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How Western Economies Could Double GDP Growth in Two Steps

by John Brian Shannon

Empowering the bottom-two economic quintiles via a Guaranteed Basic Income and a 21st century minimum wage will allow low-income people to become ‘part of the solution’ instead of ‘part of the problem’ in Western economies.

We Have a Problem in the West

The top-three economic quintiles are doing just fine thank you very much, and any one of those top-three quintiles contribute more to society… than the bottom-two quintiles combined!

That includes the CO2 emission contributions of any one of the top-three quintiles by the way. And it includes the high level of government spending required for the enhanced infrastructure and security considered de rigueur for those who live near the top of the economic pyramid.

If you don’t believe that the top-three economic quintiles cost the government more, just take a drive around some of the ‘tony’ neighbourhoods in your city. Look at the streets (nice, broad thoroughfares and sidestreets that are always well paved, etc.) look at the decorative streetlights, the curbing, the sidewalks. Also don’t miss the world-class schools and recreational facilities. And of course, visit an international airport to see how many of the travelers boarding planes to sunny locales hail from the top-three economic quintiles. That would be most of the travellers in the airport.

While the top-three economic quintiles are driving their Land Rovers and taking exotic vacations and sending their kids to university (and yes, they do work hard for their money — nobody is saying any different) the bottom-two quintiles can’t.

While the top quintiles cost society much, they also contribute much. And why shouldn’t they contribute much? They’re the prime beneficiaries of that society.

At the end of it all we may conclude that (apart from their astonishing CO2 footprint and the astronomical security costs to ensure almost total security in their neighbourhoods) the top-three quintiles aren’t the problem when we’re talking about the economy.

Through no fault of their own the problem lies with the bottom-two economic quintiles and we can thank (some) economists and (some) politicians for this miserable state of affairs.


Shall We Toss the Bottom-Two Economic Quintiles into the Ocean?

Or should we allow them to become ‘part of the solution’ on the path to dramatically increasing national GDP growth?

If we did toss them in the ocean, just for argument’s sake; Who will pour your latte at your favorite coffee joint? For that matter, who will pick up your trash, man the gas station counter, feed the ducks in the city park, or cut your lawns and clean your swimming pool?

Wouldn’t you rather be earning your $100 per hour or whatever you earn, instead of spending your free time sweeping the sidewalks and changing burned-out streetlamps? Wouldn’t you rather be racing your personal watercraft with friends at your lakefront cottage? You work hard, you play hard. Great!

Now let the other people contribute too.


Maybe Those Bottom-Two Economic Quintile Types Aren’t So Bad!

As it stands now however, the bottom-two quintiles are a drag on the economy. There’s no hiding that fact.

Some are homeless and may engage in property crimes or other offenses. Others may find themselves often unemployed or in a permanent state of underemployment as 34% of all manufacturing jobs have left Western nations for Asia since 1975. (Not the fault of the bottom-two economic quintiles by the way)

And still others just can’t find their niche, nor do they have the education, nor the financial clout to engage in the type of business where they could succeed in personal terms, but also contribute to the overall economy.

They want to contribute(!!!) to their country but can’t find a way forward. And they’re not up for moving to Asia to reclaim their former manufacturing job. Nor should we expect them to.


Changing a Negative Into a Positive!

Many people have experienced the kind of drag induced by leaving your car’s emergency brake in the ‘on’ position as you travel down the highway. As soon as you realized your mistake and moved the e-brake to the ‘off’ position the car appeared to have 100 more horsepower.

But of course it didn’t. The motor had the same horsepower it always had, it’s just that by accidentally leaving the e-brake ‘on’ it took extra power to move the car.

So it is with the economy and the bottom-two quintiles.

Prior to all those manufacturing jobs leaving for Asia, the bottom-two economic quintiles contributed much to the economy. We used to call them ‘the middle class’ or ‘blue collar workers’ or ