ashamed about the actions of their ancestors. But so they can be big enough, and confident enough, to say, “yes, this is part of our history too.” It is only through understanding, accepting and reconciling ourselves to that history will we “learn the trick of standing upright here”.
Some New Zealanders are on the road “to ending racism”. Some are not. A large number of those who are not are probably not even aware that there is a need for such a journey. On the campaign trail, I would often quote Martin Luther King:
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamour of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
The Māori Council’s vision of ending racism by 2040 is an aspirational goal. The trick to making it more than that is for the country to learn what it means to stand upright here. That is happening. But by 2040?
📷Trevor Richards was one of 14 people who established the Halt All Racist Tours movement (HART) at Auckland University in July 1969. He was the movement’s first chair (1969-1980) and international secretary (1980-85). In 1977, he worked for the United Nations Centre Against Apartheid in New York, assisting in drawing up the UN International Declaration Against Apartheid in Sport. His account of New Zealand’s long campaign against apartheid sport, Dancing On Our Bones: New Zealand, South Africa, rugby and racism was published in 1999.
© E-Tangata, 2020"
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2020.04.28 09:44 removalbot 04-28 07:44 - 'CONSPIRACY THEORY INCOMING. yOU'VE BEEN WARNED MEOW! / Hmmmm this couldn't possibly disapear into presiden't trumps next campaign fund could it? / First the bill is writen in a language that allows corporations to get these ba...' by /u/DualtheJerk removed from /r/news within 29-39min

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CONSPIRACY THEORY INCOMING. yOU'VE BEEN WARNED MEOW!
Hmmmm this couldn't possibly disapear into presiden't trumps next campaign fund could it?
First the bill is writen in a language that allows corporations to get these bail outs. Then they predictably send it back, but it has to change hands. Usually chaning hands is where the republicans make their money by skimming off the top. Is there any service charges to these transactions? Maybe only MOST of the money successfully changes hands but therse probably service charges the banks, loan handlers, etc get for handling the money and allowing these transactions to actually get through. It's the republican way, no money in america is allowed to change hands without them being a middle man that unfairly profits.
No, if we really want to be equitable the banks that charged ANY fee for ANY of these transactiosn has to give up those handling fees as well or face just as much criminal prosecution. They shouldn't get to profit off of their actions that they clearly knew were illegal but thought they could get away wiht because of how used to they are t Republican corruption. In fact there should be punitive damages for them not respecting the spirit of the law. Luckily for them our law system is corrupt as fuck with built in loopholes. All we can do is just watch because americans are complacent little comfort monkeys that like being abused for all their cash. That's why everyone goes to starbucks, cause their lives are so boring they need to feel some danger by OD'ing on caffeine so they'll feel SOMETHING.
Anyways, Well corruption only exists in the darkness. Now that there is some sunlight anyone that's shaking hands in the dark should be worried. I hope they decapitate every single one of these fraudsters in a grand public execution. Other countries threw their bank leaders in jail after the banking housing fiasco, but in america the people who lead the recession are in teh white house on the cabinet, writting the laws, and handling the bail out money. They get to prosper in Republican america, and the democrats are too pussy to ever take on this problem and are just appeasers and pleasers. They already got rid of Bernie who could pose any real threah the current establish ment, and its Bernie's own fault for not knowing how to properly manage his image. His supporters were all blind morons, including me. He just didn't have enough of a pair of balls to be a champion and win at all costs. Now were stuck with moron light, Biden, so were globally fucked cause his mind has its foot half way in dementia already. Hopefully one day America will re learn what leadership is, cause what we have now is fucking pathetic.
I dare anyone to go up to a politician and ask them how much they think a dozen eggs cost, ask them how much money does a person need to feed a family of 5? My guess is they're so disconnected from the American public they don't even know what a fucking dollar bill is. I double dog dare you to ask your politician if they even know what your real everyday life is like, cause I bet they dont since they all grew up with siver spoons.
Anyways it's all over already. Either we fall into fascism when trump suspends elections, or Biden wins and the minute trump realizes he's lost and he'll just retarget all the nukes to the "disloyal" states and blow them up. Though he doesn't use half measures. ALL the nukes are gonna go. Hello nuclear winter and TRUE social distancing.
Don't think it can happen? There's no legal thingy stopping the president from redirecting and launching nukes. He's the one person with his finger on the button and in order for us to threaten the world and have peace, the president's access to nukes must be total. we're already fucked, his cabinet like his male childs have no balls. All they know is how to lap at the orange sweat dripping off daddy. That's what we got running this country, the orange and his obidient orange ball lickers. They salty from over indulging and swollen.
That's the spirit in america right now. So just chill, we'll all be blown up soon. No law will pass to stop this. The Mad King is in power and has consolidated it so much that he no longer has to worry about respecting the constitution, the rule of law, or any sort of god diety or after life. If you want a god worship the nuclear missile, cause that's the last thing well see, or not, as its the ultimate mercy. We're just down trotten useless dogs to this narcissitic dictator, and now that we've out loved our useful ness it's time to get taken behind the shed and say hello to a critical mass explosion that will end our lineage of ancestors once and for all.
It was a nice ride America, but there will be no slow Roman decline of this empire. Death will be instant and may even happen tomorow. As long as the orange bandito has his fat cheeto fingers on the button and a cleanly licked pair of balls we can all be fucked any day, and any minute. We don't even have to wait for North Korea to fuck our shit up, the real terrorist is already in the white house.
NOW WATCH KINGS LANDING BURN DOWN YOU COMPLACENT PIECES OF SHIT, your inaction caused all of this. So complacently watch for the end. I did what I could but no one ever listens to me until its too late. Meow. Have fun blowing up. I'm good, i never even got the chance to enjoy life in america cause I was too busy successfully running out of money for college and dropping out even though I'm a legitimate creative genius. I couldn't compete with the kids of the people that have the whole system locked down in their favor to the exclusion of an outsider like me, even if I am in the top 1% of talent globally. I just don't got much to lose. Just gonna milk any last shred of happiness I have left in life. It's not much, but it's all I got left. I literally don't have a single dollar to my name right now, and eventually my last bag of rice will come and so will my end. That's just life in America for me and how it will always be.
Those 25 cent candy machines, those are FAR FAR FAAAAAAAAR out of my price range right now. That's about how much my life is worth in capitalist orange america: 25 cents. I should just fucking die already so someone can profit off my death. Forget about ever getting married, a cup of coffee on a date costs 5 to 10 dollars. That's 40 times higher than my total net worth right now. So fuck it. I'll just stand still til I starve cause I got nothing to offer the gods of capitalism in exchange for labor, so I shuld just fucking die instead. I don't have enough money to ever show anyone that I'm worth loving, cause I can't pay the upfront costs of happiness: a cup of coffee. All I would ever need is for an alpha female to see that I'm a legit alpha and sweet male that could make her proper and take care of her and all that good stuff, but I just can't afford to ever convince anyone. I'm just not worth more than a quarter, so in this society I don't exist. I'm not even entitled to food for basic survival because I have nothing to offer in a nice conceivable package. I had already reached my end in America the quarter second after I was born a burden.
This is my America where I should just have never tried. I would have been way happier just impregnating without thought and being broke and living off welfare without a single future thought in the world. That's my flaw, I'm just driven to succeed in this system that wants nothing to do with meritocracy. Our system exists to proect the kids of the already rich at hte expense of hte rest of us. My boss gets to go on vacation after vacation while I keep getting kicked off insurance after insurance. He and his wife tell me about their 60th baby boomer vacation cruise accross the atlantic. Last year it was the pacific. Here I am not even knowing what a fucking single vacation feels like. At least I can live vicariously for a second as they tell me how they spend 99% of the wealth I generated with my two hands at less than minimum wage, because they refuse to pay for my 5 hour travel time to their home to fix stuff, where they sit in front of a computer screen clicking on things and keeping 99% of the pie I baked.
Why even fucking try. I could have kids and a shitty wife by now living off welfare. My cousins who never had a responsible bone in their bodies get to at least continue through their children in spirit. Me I'll just fucking die and hopefully I'll find enlightenment once the carbon bonds holding my body together cease to covalently bond.
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Author: DualtheJerk
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2020.03.31 02:56 MitaAltair Love In the Time of the CoronaVirus

Saw this article and thought it would be helpful and provide some perspective
#StaytheFuckHome & read Dr. Susan Block's missive from edge of the Coronapocalypse, including Mother Nature's perspective, fighting a war without bombs (the Bonobo Way), SEX in isolation (let's all cheer for masturbation) and LoVE in the Time of Coronavirus:
Click Link for Full article with pics => https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/03/27/coronavirus-spring/
by Dr. Susan Block.
It’s Spring, and nature is blooming. Coronavirus has done (temporarily, at least) what no Paris Agreement, Green New Deal, man, woman or even that scrappy teen, Greta Thunberg (who may have also contracted COVID-19), could do. It has shut down a huge amount of the industrial, transportation and pollution-belching business activity that is destroying life on earth.
Tragically and terrifyingly, this comes at the expense of thousands of human lives (so far), the health of millions and the mental health of billions.
Ironically, it comes—like an ecogasm—to the benefit of the rest of world.
With so many Anthropocene operations shut down, the air is noticeably cleaner in many areas. We can see the difference—at least in waves. As the disease overtook China and the government ordered the shutdown of factories and other businesses, the smog lifted, nitrogen dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions lowered, and the skies brightened so much you could see the difference in satellite images.
Now that the Chinese seem to be getting a handle on the virus, people are back at work and pollution is resurfacing. But at the moment, almost every other country is struggling to contain the viral varmint with quarantines, handwashing tutorials and shelter-in-place virtual sing-a-longs, trying to heed the medical experts’ advice to (despite our Trumpublican representatives pushing us to get back to “normal” and #DiefortheDow) scrap all nonessential activity and #StaytheFuckHome.
So, throughout the planet—notably in Europe—the skies, streets and waterways are clearing up from human-generated debris. In Thailand and Japan, gangs of monkeys and deer roam streets now devoid of tourists. Dolphins and small fish are swimming in the Venice Canal (or just some canal near Venice, but it’s still impressive). It’s Mother Nature’s own Homemade Green New Deal.
It’s a Coronavirus Spring (with apologies to Rachel Carson).
Sounds almost lovely. However, unless you just hate human beings, it’s not lovely at all.
A War Without Bombs
As the virus spreads throughout humanity, it is waging a vicious World War that, despite all our bombs and Pentagons, we are not at all prepared to fight.
Yet fight we must—for our individual lives, and for our neighbors whose lives are deeply intertwined with ours.
They always have been, of course. Humans, like bonobos and common chimpanzees, are an intensely social, interdependent species. But thanks to the power of capitalism that enhances our feelings of competition, greed, desperation and jealousy, we’re not usually very cognizant of our inherent communal connection. Now that truth is laid out—or sprayed out—in “droplets,” statistics, “community spread,” sickness and death.
This despite the misleading, self-adoring, stock market-fellating, “I don’t take responsibility at all” putrid blather the Trumpus pulls out of his Rumpus (where’s that toilet paper when we need it?) at these unsafe press conferences he tries, in vain, to turn into rallies. Though he does fancy himself to be a Wartime President.
Of course, we started this war. And I don’t mean Mr. Tomato Head’s trumped up wars with China and whoever disagrees with him; I mean humanity’s war on the rest of nature.
Over the past few thousand years, especially the last century, we have made the Earth and its atmosphere sick as a COVID-19 patient, feverish with global warming, hurricane sneezes, fiery coughing fits, the damaged lungs of the rainforests and atmospheric shortness of breath. In short, human civilization has been a plague upon the Earth. Now, in a science fiction-like way, the Earth appears to be fighting back against its human plague by dropping this horrible modern plague, Coronavirus. Like a bomb. On us.
The Coronapocalypse is a war of wars, yet everything we *know* about war does not apply. Wars are typically fought with guns, grenades and guided missiles; the war against COVID-19 is fought with swab tests, ventilators, face masks and hand sanitizer. In traditional wars, the old send the young to fight and die for their corporate investments. In the Coronavirus War, the old are most likely to die, as the young alternate between fighting valiantly on the hospital frontlines and spreading the virus willy-nilly. This is almost always inadvertent; many are contagious for days before symptoms appear. But sometimes it’s deliberate with active “Boomer Removers” spitting on fruit in your local Ralph’s. Ironically, as the virus spreads, more young people are getting sick and dying in this war too. That Mother Nature is such a trickster.
In other American wars in the past 80 years, except for the occasional “terrorist,” the U.S. military has been doing the killing and dying in some faraway place, while here at home, we continue life as usual, barely aware of the havoc America wreaks on other nations. Now we know what it’s like to shut ourselves into our homes, crazed with fear and boredom, waiting for the bombs to drop.
Another difference between this war and others is the folks in uniform. I have never felt like thanking our troops for fighting, killing and helping to perpetuate our Perma-Wars; they don’t “protect” us from anything except the good will of other peoples. But I get down on my proverbial knees to thank our doctors, nurses and medical technicians who are facing this “enemy” with as much courage as the most decorated soldiers have ever faced combat, and with a lot more integrity, life-saving value and genuine service.
Wouldn’t it be great, smart and very bonoboesque to take 95% of the ridiculously bloated U.S. military budget and spend it on COVID-19 tests, ventilators, respirators, masks, gowns and other necessities? While we’re at it, let’s bring most of those troops home to help the first responders and medical teams fight this real-life enemy of the people.

Short of that, American billionaires ought to stop worrying about Wall Street and start buying supplies. Some are doing that, but their contributions are far from enough. It’s one thing to hoard toilet paper; it’s quite another to hoard billions of dollars when, due to a lack of basic medical necessities, your fellow citizens are dying in such high numbers that stacks of bodies are being hauled away in freezer trucks.
Love in the Time of Coronavirus
What about sex?
Sadly, the coronavirus is, in a way, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), a plague of human physical intimacy, as are all viruses. Not that we need to have sex to *catch* these colds, flus and viruses; all that’s required is that we be close to each other, inhale each other’s breath, somehow ingest each other’s germs or even just pick up each other’s phones.
How can we have sex without being close? How can we connect as we self-isolate? How can we make love in the time of Coronavirus (with apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez)?
As a sex therapist who counsels others to explore and enjoy the pleasures and healing benefits of consensual touch, it feels odd to advise people, including myself, to do the opposite in order to save their lives. Talk about an about-face! But here we are.
Not that you can’t have any sex, but I, a proud bonoboesque pansexualist, must agree with the New York City Department of Health (NYCDOH) COVID-19 guidelines that say it’s better to just “love the one you’re self-isolating with,” at least when it comes to in-person sex.
That means just one or, as the NYCDOH liberally suggests, “a small circle” of sex partners that you can really trust (how you know whom you can “really trust” is another story). Monogamy may be unnatural for humans, but it has never been so sensible. Having in-person casual sex is playing Russian Roulette… at least until they make a special sex-friendly hazmat suit, which is coming, I’m sure. But not soon enough.
Fun Fact: COVID-19, though swimming in saliva, has not been found in semen or vaginal fluid. Unfortunately for the analinguists out there, it has been found in fecal matter. Therefore, NYCDOH guidelines warn: “No rimming” (don’t you just love that kinky specificity in a metropolitan health office?). It’s great that the NYCDOH is hip to rimming. But does that mean other kinds of oral sex are okay?
And how do we even get to that point if we’re staying six feet apart? Nobody’s that well-hung.
What do we do if we’re single and dating? It sounds cumbersome, but maybe the exhibitionists among us could set up plastic booths and perform peep shows for our dates.
There are other ways to handle the six-foot rule. Personally, I think it’s a good time to eat raw garlic because 1) it’s good for your immune system and 2) it keeps people from getting close to you.
Of course, when we say “close,” we mean physically close. We simply can’t (or shouldn’t) get physically close to someone we’re not self-isolating with. A tale of two cities during the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 1918 demonstrates how important it is to play “keep away”: After a few cases of the deadly virus floated into Philadelphia and St. Louis, Philly held a big, crowded, military parade while St. Louis shut everything down.
Within days, the City of Brotherly Love was overwhelmed by the “Spanish Flu” (which was really the “Kansas Flu,” as that’s where it started, but the WWI-neutral Spaniards were the first to report on it, so got stuck with the name), killing more than 12,000 Philadelphians in six weeks, while St. Louis “flattened the curve” and kept their death toll under 700. My father was one of the thousands of Philadelphia children who caught the influenza of 1918. Obviously, he survived and lived a full life, but he contracted Parkinson’s Disease towards the end; it is said by some that H1N1 may have led to Parkinson’s, so this hits me close to home.
I wonder what scars might be carried by those who “recover” from COVID-19.
“Kissing through the Waves of the Web”
So, here we are playing physical “keep away” on a grand scale. Really, “social-distancing” is a misnomer. It makes it sound like we have to stop socializing, communicating or caring about one another. That’s not very bonobo, or very human. It also sounds rather anti-socialism (even Democratic Socialism).
I prefer the term “physical distancing,” which is bad enough, but not as bad. To “flatten the curve,” we need to “physically distance” ourselves from each other, but we can maintain, expand and deepen our social relationships through our otherwise demonic devices to our social-lite/influencer hearts’ content.
Yes, our devices can be vices—bad habits, stupefying sources of alienation, depression, misinformation and a host of other ills. But in our war against COVID-19, they may prove to be lifesavers, a vital means of communication, a loneliness balm, a means to let off steam, and a way to stay in touch without touching.
Alas, we don’t all have balconies from which we can sing our solidarity, like the Italian flash mobs… though as balcony scenes go, the New York couple getting married on the sidewalk under the minister’s fourth floor apartment window is a good one.
Not that we all should be singing through the pandemic, as evidenced by the cringe-worthy ruination of John Lennon’s “Imagine” in the voices of Gal Gadot and her clueless celebrity cohorts. Celebrities in general tend to be tone deaf on these global concerns, but exceptions to the rule include Fran Drescher Nanny-spanking “capitalism” and the surprisingly socialist pop princess-turned-MILF Britney Spears exhorting us to “write virtual love letters… learn to kiss and hold each other through the waves of the web. We will feed each other, re-distribute wealth, strike.. Communion moves beyond walls” (italics mine).
Amen and Awomen, Comrade Britney! And thanks for the three rose emojis, a Springy symbol of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Still, it’s so sad we can’t kiss. Kissing could be one culprit, besides intergenerational housing (another lovely Old World tradition), in the deadly COVID-19 spreads of Italy, France and Spain, countries where everybody kisses everybody else, at least once on each cheek, sometimes twice. Those gentle pecks on the cheek are so delightful, and now… fatal.
Bonobos love to kiss, showing us how basic to our Great Ape heritage is the desire to lock lips and swap saliva. But with COVID-19, a simple smooch can be the kiss of death.
So, we must try to “kiss… through the waves of the web,” express solidarity through social media, convey compassion, organize efforts, send money and wave to each other from our Microsoft Windows. We can communicate harmony and disharmony, share poetry, ideas, frustrations, kinship. We can cry with each other on the phone. We can make each other laugh online. Laughter is a mental orgasm, and almost as important to human health as consensual touch. Deprived of the latter, we’re going to need plenty of the former.
The interesting thing about “sensory deprivation” is that it makes our un-deprived senses even more acute. When you can’t see, your ability to hear is heightened. Without touch, our other senses might rise to the occasion, helping us to make love, or a kind of love (there are many kinds), through the sticky juicy interwebs, the Erotic Theater of the Mind. We can have phone sex, webcam, or sext each other. It’s not for everyone (though after a few more weeks of isolation, maybe it will be), but it’s possible to have a very “close,” intimate yet “virtual” conversation—even a long-term relationship—over our vice-filled devices.
And yet… physical touch is so vital to mammalian—especially primate—life. Most primates don’t have as much sex as bonobos, but almost all thrive on grooming, petting, hugging, playing with and touching each other. Infant monkeys deprived of touch won’t eat, get sick and die. The human primate is not much different.
Tragically, COVID-19 is not only a human virus, but also deadly to great apes, including bonobos. A shred of good news is that China is closing its wild animal markets, and other countries are following suit, but poachers in the Congolese Rainforest are still murdering bonobos and other endangered species as “bushmeat,” even though it’s illegal. It pains me to say it, but if bonobos catch Coronavirus, they will almost inevitably give it to each other, as touch is integral to their lives.
Consensual touch is pretty integral to human life too, but we can force ourselves to forego it, with willpower and, let’s call it what it is, tremendous self-repression.
This is a big sacrifice—much bigger than the Dow plummeting—that we as humans all must make.
So… don’t touch your friends, strangers, neighbors, anybody except your significant other(s). And scrub those hands raw before and after you do. And whatever you do, don’t touch your face! Though everyone does, even Dr. Fauci.
But you can touch yourself. And in this case, below the belt is better than above the neck.
Isolation Sex
Back to the NYCDOH which is downright effusive in its unequivocal support of masturbation: “You are your own safest sex partner.”
I’ve been extolling the virtues of masturbation for decades, as has my mentor, the Godmother of Masturbation, Dr. Betty Dodson, and other sexperts, often to sniggers, hypocritical outrage and Puritanical censorship. When Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders suggested that masturbation be considered a safer sex alternative in school sexuality classes, President Bill Clinton fired her (he, of all people, should have taken her advice). No, Dr. J didn’t mean the gym teacher conducts a circle jerk; she meant that school sex education programs list solo sex, along with condoms, dry-humping and abstinence, as a way to avoid STDs.
I guess it took a lethal pandemic to turn the authorities around to our point of view, but here we are. The NYCDOH is officially begging you to masturbate. Hallelujah.
You may think of sex as “dirty,” but as was always the case, even before the pandemic, wash your hands before you start choking the chicken or polishing the pearl. As my mom used to say, “Your hands are dirty and it’s clean down there!”
Everybody’s self-pleasuring now, even Trumpublicans. This is a good thing, except maybe when former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee tweets out that he really likes shoving corn cobs up his ass:
“Those of us from rural south know how to handle toilet paper shortage. Eat more corn on the cob! The corn isn’t important, but the cobs are free and work great! (Just don’t flush them!) You’re welcome!”
Corn cobs: Mother Nature’s own dildos. Though I prefer cucumbers.
But don’t you still need that human connection? While maintaining scrupulous “physical distancing,” you can put the old AT&T jingle into practice: Reach out and touch someone (virtually)… while you touch yourself. Phone sex is a lot sexier than abstinence, safer than a hazmat suit and very stimulating in a sapiosexual way. It’s aural sex. I adore the romantic mystery of the phone, but if you’re visual, bump uglies on webcam. If you’re self-isolating in the family room with your parents or kids, get into sexting. On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t be masturbating in the family room…
Nobody said this would be easy. But, to quote an oft-used cliché right now: We will get through this!
Actually, only some of us will. The cold, breathless truth is that cases and fatalities are mounting every day, and any one of us could be next.
Hopefully, those of us who do “get through this” will have learned something about love, ecology, caring, sharing, communication, masturbation and our entire society’s need for universal healthcare (thanks Bernie!). Hopefully, the survivors of the Coronavirus Spring (and Summer?) will have learned how and why it’s important to get back into Mother Earth’s good graces.
Now that you’ve read this dirty article, wash your hands and get busy!
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2020.03.30 23:24 Energizer_94 FMCG Sector DD

FMCG Sector DD
Episode 7.
All figures are approximations.
For the degenerates, TLDRs have been given at the end of each section.
Allright boys, strap in! The following article should give you a pretty decent overview of the FMCG sector in India, some of the major players as well as factors to consider before investing/trading in them.
Feel free to skip to particular sections if you so wish. However, I would recommend you read this in its entirety. This is now as retard friendly as possible. ​
  1. FMCG and India.
  2. The rural segment.
  3. Government support.
  4. Millenials and boomers.
  5. Entry of new competition.
  6. 2019 Report.
  7. Early 2020 data.
  8. Coronavirus and the current climate.
  9. Companies and their valuations.
  10. Companies in focus.

  1. FMCG and India.
Fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) is the fourth largest sector in the Indian economy. This segment is characterised by high turnover consumer packaged goods, i.e. goods that are produced, distributed, marketed and consumed within a short span of time. FMCG products that dominate the market today are detergents, toiletries, tooth cleaning products, cosmetics, etc. The FMCG sector in India also includes pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics, soft drinks packaged food products and chocolates. Since the sector encompasses a diverse range of products, different companies dominate the market in various sub-sectors.
India's long term consumption story seems to be intact as India is expected to be the fifth-largest consumer products market in the world by 2025 with a size of $262 billion, according to an EY India report.


https://preview.redd.it/ck4m3hyezup41.png?width=732&format=png&auto=webp&s=dd626e6640ae5d514ae46926b5982302a368ed9f

TLDR: Fourth largest part of economy. Refer chart. Great potential.

  1. The rural segment and its importance.

Now, most companies in this segment are leaders in different sub-categories and have strong brand value and consumer recollection.
This, along with factors like increased competition, better supply chain, the growth of supermarkets and online shopping platforms, makes it comparatively easy for good corporations to grow in the urban segment. The influx of the middle class to cities is another factor too. India's demographic works in their favour.
Hence, this pushes the battle to the rural sector. Companies which want to grow have to target the rural markets and attempt to grow their base. This isn't easy. Especially due to low switchability costs. It doesn't take much to go from using Colgate to Sensodyne.


https://preview.redd.it/kt92wo3hzup41.png?width=600&format=png&auto=webp&s=d4dc3926c492c91252ee0cfd94a3a711c1a2c1be
TLDR; Look for companies performing well in rural areas.


  1. Government support.
The Government of India has approved 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the cash and carry segment and in single-brand retail along with 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail. It has also drafted a new Consumer Protection Bill with special emphasis on setting up an extensive mechanism to ensure simple, speedy, accessible, affordable and timely delivery of justice to consumers. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is beneficial for the FMCG industry as many of the FMCG products such as Soap, Toothpaste and Hair oil now come under 18 per cent tax bracket against the previous 23-24 per cent rate. Also rates on food products and hygiene products have been reduced to 0-5 per cent and 12-18 per cent respectively.
The GST is expected to transform logistics in the FMCG sector into a modern and efficient model as all major corporations are remodeling their operations into larger logistics and warehousing.
Government consumption has also been rising.
TLDR; Government measures help FMCG.

  1. Millenials and boomers.
"Consumers under 35 differ fundamentally from older generations in major ways. They tend to prefer new brands, especially in food products. Millennials are almost four times more likely than baby boomers to avoid buying products from “the big food companies.” And while millennials are obsessed with research, they resist brand-owned marketing and look instead to learn about brands from each other. They also tend to believe that newer brands are better or more innovative, and they prefer not to shop in mass channels. Further, they are much more open to sharing personal information, allowing born-digital challenger brands to target them with more tailored propositions and with greater marketing-spend efficiency. Many small consumer-goods companies are capitalizing on millennial preferences and digital marketing to grow very fast." McKinsey Report
In short, millennials have different spending habits, are not very brand loyal and they like being quirky. They are far more likely to choose off brands or newer ones. However they are also very quality conscious and prefer fresh food over packaged goods. Also, smallenewer brands are slightly better at reaching this customer base via IG and social media. This could cause problems for the traditional FMCG elite. They also have smaller households, again giving them more opportunity to switch.
TLDR; Millennials are weird. More likely to switch brands. More open and susceptible to social media marketing strategies. Bad news for FMCG behemoths.

  1. Entry of new competition.
A few factors make a category ripe for disruption by small brands and the FMCG sector is one of them. High margins make the category worth pursuing. Strong emotional engagement means consumers notice and appreciate new brands and products. A value chain that is easy to outsource makes it much easier for born-digital players to get started and to scale. Low shipment costs as a percent of product value make the economics work. And low regulatory barriers mean that anyone can get involved. Most consumer-goods categories fit this profile.
In this regard, the US market could be a precursor of things to come. New makeup brands for instance, have been attracting a ton of interest from venture capitalists and the general public. These brands have sponsors, high user engagement and their marketing/advertising strategies are now leaving well known brands in the dust.
While these factors might seem small when viewed individually, on a macro level, they have the capacity to disrupt companies that fail to keep up-to-date aggressively.
TLDR; Newer, smaller companies might invade this space. IG hoes matter.


  1. 2019 Report.
Overall, growth witnessed a slow down to 9.7 per cent growth last year from 13.5 per cent in 2018. In December, this figure was at a three year low to 6.6%, staggeringly less than 15.7% a year ago. In 2019, the growth was slow for more than a dozen categories with many segments witnessing growth rates reducing to half. This indicates that the consumer demand was weak despite price cuts. The growth rates of the soaps, shampoos, biscuits, tea, hair oil, skin cream and toothpaste, among other categories, fell to low single digits in 2019 as compared with double digits in the previous year.
The rural demand witnessed a slow-down. It was majorly affected because of lower farm incomes.
A shift towards branded products was seen from the unorganised market by the companies, which in many commoditised segments account for more than half the overall consumption. According to the Nielsen report, nearly 5,500 manufacturers, or about 14 per cent of all consumer firms, exited in 2019, against 4,200 or 11 per cent of the overall universe a year ago.
"Following the implementation of GST, a lot of unorganised players have exited the market across different FMCG categories," said Mr B Sumant, ITC executive director of FMCG. "As a result, there has been a clear shift in consumption trend from unbranded to branded products."
TLDR; Growth was slow before coronavirus. Unorganised sector is leaving - Good for brands.


  1. Early 2020 data.
The fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) market grew 1% during January, a sharp fall from 2.4% the same month, a year ago. In fact, unlike previous quarters where slowdown was largely led by rural markets, latest data revealed that urban growth, at 0.2%, dragged down the entire segment even as hinterland consumption remained that same at 1.8%.
Growth in several categories such as soaps, laundry, toothpaste, shampoo, skin creams and biscuits more than halved during January and February, compared to a year ago. Despite sales soaring since a week, especially for food items, due to panic buying, it will still be difficult to compensate for the tepid growth companies witnessed over the past two months.
However, India's consumption story should stay intact long term. Once this pandemic (hopefully) passes and we should be on our way to be the fifth-largest consumer products market in the world by 2025 with a size of $262 billion. (Numbers according to EY India).
Crude oil is another factor in the FMCG segment, since a lot of products use oil and its derivatives as a major ingredient. If the fall in prices remains consistent, as they should since the OPEC-Russia shows no sign of slowing down, then profitability should rise.
TLDR; FMCG slowing despite stockpiling. Crude price fall helps.





  1. Coronavirus and the current climate.
This sector could well be the best performing index this year. Mainly due to it being one of the few industries which haven't completely shut down. Most FMCG companies also have relatively clean balance sheet with strong cash flows, which would help them forge ahead in these turbulent times. Most consumers have been stocking up. Instead of the usual 10 day advance purchases, most households will store a lot more. This should directly impact FMCG revenues by over 10%. Do note that this revenue % shift will take place in the basic essentials segment and not discretionary items. Products that support overall health and well being should also be in vogue. (Products essential to reactive care and public safety like masks.)
Eventually, lives should return to normal. But the effects of the Coronavirus should be permanent.A renewed focus on Healthcare. Permanent shifts in the supply chain. The rise of e commerce, especially in rural areas. Customers will be seeking greater reassurance that the products they are spending money on is of the highest quality when it comes to safety standards and efficacy, particularly with cleaning products, antiseptics and foods items.
In this climate, a company's product portfolio become of increasing value. Companies producing a large percentage of essential items will be able to better handle the slowdown.
Essential service industries could also receive tax breaks from the government. They could also hike their prices in the near long term. A recurring theme through every sector DD will be liquidity and debt. Stay away from corporations with either of those issues.
All these parameters will ensure that the companies who thrive right now will be well positioned to succeed in the future.

TLDR; Could perform okay despite recession. Essential products and wellness/cleanliness items in portfolio? Stonks. Survived this, good sign.

  1. Companies and their valuations.

Valuation Metrics

  1. Companies in focus.
Hindustan Unilever Limited:

Hindustan Unilever Limited
HUL's products reach 9/10 households in India. With a shift towards hygiene in the public eye, its revenue could go up. However, with the recent surge in share price, there could be limited upside.

ITC:
With roughly 70% of its products being in the FMCG category now, ITC has done a decent job diversifying. However, a majority of its profits still come from cigarettes. Those factories have all been shut down. 25% of revenue is from its FMCG sector. Two factors to be mentioned here, however. A fairly decent valuation after its 30% drop in price along with a high dividend yield. An investor should pay attention to both in the future.

Nestle:

Nestle India Limited Portfolio
Almost the company's entire product portfolio is based on essentials. Hence they could witness sustained demand. Only confectionery items (12.5%) will see a decline. Their products have strong brand recall, especially in cities. This is shown by 85% of their revenue coming from there. Premium portfolio and niche food categories provide strong pricing power, which should enable them to sustain margins and insulate them from any volatility in input costs.

Dabur:
It's home and personal care segment forms 50% of domestic sales. Do note that Dabur is diversified location wise. Only 72.9% of its revenue is from India. 45.7% of its revenue is from personal care. Health supplements are also a huge part of their portfolio.

Britannia:

Brittania Product Breakdown

Marico:
This company has been a consistent compounder for decades now. Despite muted growth recently, there is every historical reason to believe that Marico will make a comeback.

VST Industries:
With shutting down of manufacturing facilities during the lockdown period of 21 days, expect VST Industries to be severely hit even beyond the lockdown period. With a complete dependence on tobacco, this should serve as a barometer for India's health goals following the coronavirus.

Varun Beverages:

Varun Beverages Product Breakdown
Varun Beverages is shutting manufacturing facilities for its carbonated, juices and energy drinks, making it clear that the company’s financials would be severely hit for at least two quarters. Only bottled water (which is 10% of revenue) could see its revenue rise during this period. Overall, the company would be negatively impacted.
Godrej Consumer:

Godrej Consumer Products Segment
Jyothy Labs:
Jyothy Labs Portfolio
With most of its categories falling under essential items such as detergents and soaps, the company could benefit to a larger extent. However, as 40% of sales comes from rural regions, without revival in rural demand, growth will remain a challenge.

If you guys want a DD on any particular company in this sector, do let me know in the comments.
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2020.02.24 13:20 holographicbiologist Something is up... After somehow, almost inexplicably getting through the worst decade of my life and being a devout atheist, I am feeling strongly drawn back to God. It feels instinctual and magnetic. Now I need your help reconnecting and finding a church. (I apologize for the length)

Saying that the last ten years was the worst decade of my life is both accurate and powerful, as I'm 27 years old and will be turning 28 at the end of April. That's about 1/3 of my life. I was raised as a Christian--Methodist specifically. I loved it! It was a huge part of my life until I went to college. Then things started happening. Things happened that I NEVER thought would happen to me. Bad things. Traumatic, life-altering things. That before and during that I was with my ex-fiance. You noticed the "ex" part, right?
GOOD! I stayed with him for so long because it's what I knew. I trusted him. I'd made a fool out of myself to everyone else, I felt, and I was a huge disappointment. Daily I would find myself thinking, "If this person from high school/church/etc. saw me now, they'd be shocked. It might even hurt..." A few weeks ago I was at the depths of that despair. I'd just broken up with my fiance after feeling for months that something just didn't feel right. He told me that he'd been planning on breaking up with me when the lease was up (about five months from now) because he wanted me to keep paying the rent, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the pets. Yeah... Yeah... He introduced me to drugs and alcohol, I'm was and still am a recovering alcoholic. I got a DWI on Valentine's Day of last year with a 0.22 BAC. I'd been drinking because I'd spent all of my money and my whole day preparing a dinner and handmade gift. When he got home I was so proud of myself. I usually would bathe once a week at the time or less, but I had cleaned and done all of that in a DAY! He smiled and said, "Thanks, baby. What made you want to do that?" Um, well... Look at the date... It's Valentine's Day. His reply? "Oh... Sorry... HAHAHA!" Damn it.
That seed of doubt was planted and it continued to grow. It finally bloomed. I was desperate. I was drinking even more suddenly, after about eight months of sobriety and massive leaps and strides in improving my situation and mental health. I felt the distance between us continue to grow, but I'd met him and was so enamored that I dumped everyone from my life before him. I thought he was everything I'd ever wanted. I had no friends. I still have none. I'd done the dumbest things I'll ever do and tore up the hearts, minds, and spirits of the only people I have left... My parents and my little sister, seven years my junior and my biggest fan for life.
I knew I had to get out, though. He wanted me gone but I had no where to go. I've been SO cripplingly depressed and anxious for so long... In the last five or six years I've spent over a year in psychiatric wards, sometimes staying for over three months at once. This has happened a dozen times. I have major depression, PTSD, severe anxiety, severe panic disorder, epilepsy, and I'm an alcoholic--but that part was my choice. I literally remember intentionally choosing alcohol, knowing I'd become an alcoholic and saying aloud when I saw my cart full of the stuff, "Well... I don't care! Here we go." It was my choice, but I now know that everyone makes mistakes and, especially when things happen for a reason. And regardless of whether or not we are aware or not of why something happened, the reasoning and purpose is still there. Something else life-changing happened too. Before opening the first bottle of liquor, I prayed for the first time in nearly ten years. I was so desperate I was willing to ask "the invisible sky man" for help. That made me feel crazier than ever because it was such a blatant contradiction of my concept of the universe and my existence, but inexplicably I felt compelled to. I knew that at least it wouldn't hurt.
About ten days ago I stopped showing up for work. Eight days ago after a short time being sober, I decided I couldn't take it anymore. I had trouble getting my medications refilled, and for the first time ever I ran out. I've never felt anything like that, and I've felt terrible and insane for nearly the last ten years. But nothing I'd ever felt came anywhere close to that... Not by a long shot. So I made a life-changing decision, although it didn't change things the way I'd hoped and anticipated it would. After staying up for about 48 hours straight crying, cutting myself, and being unable to sleep or eat due to the withdrawals from my medication, I decided to spent the last $100 in my bank account on alcohol. I adopted a dog about six months ago after feeling like I was about to be single and friendless. That dog is now my BFFF (best fur friend FOREVER!) and my service dog in training. I bought him the best, most well-marbled angus ribeye steak I could find to feed him something delicious before I took myself out of this world. It was supposed to be my final thanks to the last source of love and companionship I had. I felt so guilty... But I always feel guilty for being such a loser. So what's new? Let's do this.
I had a little over 50 units of alcohol (from various sources) in a little less than 24 hours. I could feel myself slipping away... I didn't care. I knew it was probably going to be over soon... Finally... And I couldn't feel anything for once. It wasn't good, but it wasn't bad either. That was good enough for me. But that DOG! I love him so, but DAMN IT. All night he was waking me up by rubbing his face and paws into my sternum or putting his head under my chin and lifting it up. He'd paw me. I'd come to feeling worse each time with his tail wagging and a goofy smile on his face. "UGH! What do you want?" It was annoying at the time, but having a strong professional background with dogs, I know what he was doing. He was keeping me alive. Even even brought in a bottle of water and woke me up by dropping it on my face. I've never trained him to do that or anything similar. It was weird and he wouldn't stop bugging me until I finally opened it up and started drinking it. When I eventually did, he was elated. From there, he urged me to get up and moving and makes excuses to get me into my kitchen. In retrospect, I see that he was trying to get me to eat something. I hadn't eaten in about 72 hours at that point.
I got some food into my system then passed out again. About 16 hours later I woke up with the worst hangover, remorse, anxiety, and guilt that I've ever felt. I no longer wanted to kill myself, but now I literally felt insane. I couldn't comprehend anything or think straight. It seriously took everything I had to just remember how to unlock my phone to take my next life-changing action. I sent texts to my Mom. The first one said, "helllpp.m" The second one, about 15 minutes later said, "Pleese. Help. i need help." She took off work early and drove over an hour to help me pack up, then brought me and Boomer back to their home. From there... Wow. We're all familiar with the saying, "It's all downhill from there." But it wasn't. It's all been uphill... But without the struggle. How? I have no idea. Something in my changed and I came out of that ready to go. I hit the ground running. They noticed the change immediately too. After talking together on the deck, my mom came in crying. I asked what was wrong. She said, "Nothing, sweetie. Nothing at all," but continued to cry.
I asked my Dad if everything was okay. He smiled and laughed a little and said, "Oh, heck yeah it is!" Even more confused I asked, "What the hell is going on?" He said, "You, honey. We haven't seen you like this in about ten years. We can look at you and see the difference and just being near you we can feel it. I don't know what you're doing, but you're blowing our minds. Keep it up, sweetheart."
The things that have happened since then... It just keeps getting better. I feel like I don't deserve it, but it keeps happening anyway. It's great stuff, finally, so I really am loving it. I look in the mirror and can see the difference already. My eyes are brighter, I'm not bloated from drinking. In fact, I haven't had anything to drink since coming home and don't even crave alcohol. I've seen it and been around it plenty, but I don't want it. And the feeling... I could never accurately describe it, but I'll give it a try anyway. I feel so realistic, but also optimistic. My head and body feel completely different. They feel light and as if a weight has been lifted. My body feels free. I swear I can feel the energy moving through my body. I feel naturally motivated, inspired, and I am so grateful for feeling this way. For a few days, I've felt like something was missing, though. And I kept thinking, "If only I could explain this feeling and somehow share it with someone." I told my parents, "I wish I could bottle this up and share a little bit with everyone in the world!" But now I think I know what's missing. It's Jesus. It's God.
That's the entire point of this post. I get to share this experience and hopefully someone going through their darkest hour will find this post one day and it sticks with them. Also, I can get the much-needed help of an awesome subreddit community! You have taken the time to get through my wall of text and I thank you very much. Now all I need is this: How do I find my new church? I no longer live in my hometown. If anyone cares to make any very specific suggestions, I live in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro, NC area. Here are my questions:
  1. How do I even begin to find a new church? I'm out of practice and just moved to my new apartment about a month ago.
  2. I know what I believe and how I feel about God, Jesus, and church. I tend to be somewhere around the Methodist/Presbyterian part of the spectrum. Is that a place to start?
  3. Do you think that church will accept me? What if they find out what I've done?
  4. How do I make friends, either in church or outside of it? I know that I'm likeable with a great sense of humor, but after being so alone for so long the doubt lingers a bit still.
  5. How do I show God that I'm sorry? I know that I can pray for forgiveness and I have. But I want to show it. Actions speak louder than words.
Thank you all for reading! The fact that someone I've never met and probably never will took the time to read this, and especially if you offer even just a little bit of advice to help me find my new home... I'm forever grateful and I will make sure to exemplify that gratitude. I hope that y'all are able to lift yourselves up even more because of what I've shared. I hope that you're able to help someone else using my experience and your own unique gifts and talents. We can come together and make some beautiful happen. Have a beautiful, blessed day! <3
Edit: Formatting
Edit 2: I am so overwhelmed with your responses. Thank you all so very much! My parents have been reading through some of this thread with me. We've shared some tears and shared even more hugs. Thank you all for for taking the time to think of me, reply, and pray for me. I can feel the love and support coming from you, and it is incredible that a community of strangers cares about me--a total stranger--this much. It is so encouraging. I matter to people... People who don't know me and have never met me. Wow... It's made the hearts of my whole family swell--me included!
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2020.02.17 12:44 Buck_Joffrey Wealth Formula Episode 198: When Is That Depression Coming Anyway?

Catch the full episode: https://www.wealthformula.com/podcast/198:-when-is-that-depression-coming-anyway?/
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is a contributor to ITR economics specifically to their flagship publication ITR Trend Reports. Her name is Catherine Putney and she specializes in the applied research of business cycle, trend analysis, gross cycle analysis in implementing cyclical analysis at the practical company level. I'm not exactly sure all of what that means but Catherine welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast.
Catherine: Thank you again.
Buck: And you know we did have Alan Beaulieu on the show a couple years ago and that was that was really fun. We talked about his book but just so you know so we get a little bit of a background on you know where you're coming from. Tell us a little bit about ITR economics and you know what you do over there and you know some of the some of the highlights.
Catherine: Yeah absolutely I mean we try to make economics as fun as possible as interesting as possible but here at ITR we were founded in 1948. We're the oldest privately held continuously operating research and consulting firm in the United States. So we deal a lot with with consulting and figuring out what's best for each company to make two decisions to make in regards to the economy so we we work with everything from small companies all the way up to the fortune 500 level. What we want to do is provide the best economic intelligence to ensure that we're we're instilling a good type of kind of background in an environment where the business can make those those profitable decisions to maximize themselves, essentially trying to to maximize those profits. So we're always trying to kind of give that information on an economic level to you know to the point where they can make that money they can they can take away that information which I'm hoping to kind of talk about today as well.
Buck: Yeah absolutely you know one of the things that I thought was pretty impressive is you know ITR has been a lot around for a long time and the track record in terms of predictions has been pretty darn good. Can you talk a little bit about that.
Catherine: Yeah absolutely I would definitely use the word darn good as well I think what we're you know we're very very proud of that accuracy and I think a big reason is that what separates us from some other of the forecasting firms that are that are in the US is that we don't necessarily do straight-up regression modeling. We have a touch of art to it because when you look at forecasting in terms of regression it's using all the historical data transit that we certainly look at but it doesn't build in the artistic factor that economics brings to the table right so knowing that we have you know we're in an environment where tariffs are something that are is causing inflation right now. That's something that a regression model cannot build into the future so we like to to kind of bring in that artistic work bring in the kind of the nitty-gritty specialties of what each company each company operates are you making price hikes in your business, what are we expecting from you know even and we'll talk a little bit about the coronavirus, things like that that regression modeling cannot predict in our system, our leading indicator trends really hit home and create some really great forecasts for us .
Buck: Yeah and I remember Alan saying something like the accuracy was somewhere like 96 percent
Catherine: Right now we’re at 95%
Buck Yeah and I mean that's obviously pretty special especially when it comes to predicting the future you know it's not an easy thing to do. You know one of the things that Alan and you know the book I keep referring to this because I think a lot of the general theses come from this book is you know he describes this idea of this next decade being the Roaring Twenties followed by you know Depression of the 30s and I've heard ITR talk about this I mean for at least five six years now just in terms of various conferences I've been at as well. Does ITR still believe those targets and if so what are really the driving forces behind you know those respective decades you know the roaring 20s and the depression?
Catherine: That's a great comment and question to ask I mean every time I talk about the depression of 2030 when I go on the road and speak I get a lot of groans and moans in the audience but it's always a good thing to know it's coming right that's the whole point is if we know it's there we can prepare for it. We can utilize the next 10 years of what we're going to call you know the essential roaring 20s to our advantage to make money because we make money in times of recession if you prepared for it the buy low sell high mentality. So as we are heading through this next decade we will hit this 2030 depression and some of the drivers too that I'll mention demographic trends right so we have 10,000 baby boomers each and every day retiring from now until 2030 that's a lot of that's a lot of people coming out of the workforce and entering into an age where they require medical attention essentially driving up inflationary cost when it comes to the medical industry which is already in a high inflationary environment on top of the fact that we are somewhat financially strained in the Social Security market. That's something that that is going to be very much constrained as we head through the next 10 years and it's not going to be one particular driver that's going to put this this depression into the you know the decline, it's going to be somewhat the aggregation and his sort of camel's back of a multitude of factors such as that booth demographic trends that we've mentioned the inflationary trends that we're expecting with with a booming economy for the next 10 years. I mean with Social Security there are ways to fix it I can get into that as well but that is definitely going to be one of the drivers and on not the Great Depression but another depression.
Buck: When you look at the twenties is it what makes it roaring? Because obviously we're we're sitting here right now and there's so many predictions of okay we're in the longest expansion of GDP in US history and it's you know we're still doing well and you know half the podcasters out there or in the space or you know predicting a zombie apocalypse tomorrow what what what drives you know what is your opinion about the 20s that make it roaring?
Catherine: So it's funny you ask that because I was going to bring up the fact you know when we look back to the roaring 20s of the 1900s that was labeled the roaring 20s there was actually three recessions during that time. During that decade there were three recessions they called it roaring because if you look at the overall trend line from the early 20th to the late 20s that it was overall ascent so it's actually a general rising trend but it was not impervious to recession at all so that is what we're expecting in the next decade that we will be still vulnerable to these downturns and our forecast for right now is we're kind of in the middle of it we're heading into the next couple quarters that's going to be a mild recession depending on which industry you're in and then another one in 2022 and heading into 23. So when I say roaring I mean the overall theme of the economy heading into that ascent.
Buck: Let me ask you this in terms of those and I think this is a an important point to drive home because you know when we talk about a decade, a positive growth decade one that people can do well in I think you know your your point is taken well right I mean it doesn't mean you don't have some unnatural cycles but is it ITRs take that we're not you know this huge depression or not a huge depression but a huge recession or major depression is not really something that you're predicting in the next few years, I mean certainly some dips but nothing like we saw and say like a you know 2008 or something like that.
Catherine: Correct yeah we're not going to be heading into that 2008 territory which steps that mean that recession was driven by the you know the housing market and things like that we're not expecting any type of trends going on there. We will go through our our rises and declines here and there especially in 2022 we will feel a little bit of a more severe downturn but it's not going to be comparable to what we went through last is the last decade or in early 08–09, 10 years ago.
Buck: You know one of the things that I find fascinating about this again is you know these drivers that you've brought up that that lead to the 30s and stuff but these are you know these are some long-term predictions right and recently and certainly since the book was written there have been some substantial shifts in US foreign policy trade policy you know terrorists isolationism how do you factor in that kind of unpredictability in the long-term predictions?
Catherine: Yeah I mean we definitely will if things if things get integrated or into the marketplace we will integrate them into our overall outlook. We're very transparent but at this point in time submit the catalyst the drivers that I discussed earlier with demographics inflation in our national debt those are long term fundamental trends that aren't being budged right now by by the foreign policy or the trade war or the recently ratified USMCA the new NAFTA 2.0 that those aren't really moving the needle on the fundamental drivers to this 2030 depression. So yes we could have near-term movement here and there that changes the growth or decline which we will work into our outlook you know the tax reform when it when it first was put into place did have a tiny bit of an extra boost on on the economy but normalized but it did move the needle a small amount enough for us to to mention it to the audience and mention it to everyone and say here we're going to work this in because you're right we don't just stick to the same exact forecast forever and ever but at this point in time 2030 work if we see something that's that pops up that could potentially change it will let you know but at this point we do not we still don't see any any type of aggressive movement in foreign policy or anything on Wall Street to change that this 2030 outlook but if it does well we'll make sure to let you know.
Buck: So there's a couple things right now that I think you know just looking at you know the very short term, we're in an election year I generally as a business owner hate election years because fourth quarters it seems like everybody freezes and they don't know what to do. So that is happening you know that's coming up and then we've got this coronavirus and you know it sounds like it's really potentially freezing up China. How are these two particular issues right now? How do you see them you know affecting us in the short-term are these impetus or you know short-term recessionary activity or not so much?
Catherine: So I think actually it's funny I was going to apologize earlier for my sniffles that I've been having I hope it's not the coronavirus. So just disregard that but as we have as we head into the cycle we always even before these tears even before the the not will no inner is an election cycle this was this was expected already this downturn that we're heading into it's really gonna it could potentially move the needle somewhat but the overall theme in terms of the tariff situation is that yeah it will cause somewhat inflation but it won't you know it won't really move the needle on the overall trend and when we look at the election I mean it happens every four years so it's normal to assume that let's say on a yearly basis that sales pick up in the Christmas time or the holiday season that's a normal thing to expect similar to every four years it's normal to expect that we will see some sort of movement depending on what's going on on in the who’s running and if it's more favorabe to red or favorable to blue that it could potentially either halt spending or catalyze spending. A big thing I personally believe in is that as we head into this election cycle with the tariffs going on right now if you know Trump's going out for for re-election he might take a look and say well are these tariffs causing a lot more good than harm in terms of my ability to get reelected or vice versa causing more bad than good and that could potentially move his his strategy with the tariffs. He could be more aggressive with them or he could be more reserved with them to potentially get to votes.
Buck: Well payroll taxes I mean some of these things that there's still potential role for you know some tax mitigation things that might get people excited about that and then what about so you're you know you guys are factoring that in already and it seems like we've got this little bit of decline that as you mentioned by the way that we're already in you said that right you were kind of already in that do you think right now we are potentially already in some recession in some sectors?
Catherine: It depends on the sector you're looking at. When I say decline I could potentially be saying a slow down a business cycle decline or recession so the US Industrial sector right now so if you're tied to let's say manufacturing or anything commodity related that is on the brink of entering into recession. The consumer economy when I when I say consumer I mean GDP because it's mostly Confessional consumption that is actually avoiding recession during this cycle but it is in a slowdown so we are on the brink of one quarter of decline in GDP but it will be back to the races again as we head into the second half of this year. So when I say general descent or decline it could either mean beat meaning slowdown or recession depending on your industry.
Buck: Got it so that makes sense so basically we're talking about and to your point what most people think about when they think about recessions is this you know what you're describing right now is having a little bit of a slowdown and then probably picking up in the next quarter and then maybe we don't see another slow down or that kind of thing until 2022?
Catherine: Correct yeah 2021 will be a great year 2021 will be a good year for the economy the slowest point in in anyone's business whoever's listening will it will be right right here right now in the first half of this year until 22 so next year will be good but that I will copy out that with the fact that that's if you move with the economy you could lead it you could lag it you could be in different points in your business do you typically move ahead of the game do you move behind the game that's important to know too because you have to make that mental shift whatever you hear you know the Wall Street Journal today about the economy may not pertain to your exact business at this point in time you have to figure out your relationship to the economy.
Buck: Let's just go back to that coronavirus. What are your thoughts on this I mean is it going to affect anything in the big picture not so much?
Catherine: I think on overall business standpoint depends what you're in. We have been seeing it you know cause a lot wreak a lot of havoc and people getting scared and holding back on going out especially in China but I think China is starting to try to mitigate that impact by there was recently they're cutting down and some of their tariffs toward us by they're cutting the slicing them in half to try to hopefully mitigate and increase some of the activity going back and forth because they are seeing a lot of pull back and spending patterns right, no one's going to go out and go to a restaurant or shop or Park because they don't want to go out and contract the virus but at the end of the day so the death rates between the flu and coronavirus are somewhat similar. So I think it's more of a more of a speculation on it rather than what the actual impact is. It definitely is impacting China more than us and we're not going to be sending our you know we're not gonna be importing anything from China as much as we used to given this virus especially in the agriculture industry.
Buck: Yeah and I actually agree with that to it my background is, I don't practice anymore but I use am a physician and I am looking at a lot of this from the standpoint of the actual health implications are really not any more than the flu and so there's certainly a big it's a sexy thing to bring up in the media right now it's a vaccination you're probably in better shape from the flu. Let's go back to the 2030s because this is a thing that whenever you guys talk about and I know because you know I been in the audience and you know I'm part of the newsletter and whenever we talk about this, people's ears perk up. And so let's let's talk about what it looks like ok 2030s are here with predictions that come true is this some kind of a you know inflationary or deflationary or what does it look like?
Catherine: yeah it will most definitely be inflationary as we head into the next year not in 2030 when you know everything hits the fan but for the next 10 years it definitely will be inflationary because of the increasing demand in this I don't want to say the roaring 20s but with higher demand come higher prices the law of economics. So that's what we'll be seeing as we head through the next 10 years on top of the fact that the medical attention that's going to be demanded from a huge baby boomer demographic cohort that's going to also increase a lot of the inflation as well. So we definitely think that there's going to be a lot of inflation as we head into 2030 and then I like to call it the next decade will be the stairway to heaven and then the highway to hell will be 2030 so we'll see that decline.
Buck: In that Highway to hell though is that a deflationary environment I mean it not that you know when you're in the twenty when you're in the 2030s if you're holding assets do we expect those assets to you know deflate in value or do we I mean basically I'm looking at as it is like an inflationary depression or a deflationary depression?
Catherine: I would say more on the deflationary side because people will not be spending so when you're not spending prices go down that causes the deflationary environment to take hold. Interest rates will likely be extremely low there because the government wants us to catalyze spending or create incentives to go out and spend so I would say there more on the deflationary side of things as we get into 2030 and then the 2020s will be more inflationary. So the big thing is to look at the US in general is a very reactionary economy and a reactionary nation. We wait for things to happen and then we fix them we are not proactive because because if we are proactive this would not be a problem right now and it’s a very good reference here. I'm not sure you've heard the seen the movie Armageddon with Bruce Willis and there's an asteroid coming to earth and basically they send out your crew out there and you have to blow up this asteroid before it crosses a threshold and if he passes that threshold the earth is done for. Similar to the economy in this 2030 depression if we don't fix things in the next few years we can do whatever we want in the few years before the Great Depression it's not going to solve it.
Buck: And what will these things be?
Catherine: I mean we have two sub eight so what we're looking at is the deviation in the Delta between the the tax receipts and our entitlement programs. So we have Social Security Medicare Medicaid because our national debt right now is you know over twenty two trillion dollars we need to move the needle somewhat by either raising taxes or decreasing those type of transfer payments by the government because if that continues our debt’s going to increase and increase and increase and there's easy ways to do that with especially with social social security. Right now it's a twelve point four percent tax employer employee contribution for social security. You increase that to fifteen percent as decades added to the Social Security ability to pay it to pay out you get rid of the hundred and thirty four thousand cap dollar salary cap that's on Social Security you add decades more on top of that but it's political suicide. So if it does that's something we'll let you know and integrate into our outlook but we really don't think that it's likely going to take place.
Buck: The reason I keep asking you about this depression you know this deflationary versus inflationary aspect is that you know you mentioned a couple things about what happens in 2030s and you know all of a sudden you know the the feds gonna be you know the rates will be negative and when all of that happens and there's helicopter money in reviving reviving the economy at that point I'm just wondering what happens if I'm owning real estate at that point is that real estate go way up and in nominal value or does it go down? You see what I mean like that's and I'm not an economist I don't really understand this part but I you know it seems to me that with all the activity that would be necessary to mitigate some of the the pain in the 30s that you would need to print a lot of money right and then in that scenario would the value of assets nominally go up?
Catherine: I think that there would that would be essentially mitigated by the fact that it's kind of we're going to be in this in this depression but assets such as real estate is something that we think you need to hold on to for this point in time. And the reason for that is because it you need to weather the storm with your assets especially on the real estate side on that land because we're coming out of it in the later parts of the 2030s so is it on a time frame basis you want to hang on to that for a full reason too. We look back at the at the O 809 recession that we went through they were the huge might shift away from single-family housing into renting multifamily because no one could qualify for a mortgage people were defaulting on their mortgages so they needed to rent instead so if you own housing in the next 10 years that's a source of income for you god forbid does you know a job is lost during that time in the 2030s if that's the case you still have assets such as housing takfir potentially to rent or if your kids are out of a job you can you can have a place for them to live things like that where you have these assets that you're able to kind of bring in that cash flow and then weather the storm through the 2030s and be back on your feet pretty well again. It's really so difficult for you know housing prices to really fall off a cliff because you know 08-09 was centrally housing it was all tied to housing. This downturn 2030 will not be all tied to housing so we don't expect a similar type of movement in the housing market than we did 10 years ago.
Buck: Yeah although presumably you know rent rent will have to go down those kinds of things. I'm also assuming that you know and I'm focusing on real estate because we're such a real estate heavy show but the I would also assume that if you were gonna hold that real estate through the 2030s that you would be thinking you'd be best off probably having things with pretty low leverage.
Catherine: Yeah absolutely well I think just was just weathering that storm in the in the early twenty thirty period independent it's different for every type of situation you want the you want the property by the water Canada is a big one too if you can get to the Great Lakes on up you know the north or south side of them those are the types of areas where you'll really come out on top because people will probably be looking to move in in the 2030s as you know if the economy is wreaking havoc with this depression people typically like to get up and move there at the job and that's when there's going to be more activity in the overall housing market.
Buck: How about throughout the world is this will this be a global depression or is there any countries that will be spared or at least minimally hit?
Catherine: Yeah this will definitely be a global recession our depression it will definitely wreak havoc globally. If you look at the US Europe China and Japan those four countries together are seventy six percent of the global economy. I mean that's a really really big number there. All those four are going to be going into this depression they're definitely going to be some safe havens which I'll get into but so we look at your pan there in that this is something I like to say is that you know what once Japan turns we know that the US is going to follow suit because Japan is in such a terrible population growth pattern they're popular you know with the one-child policy in China even all of Asia or most of Asia is just really really bad the sale of adult diapers has surpassed the sale of baby diapers in Japan it’s wild so once they're going to be the first to tip because you think you want in terms of population growth in birth rates you want you want an upside-down pyramid you want it funnily you want each generation to be larger than the other. I mean my parents my mother is one of nine you don't see that anymore. So who's going to be watch which who's going to be stimulating this economic growth with their taxes? We need to create some more ways to increase those taxes and I mean Japan also their government tax funded is sponsoring dating websites like tinder those types of random dating websites because they want people to have babies they need to have their baby so this will definitely be a global downturn in some of the areas that are opportunistic and I know that Brian and Alan Beaulieu our CEO and president here at ITR they talk about it in in their book Prosperity in the Age of Decline, Switzerland Canada Australia those three are some pretty good financially stable countries that may weather the storm a lot better. If we look at the difference between I mentioned earlier that our transfer payments in the US are much higher than what we're bringing in and tax receipts it's the opposite for Canada. They're taking in more than what they pay out in terms of transfer payments they're financially much more stable so is Australia and Switzerland they're going to be the winners or they'll win the most, I'm not going to say they're not going to fall but they're going to safe havens to you know once once Japan tips get out of equities go into bonds in those particular three countries those will be the safe havens as well as the countries that have a good younger population because those again won't be hit as hard with the with the younger generation being kind of picked it back on their feet again even absorb a lot of the assets when these older generations die off that's something that we think that could potentially buoy the impact of this depression is all the assets that are transferred in excluding the the death tax to the younger generation could put to mitigate some of the severity of the downturn with all of those assets being transferred.
Buck: Interesting. Well it is always fascinating to hear about this I guess this demographic cliff really. So for real estate investors hold on to things maybe decrease your leverage etc during that period of time but in the meantime try to make as much money as you can in the next decade I think. So tell us a little bit more about where we can learn about your work and the work of ITR economics. I'm a subscriber to one of your newsletters but maybe you can tell us a little bit about that and how how people could potentially sign up.
Catherine: Yeah absolutely so we offer some great quality products and emails and services so you can subscribe to our free services if you go to our website ITREconomics.com there should be a resources tab at the top and then you scroll down to the free enrollment for the updates and what we'll do is we'll just send out periodic emails of usually on a monthly basis of what's going on in the economy just kind of a blurb here and there. It's a really great piece of just you know insightful insightful information for what's happening and what's new in the economy today or tomorrow.
Buck: Absolutely and you know one of the things I think is really interesting is being able to get ahead of stuff with the smart team that really is more unbiased than I think a lot of the economists that you hear in the press so again thanks very much for being on the show, Catherine.
Catherine: Of course thank you I’m very happy to be here and happy to do it again.
Buck: Thank you that would be great. We'll be right back
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2020.01.23 18:10 InitiatePenguin The Landscape on Paid Family & Medical Leave [MensLib / 1.22.2020]

Our Demographic here in MensLib tends to skew younger, and unmarried. So I wanted to bring some attention on these policies so that as we grow older and one day might choose to start a family, we can be better informed now, so these polices will be in place when that moment comes. This post will largely consider the American system, but please do not limit discussion to the U.S. or your personal experience with other programs below.
There’s been a lot of consternation in the U.S. over healthcare policies and it tends to overshadow a lot of other related proposals. Policy-wise, when it comes to child care there’s generally two things progressives look at. First, how to make child care more affordable in the pre-school years through various initiatives and tax credits. Or through daycare facilities (private, government or employer sponsored) and private care workers. Second, how to make the process and financials of major life events mesh better with the expectations of work and economic stability – be it the actual birth of a child, or another medical emergency for yourself or a loved one. This post considers the latter, and assumes another system for child care after parental leave will take over. This is not the time to advocate for less working hours to stay home, for high enough wages to afford a nanny, for workers to get their share of leisure and wage growth from increases in productivity through technology and automation. In an economy that currently expects both parents to work without serious protections for workers and economic stability, and a country where child-rearing is still a heavily gendered responsibly, we must advocate for programs with clear progressive values, positive results and that already show the political will to enact.
PFML = Paid Family Medical Leave
FMLA (1993) = Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

What is Paid Family Leave and who does it affect?

Sometimes referred to as parental leave, paid family leave is a worker’s benefit provided by employers or the government to allow paid or unpaid time off from work for or a certain duration to parents for the purposes of recovering from child birth, parental bonding, and economic/job security. Paid leave typically provides a reduced wage replacement during this period that is administered by either the government or the employer.
Most people in the U.S. do not have paid family leave. Only 19% of workers in the U.S. have paid family leave to care for a child or a seriously ill loved one. Sometimes parents can be covered by Employer Short-term Disability Policies, but still, only 40% of workers are covered in those cases. Access to paid family leave has only grown 6% over the last 5 years (13%-19%), where the highest wage workers have seen as 12% increase (22%-34%), and low-wage workers have seen a 2% increase (4%-6%).
Nearly two-thirds of full-time employees (63%) who are parents did not take paid parental leave in the US and over three-quarters of women (77%) indicate their spouse/partner is not eligible for paid parental leave. Millennials (48%) are much more likely to take paid parental leave compared with parents of older generations when they had children.
7% of people who filed for bankruptcy cited the birth of a child as the cause. “Sandwich caregivers” are those who are caught between the demands of both childcare and caring for an adult family member. National Alliance for Caregiving cite these caregivers provide 22hrs a week of care and have to cut hours during prime working and long-term saving years. Sandwich caregivers are 19% Baby Boomers, 31% Millennials and 49% Gen X and often lack workplace benefits while juggling care.

A History of Family Leave in the U.S.

The U.S. is one of a very small number of countries (“one in two”, “only industrialized nation”, “one of three within in U.N.” “only rich country”, “only OECD Country”), that has no guaranteed paid leave of any kind. Often, we don’t think about it as economic security or support and that means people rely on a patchwork of state policies, other family members (and their employee benefits if they have it) vacation/sick time, or taking unpaid leave via 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, but there’s no standard or guarantee that says you deserve, and should have access to, paid family leave no matter where you live, where you work, the type of job you have, or whether you’re caring for a child versus an older facility member dealing with a serious illness.
The U.S. culturally prioritizes work, and fetishizes hard work as the key to social mobility. It is the reason why you see work requirements in a lot of welfare programs despite them not working. PFML likewise is designed with workers in mind who will continue working. And unlike some European policies that are pro-natalist that historically (some still do) separated men and women because for gender roles, it’s critical that PFML in recognizes parents regardless of gender will work and will need leave at some point to take care of themselves, a child, or a family member.
Traditionally, the movement for paid leave has largely centered on state and local policies or those voluntarily adopted by employers or negotiated through union contracts.

The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993
Prior to 1992, George H. W. Bush vetoed a FMLA twice. When Bill Clinton was elected it became a domestic priority. The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, signed into law by Clinton, provided the following measures.
Eligible Employers:
Private-sector employer, with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including a joint employer or successor in interest to a covered employer;
Public agency, including a local, state, or Federal government agency, regardless of the number of employees it employs; or
Public or private elementary or secondary school, regardless of the number of employees it employs.
Eligible Employees:
Works for a covered employer;
Has worked for the employer for at least 12 months;
Has at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12 month period (~24hrs a week) immediately preceding the leave*; and
Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
This effectively restricted these benefits to 41% of the workforce.
It entitles eligible workers up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for:
The birth of a son or daughter or placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;
To care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition;
For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job; or
For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status.

Some states picked up where the government left off.
California was the first state to implement a state program for family leave in 2002 (effective 2004) , New Jersey the second. These two states have served as a model for much of the future legislation.
Since 2002/2004 California has made several improvements and expansions and the overall effects have been: Improved Labor Force Participation, Improved Earnings (particularly for women, POC, and low wage workers), people are taking more care of their family members, reduced utilization of nursing homes by 11% (addtl. Medicaid savings), decrease in shaken baby syndrome diagnosis and improved outcomes around ADHD and Education. Plus, more men are spending time with their new children. Utilization for men have gone increased form less than 15% to 40% of all baby bonding claims, foreshadowing a cultural shift in gender equality. In Rode Island’s program 1/3 of all leave takers were men. When men takes leave it makes it easier for women to go back to work, there is less gender bias, and women have better outcomes.
Nationally, among U.S. adults “who have taken – or who needed or wanted but were unable to take – parental, family or medical leave in the past two years” Pew Research says the median length of leave taken by new fathers is 1 week, compared to 11 for new mothers. Workers making more than $75,000 a year will take on median twice as much leave as those making less than $30,000. Ernst and Young places the average of paid leave at 4.5 weeks for women and 2.3 weeks for men.
As of July 2019, eight states (California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Washington, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Oregon) and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that grant parental leave as part of state paid family and medical leave insurance laws, with 4 being effective currently. As of 2016, 12 states (Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming) have passed zero legislation protecting working families since the FMLA in 1993.
Originally California had a wage replacement of 55% and a cap of $1,000 a week, and New Jersey had a wage replacement of 66% and a cap of $500 a week. Both programs were found to be insufficient for low wage earners and the higher of both values became the basis for future legislation, including the National Paid Family Leave Act sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).
Some states (Oregon, California, D.C. & Massachusetts) have benefits granted on a progressive scale - either where more wage would be received at the beginning weeks of leave to help workers transition or by giving more family leave benefits to workers with less income.

There’s a new calling for a national standard: The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (H.R. 1185/S. 463)
Every Year since 2013, this bill has been reintroduced. When it was first introduced it had support from 6 senators (all democrats) and 57 house seats. And now it has 37 senators and 203 house members, (including 1 House Republican! Chris Smith – NJ). You can see whether your senator or house member are Co-sponsors by following these links. Republicans oppose it because it is an increase in taxes.
The FAMILY Act’s goal is to create a national Paid Family and Medical Leave program set up as a social insurance fund that would guarantee workers up to 12 weeks paid (at 66% of their wage, capped at $4,000 /month indexed yearly) to care for a new child - through birth, adoption, or foster placement, medical emergency and all the same considerations that already exists in the 1993 law without the eligibility restrictions and with pay.
The Social Fund would manifest as a 4/10ths of 1% payroll contribution (a .02% tax increase a week on both the employee and employer side - equivalent to 1/18th of social security). It would look like social security in the way funds are taken out on your paystub and is conceptually and structurally similar. That cost would pay for the benefits itself and the administration, outreach, and education of the program.
The Center for American Progress estimates that the FAMILY Act would make 77 percent to 84 percent of all U.S. workers eligible for paid leave.
Employers will still be able to compete by offering workers more than this standard requires.

I heard there’s an Election, What are the Candidates Saying?

First off, they are listening to the people:
Almost all presidential candidates have policies. All of them who do use the FAMILY Act as baseline, but some have gone farther. Many candidates also have polices detailing other worker protections like sick/vacation days, childcare, and early education.
I only researched candidates polling above 3% on average.
Sen. Bernie Sanders – Co-Sponsor of the FAMILY Act
Sen. Elizabeth Warren – Co-Sponsor of the FAMILY Act
Former V.P. Joe Biden – How long should paid maternity leave last? 12 weeks. Should maternity leave be paid for by employers? Government? Combination? Government. (Note: Government paid is the least popular method according to polling)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg – “enhanced” version of the FAMILY Act
Michael Bloomberg – supportive. Details unknown. His company provides 6 months (27 weeks) of leave.
Andrew Yang – How long should paid maternity leave last? Nine months to be split between parents; six months for a single parent. Should maternity leave be paid for by employers? Government? Combination? Combination.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar - Co-Sponsor of the FAMILY Act
Donald J. Trump – proposal includes paid leave for mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents. (only parental leave, no medical) The proposal provides six weeks of paid leave, is financed through state unemployment insurance (UI) systems in partnership with the federal government, and is paid for by offsetting reforms to the UI system. During his administration progress has been made for parental leave (no medical leave) for federal employees for 12 weeks.
Notably, Kamila Harris, before she dropped out, advocated for a 6 month 100% wage replacement policy.

I don’t Like the FAMILY Act, What are the Alternatives?

Many of these alternatives only cover family leave. They do not cover medical emergencies and other exigencies.

Do Nothing, Cost of the Status Quo
Center for American progress estimates families aggregated lose 20.6 billion dollars a year because of inadequate or no PFML, babies not taking wellness visits and immunizations, 23% of people returning to work within 2 weeks, 95% of dads who are not even taking 2 weeks, low wage workers don’t have bargaining power to get similar benefits, costing $300,000 on income and retirement savings for older workers who leave work to care for aging parent, higher nursing home expenses, businesses with higher turnover, higher spending made by other programs and personal bills not being paid.

A regulatory mandate as opposed to a social fund
Where employers are required to provide it, the government won’t be in involved.
This has the potential to allow employers to discriminate against people in the hiring process (example: women who might become pregnant, or workers who appear to have a serious illness) as a business is incentivized not to make these payouts when avoidable. There would also be reasonable exemptions for small business and a social fund instead of a regulatory mandate will provide more flexibility to how money gets spent.
Even larger businesses are advocating for uniformity as they are forced to comply with multiple state regulatory processes making compliance expensive. Stating: “Legislation should provide uniform standards that apply to all covered employees and that adhere to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act requirements. Doing so would benefit employees needing coverage as well as help businesses challenged by the growing patchwork of competing and inconsistent state plans … Legislation should give employers flexibility in managing paid family and medical leave benefits”. They do differ on the particulars of implementation but do want the federal government to preempt these policies.
Keep in mind though what business’ incentives are, Walmart received a gold star in a lot the press by offering leave 6 weeks for family leave … for full time workers … 60% of Walmart’s workforce is part time … Small business as mentioned are in favor of a government administered tax fund.

Subsidize the Employer
Marco Rubio was the first republican to come forward with paid family leave plan. It was a subsidy awarded to businesses as a “25% non-refundable tax credit that voluntarily offer at least four weeks of paid family leave, limited to twelve weeks of leave and $4,000 per employee each year.” and included raising the child tax credit by $2,500.
A similar plan (Paid Family Leave Pilot Extension Act) ended up inside the 2017 Tax Bill by Sen. Deb Fischer, (R-Neb) which provided a tax credit of 12.5% (up to 25%) of what the company pays towards the worker for the company. It requires companies to offer at least two weeks (12 weeks to receive the full credit) of family leave where the employee both makes less than $72,000 a year and the paid leave covers 50% of their wage. This provision was designed as a test and lasted until the end of 2019.

“Social Security Parental Leave Program” by the Independent Women’s Forum / “Economic Security for New Parents Act” introduced by Marco Rubio (R-FL) and sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO).
A parent of a new child could take up to 12 weeks of leave per year and receive on average 45 percent of their pay. Individuals would need to delay their retirement by about 25 weeks for each 12 weeks of leave or see a cut in their Social Security retirement benefits if they retire earlier. In addition the Urban Institute states “Participants who take 12 weeks of paid leave would experience a 3 percent decline in lifetime Social Security retirement benefits, but losses would be significantly higher for people with larger families who take multiple leaves.”
With Rubio’s version it allows for each parent to pull from their Social Security Benefit in order to take 2 months of family leave, with their respective weeks transferable. According to the Urban Institute, this would be an improvement, and “replace slightly more than one-half of earnings for parents who leave work for three months and about four-fifths of earnings for parents who leave work for two months”.
Naturally you would be borrowing from your future self under the assumption you'll still be able-bodied to work past the retirement date. 58% of people oppose this plan according to National Partnership.org

Why take leave, when you can pull out a Loan? The Advancing Support for Working Families Act…….
Bipartisan duos, U.S. Reps. Elise Stefanik & Colin Allred and Senators Bill Cassidy & Kyrsten Sinema have proposed legislation where new parents can get an advance (one-time interest free loan) on the future value of their child tax credit. It would allow parents to claim $5,000 of their tax credit with a new child and then over the next 10 years receive& $500 dollars less of the aforementioned credit.

I’m #ChildFree without any intent of having a child, why do Parents get all the benefits?
It is paid family and medical leave. Virtually everyone will use this program at one point or another in their life. These things are combined for a few reasons. First, it makes sure everyone is able to have some sort of skin in the game, whether you’re a parent or that your parents will grow old one day and requires care – this makes support of the program go up, as well as builds more political will to make it happen. Second, birthing is still a medical process with a lot of expensive care required and even in adoption preparing a new home for a little one is costly on top of the actual process of adoption. Third, this program is about creating economic stability for families and low wage workers that requires a more holistic approach for the ways life interrupts our work.
With the Family Leave Medical Act of 1993, approximately 55% of people used it to recover from their own illness, 21% a new child, and 18% for family care giving. The FAMILY Act will cover all the same reasons but workers will also be paid. By 2050 up to 20.2% of the American population is projected to be over the age of 65. According to Ernst and Young, 25% of millennials already care for another family member.

Also, here’s a link the U.S. House Oversight Committee’s hearing on Examining the Need for Comprehensive National Paid Family and Medical Leave that happened just last month. Testimony are provided by:

Advocacy:

In today’s world, you’ve got to go back to work while you’re bleeding or your mother dying.
https://paidleave.us/
https://www.nationalpartnership.org/
https://familyvaluesatwork.org/about-us
https://www.mainstreetalliance.org/
https://smallbusinessmajority.org/

-----------------------------------

Sources:

GENERAL:
https://www.vogue.com/article/best-and-worst-states-maternity-leave
http://familyvaluesatwork.org/graphics/FMLIFactSheet.pdf
https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/90201/paid_family_leave_0.pdf
https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/Global_generations_study/$FILE/EY-global-generations-a-global-study-on-work-life-challenges-across-generations.pdf
https://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/NAC-CAG_SandwichCaregiving_Report_Digital-Nov-26-2019.pdf
https://oversight.house.gov/legislation/hearings/examining-the-need-for-comprehensive-national-paid-family-and-medical-leave
https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/01/wal-mart-announces-new-employee-paid-leave-policy-leaves-part-timers-out-in-the-cold.html
https://www.cbpp.org/blog/more-evidence-that-work-requirements-dont-work
https://smallbusinessmajority.org/our-research/workforce/small-businesses-support-paid-family-leave-programs
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=654829
http://www.georgetownpoverty.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Georgetown_PLUS-PaidFamilyMedicalLeaveOpportunity-20190804.pdf
FMLA 1993
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_and_Medical_Leave_Act_of_1993
https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla/factsheets
https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/benefits-leave/fmla
https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla
https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/OASP/legacy/files/FMLA-2012-Technical-Report.pdf
https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2012/08/16/11980/fact-sheet-paid-family-and-medical-leave/
https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2019/07/16/472026/paid-family-medical-leave-must-comprehensive-help-workers-children/
https://equitablegrowth.org/californias-paid-family-leave-policy-is-decreasing-nursing-home-use-and-saving-medicaid-dollars/
FAMILY ACT
https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-work/resources/economic-justice/paid-leave/family-act-fact-sheet.pdf
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/21/upshot/paid-leave-2020-debate.html
https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2014/02/05/83529/infographic-the-next-step-for-family-leave/
CANDIDATE POLICIES
https://ballotpedia.org/2020_presidential_candidates_on_paid_leave
https://www.sanders.senate.gov/download/061115-familyvaluesagendafactsheet?inline=file
https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/paid-leave
https://amyklobuchar.com/child-care-and-paid-family-leave/
https://www.politico.com/2020-election/candidates-views-on-the-issues/economy/paid-leave/
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/12/03/daycare-child-care-election-2020-presidential-candidates-maternity-leave/4187983002/
https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-metepromises/trumpometepromise/1387/guarantee-6-week-paid-leave/
ALTERNATIVES
https://www.aei.org/multimedia/the-paid-family-leave-tracke
http://pdf.iwf.org/budget-neutral_approach_parental_leave_PF18.pdf
https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/3345?r=3
http://static.politico.com/28/8a/9fd713d342aab969d87b6e2b11d3/mr-family-leave.pdf
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/01/23/579753000/tax-credit-aims-to-boost-availability-of-paid-family-leave-but-will-it-work
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1628
https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/7bcee930-38e4-4580-a747-bd1d26e374ff/1050B06F6967E192EFCFE139E732082E.economic-security-for-new-parents-act-one-pager.pdf
https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/98101/paying_for_parental_leave_with_future_social_security_benefits_0.pdf
https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/98945/how_much_will_senator_rubios_paid_leave_program_help_new_parents_1.pdf
https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/paid-family-leave-bill-offers-loan-not-leave#_ftn1
POLLING
https://apnews.com/d150823c151a44c29f7ebf26efa87fd8
https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-work/resources/economic-justice/paid-leave/voters-views-on-paid-family-medical-leave-survey-findings-august-2018.pdf
https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/03/23/americans-widely-support-paid-family-and-medical-leave-but-differ-over-specific-policies/
https://www.cato.org/survey-reports/cato-institute-2018-paid-leave-survey
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/12/03/daycare-child-care-election-2020-presidential-candidates-maternity-leave/4187983002/
submitted by InitiatePenguin to u/InitiatePenguin [link] [comments]


2020.01.22 18:04 InitiatePenguin The Landscape on Paid Family & Medical Leave

Our Demographic here in MensLib tends to skew younger, and unmarried. So I wanted to bring some attention on these policies so that as we grow older and one day might choose to start a family, we can be better informed now, so these polices will be in place when that moment comes. This post will largely consider the American system, but please do not limit discussion to the U.S. or your personal experience with other programs below.
There’s been a lot of consternation in the U.S. over healthcare policies and it tends to overshadow a lot of other related proposals. Policy-wise, when it comes to child care there’s generally two things progressives look at. First, how to make child care more affordable in the pre-school years through various initiatives and tax credits. Or through daycare facilities (private, government or employer sponsored) and private care workers. Second, how to make the process and financials of major life events mesh better with the expectations of work and economic stability – be it the actual birth of a child, or another medical emergency for yourself or a loved one. This post considers the latter, and assumes another system for child care after parental leave will take over. This is not the time to advocate for less working hours to stay home, for high enough wages to afford a nanny, for workers to get their share of leisure and wage growth from increases in productivity through technology and automation. In an economy that currently expects both parents to work without serious protections for workers and economic stability, and a country where child-rearing is still a heavily gendered responsibly, we must advocate for programs with clear progressive values, positive results and that already show the political will to enact.
PFML = Paid Family Medical Leave
FMLA (1993) = Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

What is Paid Family Leave and who does it affect?

Sometimes referred to as parental leave, paid family leave is a worker’s benefit provided by employers or the government to allow paid or unpaid time off from work for or a certain duration to parents for the purposes of recovering from child birth, parental bonding, and economic/job security. Paid leave typically provides a reduced wage replacement during this period that is administered by either the government or the employer.
Most people in the U.S. do not have paid family leave. Only 19% of workers in the U.S. have paid family leave to care for a child or a seriously ill loved one. Sometimes parents can be covered by Employer Short-term Disability Policies, but still, only 40% of workers are covered in those cases. Access to paid family leave has only grown 6% over the last 5 years (13%-19%), where the highest wage workers have seen as 12% increase (22%-34%), and low-wage workers have seen a 2% increase (4%-6%).
Nearly two-thirds of full-time employees (63%) who are parents did not take paid parental leave in the US and over three-quarters of women (77%) indicate their spouse/partner is not eligible for paid parental leave. Millennials (48%) are much more likely to take paid parental leave compared with parents of older generations when they had children.
7% of people who filed for bankruptcy cited the birth of a child as the cause. “Sandwich caregivers” are those who are caught between the demands of both childcare and caring for an adult family member. National Alliance for Caregiving cite these caregivers provide 22hrs a week of care and have to cut hours during prime working and long-term saving years. Sandwich caregivers are 19% Baby Boomers, 31% Millennials and 49% Gen X and often lack workplace benefits while juggling care.

A History of Family Leave in the U.S.

The U.S. is one of a very small number of countries (“one in two”, “only industrialized nation”, “one of three within in U.N.” “only rich country”, “only OECD Country”), that has no guaranteed paid leave of any kind. Often, we don’t think about it as economic security or support and that means people rely on a patchwork of state policies, other family members (and their employee benefits if they have it) vacation/sick time, or taking unpaid leave via 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, but there’s no standard or guarantee that says you deserve, and should have access to, paid family leave no matter where you live, where you work, the type of job you have, or whether you’re caring for a child versus an older facility member dealing with a serious illness.
The U.S. culturally prioritizes work, and fetishizes hard work as the key to social mobility. It is the reason why you see work requirements in a lot of welfare programs despite them not working. PFML likewise is designed with workers in mind who will continue working. And unlike some European policies that are pro-natalist that historically (some still do) separated men and women because for gender roles, it’s critical that PFML in recognizes parents regardless of gender will work and will need leave at some point to take care of themselves, a child, or a family member.
Traditionally, the movement for paid leave has largely centered on state and local policies or those voluntarily adopted by employers or negotiated through union contracts.

The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993
Prior to 1992, George H. W. Bush vetoed a FMLA twice. When Bill Clinton was elected it became a domestic priority. The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, signed into law by Clinton, provided the following measures.
Eligible Employers:
Private-sector employer, with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including a joint employer or successor in interest to a covered employer;
Public agency, including a local, state, or Federal government agency, regardless of the number of employees it employs; or
Public or private elementary or secondary school, regardless of the number of employees it employs.
Eligible Employees:
Works for a covered employer;
Has worked for the employer for at least 12 months;
Has at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12 month period (~24hrs a week) immediately preceding the leave*; and
Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
This effectively restricted these benefits to 41% of the workforce.
It entitles eligible workers up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for:
The birth of a son or daughter or placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;
To care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition;
For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job; or
For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status.

Some states picked up where the government left off.
California was the first state to implement a state program for family leave in 2002 (effective 2004) , New Jersey the second. These two states have served as a model for much of the future legislation.
Since 2002/2004 California has made several improvements and expansions and the overall effects have been: Improved Labor Force Participation, Improved Earnings (particularly for women, POC, and low wage workers), people are taking more care of their family members, reduced utilization of nursing homes by 11% (addtl. Medicaid savings), decrease in shaken baby syndrome diagnosis and improved outcomes around ADHD and Education. Plus, more men are spending time with their new children. Utilization for men have gone increased form less than 15% to 40% of all baby bonding claims, foreshadowing a cultural shift in gender equality. In Rode Island’s program 1/3 of all leave takers were men. When men takes leave it makes it easier for women to go back to work, there is less gender bias, and women have better outcomes.
Nationally, among U.S. adults “who have taken – or who needed or wanted but were unable to take – parental, family or medical leave in the past two years” Pew Research says the median length of leave taken by new fathers is 1 week, compared to 11 for new mothers. Workers making more than $75,000 a year will take on median twice as much leave as those making less than $30,000. Ernst and Young places the average of paid leave at 4.5 weeks for women and 2.3 weeks for men.
As of July 2019, eight states (California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Washington, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Oregon) and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that grant parental leave as part of state paid family and medical leave insurance laws, with 4 being effective currently. As of 2016, 12 states (Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming) have passed zero legislation protecting working families since the FMLA in 1993.
Originally California had a wage replacement of 55% and a cap of $1,000 a week, and New Jersey had a wage replacement of 66% and a cap of $500 a week. Both programs were found to be insufficient for low wage earners and the higher of both values became the basis for future legislation, including the National Paid Family Leave Act sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).
Some states (Oregon, California, D.C. & Massachusetts) have benefits granted on a progressive scale - either where more wage would be received at the beginning weeks of leave to help workers transition or by giving more family leave benefits to workers with less income.

There’s a new calling for a national standard: The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (H.R. 1185/S. 463)
Every Year since 2013, this bill has been reintroduced. When it was first introduced it had support from 6 senators (all democrats) and 57 house seats. And now it has 37 senators and 203 house members, (including 1 House Republican! Chris Smith – NJ). You can see whether your senator or house member are Co-sponsors by following these links. Republicans oppose it because it is an increase in taxes.
The FAMILY Act’s goal is to create a national Paid Family and Medical Leave program set up as a social insurance fund that would guarantee workers up to 12 weeks paid (at 66% of their wage, capped at $4,000 /month indexed yearly) to care for a new child - through birth, adoption, or foster placement, medical emergency and all the same considerations that already exists in the 1993 law without the eligibility restrictions and with pay.
The Social Fund would manifest as a 4/10ths of 1% payroll contribution (a .02% tax increase a week on both the employee and employer side - equivalent to 1/18th of social security). It would look like social security in the way funds are taken out on your paystub and is conceptually and structurally similar. That cost would pay for the benefits itself and the administration, outreach, and education of the program.
The Center for American Progress estimates that the FAMILY Act would make 77 percent to 84 percent of all U.S. workers eligible for paid leave.
Employers will still be able to compete by offering workers more than this standard requires.

I heard there’s an Election, What are the Candidates Saying?

First off, they are listening to the people:
Almost all presidential candidates have policies. All of them who do use the FAMILY Act as baseline, but some have gone farther. Many candidates also have polices detailing other worker protections like sick/vacation days, childcare, and early education.
I only researched candidates polling above 3% on average.
Sen. Bernie Sanders – Co-Sponsor of the FAMILY Act
Sen. Elizabeth Warren – Co-Sponsor of the FAMILY Act
Former V.P. Joe Biden – How long should paid maternity leave last? 12 weeks. Should maternity leave be paid for by employers? Government? Combination? Government. (Note: Government paid is the least popular method according to polling)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg – “enhanced” version of the FAMILY Act
Michael Bloomberg – supportive. Details unknown. His company provides 6 months (27 weeks) of leave.
Andrew Yang – How long should paid maternity leave last? Nine months to be split between parents; six months for a single parent. Should maternity leave be paid for by employers? Government? Combination? Combination.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar - Co-Sponsor of the FAMILY Act
Donald J. Trump – proposal includes paid leave for mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents. (only parental leave, no medical) The proposal provides six weeks of paid leave, is financed through state unemployment insurance (UI) systems in partnership with the federal government, and is paid for by offsetting reforms to the UI system. During his administration progress has been made for parental leave (no medical leave) for federal employees for 12 weeks.
Notably, Kamila Harris, before she dropped out, advocated for a 6 month 100% wage replacement policy.

I don’t Like the FAMILY Act, What are the Alternatives?

Many of these alternatives only cover family leave. They do not cover medical emergencies and other exigencies.

Do Nothing, Cost of the Status Quo
Center for American progress estimates families aggregated lose 20.6 billion dollars a year because of inadequate or no PFML, babies not taking wellness visits and immunizations, 23% of people returning to work within 2 weeks, 95% of dads who are not even taking 2 weeks, low wage workers don’t have bargaining power to get similar benefits, costing $300,000 on income and retirement savings for older workers who leave work to care for aging parent, higher nursing home expenses, businesses with higher turnover, higher spending made by other programs and personal bills not being paid.

A regulatory mandate as opposed to a social fund
Where employers are required to provide it, the government won’t be in involved.
This has the potential to allow employers to discriminate against people in the hiring process (example: women who might become pregnant, or workers who appear to have a serious illness) as a business is incentivized not to make these payouts when avoidable. There would also be reasonable exemptions for small business and a social fund instead of a regulatory mandate will provide more flexibility to how money gets spent.
Even larger businesses are advocating for uniformity as they are forced to comply with multiple state regulatory processes making compliance expensive. Stating: “Legislation should provide uniform standards that apply to all covered employees and that adhere to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act requirements. Doing so would benefit employees needing coverage as well as help businesses challenged by the growing patchwork of competing and inconsistent state plans … Legislation should give employers flexibility in managing paid family and medical leave benefits”. They do differ on the particulars of implementation but do want the federal government to preempt these policies.
Keep in mind though what business’ incentives are, Walmart received a gold star in a lot the press by offering leave 6 weeks for family leave … for full time workers … 60% of Walmart’s workforce is part time … Small business as mentioned are in favor of a government administered tax fund.

Subsidize the Employer
Marco Rubio was the first republican to come forward with paid family leave plan. It was a subsidy awarded to businesses as a “25% non-refundable tax credit that voluntarily offer at least four weeks of paid family leave, limited to twelve weeks of leave and $4,000 per employee each year.” and included raising the child tax credit by $2,500.
A similar plan (Paid Family Leave Pilot Extension Act) ended up inside the 2017 Tax Bill by Sen. Deb Fischer, (R-Neb) which provided a tax credit of 12.5% (up to 25%) of what the company pays towards the worker for the company. It requires companies to offer at least two weeks (12 weeks to receive the full credit) of family leave where the employee both makes less than $72,000 a year and the paid leave covers 50% of their wage. This provision was designed as a test and lasted until the end of 2019.

“Social Security Parental Leave Program” by the Independent Women’s Forum / “Economic Security for New Parents Act” introduced by Marco Rubio (R-FL) and sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO).
A parent of a new child could take up to 12 weeks of leave per year and receive on average 45 percent of their pay. Individuals would need to delay their retirement by about 25 weeks for each 12 weeks of leave or see a cut in their Social Security retirement benefits if they retire earlier. In addition the Urban Institute states “Participants who take 12 weeks of paid leave would experience a 3 percent decline in lifetime Social Security retirement benefits, but losses would be significantly higher for people with larger families who take multiple leaves.”
With Rubio’s version it allows for each parent to pull from their Social Security Benefit in order to take 2 months of family leave, with their respective weeks transferable. According to the Urban Institute, this would be an improvement, and “replace slightly more than one-half of earnings for parents who leave work for three months and about four-fifths of earnings for parents who leave work for two months”.
Naturally you would be borrowing from your future self under the assumption you'll still be able-bodied to work past the retirement date. 58% of people oppose this plan according to National Partnership.org

Why take leave, when you can pull out a Loan? The Advancing Support for Working Families Act…….
Bipartisan duos, U.S. Reps. Elise Stefanik & Colin Allred and Senators Bill Cassidy & Kyrsten Sinema have proposed legislation where new parents can get an advance (one-time interest free loan) on the future value of their child tax credit. It would allow parents to claim $5,000 of their tax credit with a new child and then over the next 10 years receive& $500 dollars less of the aforementioned credit.

I’m #ChildFree without any intent of having a child, why do Parents get all the benefits?
It is paid family and medical leave. Virtually everyone will use this program at one point or another in their life. These things are combined for a few reasons. First, it makes sure everyone is able to have some sort of skin in the game, whether you’re a parent or that your parents will grow old one day and requires care – this makes support of the program go up, as well as builds more political will to make it happen. Second, birthing is still a medical process with a lot of expensive care required and even in adoption preparing a new home for a little one is costly on top of the actual process of adoption. Third, this program is about creating economic stability for families and low wage workers that requires a more holistic approach for the ways life interrupts our work.
With the Family Leave Medical Act of 1993, approximately 55% of people used it to recover from their own illness, 21% a new child, and 18% for family care giving. The FAMILY Act will cover all the same reasons but workers will also be paid. By 2050 up to 20.2% of the American population is projected to be over the age of 65. According to Ernst and Young, 25% of millennials already care for another family member.

Also, here’s a link the U.S. House Oversight Committee’s hearing on Examining the Need for Comprehensive National Paid Family and Medical Leave that happened just last month. Testimony are provided by:

Advocacy:

In today’s world, you’ve got to go back to work while you’re bleeding or your mother dying.
https://paidleave.us/
https://www.nationalpartnership.org/
https://familyvaluesatwork.org/about-us
https://www.mainstreetalliance.org/
https://smallbusinessmajority.org/

-----------------------------------

Sources:

GENERAL:
https://www.vogue.com/article/best-and-worst-states-maternity-leave
http://familyvaluesatwork.org/graphics/FMLIFactSheet.pdf
https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/90201/paid_family_leave_0.pdf
https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/Global_generations_study/$FILE/EY-global-generations-a-global-study-on-work-life-challenges-across-generations.pdf
https://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/NAC-CAG_SandwichCaregiving_Report_Digital-Nov-26-2019.pdf
https://oversight.house.gov/legislation/hearings/examining-the-need-for-comprehensive-national-paid-family-and-medical-leave
https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/01/wal-mart-announces-new-employee-paid-leave-policy-leaves-part-timers-out-in-the-cold.html
https://www.cbpp.org/blog/more-evidence-that-work-requirements-dont-work
https://smallbusinessmajority.org/our-research/workforce/small-businesses-support-paid-family-leave-programs
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=654829
http://www.georgetownpoverty.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Georgetown_PLUS-PaidFamilyMedicalLeaveOpportunity-20190804.pdf
FMLA 1993
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_and_Medical_Leave_Act_of_1993
https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla/factsheets
https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/benefits-leave/fmla
https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla
https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/OASP/legacy/files/FMLA-2012-Technical-Report.pdf
https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2012/08/16/11980/fact-sheet-paid-family-and-medical-leave/
https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2019/07/16/472026/paid-family-medical-leave-must-comprehensive-help-workers-children/
https://equitablegrowth.org/californias-paid-family-leave-policy-is-decreasing-nursing-home-use-and-saving-medicaid-dollars/
FAMILY ACT
https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-work/resources/economic-justice/paid-leave/family-act-fact-sheet.pdf
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/21/upshot/paid-leave-2020-debate.html
https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2014/02/05/83529/infographic-the-next-step-for-family-leave/
CANDIDATE POLICIES
https://ballotpedia.org/2020_presidential_candidates_on_paid_leave
https://www.sanders.senate.gov/download/061115-familyvaluesagendafactsheet?inline=file
https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/paid-leave
https://amyklobuchar.com/child-care-and-paid-family-leave/
https://www.politico.com/2020-election/candidates-views-on-the-issues/economy/paid-leave/
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/12/03/daycare-child-care-election-2020-presidential-candidates-maternity-leave/4187983002/
https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-metepromises/trumpometepromise/1387/guarantee-6-week-paid-leave/
ALTERNATIVES
https://www.aei.org/multimedia/the-paid-family-leave-tracke
http://pdf.iwf.org/budget-neutral_approach_parental_leave_PF18.pdf
https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/3345?r=3
http://static.politico.com/28/8a/9fd713d342aab969d87b6e2b11d3/mr-family-leave.pdf
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/01/23/579753000/tax-credit-aims-to-boost-availability-of-paid-family-leave-but-will-it-work
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1628
https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/7bcee930-38e4-4580-a747-bd1d26e374ff/1050B06F6967E192EFCFE139E732082E.economic-security-for-new-parents-act-one-pager.pdf
https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/98101/paying_for_parental_leave_with_future_social_security_benefits_0.pdf
https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/98945/how_much_will_senator_rubios_paid_leave_program_help_new_parents_1.pdf
https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/paid-family-leave-bill-offers-loan-not-leave#_ftn1
POLLING
https://apnews.com/d150823c151a44c29f7ebf26efa87fd8
https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-work/resources/economic-justice/paid-leave/voters-views-on-paid-family-medical-leave-survey-findings-august-2018.pdf
https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/03/23/americans-widely-support-paid-family-and-medical-leave-but-differ-over-specific-policies/
https://www.cato.org/survey-reports/cato-institute-2018-paid-leave-survey
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/12/03/daycare-child-care-election-2020-presidential-candidates-maternity-leave/4187983002/
submitted by InitiatePenguin to MensLib [link] [comments]


2020.01.18 06:29 kittyragdoll Coming Out of the Shadows... 👀

Long Post Warning, Gather ‘round if you have time!
After some rare posts and lurking, I find it’s best to say that I’m glad that this subreddit exists and that I’m not alone on the Dogfree spectrum!
I did not have dogs, or any pets at all growing up, since my parents weren’t pet people. Now that makes the majority of dog lovers feel quite bad for me, and they’ve made that clear. They’re shocked at how a family could ever go without a dog. 😬
If anything, I was indifferent to dogs, but as I looked at the stories here, it made me look at dog ownership with a more critical eye. I’m quickly distinguishing regular owners from the nutters.
As much as it’s hard to admit, my senior citizen housemate is a nutter. Has nearly a dozen pics of dogs past and present on her fridge, grew up with dogs, sleeps with them, the whole nine yards. Yes, the house is hers, she owns it, and her dog has full run of the house.
Due to her back issues brought on by a slip and fall, her mobility is quite limited, which precludes being able to walk him, so that falls on my shoulders. Her dog is a retired service dog, and everyone asks about how he’s doing, especially most of the many doctors she has. So of course, bringing him along is par for the course. It takes additional time, and extra effort on my part to keep an eye on him. And don’t get me started with going shopping!
It’s rough. Hell, dating is tougher since it seems like 99.9% of men have and/or want dogs. It usually ends with being told to get a dog, and you won’t be single for long! 🙄
It took everything I had to be able to write this up. If you have any questions, feel free to comment or PM me. I appreciate your support!
Tl;dr: Millennial finally coming out as a someone who doesn’t dawn over dogs living with a baby boomer and her 10 year old dog tired of feeling like I’m the only one that feels like I do.
submitted by kittyragdoll to Dogfree [link] [comments]


2020.01.16 12:16 taisiia-berg Digital Marketing trends 2020

I don't believe that anyone will read that here, but if it happens please don't judge me, and please tell me what I could improve here.
  1. The big brands of Chatbots have jumped on board. But the real power of artificial intelligence in marketing is only just beginning.
From Gartner’s forecast: 85% customers instead of engaging with people, will use self-service options and chatbots. Due to the fact that millennials prefer to deal with customer service issues themselves.
When it comes to chatbots, 60% of millennials have used them, 70% of those report positive experiences, and of the millennials who have not used them, more than 50% say they are interested in using them (Forbs).
58% of B2B companies use a chatbot on their website, as compared to 42% on B2C websites.
The most consumers want to be informed if they are using a chatbot (92%) and 91% of all consumers prefer a live agent.
However, this preference follows a downward trend generationally:
The good news is, there are several powerful plugins which can help any blogger integrate AI with their blogging routine.
  1. The explosion of visual and video marketing
The demand for interactive and video content is growing fast. According to Hubspot, more than 50% of US consumers are willing to see more video content from any brand.
In fact, more and more brands are embracing multi-format visual marketing actively investing in creating advanced image and video assets. Over 50% of marketers are planning to increase video marketing budget.
The key is to find the video marketing solution that will keep you up-to-date with video marketing trends and provide you with affordable video creation and marketing tools.
  1. Search without a single click
Search has been adapting to a mobile world. It has also been shifting to accommodate a faster moving one. Google implemented Featured Snippets, for both seekers and providers alike. No longer do you have to sift through long articles or endless web pages for information… it is right there, at the top of the search results.
Now what used to be an occasional find with the right keywords has become commonplace. It has also expanded. Clickless searching is all the rage and Sparktoro reports that it is on the rise.
Mobile no-click (or zero click) searches have grown 11%. Desktop no-click searches have grown 9.5%.
Meanwhile increased paid ad CTR by ~44% on desktop and a whopping ~125% on mobile.
Mobile searches make up a good chunk of that increase in use, as evidenced by the fact that 31% of the 3.3 billion estimated smartphone owners across the globe use voice search, a statistic that is believed to be directly correlated with the increasing number of zero-click searches.
Organic traffic? Branding and reputation? When trying to get your name lodged in the head of potential customers, what better way than to show, that you are the first one with the answer? You may not get a click every time but you are still making an impression that is crucial.
Featured snippets are here to stay and fast answers are the best answers for most. Take advantage by driving the competition to the second, third or fourth spots on the list and reigning supreme.

Read the post further on BergDigital.CH
submitted by taisiia-berg to u/taisiia-berg [link] [comments]


2019.09.05 08:45 michaelmalak 25 years ago today I was confirmed Catholic. Thanks in part to William Shatner. Here is my conversion story [long]

25 years ago today I was confirmed Catholic. Thanks in part to William Shatner. Here is my conversion story [long]
[Actually the Shatner thing was an aside. As you'll see, the truth is I had an insane amount of topmost catechetical opportunities and resources made available to me and yet I was, embarrassingly now, a skeptic for as long as I was.]
"Conversion of the skeptic"
Michael Malak
Written: February 7, 1995 - May 27, 1995
[But square bracket material, which provides 25-year hindsight, added September 4, 2019. Also the names of all non-clergy people have been deleted. I tried to retain 100% of the personal stuff, but there are a couple of sentences I did end up deleting.]
Confirmed: September 5, 1994
From atheism to confirmation took 17 months. I was baptized, raised, and even confirmed as a Missouri-Synod Lutheran. Like many teenagers, I stopped going to church with my parents. I was about 14. I became agnostic, preferring to leave the important questions for "some other time."
Agnosticism is one of the many forms of atheism [taught in my RCIA class]. As I grew older, I developed a few tenets which bordered on deism, another form of atheism. I held that human life was the most beautiful thing to exist, and that everyone should strive to preserve the existence of the human race in the universe. Individual human lives were of secondary importance to the long-term survival of mankind. But since I believed the key to survival was the traditional family, I was pro-life. I believed abortion to be one of the causes of the breakdown of the modern family, so I was against abortion except in the cases of rape and incest.
To back up slightly and concentrate on the abortion issue, my original awareness to the issue came at age 15 from my [best] friend, a Catholic. I knew the word, but was unaware of the fury surrounding it, and I had never before considered the issue. My friend brought it up as an issue, and it didn't take long for him to convince me that abortion was bad. As I grew older, the truth that abortion is murder became more clear. I even became against the I.U.D. and I also argued that a single cell human being should be saved because it had a unique genetic code. But equally as important to me then was the preservation of the human race, and how abortion jeopardized that.
The abortion issue typifies the basis of my philosophy as an atheist.
The goal of preserving the human race was inspired by science-fiction such as Star Trek: The Next Generation. The means to that goal was inspired by the Catholic Church. I recognized the value of the high morals, and the preservation of the family espoused by the Catholic Church. I also recognized the longevity of the Catholic Church and saw its morals as a means to my goal.
I believed the questions of the existence of God and His relationship to Creation and man today to be unknowable. I believed that perhaps the human race was just a group of mice in a cage, as proposed by Kurt Vonneget Jr. in his Sirens of Titan which I had to read for English literature, or as described in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Under those possibilities, man would have little hope as the keeper of the cage could snuff out the race at a whim. But I thought it was worth a shot anyway.
That was the culmination of my atheistic philosophy, which as promised, bordered on deism. Now like most young men, I was interested in meeting young women.
[This is the point where I insert a major portion of hindsight and backstory. Where I lived, the Washington DC area, especially the singles scene, was dominated at the time by Boomers, meaning the women were 8-20 years older than me. The GenX people my own age just hung out in bars. Remember, this was (just) before the Internet. There was nothing else to do; hanging out in bars was the thing to do, and it just wasn't for me.]
[OK, so I was wondering where I could meet women my own age. More than wondering; I was quite distraught about it. It didn't help that I was a computer nerd. Nerds didn't make a lot of money back then (not until the dot-com boom) so we didn't even have that going for us.]
[So, in January 1992 the repeat of William Shatner's famous 1986 Saturday Night Live appearance comes on. But I don't believe I had ever seen it before (remember: no YouTube, no social media). http://www.criticalcommons.org/Members/howtowatchTV/clips/shatner-takes-on-star-trek-fans-on-snl/view It changed my life. I vowed to change my life. Yes, I vowed to get a life. My best friend set me up with his neighbor, a young woman my age. I accepted invitation from the (older) women in my office to go country/western dancing. But the real change occurred due to a hard drive crash in August, 1992 from my Internet startup, halluc.com. You see, in 1990-1992 I was an Internet Service Provider. Here is a complete list of every server on the Internet in Virginia in 1992: http://www.mit.edu/afs.new/athena/contrib/potluck/Net-Services/net-directory/maps/uucp.bak/u.usa.va.1 When the hard drive crashed, rather than spending time to rebuild everything from backups, I decided the whole Internet thing would never take off in popularity, and I gave it up, giving me time to develop a social life and, oh by the way as it turns out, become Catholic along the way. OK, so I lost out on an early retirement, but I got the Catholic faith instead.]
So I signed up for every single's event and club in the Washington, DC area. The problem is that no women in their 20's did. The Washington, DC demographics have mostly baby-boomers (30's and 40's), plus young people tended to hang out in bars, which I did not care for. I was distraught.
Then one day in April, 1993, my best friend [a practicing Catholic] invited me to a get-together at Bob's Big Boy. He had been taking night classes that school year at the Notre Dame Institute for Catechesis, based at Queen of Apostles in Alexandria, Virginia [which subsequently got merged into Christendom College and became their graduate school https://www.christendom.edu/about/a-history-of-christendom-college/ ]. One of his classmates, a woman, had arranged a get-together just before one of the classes. Eager to expand my social arena, even with religious zealots, I tagged along with my best friend. It was OK.
Meanwhile, that woman classmate was planning a trip to Denver to see Pope John Paul II for his August, 1993 visit. My best friend had been mentioning this trip for a while, but I was not interested because I was concerned about 30 people trying to share one bathroom with one tiny hot-water heater. The woman classmate invited my best friend to a party, which was to be a combination Denver planning party and birthday celebration for the woman's boyfriend.
Eager to meet more people, I went along with my best friend to this party. Lo and behold, there were lots of nice, young women. Even though I had no intention of going to Denver, I eagerly went to the second planning party. While the first party was all party and little planning, the second involved some planning. They played the first half of the movie about Pope John Paul II, and a videotape advertisement for the ranch we would be staying at. Also, the woman classmate had brought a large posterboard with a floor plan of the ranch. The videotape showed a luxurious ranch, and the floor plan revealed eight bedrooms and four bathrooms. I was guaranteed a bed and a good percentage of a bathroom!
The real inspiration to go to Denver was the movie about Pope John Paul II. Though I scoffed his authority, I saw that we was a great man in his own right. I wanted to see him purely on those grounds.
The other important thing that happened at the second planning party was that a male friend of the woman classmate encouraged me to come to the prayer group that several people at the party attended regularly. He said there were "lots of babes" there. Prayer or not, uncomfortable or not, I was going. I twisted my best friend's arm into going with me. I considered him, a Catholic, my ticket into this strange gathering. I was pretending he forced me to go, when it was really the other way around. It turns out that male friend of the woman classmate was right. After about my second visit to the weekly prayer group, I found I actually liked praying the Rosary. I found it peaceful and meditative. Since it was pleasant, and since I figured it wouldn't hurt to learn about the Catholic faith, I attended the prayer group, weekly without fail.
I actually committed to the Denver trip at the third planning party.
The trip to Denver was a blast. It was constant companionship with 20 other single young adults. It was like going away to camp as a kid. The overnight vigil in Cherry Creek Park with 300,000 other "youth" was great. The ranch was nestled in the Rockies at 9,000 feet elevation [possibly Breckenridge area?].
Every morning and evening we made the 70 minute commute through the continental divide in our rented vans praying the rosary. Every day brought a new level of togetherness. The trip was, up until that point, the best time of my life. I was still an atheist, but I was having a great time.
Around the time of the Denver trip, my best friend had started going to another prayer group [hosted by a group of young women sharing a home in Annandale, Virginia]. My best friend had met one of the young women at a wedding that spring. At the time, I considered her "too religious" for me to be comfortable hanging around her. But my best friend eventually followed up during the summer, and went to one of their prayer groups by himself. He told me that they sang during their prayer groups, so I decided to stay away from that prayer group, despite the reportedly large number of young women there. After many such reports, I eventually gave in. It was intense -- they kneeled through the whole rosary! But it wasn't so bad. I got used to it. I alternated between the two prayer groups during late summer and early fall of 1993, to maximize my social arena.
Another reason I alternated was because every other Sunday at the Annandale prayer group, the leader [who learned at Thomas Aquinas College and would years later become a locally-recognized expert] led a discussion on the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, using the book Light of Faith, which is the [then-] recent translation of his Compendium of Faith. St. Thomas is a father and doctor of the Catholic Church. He is also a philosopher who followed the lines of Aristotle, and used his philosophical methods to explain Catholic doctrines. Since I had jumped in a few weeks into the progress through the book, and since I had never been exposed to philosophy in my life, I was more than just lost the first time.
During my second attendance, they (the leader reading St. Thomas) built on what was discussed during my first attendance, and I started to feel the flow of things. I had the leader order me a copy of the book. Through these discussions, and through my own reading of the book, I quickly became convinced of the existence of God, as well as several qualities about Him: eternal, all-powerful, uniqueness. I wasn't convinced that He was the Catholic God at that point. Through further discussion, I also became convinced, through St. Thomas' explanation of matter and form, of the feasibility of the immortality of the human soul. I was not convinced this was necessarily so, however.
To quote the first non-introductory chapter:
Chapter 3: The existence of God
Regarding the unity of the divine essence, we must first believe that God exists. This is a truth clearly known by reason. We observe that all things that move are moved by other things, the lower by the higher. The elements are moved by heavenly bodies; and among the elements themselves, the stronger moves the weaker; and even among the heavenly bodies, the lower are set in motion by the higher. This process cannot be traced back into infinity. For everything that is moved by another is a sort of instrument of the first mover. Therefore, if a first mover is lacking, all things that move will be instruments. But if the series of movers and things moved is infinite, there can be no first mover. In such a case, these infinitely many movers and things moved will all be instruments.
But even the unlearned perceive how ridiculous it is to suppose that instruments are moved, unless they are set in motion by some principal agent. This would be like fancying that, when a chest or bed is being built, the saw or the hatchet that performs its functions without the carpenter. Accordingly, there must be a first mover that is above all the rest; and this being we call God.
[Another major part of the Annandale prayer group was taking a half-mile walk through a field after the rosary each week to the perpetual adoration chapel at St. Michael Church https://stmichaelannandale.org . The first time I had no idea what it was; I just followed right in. If you've ever been to an adoration chapel, you know what it's like: tiny, with kneelers, completely silent, with the consecrated host displayed in a gold monstrance. The first time, I sort of gathered something important and awesome was going on; I wasn't exactly sure what. This hunch was reinforced by the prayer group leader asking afterward what I thought. I didn't know. By the second or third time, I somehow inferred the idea they were worshipping God in the Eucharist (the consecrated host). No doubt my Lutheran upbringing helped play a role, because Martin Luther described it in his catechism as Jesus being "in with and under the bread and wine". Catholics, of course, believe in complete transubstantiation (change in substance) where the bread and wine become the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ.]
Also sometime during the fall of 1993, I happened across a pamphlet on birth control [Couple To Couple League, 1982]. Birth control had always been a reason for me to try to avoid the Catholic Church. Finding out how the Pill actually sometimes aborts fertilized eggs, and how Natural Family Planning is just as effective allayed my fears and concerns. I became more open to the Catholic Church because of that.
One Sunday evening In January, 1994 at the end of a prayer group meeting at the Annandale prayer group, a group of us were standing outside St. Michael Church, and a young woman from the Annandale prayer group walked up and played a big roles in it. But that night she did not attend because she started attending a class at Notre Dame Institute, a tiny local graduate school. The class was on Catholic Apologetics and was taught by Father Most [who would later become semi-famous for being the lead apologist for ewtn.com]. She was saying how great the class was, and that maybe, "Hey, this would be a great class for Mike". I had heard about this course because my best friend had taken it the previous year. I signed up.
Shortly after I signed up for the class, Lent was rolling around.
Dancing [swing/ballroom/country-western] had been an obsession with me since August, 1992. One evening in February, 1994, I invited a couple of women from the Annandale prayer group over to the house of one of my [regular] dance partners [eight years older than me] so that I could teach them some steps. After it was over, as we were leaving, my [regular] dance partner asked when we were going to do it again. I replied that since Lent started the next day, they wouldn't be back anytime soon because they took things further than most Catholics, and so would not be dancing during Lent. Outside, one of the women [yet another of the Annandale housemates] told me that she could explain Lent to me, but that I probably wouldn't care.
I asked her to go ahead anyway. She explained that Lent is a time where we can detach ourselves from worldly things, and spend more time on spiritual matters. She further said that someone like me who was exploring the faith could especially benefit from giving something up, and spend more time in prayer. That was news to me. I had always thought that Catholics gave things up for Lent in order to be more like Christ, and that was it. Since I wasn't convinced about anything about Christ, I had no intention of observing Lent under those pretenses.
But after her explanation, I readily gave up dancing.
With the extra time I had, I learned a lot from Fr. Most's class. Fr. Most is a scholar, well-versed in classical history and languages. The textbook for the course was his book, Catholic Apologetics Today: Answers to Modern Critics [full text is now available for free at https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/most/getwork.cfm?worknum=212 but the book is only 1% of listening to Fr. Most's vast knowledge and engaging personality in person]. The approach he used to explain the Catholic faith was to first use the Synoptics (the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke) as historical documents. He does an investigation as to the validity and reliability of these books as historical documents.
The conclusion is that the following points can be determined with confidence, strictly from an historical perspective, from the books:
1/ There was a man named Jesus.
This fact is borne out of secular history as well, such as the Annals by Tacitus.
2/ He claimed He was sent from God as a sort of messenger.
Note that we are not saying at this point that Jesus was divine, or that He even said He was divine. We are only saying that He [said He] was sent by God.
3/ He did enough to prove this by miracles done with a connection between the claim and the cure.
Not only do we have evidence from the Synoptics, but also from Tacitus, and even more compelling, the modern miracles associated with the Catholic Church. The three miracles which have occurred this millennium which were compelling to me were:
i) The healings at Lourdes. Hundreds of people visit Lourdes daily. Most claim a healing. Indeed, the power of suggestion is a scientifically proven healer. But there is a team of doctors present on-site which investigate the healings to disprove them. Several healings over the past century have completely baffled the doctors, and one doctor was even converted. One example is a blind woman whose optic nerve had withered. Her sight was restored, even though her nerve was still withered. Three months later, her nerve was found to be restored.
ii) Our Lady of Guadeloupe. Mary appeared to a Mexican farmer, and gave him a message to deliver, which he did. He delivered it to the Bishop, who did not believe him. He went back to the field, and this time Mary gave him roses as proof (it was the dead of winter). The Bishop believed him this time, because on his cloak was emblazoned the image of Mary. The image on the cloak has not faded (it's been 150 years), and has been scientifically examined. A small amount of paint was found (evidently from attempted human touch-up), but the nature of the bulk of the image cannot be explained by scientists.
iii) The Host of Lanciano [actually eighth century rather than second millennium]. A priest did not believe in the True Presence in the Eucharist. So one time when he consecrated the Blood of Christ, blood clots appeared where there was once wine. The Host has been preserved for the last 1250 years, and the clots have been confirmed as being blood, yet they have not disintegrated.
4/ In the crowds He had a smaller group to whom He spoke more, i.e., the Apostles.
5/ He told them to continue His work and His teaching.
6/ He promised God would protect that teaching.
"He who hears you hears me, He who rejects you rejects Him who sent me."
From these points, we have that God established the Church on Earth, starting with the Apostles. That Church was started with Peter as the first Pope. Matthew 16:15-19:
Jesus said to them [the Apostles], "Whom do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered, "Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to you: That you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: And whatsoever who shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."
The Catholic Church traces an unbroken chain of Popes back to Peter.
Peter and the other Apostles ordained priests and bishops, who in turn ordained other priests and bishops, etc. Every priest in the Catholic Church can trace a lineage back to Peter, who was ordained by Jesus.
Except I had a problem with point number 3 above. Just because Jesus, and even the Church, seems to be supernatural does not prove that Jesus was sent directly by the First Mover. Who is to say that we are not mice in a cage? Surely we humans seem to be gods to actual mice awaiting their next biological experiment. Could we not be so fooled, if not by others from this universe, then perhaps by beings from a higher dimension? Perhaps the entire universe is a computer simulation, and nothing really exists (you can see the Star Trek influence here).
I spoke in private [twice] with Fr. Most about these concerns. He pointed out that the First Mover is responsible for every action that takes place, and to fool us with such compelling evidence would not be just. I pointed out that He would need to be just only if man had an immortal soul, of which I was not convinced. Fr. Most reiterated some proofs that man had an immortal soul, but at the time I found them unsatisfying. I was in a catch-22. If the Church was established by the First Mover, then man has an immortal soul because the Church says so. If man has an immortal soul, then God would not allow the compelling evidence that the Catholic Church is the true Church to persist unless it were true.
St. Thomas argues for the immortality of the soul in chapter 79 of his Compendium of Theology (Light of Faith):
Understanding is proper to man beyond all other animals. Evidently, man alone comprehends universals, and the relations between things, and immaterial objects, which are perceptible only to the intelligence. Understanding cannot be an act performed by a bodily organ in the way that vision is exercised by the eye. No faculty endowed with cognitive power can belong to the genus of things that is known through its agency. Thus the pupil of the eye lacks color by its very nature. Colors are recognized to the extent that the species of colors are received into the pupil; but a recipient must be lacking in that which is received. The intellect is capable of knowing all sensible natures. Therefore, if it knew through the medium of a bodily organ, that organ would have to be entirely lacking in sensible nature; but this is impossible.
Moreover, any cognitive faculty exercises its power of knowing in accord with the way the species of the object known is in it, for this is its principle of knowing. But the intellect knows things in an immaterial fashion, even those things that are by nature material; it abstracts a universal form from its individuating material conditions. Therefore the species of the object known cannot exist in the intellect materially; and so it is not received into a bodily organ, seeing that every bodily organ is material.
I personally found the argument unsatisfying at the time. Now that I am Catholic, and now that I understand philosophy slightly better, I appreciate the argument now. Back then, I liked it to the extent that it showed to me that there was a strong possibility, without having to rely on the Catholic Church, that man has an eternal soul.
So with the catch-22, I remained 70% convinced of the validity of the Catholic Church. But to continue on with Fr. Most's explanation of the Catholic Church, he uses the above six points to show that God established and protects the Church. From there, we can let the Church tell us that Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity, which is the First Mover. We can let the Church tell us (as it did in the 300's) which books belong in the Bible (i.e., which are inspired and Sacred Scripture). We can also let the Church tell us which parts of the Oral Tradition are valid. Oral Tradition is what Jesus Christ taught the Apostles, but which was not written down in Sacred Scripture.
E.g., the Pope affirmed just forty years ago that Mary was assumed bodily into heaven, even though that is not in the Bible, but it has always been known by the Church.
In April, 1994 I approached Fr. Hathaway [ https://twitter.com/fatherehathaway ] at St. Michael's Catholic Church about taking an RCIA (Roman Catholic Initiation for Adults) class. I had been visiting Mass every week there since October, 1993.
And all my friends from the Annandale prayer group knew him personally, mostly through work with the Legion of Mary. I was interested in the RCIA class as a stalling tactic. By this time I was feeling a lot of pressure to make up my mind. I had been on this path of studying Catholicism for a year, and my new-found Catholic friends were getting a little impatient with me. I figured the RCIA class would buy me some time, since I could decide after the class was over. Fr. Hathaway replied that the current class [the regular RCIA cycle ending Easter] was just ending, and another one would not be starting for a couple more months [what I now know to be a highly unusual expedited summer RCIA], and that since I was baptized Lutheran and had good knowledge of Christian doctrine, he could just talk to me personally. I took that to mean that I would not have to attend RCIA. My stalling tactic blown, I immediately shied away.
Then one day after the semester of Fr. Most's class, I was in a restaurant with a young Catholic woman [connected by an extraordinarily expensive dating service; online dating at the time had a pool of less than five women per major city. It turns out this is the only time I met her and I do not recall her name]. I was explaining how I was 70% convinced. She was a born-and-bred Catholic, and a teacher of young children. I don't think she was well-versed in philosophy and Star Trek. So I don't think she really saw or identified with my doubts. She asked me, seemingly off-hand, "What would it take to convince you?" Either she was a mastermind at Apologetics or it was accident. Either way, I tried to reply but found no words. I realized in the weeks after that that I was merely questioning reality all along, which was absurd. Because what would it take to convince me -- God appearing to me in a burning bush? Could that not also be contrived by the cage-keeper? How could I know anything was real? Is there any way anything other than the First Mover can know anything is real? I think the idea is absurd, and therefore I realized that there was sufficient evidence that the Catholic Church was in fact established by the First Mover. If one believes in reality, one must believe in the Catholic Church. I believe in reality.
I didn't sign up for an RCIA class right away. The summer RCIA class at St. Michael's was on Monday nights, which conflicted with a dance class I wanted to take with another nice Catholic woman I had recently met [online, actually. Recall I was an ISP so as soon as I saw her post I jumped and immediately responded]. After the dance class was over, I went to the beach for a week.
One of my favorite beach activities is reading novels. Since I was financially destitute from being a new home owner and renovating the house, reading was my exclusive activity that year at the beach. One of the books I read was Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It's a scary book that makes one self-insightful about Satanic temptation. The story is told from the perspective of one devil training another in the art of temptation. The protege devil is responsible for a man's soul. The story follows the man through his life. The ways in which the devils in the story cause the man to avoid thinking about religion, causing him to to innocuously take definitely wrong turns, rang true.
When I returned from the beach late on Sunday, I managed to find out the time and location of the RCIA class that Monday, as well as get permission to start in late. I was able to catch up by reviewing the videotapes of the RCIA class held the previous summer.
I had a shotgun confirmation. I wanted my best friend to be my sponsor, but he was leaving to start the school year at St. Thomas Aquinas College in California. So Fr. Hathaway got permission from the pastor, Msgr. Browne, to hold my confirmation on Labor Day. 30 people attended my confirmation, from both prayer groups, and my best friend's family. My parents were holding a major party at their house the same day, so my mother attended, but my father did not.
[Final notes:]
[1/ To allay confusion about why I now live in Denver: it's mostly coincidence not related to the 1993 visit. Among some other reasons, it was because I no longer wanted to live in the suburbs and I could actually afford (in 2006) to live next to downtown Denver. Also to get away from the pagan temples that define DC. https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/dc-creeps-me-out/ ]
[2/ Although the Shatner thing was something I just added today as kind of a joke to the Reddit title, it remains true that I would most likely never have become Catholic were it not for the timing of the 1992 rerun of the 1986 SNL episode. For example, I recently Googled the name of one of the very few women online back then. I never reached out to her because I assumed she would be very unattractive. It turns out she was just my type. And she was evangelical. So I could have so easily ended up evangelical (or, much more likely, an atheist dating an evangelical) instead.]
[3/ I will try to answer questions posed, but do not feel offended or left out if I decide to not answer for personal reasons.]
submitted by michaelmalak to Catholicism [link] [comments]


2019.08.17 22:45 bbuttercream The future of the funeral service industry?

Hi, so a little information about me:
I am 24 now, at some point around the age 17-18 the seed of being a funeral directoembalmer was somehow planted into my mind, I don't know why. I didn't really know anything about it, never had close family in it or anything, just one day I knew that was what I wanted to do more than anything. I moved, and then from ages 19-21 I went through a couple years of getting rejected by the school I wanted to go to. I chose a different school, got in, and completed my first year where I took Anatomy and Physiology, Embalming Part 1, Funeral Directing Part 1, etc. I was so happy and in love and I felt lucky to know exactly what I wanted to do and what I wanted to work toward.

Now what kind of through me, aside from some influential forces in my personal life, was the changes happening in the industry that I learned about, which I was clearly naive to before entering. Such as:
  1. Online funeral arrangements? Apparently this is becoming a thing, and I can see it really catching on once the older generations begin to pass on. This disturbs me because I feel like the in person meetings you have with the funeral service professionals are really important. I have only attended 2 funerals for close family members and the funeral directors were so memorable, they all had different personalities that I feel like had different effects on me, like the funny ones, the caring ones, and the serious but informative ones.
  2. The death of tradition, which is also concerning because this is a huge thing that I loved about funeral directors I encountered and the whole nature of funerals itself. I loved the polished look, and the professional presentation. I know in society today it is a little dated, but I still kind of liked that women had to have natural hair colors, and everyone had to be really groomed with no visible tattoos. I am tattooed myself, on my arms and back, I made sure to always get them in areas that would not be visible in the attire I would wear in a funeral home, so I am not against people having them but one thing I liked was that they would be expected not to have them visible, like a lawyer or a doctor would. I had a meeting with two funeral directors to help me with an assignment (who were both lovely) and they both seemed happy about this shift in things, and I just wasn't sure I loved the idea of funeral directors with visible tattoos, piercings, and multicolored hair. Is this really something that's going to change a lot once the baby boomers retire? I can't stress enough that I am all for people doing what they want, but I even went platinum blonde when I was 21 because I knew in the profession I wanted to enter that that was not an acceptable hair color so I wanted to get it out of my system and I was fine with that.
  3. The increase in green burials, cremation, and celebrations of life style funerals, less people getting embalmed etc. The largest concern in this area I have is I guess the financial aspect of things. I was made aware in university that funerals don't cost as much now with these things. Of course I wouldn't give up on my dream for reasons that involve money alone. (for context I am in Canada, where cremation rate is already much higher than in the US). I know that they get paid less nowadays than they used to, not taking into consideration the change in the value of money. But a funeral director in Canada on average makes under 50k a year, this is less than a department manager in a grocery store makes... I know money isn't everything but I grew up poor, so I know it's important.
I left university for that, and have been considering my other options. I have never felt more lost in my life other than when I was like 13 and my crush didn't like me back. I felt so so lucky to know exactly what I wanted to do from a young age, I still get butterflies and heart palpitations when a character on TV is a funeral director or embalmer, and I get so giddy and excited whenever I get the chance to talk about it. I know that I will grow old and regret that I didn't pursue this line of work. I love every part of it, from the embalming to the funeral directing. I went to funeral home cremation open houses just to admire the funeral directors and I loved every single one I've met.

I don't know what exactly I am rambling about. I guess I am just hoping for some insight from people in this industry on the changes happening, the financial aspect, and basically yeah. Just any and all input is appreciated. Thank you in advance :)
submitted by bbuttercream to askfuneraldirectors [link] [comments]


2019.07.05 14:02 robertbenja Meet Senior People Senior Dating pixiefinder

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With more and more people getting involved in senior dating, there has been observed a significant hike in the number of websites that facilitate such services. These sites have actually helped people over 50 and above to find someone for their golden years. User-friendly interface, exceptional features, verified profiles, secure online chat rooms are what makes the whole dating scene easier and smoother for the baby boomers.
If you are also single and want to step into the world of senior dating, then trust a website which is not just free but also gives you access to chat rooms without registration. Firstly, you will have to create a profile on any of the reliable dating sites. The second step is to go for a search by entering your specific partner preferences. The search algorithm will then fetch the profiles of users who match your mentioned criterion. Most of these websites target on bringing you the profiles who share similar interests, beliefs, and goals with you. This leads to a better connection and easy communication.
After shortlisting profiles, you can go to the senior chat room and begin a senior chat with the one you find interesting. Make sure you choose a dating platform that not just focuses on increasing its user base, rather it should be helpful, and the profiles registered on it should be genuine.
submitted by robertbenja to OnlineDatingAdvice [link] [comments]


2019.04.24 01:20 AcidicSlimeTrail First parody article, would love some feedback :)

Millennials Kill Good Customer Service

It has been known for quite some time that millennials wreak havoc in their day to day lives. As countless articles have pointed out, millennials kill dozens of the industries that baby boomers worked so hard to establish. It seems the most recent target impacts boomers where it hurts most: customer service. According to our most recent survey, 98% of millennials smile while they are working. This sort of behavior has been found to cause nothing short of pure chaos amongst boomers.
In order to properly understand this phenomenon, we conducted a series of brain scans on boomers aged 55 and up. The results showed that when shown kindness by millenials, the blood in a boomer’s brain will leak away from the frontal lobe, the part of the brain involved in rational thinking. This excessive leakage will then drain down into the limbic system, which is in charge of controlling emotional responses. When blood pools in this area of the brain, it creates a volatile excess of emotions, most often in the form of anger or arousal. Scientists theorize that these findings could explain the emotional reactions often found in senior citizens. Millennials not accommodating this vital neural difference found in the elderly has left the poor boomers to fear leavings their homes.
“I’m sick of being more mature than old people,” states 16 year old Noah Blanch, who we interviewed during his 15 minute lunch break. “They of all people should know better than to act like angry children in a public setting, you know?” Blanch then declined to answer any further questions, as he claimed “15 minutes isn’t long enough to eat a meal as it is, let alone trying to eat with the press shoving a microphone in [his] face.” This disrespectful behavior from one who was given the chance to defend his generation only seems to prove baby boomers’ accusations.
In a separate interview with Harold White, 58, and Janet Young, 62, we found that millennials have been incredibly rude to them, wherever they go.
“She smiled at me, our eyes met, and I knew this 17 year old and I had a true connection,” says White, wistfully revisiting an experience that had happened just a few days prior. “But when I asked her for her number, she declined and seemed...offended!” White then excused himself from the interview, too emotionally distraught to continue.
“I was forced to deal with a worker who had the audacity to help someone who came in after me,” Young recalls. “When I very politely informed him of this, he told me he had helped the first person he saw. He then told me,” She paused, a few tears beginning to stain her flushed cheeks. “He told me that if I waited a moment, he would help me next.” Young then completely broke down in tears, soon requiring a shock blanket to soothe the distress of having to relive a worker not dropping everything he was doing to he help her immediately. After weeks of intense therapy, Young gained the courage to sue the worker who had caused her this trauma. The worker, Andrew Johannson, 16, was tried as an adult due to the severity of his crime. He has since been fired and jailed, though was released after 6 months due to good behavior. When she learned of this, Young told the us, “One can only hope that other companies will be smart enough to never hire this delinquent.”
Overall, it seems millennials’ ever increasing entitled behavior has caused tremendous amounts of harm towards the boomers. The good news, however, is that this is a very fixable problem. Using a random sample of 1000 boomers, we were able to comprise a list of traits millennials can adopt in order to provide the top quality service that is expected by the elderly. The top five traits boomers look for are:
  1. A willingness to drop everything to help customers (98%)
  2. Quick and respectful service (95%)
  3. Agreeing with anything the customer says (89%)
  4. A willingness to stay and continue working long after close in order to accomodate a customer (74%)
  5. Laughing at customers’ jokes, flirting back, and agreeing to dates and/or sharing your phone number (65%)
Upon seeing this list of easily achievable ways to improve their customer service skills, many millennials expressed outrage and even disgust. If fact, many sent us very strongly worded emails in response to this helpful advice. We’ve selected a few less vulgar excerpts:
“How in the world am I supposed to help every single person if they all demand my attention at the same time? It’s not my fault my employers are too cheap to hire enough people to accommodate each individual customer.” (Jeff Wright, 18)
“What do they even mean by ‘quick and respectful service?’ We already try our best to do that, or else we get yelled at or fired!” (Anna Greenburger, 24)
“Sure, making small talk is fine and I always converse with customers while ringing them up, but I shouldn’t be required to blindly agree with whatever a customer says, especially if they’re being prejudiced or are flat out wrong about something, like the clearly written expiration date of a coupon.” (Antonio Hernandez, 17)
“I don’t get paid for overtime, but regardless is it that big a deal that I just want to go home and relax after a long shift? I most likely get off late at night only to have to come in 7 hours later for my next shift. Wanting to have time to eat, sleep, and do schoolwork shouldn’t be controversial.” (Jacob Ling, 15)
“I don’t care what boomers say, I’m sick of feeling uncomfortable and afraid when I’m at work. Why should I subject myself to sexual harassment just because it make some deluded old men happy?” (Juliette Karre, 16)
This overwhelmingly negative reaction towards baby boomers’ attempt to coach and improve millennial workers’ customer service skills only goes to show how inflexible and arrogant millennials truly are. Boomers look to the future with fear, as more and more millennials are forcing their improper manners and disrespectful nature into the wholesome workforce. Soon, there will be nowhere safe to shop or eat, and with Generation Z getting closer to being of working age, one can only hope that they won’t follow the example of the previous generation.
submitted by AcidicSlimeTrail to comedywriting [link] [comments]


2018.12.19 16:14 WorkplaceHell1997 Is my job impossible to succeed in at this point?

Originally a complaint on relationships about my boss but I was advised to come here to talk about the job aspects of my problem.
TL;DR- My job has evolved into an impossible task surrounded by many other small jobs and my brazenly self described “scary baby boomer republican” boss prides herself on not being sympathetic or helpful. How do I try to survive?
I have been working at this job I’m at for almost six months. My job has many positive things going for it; employees benefits, paid time off, good understanding of emergency situations. But lately I’ve been wondering if I’ve been locked into an impossible job and my inability to talk with my boss about it in a constructive way is making things worse. To really explain things, I’m going to explain what my job is and has become.
I sort all the paperwork my department receives and organize it by company and then by date and vendor. Afterwards, I file away everything in the 20 filing cabinets that contain over 100 companies. Once a month I assist the bookkeepers and accountants by printing, copying, and preparing financial reports for all companies. This takes at least 3 days. Once a month, I assist the AP financial department by sorting and filing away all the monthly financials for all our companies. This also takes multiple days. I also input all contact info for our new vendors that customer service receives. I also receive emails from managers of associations who will request specific files from me to send over. I also every day assist a specific bookkeeper by copying all checks they’ve received and dividing up the copies and actual checks to who they belong to. In the summer, I am to drop all of my work to become the pool pass department for a group of communities in the area. This involves receiving all customer service emails, calls, and in person visits from tenants and owners. I also process all applications, check all accounts for balances, create all the passes, and mail them all out, as well as place orders for more materials and create copies of all community letters.
When I started, I was already told I was many months behind on filing due to the last person and the person before that being behind. They were behind because out of our approximately 100ish companies I file for, about 30 companies had completely full cabinets. Since I’ve started, the number has increased to about 40. Every inch of space of my cubicle was and is covered in stacks of files that can’t be filed. The solution my job has given me is that I am to do “shifts”. With a few single drawers of these cabinets being empty, I am told I am to shift the literal tons of paper drawer by drawer, creating a few inches more space enough to hopefully file away what I have. However, I am forbidden to do this alone and must be assisted by another departments’ file clerk. I also must complete a shift once it is started; I can not stop part way through. This requires a few hours if not a whole day of work. The file clerks for the other department are appalled by my amount of work in comparison to theirs and very actively keep themselves busy so they can not help me. I’ve also expressed to my boss that there is no way the cabinets won’t become full again immediately after these shifts and been told “You can’t think like that”. It is sadly not just negative thinking but the truth.
Here is a daily work occurrence for me. I am at my desk, doing file sorting or inputting new community contact info or sorting the financials or doing something else. My boss comes over. She is mad I’m at my desk. Points to all the filing around me and starts asking how I can stand “living like this”. Says she “never wants to see me sitting”. I ask what she wants me to do. She says file. I politely tell her all the stacks of paper around me are things I can not file. She tells me to start shifts. I tell her she has firmly forbid me from shifting on my own and to only shift with the other file clerk. The other file clerk is very busy. I will shift when I can. She halfway backpedals by saying something like “Look, it’s not fair but it has to be done.” She then does something like point to a random pile and say “See, this would take me MINUTES to file!” or tell me how she used to work this job AND do more things than even I’m doing. She does this at least twice every day, sometimes spinning into lectures for ten minutes while I just try to work.
I don’t think it helps she loudly prides herself as conservative, openly calling herself a “scary baby boomer republican”. She loudly discusses her political opinions unprompted and is completely unapologetic in it. She loves to go after other people’s opinions whether they want to be debated or not. She continually has bragged about how the only way she survived being a mother was by teaching her kids to never cry. She also told me she doesn’t think bullying or harassment exists, it’s just weak people playing victim. This makes it very hard for me to talk to her with confidence and should help paint a picture of how she speaks to me about my work on a daily basis. She has also made many transphobic comments before disguised as “just opinions”. I am a closeted trans person so this has just made things worse.
How do I handle this job if there’s any feasible way to? How do I communicate to my boss my struggles effectively? Am I just stuck in a hell job with a monster job? I’m at my wits end. I came here from food service and I don’t currently own a car and this job is close by which is why I feel obligated to stay. I don’t know if 9-5s are just like this or if I can look for better safely :(
EDIT: I think to really explain my stuff, I posted some pictures of my desk/surrounding work area after blocking out the private info. I put descriptions for everything so I hope it explains well.
EDIT 2: Removed photos, just in case.
submitted by WorkplaceHell1997 to jobs [link] [comments]


2018.11.21 23:25 rotoreuters Hussman On The Three Great Delusions: Paper Wealth, A Booming Economy, & Bitcoin

Authored by John Hussman via HussmanFunds.com,
"Let us not, in the pride of our superior knowledge, turn with contempt from the follies of our predecessors. The study of the errors into which great minds have fallen in the pursuit of truth can never be uninstructive.”
_– Charles Mackay
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds_Delusions are often viewed as reflecting some deficiency in reasoning ability. The risk of thinking about delusions in this way is that it encourages the belief that logical, intelligent people are incapable of delusion. An examination of the history of financial markets suggests a different view. Specifically, faced with unusual or extraordinary price advances, there is a natural tendency (particularly in the presence of crowds, feedback loops, and potential rewards) to look for explanations. The problem isn’t that logic or reason has failed, but that the inputs have been distorted, and in the attempt to justify the advance amid the speculative excitement, careful data-gathering is replaced by a tendency to confuse temporary factors for fundamental underpinnings.
While true psychological delusions are different from financial ones, a similar principle is suggested by psychological research. Delusions are best understood not as deficiencies in logic, but rather as explanations that have been logically reached on the basis of distorted inputs. For example, individuals with delusions appear vulnerable to differences in perception that may involve more vivid, intense, or emotionally-charged sensory input. While those differences might be driven by neurological factors, the person experiencing these unusual perceptions looks to develop an explanation. Maher emphasized that despite the skewed input, the delusions themselves are derived by completely normal reasoning processes. Similarly, Garety & Freeman found that delusions appear to reflect not a defect in reasoning itself, but a defect “which is best described as a data-gathering bias, a tendency for people with delusions to gather less evidence” so they tend to jump to conclusions.
The reason that delusions are so hard to fight with logic is that delusions themselves are established through the exercise of logic. Responsibility for delusions is more likely to be found in distorted perception or inadequate information. The problem isn’t disturbed reasoning, but distorted or inadequate inputs that the eyes, ears, and mind perceive as undeniably real.
Let’s begin by examining the anatomy of speculative bubbles. We’ll follow with a discussion of three popular delusions that have taken hold of the crowd, and the premises that drive them: the delusion of paper wealth, the delusion of a booming economy, and the delusion that is Bitcoin.

The anatomy of speculative bubbles

Across centuries of history, speculative financial bubbles have repeatedly emerged from the seeds of distorted financial environments, where speculative behavior increasingly produces self-reinforcing feedback. Specifically, the speculative behavior of the crowd results in rising prices that both impress and reward speculators, and in turn encourage even greater speculation. The more impressed the crowd becomes with the result of its own behavior, the more that behavior persists, and the more unstable the system becomes, until finally the flapping wings of a butterfly become sufficient to provoke a collapse, launching a self-reinforcing feedback loop in the opposite direction.
The 1929 bubble was built on the foundation of real economic prosperity during the roaring 20’s, but the late stages of that boom were largely fueled by debt and easy money. Observing the persistent market advance, investors largely ignored the contribution of their own speculation in producing that advance. Rather, as traditional valuation measures became increasingly stretched, the first impulse of investors was to try to justify_ the elevated valuations in novel ways, which gradually became nothing but excuses for continued speculation. As John Kenneth Galbraith wrote decades ago in his book, _The Great Crash 1929:
“It was still necessary to reassure those who required some tie, however tenuous, to reality. This process of reassurance eventually achieved the status of a profession. However, the time had come, as in all periods of speculation, when men sought not to be persuaded by the reality of things but to find excuses for escaping into the new world of fantasy.”
Keep in mind that yes, the economy was strong, business was booming, and money was easy. The problem was that investors stopped thinking about stocks as a claim on a very, very long-term stream of discounted cash flows. Valuations didn’t matter. It was enough that the economy was expanding. It was enough that earnings were rising. Put simply, the trend_ of earnings and the economy, not the actual _level of valuation, became the justification for buying stocks. Graham & Dodd described this process:
“During the latter stage of the bull market culminating in 1929, the public acquired a completely different attitude towards the investment merits of common stocks… Why did the investing public turn its attention from dividends, from asset values, and from average earnings to transfer it almost exclusively to the earnings trend, i.e. to the changes in earnings expected in the future? The answer was, first, that the records of the past were proving an undependable guide to investment; and, second, that the rewards offered by the future had become irresistibly alluring.
“Along with this idea as to what constituted the basis for common-stock selection emerged a companion theory that common stocks represented the most profitable and therefore the most desirable media for long-term investment. This gospel was based on a certain amount of research, showing that diversified lists of common stocks had regularly increased in value over stated intervals of time for many years past.
“These statements sound innocent and plausible. Yet they concealed two theoretical weaknesses that could and did result in untold mischief. The first of these defects was that they abolished the fundamental distinctions between investment and speculation. The second was that they ignored the price of a stock in determining whether or not it was a desirable purchase.
“The notion that the desirability of a common stock was entirely independent of its price seems incredibly absurd. Yet the new-era theory led directly to this thesis… An alluring corollary of this principle was that making money in the stock market was now the easiest thing in the world. It was only necessary to buy ‘good’ stocks, regardless of price, and then to let nature take her upward course. The results of such a doctrine could not fail to be tragic.”
– Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, Security Analysis, 1934The 2000 tech bubble featured the same process in a slightly different form. The inputs and premises that investors observed were valid, but incomplete. Economic growth and employment were strong, and money was easy. The internet did indeed have tremendous growth prospects. But again, as the advance became more speculative, investors largely ignored the impact of their own speculation in producing that advance. Instead, their first impulse was again to try to _justify_the elevated valuations in novel ways (recall “price-to-eyeballs”). By March 2000, on the basis of historically reliable valuation measures, I projected that a retreat to normal valuations would require an -83% plunge in tech stocks. In the 19 months that followed, that estimate turned out to be precise for the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index.
The mortgage bubble leading up to the global financial crisis was built on the same sort of distorted inputs, this time fueled by the insistence of the Federal Reserve to hold interest rates at just 1% after the tech collapse. As yield-starved investors looked for relatively safe alternatives to low-yielding Treasury securities, they turned to mortgage securities, which had to-date never experienced major losses. Wall Street responded to the appetite for more “product” by creating new mortgage securities, which required the creation of new mortgages, and led to the creation of no-doc, zero-down mortgages and the willingness to lend to anyone with a pulse. All of this produced a glorious period of temporary prosperity and rising prices. As usual, instead of recognizing the impact of their own speculation in producing the advance, the first impulse of investors was to try to justify why elevated asset and housing valuations made sense.
As the bubble expanded, Janet Yellen, then the head of the San Francisco Federal Reserve, offered this benign assessment of the risks:
“First, if the bubble were to deflate on its own, would the effect on the economy be exceedingly large? Second, is it unlikely that the Fed could mitigate the consequences? Third, is monetary policy the best tool to use to deflate a house-price bubble? My answers to these questions in the shortest possible form are, ‘no,’ ‘no,’ and ‘no’ … It seems that the arguments against trying to deflate a bubble outweigh those in favor of it. So, my bottom line is that monetary policy should react to rising prices for houses or other assets only insofar as they affect the central bank’s goal variables—output, employment, and inflation.”
Missing from Yellen’s benign assessment was the fact that the speculative distortion and debt buildup _enabled by the bubble itself_ would be the primary driver of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. The Fed appears to exclude such risks from its thinking, despite the fact that the worst economic collapses in history have generally gone hand-in-hand with episodes of financial speculation and their inevitable collapse.
In the apparent attempt to bookend her term as Fed Chair by brushing aside the current progression toward financial collapse with an equally benign and milquetoast risk assessment, Janet Yellen observed on December 14, 2017:
“If there were an adjustment in asset valuations, the stock market, what impact would it have on the economy, and would it provoke financial stability concerns? … I think when we look at other indicators of financial stability risks, there’s nothing flashing red there, or possibly even orange.”
Despite risks that I fully expect to devolve into a roughly -65% loss in the S&P 500 over the completion of the current market cycle, it’s absolutely critical to distinguish the long-term effects of valuation from the shorter-term effects speculative pressure. Historically-reliable valuation measures are remarkably useful in projecting long-term and full-cycle market outcomes, but the behavior of the market over shorter segments of the market cycle is driven by the psychological inclination of investors toward speculation or risk-aversion. The most useful measure we’ve found of that psychological inclination is the uniformity or divergence of market internals across a broad range of individual stocks, industries, sectors, and security types (including debt securities of varying creditworthiness). When investors are inclined to speculate, they tend to be indiscriminate about it.
In the recent advancing half-cycle, the speculation intentionally provoked by zero-interest rate policy forced us to elevate the priority of market internals to a far greater degree than was required during the tech and mortgage bubbles. It was necessary to prioritize the behavior of market internals even over extreme “overvalued, overbought, overbullish” features of market action. Those syndromes were effective in other cycles across history, but in the advancing half-cycle since 2009, our bearish response to those syndromes proved to be our Achilles Heel. The process of adaptation was very incremental, and therefore painful in the face of persistent speculation. We’ve adapted our investment discipline so that without exception, a negative market outlook can be established only in periods when our measures of market internals have also deteriorated. A neutral outlook is fine when conditions are sufficiently unfavorable, but establishing a negative outlook _requires_ deterioration and dispersion in market internals.
Faced with extreme valuations, the first impulse of investors should not be to try to justify those valuation extremes, but to recognize the impact of their own speculative behavior in producing and sustaining those extremes. It then becomes essential to monitor market conditions for the hostile combination of extreme valuations and deteriorating market internals. At present, we observe that combination, but would still characterize the deterioration in market internals as “early,” in the sense that it’s permissive of abrupt market losses, but not severe enough to infer a clear shift from speculation to risk-aversion among investors.

The delusion of paper wealth

Across history, the evaporation of paper wealth following periods of speculation has repeatedly taught a lesson that is never retained for long. Unfortunately, the lesson has to be relearned again and again because of what J.K. Galbraith referred to as “the extreme brevity of the financial memory.” Speculation is dangerous because it encourages the belief that just because prices are elevated, they must somehow actually _belong_ there. It encourages the belief that the paper _itself_is wealth, rather than the stream of future cash flows that investors can expect their securities to deliver over time.
On Saturday, December 16, the St. Louis Fed posted a rather disturbing tweet: “Negative interest rates may seem ludicrous, but not if they succeed in pushing people to invest in something more stimulating to the economy than government bonds.”
This tweet was disturbing because it reflects a strikingly flawed understanding of financial markets. A moment’s reflection should make it obvious that once a security is issued, whether it’s a government bond or a dollar of base money, that security must be held by someone, at every point in time, until that security is retired. The only way to get people to invest in something “more stimulating to the economy” than government bonds is to stop issuing government bonds.
It takes only a bit more thought to recognize that securities, in themselves, are not net_ wealth. Rather, every security is an asset to the holder, and an equivalent liability to the issuer. If Joe borrows dollars from Mary to buy something from Bob, Joe issues an IOU to Mary, Mary transfers her dollars to Joe, and the dollars end up in Bob’s hands. The IOU is a new security, but it doesn’t represent new economic _wealth. It’s just evidence of the transfer of current purchasing power from Mary to Joe, and a claim on the transfer of future purchasing power from Joe to Mary.
Neither the creation of securities, nor changes in their price, create _net_ wealth or purchasing power for the economy. Yes, an individual holder of a security can obtain a _transfer of wealth_from someone else in the economy, _provided that the holder actually sells the security_ to some new buyer while the price remains elevated. But in aggregate, the economy cannot consume off of its paper “wealth,” because in aggregate, those paper securities cannot be sold without someone else to buy them, and those paper securities must be held by _someone_ until they are retired.
What actually matters, in aggregate, is the stream of cash flows. Specifically, the activity that produces actual_ economic wealth is _value-added production, which results in goods and services that did not exist previously with the same value. Value-added production is what actually “injects” purchasing power into the economy, as well as the objects available to be purchased.
I’ve detailed the mechanics of “stock-flow accounting” in previous commentaries, so it will suffice here to cut to the bottom line. If one carefully accounts for what is spent, what is saved, and what form those savings take (securities that transfer the savings to others, or tangible real investment of output that is not consumed), one obtains a set of “stock-flow consistent” accounting identities that must be true at each point in time:
1) Total real saving in the economy must equal total real investment in the economy;
2) For every investor who calls some security an “asset” there’s an issuer that calls that same security a “liability”;
3) The _net_ acquisition of all securities in the economy is always precisely zero, even though the gross issuance of securities can be many times the amount of underlying saving;
4) When one nets out all the assets and liabilities in the economy, the only thing that is left – the true basis of a society’s net worth – is the stock of real investment that it has accumulated as a result of prior saving, and its unused endowment of resources. Everything else cancels out because every security represents an asset of the holder and a liability of the issuer. Securities are not _net_ wealth.
Conceptualizing the “stock of real investment” as broadly as possible, the wealth of a nation consists of its stock of real private investment (e.g. housing, capital goods, factories), real public investment (e.g. infrastructure), intangible intellectual capital (e.g. education, knowledge, inventions, organizations, and systems), and its endowment of basic resources such as land, energy, and water. In an open economy, one would include the net claims on foreigners (negative, in the U.S. case). A nation that expands and defends its stock of real, productive investment is a nation that has the capacity to generate a higher long-term stream of value-added production, and to sustain a higher long-term standard of living.
Understand that securities are not net economic wealth. They are a claim of one party in the economy – by virtue of past saving – on the future output produced by others. When paper “wealth” becomes extremely elevated or depressed relative to the value-added produced by an economy, it’s the paper “wealth” that adjusts to eliminate the gap.
Several years ago, I introduced what remains the single most reliable measure of valuation we’ve ever developed or tested, easily outperforming popular measures such as the Fed Model, price/forward operating earnings, the Shiller CAPE, price/NIPA profits, and a score of other alternatives. From the above discussion, it shouldn’t be surprising that this measure is based on the ratio of equity market capitalization to corporate gross-value added. Specifically, the chart below shows the market capitalization of U.S. nonfinancial equities, divided by the gross value-added of U.S. nonfinancial companies, including estimated foreign revenues. This measure is shown on an inverted log scale (blue line, left scale). The red line shows _actual subsequent_ S&P 500 average annual nominal total return over the following 12-year period. We prefer a 12-year horizon because that’s where the “autocorrelation profile” of valuations (the correlation between valuations at one point and valuations at any other point) reaches zero. Presently, we estimate negative total returns for the S&P 500 over the coming 12-year period.

Among the valuation measures we find best correlated with actual S&P 500 total returns in market cycles across history, the S&P 500 is currently more than 2.8 times its historical norms. Importantly, this estimate of overvaluation is not somehow improved by accounting for the level of interest rates. The reason is that interest rates and economic growth rates are highly correlated across history. Lower interest rates only “justify” higher market valuations provided that the trajectory of future cash flows is held constant. But if interest rates are low because growth rates are also low (which we’ll establish in the next section below), no valuation premium is “justified” at all.
So even given the level of interest rates, we expect a market loss of about -65% to complete the current speculative market cycle. That’s a much different proposition, however, than saying that this collapse will occur right away. If you watch financial television, you’ll hear a great deal of chatter about the “fundamental support” below current prices. But attend carefully, and you’ll find that nearly all of these arguments reduce to a list of factors that make the investment environment feel good at the moment. These feel-good factors are being extrapolated into the future just as surely as Irving Fisher did in 1929 when he proposed that stocks had reached “a permanently high plateau.”
The best place to watch for cracks in this narrative is not valuations; they are already extreme, and are uninformative about near-term outcomes. Rather, it’s essential to monitor the uniformity of market internals across a wide range of individual securities (when investors are inclined to speculate, they tend to be indiscriminate about it). We’ve already observed deterioration in our key measures of market internals, but I would still characterize that deterioration as “early.”
Extending our focus beyond immediate conditions, the chart below shows the total market capitalization of nonfinancial and financial U.S. corporations, along with three lines. The lowest red line shows total gross-value added (GVA) of U.S. corporations. The green line shows 1.2 times total GVA, representing the pre-bubble norm around which market capitalization has historically traded. That green line is the level historically associated with S&P 500 total returns of roughly 10% annually, though the same level today would be associated with lower expected future returns, because structural economic growth is lower today than in the past. The purple line is essentially the most “optimistic” value-line, in that no bear market in history, including the 2002 low, has failed to reach or violate that level.

The upshot is this. At present, U.S. investors are under the delusion that the $37.3 trillion of paper wealth in their equity portfolios represents durable purchasing power. Unfortunately, as in 2000 and 2007, they are likely to observe an evaporation of this paper wealth. Nobody will “get” that wealth. It will simply vanish. If a dentist in Poughkeepsie sells a single share of Apple a dime lower than the previous trade, over $500 million dollars of paper wealth is instantly wiped from the stock market. That’s how market capitalization works. Over the completion of this market cycle, we estimate that between $19.8 and $24.2 trillion in paper “wealth” will evaporate into thin air.
While our immediate market outlook remains only moderately negative, based on the still-early deterioration we observe in market internals, recognize that from a valuation perspective, we are now witnessing the single most offensive speculative extreme in history. The chart below shows my variant of Robert Shiller’s cyclically-adjusted P/E, which substantially improves the correlation with subsequent market returns by accounting for variation in the embedded profit margin. The current extreme exceeds both the 1929 and 2000 highs.

The chart below shows the correlation of our Margin-Adjusted CAPE with actual subsequent S&P 500 total returns, in nearly a century of market history. As we observe with MarketCap/GVA, the Margin-Adjusted CAPE presently implies negative expected S&P 500 total returns over the coming 12-year horizon.

The delusion of a booming economy

A second delusion, unleashed by exuberance over the prospect of tax reductions, is the notion that U.S. growth has even a remote likelihood of enjoying sustained 4% real growth in the coming years. The most frequent reference is to the years following the Reagan tax cut, followed closely by references to the Kennedy tax cuts. This particular delusion is undoubtedly an example what Garety & Freeman described as “a data-gathering bias, a tendency for people with delusions to gather less evidence.”
The central feature of both the Reagan and Kennedy tax cuts was that they were enacted at points that provided enormous slack capacity for growth. In particular, the Reagan cuts were enacted at a point where the unemployment rate had hit 10%, and an economic expansion was likely simply by virtue of cyclical mean-reversion. The Kennedy tax cuts (which brought the top marginal tax rate down from 90%) occurred as baby-boomers were just entering the labor force, again providing enormous capacity for growth.
Presently, the situation is the reverse. The structural drivers of U.S. economic growth are likely to constrain real U.S. GDP growth to less than 2% annually in the coming years, even in the unlikely event that corporate tax cuts encourage increased gross domestic investment. Corporate profits are already near record levels. The effective U.S. corporate tax rate (taxes actually paid as a fraction of pre-tax income) is already at 20% even without tax cuts. We know from the 2004 repatriation holiday that tax breaks on foreign profits encouraged little but special dividends and share buybacks. Already, the available corporate surplus is being primarily driven into dividend payouts, share buybacks, and mergers and acquisitions, rather than real investment.
Frankly, the notion that corporate tax cuts will unleash some renaissance in U.S. real investment and growth would be laughable if the bald-faced corporate giveaway wasn’t so offensive. The policy not only vastly favors the wealthy, but is even more preferential to wealthy individuals who take their income in the form of profits rather than wages. The current tax legislation isn’t some thoughtful reform to benefit Americans. It’s a quickly planned looting through a broken window in our nation’s character.
On the subject of economic growth, an examination of the structural drivers of economic growth will illuminate the current situation. _Real economic growth is the sum of two components: employment growth plus productivity growth._ That means growth in the number of employed workers, plus growth in the level of output per-worker.
We can further break employment growth into “structural” and “cyclical” components. The structural part is determined primarily by demographics, particularly population growth and the age distribution of the working-age population. The cyclical part is determined by fluctuations in the unemployment rate (which is equal to 1-civilian employment/civilian labor force). If civilian employment grows faster than the civilian labor force, the unemployment rate falls. If the civilian labor force grows faster than civilian employment, the unemployment rate rises.
Let’s take a look at these components, and how they’ve changed over the decades. You’ll quickly see that while a quarterly pop in GDP growth is always possible, expectations of _sustained_ 4% real GDP growth fall into the category of “delusion.”
The first chart below shows the civilian labor force, on a log scale (so trendlines of different slopes represent different growth rates). For much of the post-war period until about 1980, the growth rate of the civilian labor force averaged about 1.8% annually. That growth slowed to 1.2% until about 2010. That 2010 figure is 1945 plus 65; the year that the first post-war baby-boomers hit retirement age. Since then, the growth rate of the civilian labor force has dropped to just 0.4% annually. That’s demographics.

Now let’s take a look at productivity growth. In the early years of the post-war era, labor productivity increased at a rather explosive 2.6% annual growth rate. Growth then gradually slowed to about 1.9% annually, though in fits and starts, until about 2003. Over the past 14 years, U.S. productivity growth has slowed to just 0.6% annually.

One of the core drivers of long-term productivity growth is expansion in net U.S. domestic investment (in excess of depreciation). As a general rule, booms in real U.S. investment are closely associated with deterioration in the trade deficit, because we export securities to foreigners in order to finance the boom. Because payments have to balance, this means we also export fewer goods for any given level of imports. The bottom line is that investment booms tend to be associated with larger trade deficits, so not surprisingly, booms in U.S. real investment typically emerge from a position of near-balance or surplus in the U.S. current account.
Now, add the current 0.4% growth rate in the civilian labor force to 0.6% growth in productivity, and you get the current “structural” growth rate of the U.S. economy; that is, the growth rate we would observe in the absence of changes in the unemployment rate. That structural growth rate has deteriorated to just 1% annually. The labor force component of structural growth is largely baked in the cake due to demographics, which in the absence of a substantial increase in the rate of immigration, leaves productivity growth as the main factor that could raise structural U.S. growth.
Still, given civilian labor force growth of just 0.4%, even a steep acceleration of productivity growth from the current rate of 0.6% to the 1972-2008 rate of 1.9% would still produce only 2.3% structural economic growth. Anything greater than that would have to be driven by a decline in the unemployment rate from the already low level of 4.1%.
It’s worth noting that U.S. economic growth has expanded at a rate of 2.1% annually in the 7-year period since 2010 (I’ve chosen a 7-year period to confine growth to the recent expansion, without including data from the global financial crisis). What’s remarkable about this is that nearly half of this growth is attributable to a decline in the U.S. unemployment rate, which is a wholly cyclical factor.
The chart below shows what’s going on. The blue line shows actual 7-year real growth in U.S. GDP across history. The red line shows the “structural” component of GDP growth, excluding the effect of changes in the unemployment rate. The green line shows the contribution to 7-year growth from changes in unemployment. Put simply, in the absence of further declines in the U.S. unemployment rate, U.S. real GDP growth is likely headed toward 1% annually, not 4% annually.

If our policy makers are interested in boosting long-term structural U.S. GDP growth, they should be providing direct and targeted tax incentives for real investment, education, research & development, and other factors that could, over time, increase our nation’s productive capacity. Instead, they’ve opted for a giveaway to corporations and wealthy individuals, which will likely expand the deficit while doing virtually nothing for economic growth. Since 1950, the U.S. unemployment rate has been below 4.5% about 20% of the time. Over the following 5-year period, real federal tax revenues grew at an average rate of less than 1% annually. Given current structural economic constraints, and barring a further decline in the unemployment rate from an already low 4.1%, there’s a significant likelihood that government revenues will actually contract in the coming years.

The delusion of Bitcoin

“We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first”
– Charles Mackay With regard to Bitcoin, my view is that the Blockchain algorithm itself is brilliant. Bitcoin itself, however, is just one application of Blockchain, and a rather awkward one. It’s not unique, meaning that other competing “cryptocurrencies” can be established just as easily. It’s not fiat, meaning that no country requires it to be used as legal tender. But beyond anything else, its inefficiency is so mind-boggling that the continued operation of the Bitcoin network could plausibly contribute to global warming. So be careful to distinguish Blockchain from Bitcoin. The Blockchain algorithm will undoubtedly become a useful component of validating transactions, tracking supply chain movements, and all sorts of other applications, but Bitcoin itself is likely to become the same thing to cryptocurrencies as Visicalc was to spreadsheets, or if you’re younger, what MySpace was to social networking.
Bitcoin essentially uses a decentralized network of computers (anyone can join) that “listen” for transactions that are broadcast over the network. Each computer can accept and attempt to validate any “block” of transactions, which is done by discovering a particular “hash” for those transactions. The hash is a long string of ones and zeros corresponding to the input, and has to satisfy the current level of “difficulty” (specifically, a certain number of leading zeros). The difficulty is set so that only one block of transactions is validated every 10 minutes or so, across the entire network. The maximum size of a Bitcoin transaction block is 1MB, which is about 2000 transactions. That’s the total number of Bitcoin transactions that can be processed worldwide in any 10-minute interval.
When you’re trying to validate a block of transactions, an extra transaction is included which designates a reward to your own account if you’re successful. Whoever discovers a hash that validates their block gets a reward, in Bitcoin. That’s what “mining” means. The validated block is added to the Blockchain – essentially a running ledger of every transaction ever made. The header for the next block has to contain the hash of the previously validated block (which is what creates the block “chain”).
But here’s the thing. Every time a block is validated, a single node in the network gets a reward, and everyone else’s computing time is completely wasted. Those required computations already absorb the same amount of energy as the entire country of Denmark. Some people will get mad at that statement, arguing that it may only be half of Denmark. Ok. Ireland, along with more than 150 other countries. We can wait a few months to include Denmark.
So ultimately, the Bitcoin features a combination of breathtaking inefficiency and constrained scalability. The system already features a rather steep cost per transaction, and hardly any of those transactions are for the purchase of goods and services. I’ve regularly observed that the value of a currency is essentially the present value of the stream of “services” that the currency can be expected to deliver over time, either by serving as a means of payment or as a store of value. That depends greatly on the willingness of other individuals to hold it and accept it into the indefinite future. My sense is that, as with all speculative bubbles, buyers are conflating “rising price” with “store of value.” Meanwhile, there’s little evidence to suggest that Bitcoin will ever be an efficient means of payment for ordinary goods and services.
Episodes of speculation can persist for some time, so there may be some speculative profit potential in Bitcoin yet. Looking over the very long-term, it may also be worth something in the future, because value is always ascribed to things that have some combination of scarcity and usefulness. To the extent that Bitcoin is assured to have a limited supply, and is undoubtedly being used for money-laundering already, I doubt that the future value of Bitcoin will be identically zero, assuming governments refrain from any regulatory effort. There will likely be numerous alternative cryptocurrencies launched in the future, each one constructed to first enrich its originator with a large number of units, and then released in the hope that it will catch on. In evaluating these alternatives, efficiency and scalability will be worth considering.

A final note

While I have little to offer in support of speculative delusions about paper wealth, improbable growth expectations, or Bitcoin, I’d be remiss to write a commentary without acknowledging the many things that can be fully embraced. From an investment standpoint, every market cycle in history has ended at valuations consistent with prospective future market returns of at least 8% annually, and more often well above 10% annually. Even if the future will be permanently different, and even 8% return prospects will never ever be seen again, the prospect of _negative_12-year returns is likely to be resolved in far fewer than 12 years (as similarly poor prospects were within 2 years of the 2000 market peak).
The strongest expected market return/risk classifications we identify emerge when a material retreat in valuations is joined by an early improvement in market action. While we can’t identify when that opportunity will occur, I expect that the cumulative market return between now and that point will be negative, because even a gradual 2-year improvement in prospective 12-year S&P 500 returns to just 4% would require a market loss of more than 20% over that 2-year period. In my view, a defensive posture here is an optimistic stance, because it recognizes the likelihood that prospective returns will again be positive before too long. I actually expect a much more substantial improvement in prospective market returns, but as in 2000 and 2007, that would require much deeper market losses than investors seem to contemplate.
So if there is something in the financial markets to be optimistic about, it’s the prospect of opportunities that will evolve over the completion of the current market cycle. Despite extreme valuations in this cycle, we’ve learned to limit negative market outlooks to periods featuring deteriorating and divergent market internals. We observed that shift last month, but I’d still call it “early” deterioration; permissive of abrupt losses but not yet encouraging aggressive downside expectations. We’ll respond to market conditions as they change.
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2018.10.15 04:16 orsugar Sex-Work Non-Payment vs. Rape

Commenting on: https://www.reddit.com/sugarlifestyleforum/comments/9nrsco/it_absolutely_should_be_seen_as_rape_when_sex/
there is a HUGE difference between someone not doing something you want them to do (stick around longer, multiple rounds, anal) and someone doing something to your body that you don’t want them to do, or doing it under circumstances/conditions that you don’t accept.
Here is the critical piece: Was she aware that she was not going to be paid when sex was taking place?
If she was aware that she was not going to be paid, then she consented therefore no rape. If she was not aware that she was not going to be paid, then she consented based on false information, in which case she was defrauded (suffered "rapine" as in pillage and a property crime, more on this topic later) not assault (because she did not object at the time sex taking place) therefore there was no sexual assault or today's conventional legal definition of Rape.
The participants' state of mind at the time of sex has to be the litmus test, not subsequent actions. Otherwise, Bill Clinton may well claim Monica Lewinsky raped him! because she did not keep her promise to hush-hush afterwards. Likewise, almost all non-custom written marriage vows would result in rape as the default marriage vows are ridiculously unrealistic and civil laws/courts have long discarded them as non-enforceable contracts/promises.
Thats really why the girls need to realize how we are viewed by my of these guys. Our bodies and lives are literally on par with their fucking wallets. Always remember a guy stands to lose some money, we stand to lose everything.
The last sentence is clearly false: there have been murder (that Google exec) and near-death physical battery (that NYC octogenarian beaten up by two girls who tied him up) committed against SD's, but so far we are not aware of any murder or near-death physical battery against sex workers or SB's in the sugar bowl.
More importantly, it's not the guys who are judging the girls' bodies and lives as on par with their wallets, but the prostitutes themselves (not the SB's who each dates only one SD in a long-term stable relationship therefore taking no more risk than normal dating) judging their own bodies and alleged risks to their own lives being worth less than the promised financial gains (that's why they are willing to trade their bodies and alleged risk for promised gain), whereas the guys entering the other side of the sex trade have to be judging the girls' bodies as worth more than what they are paying! It's the basics of a mutually willing exchange: not on par, but double-inequality! It's just like if you sell an apple or a massage, you have to be judging the apple/massage as worth less than the money you are receiving, whereas the buyer has to be judging the apple/massage as worth more than the money she/he is paying.
That's also why Johns failing to pay is a property crime: fraud. He defrauded the service provider of the money that the provider considered worth more than her service.
The throwaway lady spamming that thread with repeated cut-and-paste from a government website was being even sillier: a website put together by some government bureaucrats have no legal standing, just as the government bureaucrats and former bureaucrats advocating violence against peaceful citizens in the past few weeks have no legal standing. The broken sentences in the quotes regarding this specific issue should have made it quite clear that whoever put that page together was intent on obfuscating while making a political point, instead of providing any real legal reference.
Ironically, conflating rape with a property crime does reveal an interesting aspect of human instincts. We in the Western legal tradition consider crimes involving bodily harm such as murder, assault and sexual assault as especially heinous crimes, more so than property crimes. That's not the case universally. Many other cultures resolve murder, assault and sexual assault via compensation to the victim (and/or victim's family) instead of jail time, just like property infringement. The word "Rape" had its origin from "Rapine"; i.e. pillage, loot. The crime designated the pillaging and unauthorized taking of women as property from their husbands, fathers and brothers. e.g. early Roman "Rape of Sabine Women," which eventually led to the abducted women siding with their new husbands (abductors) against their fathers and brothers coming to "rescue" the women.
Most cultures have/had wedding ceremonies that incorporate a ritualistic abduction of the bride by the groom (and his groomsmen), of course with the blessings of the bride herself and her family nowadays, nevertheless reflecting a way of life not so distant in the past and likely throughout most of human history. What if, just like men have a biological desire to make "conquest," women have a desire to be "conquered"? Because it is when the "conquest" takes place that she can produce her offspring! i.e. those not having the instinct were long extinct!
Men are evolved to be self-sacrificing, because when a lion or leopard chased a human group, men running faster than their women and children would have saved themselves but made their genes extinct in the long run. What if, likewise, women too are self-sacrificing in a different way and specific way: when it comes to sex and reproduction, their instinct may well hold themselves as no more than a piece of property: a vessel for reproduction. Because a very smart and self-centered woman obsessed with her own personal safety in the era before modern medicine reducing child birthing risks to today's negligible levels would have saved herself and made her genes extinct!
Of course, due to the high cost of reproduction, women would also have certain standards on who gets to "conquer" her. The real drive behind that gutteral cry of rape against Johns who don't pay may well be the instinctive foul cry against having given her goodies to the wrong guy/sperms (his not paying as promised proves him to be of inferior genetic quality). Guys sometimes also describe being ripped off as "feels as if being raped"; a segment of the sex-worker population may have taken that expression too literally and to an instinctive level due to the violation of hypergamy prime directive.
This retroactive realization of violation against hypergamy prime directive was also behind the long history of false rape accusations, like those behind almost all the lynch mobs both before and after the Civil War.
The late lesbian feminist Andrea Dworkin once said:"All heterosexual intercourses are rape!" Many feminists agree with that statement, which is not at all intellectually original or even shocking. My daughter independently discovered "do you know women have to be be physically invaded . . ." after taking her sex-ed class from school when she was only 11 years old, quite unlike her earlier imagination of passing gametes via loving kisses, before catching herself and realizing that I must have invaded her mom and her mom welcomed the invasion before she could have been born. Seeing her eyes glinting with both fear and hopeful excitement while asking the question, I made a mental note to myself: I will shoot any man invading you without your consent, but whom will you shoot?
What if, in a long civilization cycle, "Rape" starts off as a property crime, then made into an especially heinous crime by the doting fathers and brothers because guys assign special value to women's sexual access, whereas in some women's minds it never left the property crime plane? So property crime against them is literally the same as "Rape" to them and they just want to take advantage of the guys' mistaken understanding of "Rape" and harsher punishment for "Rape." Eventually expanding the definition of "Rape" to include everything (e.g. looking at a woman when unwanted: visual rape!) merely as a way of genetically screening out the domestic male population, causing a demographic decline domestically, so that invaders from the outside who don't care about local definitions of "Rape" can and will actually rape pillage the local female reproductive resources (along with other resources) while killing the local male population! Women of reproductive age usually don't get killed immediately in an invasion but get access to "superior" male genetic stock invading from the outside (them getting liquidated too later has no negative bearing on shaping of genetic tendencies in a way that is conducive to actual rapist invaders, who incidentally do actually bring a wider immunological package and genetic diversity to the conquered locale).
In summary, "rape" (as opposed to "false imprisonment" when there is no physical injury, "battery" when there is physical injury) is a legal concept cooked up by "protective"/"patriarchal" guys and subjective to change over time by opportunistic women (and their fellow travelers). Pay close attention to the current definition of rape wherever whenever you live. For example, everyone attending Woodstock in the 60's and taking drugs while having sex would be considered rapist and rape victim by today's legal standards; so a huge chunk of Baby Boomers are rapists according to today's laws. No need to satisfy/stimulate certain darker aspect of female biological instincts at the cost of your own personal safety and freedom; make records as much as you can, and having longer term more stable relationships help! Just like every single one of us will eventually die, every civilization will eventually suffer such snowflakery that everything related to sex and reproduction will be called rape eventually, then shortly followed by invasion by real rapists who don't give two shits about those definitions, and women will finally be freed from the existing patriarchy by actually being raped by men of "superior" genetic stock -- the real mass of raping and pillaging hordes, just like those Vandals who invaded and sacked Rome. What the conquerors will set up afterwards of course is a far more patriarchal society, and a civilization cycle is restarted from the abyss of a new dark age. It will take hundreds if not over a thousand years before women are allowed to take mandatory wraps off their heads, never mind voting rights or bearing witness.
Such is a brief summary of human history so far. We do have a small degree of hope in this cycle: the invention and successful adoption of artificial wombs and cloning/genetic modification may soon be upon us (along with realistic sex robots). That may finally solve the problem of rapid rising cost of reproduction in a mature society due to female hypergamy, along with ridding the biological bias against genes that enable truly strong and independent women: by making women's role in reproduction superfluous. The long history of oppression against women will finally end: most genetically engineered and artificially incubated will be men as a single copy of X-chromosome will be easier to modify and control and see results immediately, relegating the few women still being produced by then to museum status, and possibly respected and worshiped like Vestal Virgins of Roman time. Sex with them would be entirely unnecessary: sex robots would be better in bed, and artificial wombs + cloning/genetic modification will deliver superior babies at lower cost. Rape as a sex crime will finally end, at least as far as female victims are concerned as there won't be any to be raped!
Either that set of technologies succeed or we end up being taken over by a fundamentalist religion like Islam, just like fundamentalist Christians that reproduced rapidly wiped out the non-reproductive snowflakes in Hypatia's time 1500+ years ago. Even the Non-denominational Procreationism that I advocate can only buy time. Of course, whatever time that buys is precious and highly enjoyable (materially the wealthiest time in a civilization cycle is shortly before the collapse): times are good before the snowflakes and fundamentalists bring on a new dark age; the snowflakes born into prosperity simply don't know what they are doing when adding cost and their own dead weight to the operational cost of a society.
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2018.07.08 18:49 W12io The Daily: Complicated Crypto Purchasing Puts Off US Investors, Analysis Confirms — ICOs Spike

The Daily: Complicated Crypto Purchasing Puts Off US Investors, Analysis Confirms — ICOs Spike
https://preview.redd.it/15i5bfma7r811.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=aa57a5553f110dcb695456278df046be69fc6e46
Purchasing Process Deemed a Hurdle for New Crypto Investors
The complicated process of purchasing cryptocurrencies is the biggest obstacle for new investors entering the crypto space, according to a recently released study. The authors polled 1,000 US residents to profile crypto holders and better understand how they are using their digital coins. The poll also attempted to gauge the cultural perceptions surrounding cryptocurrency ownership.
According to the compiled data, almost 40 percent of millennials have confirmed owning cryptocurrency, 48 percent of males and 26 percent among females. At the same time, 24 percent of polled Generation X Americans and 15 percent of Baby Boomers also admitted owning bitcoin or any of its alternatives.
The survey, conducted by Creditcoin, made other interesting findings regarding a possible connection between cryptocurrencies and personal relationships. Three-quarters of the questioned stated they would be more likely to date someone who is knowledgeable about cryptocurrency. Many of them, however, remain reserved about dating someone who is obsessed with cryptos. The majority said they would date a divorced person rather than someone who keeps all their savings in cryptocurrency.
Nevertheless, over half of the respondents believe they would have about 10 percent of their savings in cryptocurrency in the next decade. When asked what they would do if given $10,000, almost 40 percent said they would buy cryptocurrency than invest in a down payment on a house, 33 percent, or a car — 28 percent.

Investors Still Bullish on ICOs, Despite Issues

Despite regulatory pressures and other issues like bad publicity due to fraudulent or unsuccessful projects, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have raised $11.8 billion through May 2018, according to a new analysis released by The Wall Street Journal. The estimate covers nearly 900 token sales listed on ICObench.com. The authors point out that this year’s total is more than double the amount collected by coin offerings for the whole 2017, ~$5.5 billion.
The researchers claim that the problems around ICOs have not deterred big tech-oriented investors. Some of the notable token sales this year include the coin offering conducted by the company operating the popular messaging service Telegram, which raised $1.7 billion USD,
and that of Block.one, which attracted an estimated $4 billion for its EOS network in June.
The study found that the number of ICOs has increased as well, with around 490 token sales raising an average of $24 million in the first five months of 2018, compared to $14 million collected on average by 300 startups in the last five months of 2017.
According to another report, authored by the Swiss Crypto Valley Association (CVA) and PwC’s consulting division, Strategy&, the capital raised through ICOs has reached $13.7 billion USD in the first five months of this year. Both studies conclude that the US remains a major destination for initial coin offerings, while countries like Switzerland are catching up.

Zug Concludes ‘Successful’ Test Blockchain Vote

Authorities in the city of Zug, home of the Swiss Crypto Valley, announced that the country’s first experimental municipal blockchain-based vote has been conducted successfully. The trial started on June 25 and was completed on July 2. Voters were able to participate via an app they had to download and install on their mobile devices. The small scale consultative vote also utilized the city’s eID system introduced in November.
The residents of Zug were asked if they were in favor of setting alight fireworks during the annual Lakeside Festival, and whether they thought digital IDs should be used to borrow books, pay parking fees, and for identification on regular referendums. The city has been issuing its residents with digital identity documents since the winter, and is currently examining various possible applications for the blockchain technology.
What sets the Zug referendum apart is that the voting did not take place via a single central server, but was distributed using blockchain across many computers, Swissinfo reports. “The premiere was a success”, Dieter Müller, Head of Communications for the city, told the Swiss News Agency. He added that the technical details of the test will be evaluated over the coming months to estimate the level of protection of privacy and voting secrecy. Authorities will also focus on ensuring that voting results are verifiable and immutable.

Israeli Startup Launches Vegancoin

While establishing a chain of vegan restaurants in the US, American entrepreneur Isaac Thomas and his Israeli partners, Nati Giat, Shenor Shapira, and Yossi Raybi, realized that the millions of vegans and vegetarians around the world need more than that. Their Tel Aviv based company, Vegannation, is now building a global vegan-friendly decentralized community platform.
The idea behind the project is to create an ecosystem where vegans can find food products, other vegan commerce and share content like recipes, news and blogs in one place, The Jerusalem Post reports. The platform will have its own crypto, Vegancoin, and joining members will be provided with a Vegannation digital wallet. According to the entrepreneurs, all affiliated businesses are “vegan and cruelty-free.”
“We are moving toward a world where people can see everything and can be responsible for the way they consume. So bringing cryptocurrency to the vegan community brings it full circle,” said Vegannation CEO and co-founder Isaac Thomas. In his words, veganism, cryptocurrency and blockchain go hand in hand toward a world of transparency and awareness.
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2018.06.10 18:11 jkremer3 [S6 E1 Fanfic Full Episode] Jake and Amy struggle to adjust to post-honeymoon life where everything seems to have changed: Rosa is smitten with her new girlfriend, Alicia; Boyle no longer obsesses over Jake; Scully and Hitchcock are suddenly good detectives; We learn if Holt becomes commissioner.

[SCENE: Jake and Amy on an airplane. Text over the screen: “Three weeks later...”]
Amy: And, check! That’s it. We did them all. So satisfying.
Amy writes a check mark on a piece of paper inside of a large binder on the tray table.
Jake: Yeah, totally. What could be more satisfying than distilling our honeymoon into a series of completed tasks?
Amy: It wasn’t a task list! It was our fun plan. And this thing is packed full of memories that we can show our kids one day.
Jake snatches the binder away from Amy and starts reading it.
Jake: (impersonating an old person’s voice) Have a seat Timothy, my son, and let me tell you all about the time your mom and I completed item number 76. “Take advantage of the two-for-one couples massage coupon we found online.”
Amy: First of all, since when do we like the name Timothy? Second of all, those were excellent massages and you know it.
Jake: That hot stone massage was actually amazing. How had I never heard of that before? The masseuse said it was like my back had been out of alignment for decades.
Amy: See? Good thing we had it in the fun plan. And now it’s all done. We can start with a blank slate. A brand new phase of our life.
Amy and Jake both stare ahead with distant looks on their faces.
Amy: Jake, are things going to be different now that we’re one of those old married couples?
Jake: (acting nervous and faking enthusiasm) Of course not. Why would anything be different?
Amy: I don’t know. I just worry. It’s like all those TV shows where they run out of things to do after the main characters inevitably get married. Nothing is the same anymore. What if our relationship “jumps the shark”?
Jake: Our relationship isn’t a TV show—
Amy: I know.
Jake: — it’s a movie. And we aren’t even close to our M. Night Shyamalan twist ending yet.
Amy: What twist? I don’t want any twists.
Jake: (excitedly) Or, even better, what if this whole plane is full of snakes right now and disgruntled passenger Samuel L. Jackson has had it up to here with them?
Amy: Jake, I’m being serious.
Jake: What if when we land we find out that earth has been overrun by apes that speak English and humans are slaves and everything is different? Wait. Bad example. Nothing will be different! We will still be the same power couple as before.
Amy: Are you sure? I just have this nervous feeling that things aren’t going to be the same.
Jake: Absolutely. We will keep it fresh until we’re all old and wrinkly and we smell like feet.
Amy: Aw, that’s sweet.
Jake: Plus, when we land, Boyle will be there and he’ll make some weirdly inappropriate comments about our honeymoon bedroom activities and then you’ll see that everything is back to normal.
[SCENE: Jake and Amy are de-boarding the airplane.]
They walk out and see Hitchcock and Scully, who have grown very long beards.
Jake: (muttering to Amy) Is that Hitchcock and Scully? Where’s Boyle?
Scully holds a sign that says “Jake and Amy.” Hitchcock is eating a banana. Scully tries to grab the banana from him.
Hitchcock: No way! Get your hands off of me, you dirty ape!
Jake: Oh my god...it’s happening!!
[INTRO MUSIC]
[SCENE: Jake and Amy sit in the back seat of Scully’s car. Hitchcock sits up front while Scully drives. The car is a bright red sports car.]
Jake: Scully, since when do you drive a red mustang?
Scully: Oh, well, right after you two left for your honeymoon there was...a tragedy. Kelly passed away. I’ve been going on a bit of a crisis, buying myself all sorts of things to ease the pain.
Jake: Wait. Kelly died? I’m so sorry.
Amy: Oh my god. Scully, I’m so sorry.
Amy: (whispering to Jake) Wait, remind me, did we ever determine if Kelly is his dog or his wife?
Jake: (whispering) We still don’t know know. No one knows. But we’re in way too deep now to ask.
Scully: (sobbing) We were playing frisbee in Central Park when she fainted from exhaustion.
Hitchcock: (stroking his beard) Neither of us has shaven since it happened. Out of respect. It’s what she would have wanted.
Amy and Jake exchange confused glances at each other. Scully sobs and Hitchcock rubs his shoulder.
Amy: (awkwardly) Well, we really appreciate you picking us up. Let us know if there is anything we can do.
There is a long awkward silence while they drive along.
Jake: Just out of curiosity, what happened to Boyle? He was so excited to pick us up.
Hitchcock: He said he was too busy.
Jake: Too busy?
Hitchcock: You heard me. That’s what he said. He was helping Rosa with something.
Jake: (muttering under his breath to Amy) Boyle chose Rosa over us?
[SCENE: The next morning, Jake and Amy are riding the elevator up to the bullpen, anxiously awaiting their first day back at the 99.]
The elevator opens and Jake and Amy step out. Jake holds his arms wide open expecting a big fanfare for their arrival. Instead, no one looks up. Boyle and Rosa are not at their desks. Holt’s Office is dark and closed. Gina is not at her desk.
Jake: Ahem. We’re back!!
Only Terry looks up from his desk. He gives a little wave of acknowledgement then goes back to looking at his computer. Hitchcock and Scully look like they are busy working on something at their desks.
Jake walks over hurriedly to Terry.
Jake: Terry, what’s going on?
Terry: Hey, Jake. Hey Amy. Welcome back you guys! How was the honeymoon?
Terry eats a spoonful of something out of a bowl.
Jake: Welcome back? How was the honeymoon? That’s all you got?
Terry: What? You were gone for three weeks!
Jake: I was kinda hoping you would jump up out of your desk and lift me over your shoulders in playful excitement.
Amy: Jake, it’s okay. He looks busy.
Terry eats another spoonful of something.
Jake: Wait.
Jake tries to snatch the bowl away from him, but Terry blocks his attempt.
Jake: What is that?
Terry: It’s my oatmeal!
Jake: Oatmeal? Since when do you eat oatmeal in the morning? You’re a yogurt man!
Terry: I’m going through an oatmeal phase.
Jake: An oatmeal phase?!
Jake stomps to the center of the bullpen and promptly lays down on the floor, staring up at the ceiling.
Amy: Jake. What are you doing? You’re being childish.
Jake: (squirming around on the floor) No I’m not! You’re being childish.
Terry looks concerned.
Terry: (whispering to Amy) Is he okay?
Amy: (whispering) We’re just having a hard time adjusting back to reality. He had unlimited Dr. Peppers at the resort and I wouldn’t let him have one with breakfast this morning. He didn’t take it well.
Boyle and Rosa walk through the hallway together into the bullpen. They smile at Amy and Amy smiles back at them. Jake springs up from the floor when he sees them.
Jake: Boyle! Rosa!
Boyle gives Jake a big hug.
Boyle: I really missed you guys.
Rosa: Welcome back you two. How’s married life?
Amy: It’s great!
Jake: Boyle, I’m impressed. You never violated the no-texting us for updates on our honeymoon rule. Not even once. How did you do it?
Boyle: I wanted you guys to have your privacy and enjoy the alone time together.
Jake: Whaaat? You mean so we could make babies, right? Gross, Boyle. Give us some space.
Boyle: No, no. I really mean it. You guys deserved the time away from it all.
Jake: Well, I don’t have any cases yet so I can spend all morning telling you all about it.
Boyle: Oh, that’s okay. Rosa and I are actually working on something together this morning.
Jake looks disappointed.
Amy: Oo, a tough case?
Rosa: No. Not a case. Boyle’s helping me plan a surprise weekend getaway for me and Alicia.
Terry: (excitedly) They’ve been on 11 dates together!
Jake’s mouth hangs open in shock and he has a big grin.
Jake: Rosa, this seems so unlike you. Three weeks in and already so many dates? And a weekend getaway?
Rosa: What can I say? I’m not getting any younger. Plus, she’s pretty amazing. We stay up every night talking for hours.
Jake motions to Amy with his hands as if to say, “you aren’t going to comment on this?”
Amy: Aw, that’s so sweet. I’m glad you’re hitting it off with her.
Jake: So...Boyle...you’re going to help Rosa with that...and I’ll just get back to work then?
Boyle: (enthusiastically) Yep! That’s the plan.
Jake: Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool.
Boyle and Rosa walk away together.
Boyle: (talking to Rosa) Now I’ve come up with a few different theme ideas for the weekend. Let me ask you this, is she more into Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
Boyle and Rosa keep walking out of view.
Amy: Jake, maybe you should start working on a new case? That’ll help you get back into the swing of things.
Jake looks over at Holt’s dark and empty office.
Jake: Yeah, I guess so...what cases do we got, Sarge?
Terry: We don’t have any big ones unassigned right now. Hitchcock and Scully are working on the two most interesting ones.
Jake: Perfect! You can transfer the harder one to me, a competent detective.
Terry: Actually, I think I’ll leave Hitchcock and Scully on them. They solved two cases each while you guys were away! I don’t know what’s gotten into them.
Jake looks over and sees the bearded Scully and Hitchcock working hard.
Jake: It’s like we’ve teleported into some sort of bizarro world. Boyle isn’t interested in me, Rosa is smitten, Hitchcock and Scully are suddenly great detectives, and you’re not eating yogurt!
Amy: Something does feel odd.
Jake: (talking loudly) And is no one going to address the elephant in the room?
Hitchcock: Hey, not cool!
Scully: We take offense to that.
Jake: Not you two! I mean Holt.
Terry: (sighing) Yeah, things have been a little off ever since...well, you know.
Amy: (sounding sad) Yeah. We know.
Terry: ...Maybe you two should go visit him.
Amy: You think he would take visitors? In the state he’s in?
Terry: Yeah, sure, he might. (muttering under his breath) And you two seem like you could use the fresh air...
Amy: We’re on it! Jake, let’s go.
[SCENE: Rosa and Boyle are in one of the police conference rooms. Boyle has turned one of the bulletin boards into a “vision board” to plan Rosa’s weekend getaway.]
Boyle: So I thought we could look at scents next. The olfactory glad is connected with the areas of the brain associated with emotions and memories: the amygdala and hippocampus. I’ll need you to choose the smell that you want her to forever associate with your weekend getaway. I’ve got vanilla, lavender, orange blossom, and jasmine.
Rosa: (bluntly) Vanilla.
Boyle: (condescendingly)...Interesting choice.
Rosa: What? What’s wrong with vanilla?
Boyle: Well, I only included it as an option to help bolster the appeal of the other choices.
Rosa: So you included it as an option but I wasn’t suppose to pick it?
Boyle: Exactly. So how about one of the other options?
Rosa: I don’t know. I’m no good at this stuff.
Boyle: How about jasmine? Many people believe it to be a natural aphrodisiac.
Boyle uses his hand to gently waft some jasmine oil smell into Rosa’s face.
Rosa: (coughing) Sure, jasmine it is. I’ll trust your judgement. I just don’t want to screw this up. I just want to accelerate everything straight into a serious relationship.
Boyle: I know that feeling. That’s called desperation. It’s my go to feeling. I once asked a girl to move in with me on our first date in the middle of a movie.
Rosa: Did that work?
Boyle: Not at all. She couldn’t hear me over the action. We were watching “The Matrix Reloaded.”
Rosa: So, then what do I do to make sure I don’t come across as desperate like you?
Boyle: (placing his hand on Rosa’s shoulder) Rosa, have no fear. I was born into desperation. Raised by it. I can sense desperation a mile away. With my help, we’ll steer you clear of all the relationship mistakes I’ve made out of desperation.
[SCENE: Jake and Amy arrive outside Holt’s home during the daytime. Jake rings the doorbell.]
Jake and Amy look nervous.
Amy: What if he doesn’t want us to see him like his? What if he just tells us to go away?
Jake: I don’t know! I have no game plan. You’re the one with all the plans. Why don’t we consult one of your precious checklists?
Amy: Hey! Not cool. Don’t insult the checklists. And why are you upset with me all of the sudden?
Jake: (sighing) I don’t know. It’s like ever since we’ve been back everything is out of wack. The forces of the universe are out of balance. (Gasping) A disturbance in the force!
Amy: Why is everything always a movie reference? Can’t you live in reality for once?
The door opens. It’s Kevin.
Kevin: Oh. It’s you two. May I help you?
Amy: We’re here to visit Holt.
Kevin: Raymond doesn’t want visitors. Not while he’s like this.
Amy: We thought we could cheer him up! We heard what happened while were on our honeymoon and haven’t seen him since we got back.
Kevin: (sighing) Fine, but I’m telling him that you two refused to go away until I let you in.
Kevin leads Amy and Jake into Holt’s office.
Kevin: (whispering) Good luck.
Kevin leaves Jake and Amy alone and closes the door behind himself as he exits. Jake and Amy look ahead and see Holt’s office chair facing away from them. They can only see the back of the chair and not Holt. The blinds are mostly closed and it’s dark in the room.
Amy: (talking softly) Captain Holt? It’s Amy and Jake.
Jake: The Peralta’s.
Amy: He knows.
Jake: What if he has other friends named Jake and Amy? They’re pretty generic names.
Holt: (from behind the chair) Please leave. I do not want anyone to see me in this state.
Amy: We heard what happened. It’s not your fault. There is nothing you could have done.
Jake: If I was there, I would have jumped in the middle of it.
Amy: Please, can we stay for a little while? We just want to talk.
The chair slowly spins around revealing Holt. We see that he is wearing a large cast on one leg. He has an eye patch over one eye.
Jake and Amy gasp simultaneously.
Jake: You look really great. Very handsome. Err! Normal. I mean normal. You look exceedingly normal. I would never comment on your looks in a sexual manner. Unless you wanted me to? Because in that case —
Holt: (interrupting) I know how I look. I am a mess.
Amy: Do you want to talk about what happened?
Holt: What is there to say? I’m sure you have read it all in the papers. I got attacked. At the worst possible time, right during my induction ceremony.
Amy: We heard that it was some bigot that hated the idea of an openly gay commissioner.
Holt: Mmhmm. Yes, that is correct.
Amy: Wow, the gall of that guy. In a room full of police officers. What kind of sick loser would do that?
Jake: At least they got him, right?
Holt: Yes, but now I am stuck here recovering instead of enjoying the time of my life. It was my lifelong dream to go into work every day at that office. Now my first days as commissioner will be forever soiled by this travesty. Instead of executing all of my detailed improvement plans for the NYPD, I’m sitting at home on the sidelines watching everything fall apart.
Holt leans to the side to try and grab a glass of water on an end table. He winces in pain as he struggles. The glass is just out of reach.
Amy: Here, let me get that for you.
Holt: (wincing) No!
Holt leans back in his chair again. He lets out a short whistle. Cheddar gets out of his doggy bed and runs over to the end table. He stands up on his hind legs and uses his nose to push the glass a few inches, putting it within Holt’s reach.
Jake: Is there anything we can do to help?
Holt: Well, I suppose there is one thing.
Jake: Really?! Anything. Just name it. Do you need a massage? Because I learned about this thing where they warm up rocks and put them on your back.
Holt: Not you. Amy.
Amy: (giddy) Yes, Captain. Err, Commissioner! Anything.
Holt: I left a detailed action plan behind. I need someone down there to be my eyes and ears. I know they are probably botching everything up. Can you please go down to my new office and report back to me on their progress?
Amy: Right away, sir.
Holt: Now go. Leave me to my den of solitude.
Jake and Amy leave the office. On their way out of the house Kevin approaches.
Kevin: (whispering) Psst. Amy.
Amy: Yeah?
Kevin: Thank you for helping him. I owe you one. He’s just sitting in that dark office every day, moaning on endlessly. It’s like when he got sick, but this time he’s out of commission for even longer.
Jake: You mean he’s out of ”commissioner.”
Kevin and Amy look at Jake disapprovingly.
Jake: What? I thought that was solid.
[SCENE: Rosa is packing up her car for her trip and Boyle is helping. The car looks packed with stuff.]
Rosa: Are you sure we need all this stuff? We’re going camping. We’re supposed to be roughing it.
Boyle: Trust me. The Boyle family knows all about camping. I’ve just put a little romantic spin on it - you’re going glamping. Glamor meets camping.
Rosa: And you’re sure it won’t be awkward that you’re coming along?
Boyle: You won’t even know I’m there. I’ll do all the setup, cooking, cleaning, and all the dirty work. You two can focus on enjoying each other’s company.
Boyle puts on his outdoorsman hat. He also puts on white gloves.
Boyle: Backwoods Butler Boyle at your service!
Rosa: I’m not calling you that.
[SCENE: Amy arrives outside of the NYPD headquarters building.]
Amy is walking up to the building entrance when suddenly she spots Gina out of the corner of her eye. Gina is across the street picking up garbage out of some bushes using a trash grabber pole. She is wearing large, dorky looking boots and a baggy green t-shirt.
Amy approaches Gina with an inquisitive look on her face.
Amy: ...Gina?
Gina: Heyyyy. Ames! You’re back.
Amy: (whispering) What are you doing out here? And what’s with the outfit?
Gina: What does it look like I’m doing? Saving the environment one piece of litter at a time.
Gina lifts up her trash grabber pole and clicks the grabbing mechanism together near Amy’s face. Amy flinches and recoils away.
Amy: Well, right...but why? Is this some sort of punishment?
Gina: Amy, Amy, Amy. We only have one planet. That’s it. When this one’s gone, we won’t get another one.
Amy: And...am I this far out of the loop that this is what people are wearing these days?
Gina: Since when have I cared about my physical appearance?
Amy: Since always?
Gina: (laughing) Oh, you. One day you’ll see the light like I have and realize all of the wasteful habits that you recklessly allow to control your life.
Amy: Well...Okay then. Anyway, I was just on my way up to Holt’s new office. He asked me to check in on how things are going without him. Sort of a rogue under cover mission. Wait, shouldn’t you be up there handling his administrative duties?
Gina: I’m on my lunch break. Now why don’t you and those giant carbon feet of yours keep moving?
Gina claps the trash grabber at Amy again. Amy gets annoyed and hurries inside.
[SCENE: Amy arrives outside of Holt’s new office. The sign outside his office reads, “Raymond Holt - Commissioner.”]
Amy sees Gina’s vacant desk outside of Holt’s office. The phone is ringing and lighting up, indicating calls are coming in on multiple phone lines. There is a huge pile of paperwork on Gina’s desk.
Amy walks over to Holt’s empty office and slowly turns the door handle, peaking inside. She sees another large pile of paperwork on his desk. She turns on the lights and sees a plain black binder on Holt’s desk. She walks over and opens the binder, reading the first page.
There is a knock on the open door that startles Amy.
Policeman: Excuse me? You’re not supposed to be in here.
Amy: Oh, it’s okay. Holt authorized me. (Amy flashes her badge.) Sergeant Santiago, 99th precinct.
Policeman: Oh. You’re from his old precinct? Any chance you understand that thing?
The policeman nods his head toward the binder.
Amy: Holt’s NYPD operational improvement plan? Well, he never showed it to me before.
Policeman: Well, none of us can follow that thing. It’s got sections, sub-sections, diagrams, you name it. You would have to be the rain man to follow along with that thing.
A big grin comes across Amy’s face.
Amy: I’ll do it!
Policeman: Do what?
Amy: Oh. I meant I’ll help you guys follow the plan.
[SCENE: Hitchcock and Scully are working at their desks in the bullpen.]
Hitchcock and Scully are working on their case while eating takeout Chinese food for lunch. Jake tries to eavesdrop on their conversation.
Hitchcock: So the perp...was most likely a male aged 18 to 35.
Scully: (chewing) Most likely.
Hitchcock: This should be easy then. Let’s get into the mindset of our perp. What do the “millennials” like to do?
Scully: I read this article the other day about how millennials are destroying the napkin industry. Apparently they just use paper towels instead of napkins.
Hitchcock: They don’t use napkins?
Scully: Nope. Napkins are for old fogeys like us.
Hitchcock and Scully look at each other and then simultaneously throw out the napkins that came with their takeout food. Then they look down at their hands that are covered in orange chicken sauce. They both wipe their hands on their pants.
Hitchcock: Now we’re cookin’! Thinking like the enemy. What else you got?
Scully: Oh! Millennials like to hang out on the dark web.
Hitchcock: Oh, well everyone knows that! We’ve got to think of something less obvious.
Hitchcock and Scully ponder. Jake slides his chair even closer.
Hitchcock: Have we checked the Twitter? Millennials are always tagging themselves in a hashtag that describes exactly what they’re doing.
Scully uses his two pointer fingers to slowly type into google: “#IRobbedTheJewelryStoreOnFlorenceAvenue”
Miraculously, the search yields one result: a twitter account. They open the page and see someone tweeted about robbing the jewelry store using that hash tag.
Hitchcock: (raising his arm in the air) Boom! We got him!
Hitchcock and Scully high five.
Jake: Oh, come on! There’s no way that worked.
Jake slides his chair in between them. He grabs the mouse and scrolls through the twitter account. The guy has several more tweets detailing how he robbed the grocery store.
Scully: You see, Jake, the key is to put yourself into the mindset of the perp.
Jake: This is ridiculous! You guys got lucky. He was literally broadcasting his crime on social media.
Hitchcock: No luck involved. Just quality police work.
Jake scrolls down further on the guy’s twitter page when he sees something familiar.
Jake: Hey...wait a second...this is your guy?
Hitchcock: Back off, buddy! It’s our bust we’re going to take all the credit.
Jake: No, I think I know this guy. (Jake points to one of his tweets) Look, here he is tweeting about NutriBoom!
Scully: So what?
Jake: I think this is one of the guys I ran into when Boyle and I were investigating that pyramid scheme.
Hitchcock: Oh no, I see what this is. You’re trying to third wheel your way into our case to steal the credit.
Jake: I’m serious, this guy might be connected to the higher ups at NutriBoom. You need to let me take a look at the case to see if there’s a connection.
Scully: We don’t need your help! Plus, Terry said the case is all ours.
Hitchcock: Yeah so back off, Jake!
[SCENE: Rosa and Alicia are sitting in camping chairs around a fire. Boyle is squatting down low and roasting a whole chicken on a spit over the fire.]
Alicia: This is so nice. It’s so sweet of you to plan all of this!
Rosa: I only want the best for you. When you’re happy, I’m happy.
Rosa and Alicia lean in for a kiss. Boyle turns his head to sneak a peek.
Boyle: Eee!
Rosa and Alicia kiss.
Rosa: (whispering so Boyle can’t hear) Sorry I brought this dweeb along. I was just so nervous that he convinced me to take him with.
Alicia: (whispering) It’s okay. I think he’s a cute little butler.
Boyle: Hey, you guys, I can’t see the flames and coals very well from this angle. Will you please let me know if the chicken is hovering over a cold spot?
Alicia: Oh, yeah, it’s not over any flames right now. I think you need to scoot around that way. (Alicia points toward the direction of the smoke)
Boyle scoots himself a little closer to the direction the smoke is blowing.
Boyle: Here good?
Alicia: A liiiitttle further.
Boyle scoots himself around until he is directly in the path of the smoke coming off the fire.
Alicia: Perfect! That’s perfect! Now hold that spot.
Alicia and Rosa snicker and try to contain their laughter as they watch Boyle squatting directly in the path of the smoke.
Boyle: (coughing) Can you guys let me know when I need to rotate the bird?
Rosa: (holding in a laugh) Yep. It looks like it needs another couple of minutes on that side.
[SCENE: Amy and Jake are laying in bed. Amy is reading Holt’s big binder and highlighting things with a highlighter. Jake is on his laptop.]
Jake: I can’t believe that Hitchcock and Scully are just going to ignore the possible NutriBoom connection!
Amy: (not paying attention to Jake) Mhmm.
Jake: And Terry won’t let me join on the case. He says they’re on a “hot streak” and he doesn’t want to break their momentum. Pfff.
Amy: (still not paying attention) That’s nice.
Jake: Are you even listening to me?
Amy: (paying attention again) Sorry, I’m just so stressed trying to keep everything in motion with Holt’s improvement plans. I want to impress him by having everything under control before he comes back. I have to give him an update tomorrow.
Jake: This NutriBoom lead is a big deal.
Amy: Well, my thing is a big deal too. So how about I work on my thing while you work on your thing?
Jake: Fine!
Jake stares at his computer again.
Jake: (muttering to himself) I guess I could try to put myself in the mindset of the perp...let me think...where would someone peddling a pyramid scheme hang out?....(Jake gasps) Facebook!
Jake logs into Facebook on his laptop.
Amy: You really think the top criminal pyramid scheme leaders are just going to be openly communicating on Facebook?
Jake: Absolutely. Look at this - I’ve only been logged in for a few seconds and I already have five messages from people I barely know all trying to get me to join pyramid schemes!
[Messages from Facebook appear on the screen]
Tom: Hey, Jake! Long time no talk. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I’m offering FREE life coaching sessions. Lisa: Jacob, how goes it? Guess what? I found this crazy way of getting high quality athletic leggings for cheap. Brad: Dude. I see that you’re still with the NYPD. Work sucks. Don’t you just wish you could work for yourself from home and never put on pants? I recently became an entrepreneur myself and now I’m completely self employed! I joined this program called NutriBoom.
Jake: (talking out loud) Boom! Got him!! Err, what? Now I sound like Hitchcock and Scully.
Amy: Seriously, that worked?
Jake types something.
Jake: I told him I want to sign up and he just sent me his home address and told me to come over.
[SCENE: Rosa and Alicia continue their weekend camping trip getaway with Backwoods Butler Boyle.]
Rosa: Boyle, the ground is too hard. Can you gather some soft leaves to put under the tent to help make the ground softer?
Boyle: Sure, but I think we would need a lot of leaves.
Alicia: Well then you better get to work! Chop chop!
Boyle walks away into the woods and starts gathering loose leaves. Boyle looks at his cell phone and sees that he has one bar of reception. He calls Jake.
Jake: (voice over) Boyle, now is not a good time. I’m on my way to see this NutriBoom guy.
Boyle: Jake, you’re not back on the bandwagon selling NutriBoom again are you?
Jake: (voice over) No! Of course not. It’s part of the case. I have a new lead.
Boyle: Okay, well I was just calling to say I’m sorry. I think I’ve made a huge mistake. I tried to be nice, and now Rosa and Alicia are treating me like dirt! I should have never prioritized them over you and Amy.
Jake: (voice over) Boyle, this is what you get for picking Rosalicia over Jamie.
Boyle: Oo, is that what we’re using as their couple name, Rosalicia? I like it. But I thought for you and Amy we landed on “Jahkayame”?
Jake: (voice over) Did we? I think Jaime is better.
Boyle: We did, but I agree with you. Anyway, now I wish there was some way I could back out of spending the whole weekend up here with Rosalicia. They’re grinding on me real hard.
Jake: (voice over) Title of your sex tape. I wish I could help, but I think you’re stuck. I’ve gotta run. Time to bring this guy in for interrogation.
Boyle: Good luck, Jake!
[SCENE: Amy and Holt are working together in Holt’s home office.]
Holt: Are you kidding me? We are weeks behind with my plans and you know it.
Amy: I think there’s a way we can catch up.
Holt: Impossible. I would have to somehow pull off fifteen separate appointments back to back all on the same day. It cannot be done.
Amy: Not alone. But with my help, we can do it. We will keep each meeting to 30 minutes or less. I’ll formulate an agenda for each meeting and be there by your side to take meeting notes. I can scribe faster than anyone!
Holt: Hmmm, yes I suppose there is a long shot that could work. You are confident that we can organize all of these different appointments to happen on the same day?
Amy: I’ve already laid the ground work. It was difficult, but I finally found a time slot that worked for every last person.
Holt: My, my. I’m impressed, Amy. Not only did you understand all of the nuances in my plans, but you also managed to organize all of the critical appointments in a single day. If only I always had help from someone to organize my meetings and handle my other administrative duties. Everything would be so much easier.
Amy: Isn’t that what Gina does?
Holt: Oh, yes, of course. Gina. She...certainly helps.
[SCENE: Hitchcock and Scully are interrogating the guy they arrested who posted about the robbery on twitter. Jake is secretly observing from behind the one-way mirror glass.]
Scully: So, did you rob the jewelry store?
Suspect: No way.
Hitchcock: Liar! We have your written statements confessing to the crime.
Hitchcock slaps down a print out of his tweets.
Suspect: Oh, this? Nah, you old timers don’t get it. Everyone’s doing it these days - confessing to crimes on twitter. If you weren’t so out of it you would know that already.
Scully: Huh. Well, we did not know that.
Hitchcock: That makes total sense. Sorry we made you come all the way down here.
Suspect: It’s okay, now you know.
Scully starts undoing the man’s handcuffs.
Hitchcock: You’re free to go.
Jake: (interjecting using the microphone in the dark room) What?! Don’t let him go. Hitchcock, Scully, get in here!
[SCENE: Hitchcock, Scully, and Jake huddle up in the dark room on the other side of the one-way mirror.]
Jake: You two are the worst interrogators! You can’t just take his word for it.
Scully: He had a logical explanation.
Jake: No he didn’t! He made it up. Young people are not confessing to random crimes on twitter.
Hitchcock: They’re not?
Jake: No. Now you two need to keep this guy held up while I interrogate my suspect. I think there’s some connection between the NutriBoom pyramid scheme and this robbery, but I can’t figure it out yet.
[SCENE: Jake is interrogating the guy named Brad that he brought in after talking to him on Facebook.]
Jake: Okay, Brad. If that’s even your real name.
Brad: Dude. That is my name. We went to middle school together.
Jake: Oh, right. Right. Well, I’ve got enough evidence to book you on racketeering charges for your participation in the NutriBoom pyramid scheme.
Brad: Racketeering? What does that even mean?
Jake: It means you’re going away for a long time! That is...unless you roll over and spill the beans on the leaders of NutriBoom.
Brad: So, if I give you dirt on NutriBoom, you give me what, exactly?
Jake: I’ll give you full immunity from the racketeering charges.
Brad: Hmm. Nope. Not enough. I need something more lucrative. What else you got?
Jake ponders for a moment.
Jake: What if I brought you two of the most gullible bimbos ever, so that you can recruit them to join NutriBoom?
Brad: Now that’s a deal I can get behind! Wait, I thought you were trying to take down NutriBoom?
Jake: Yeah, but that’ll take forever. In the meantime you’ll get to enjoy the sweet, sweet rewards from recruiting more NutriBoomers.
Brad: I’ll only give you the dirt after they sign up.
[SCENE: Hitchcock and Scully are in the interrogation room with Brad.]
Scully: So we can really be our own boss? What’s the catch?
Brad: None whatsoever! I became an entrepreneur a year ago and never looked back.
Hitchcock: This is just the thing I’ve been looking for. A job where I don’t have to wear pants and I barely have to do any work, and someone I still make tons of money.
Brad: All you have to do is sign up and then start recruiting your friends to join your team.
Hitchcock and Scully grab the papers Brad laid out in front of them and sign at their names.
[SCENE: Holt arrives at the commissioner’s office for the first time. Amy and Jake are there to help him. Jake is wearing a backpack.]
Holt slowly hobbles across the hall to his office using a cane. He is still wearing the eye patch.
Jake: (whispering to Amy) Ah, he looks like a super villain heading into his lair!
Amy: (whispering) A super villain that’s also the NYPD police chief?
Jake: (whispering) Okay, I clearly didn’t think the analogy through. He just looks badass, okay?
Jake and Amy follow Holt into his office. They walk by Gina’s empty desk. Holt looks around and takes in a deep breath before sitting down behind his new desk.
Amy: Commissioner Holt, welcome to your new office. Sergeant and Detective Peralta reporting for duty.
Holt: You two do not work for me anymore.
Amy: With all due respect, we’ll always work for you. And look up to you. Your leadership will always be a source of motivation.
Jake pulls something out of the backpack he had on.
Jake: I got you something to commemorate the occasion.
Holt: Detective Peralta, you know my policy on gifts.
Jake: I know, I know. But this is a piece of official police business.
Jake places a cylinder-shaped contraption on Holt’s desk. There is a power cord and he plugs it into the wall.
Jake: I call it...—
Jake flips a switch. A flood light turns on and it casts a shadow on the wall: a silhouette of Jake’s face with a huge grin.
Jake: — the “Jake Signal.” Inspired by the bat signal that Batman gave Commissioner Gordon, of course. So no matter where I am in the world, I’ll always be ready at a moments notice. Just call me using this signal.
Holt: Jake, what purpose does this serve? Plus, even if I activate it, which I will not, how will you see it? It’s tiny and I have to keep it plugged in here in my office.
Jake: I dunno. I thought maybe you could snap a picture of it and text it to me.
Gina knocks on the door.
Gina: Are you guys having a moment in here still, or what? Because there are a whole lot of people clamoring on about various meetings with the new commissioner.
Amy: Gina! I’m glad your back. Were you out cleaning up the litter again?
Holt: Ah, yes, your court-ordered community service. How is that going, Gina?
Amy: Wait, court-ordered?! Gina, you told me you were doing that because you loved the environment.
Gina: I do love the environment. Otherwise I would just be standing out there pretending to pick the litter up. I’m actually picking it up because I care, duh.
Amy: Why do you have court-ordered community service?
Holt: She bit the man that attacked me during my swearing in.
Amy: Oh my god.
Jake: You bit him? Where? How? Tell me everything.
Gina: I got a little bit of the back of his ear. Tasted like sweaty loser.
Jake and Gina share discrete high five behind their backs.
Holt: Now, now. Jake, please be on your way. Gina, please send in the first appointment.
[SCENE: Holt and Amy are wrapping up their whirlwind day of back-to-back meetings in Holt’s office.]
Amy: (yawning) That was the last of them. We did it.
Holt: You were right. We made a great team. You were ruthless with keeping every meeting right on time.
Amy: (yawning again) Thank you?
Holt observes how tired Amy looks.
Holt: May I trouble you for a couple of moments of privacy?
Amy: Sure. I’ll step out.
Amy walks out and yawns again.
[SCENE: Jake is sitting at his desk in the bullpen.]
Jake gets a text message from Holt that reads:*
“Dear Jake,
Please arrive at my office at your earliest convenience. Amy requires your assistance for return transportation. Refer to the attached file.
Regards, Raymond Holt”
Jake: (thinking out loud) “Refer to the attached file”?
*Another buzz indicates Jake got another message. Holt sent him a picture of the “Jake Signal” activated - it shows Jake’s smiling face as a shadow on Holt’s office wall.
Jake: (gasping) Oh my god! I’m on my way, Commissioner!
Jakes phone rings. It’s Boyle calling him.
Boyle: Jake, you’ve got to help bail me out here. They just made me take down and then reassemble the tent in a new location for no reason.
Jake: Not now, Boyle! I can’t solve everyone’s problems at once. The commissioner needs me.
Jake hangs up the phone. Hitchcock and Scully walk up to him.
Hitchcock: So, we were going to let that guy go now.
Jake: What? The guy that confessed on twitter? You can’t let him go.
Scully: We can’t break him. He’s like a rock.
Jake: Ughhh. Why am I the only one around here keeping everything in order? Holt needs me, Boyle needs me, you two are about to let a criminal walk. There’s only way one to solve all of these problems at once: Godfather style.
[SCENE: We see a montage parodying the baptism murder scenes from The Godfather. Organ music plays in the background.]
Jake calls Rosa.
Jake: Rosa, you’ve got to let Boyle go home.
Rosa: What? Why? He volunteered for this.
Jake: Remember when Boyle was obsessed with trying to date you? Now he’s genuinely happy for you and Alicia and he just wanted to help. You’ve got to let him off he hook.
Rosa: Fine.
Cut to Jake interrogating the suspect that Hitchcock and Scully brought in.
Jake: So you tweeted that you did it. We have your confession.
Suspect: Hah! Yeah right. Like that’s enough evidence to hold up in court.
Jake: Oh, there’s more. Remember your pal Brad from the NutriBoom team? He just rolled over on you and the whole operation.
Suspect: Brad? What? You’re bluffing.
Jake: Scully! Hit the lights!
The lights go on from behind the one-way mirror, revealing Brad standing there.
Suspect: What! Nooo! Brad, you told them? I told you that in confidence as a fellow NurtriBoomer!
Cut to a clip of Jake at Terry’s desk. Terry is eating a bowl of oatmeal. Jake sneaks up behind him and grabs the bowl.
Terry: What the?! Jake, give me that.
Jake gives Terry a different bowl that is filled with yogurt.
Jerry: The oatmeal phase ends now! You’re a yogurt man, and you’ll always be that way!
Cut to Jake holding Amy up as she nearly falls asleep while he takes her out of Holt’s office.
[SCENE: Jake is tucking Amy in to bed at home.]
Jake breathes a sigh of relief.
Amy: (sleepily) Jake?
Jake: I’m here. What is it?
Amy: (sleepily) Is there still a disturbance in the force?
Jake: Not anymore. Everything’s good.
Amy: (sleepily) And you promise there won’t be any M. Night twist?
Jake: No twists. I promise. I went with ending to “The Godfather” instead.
Amy: Hm?
Jake: Never mind. Good night.
Jake gives Amy a kiss good night.
[SCENE: Flash back to 24 hr ago. Amy is at home.]
Amy is sitting at the table and she pulls out a pregnancy test - it’s positive. Amy gets up does one of her signature dorky dances.
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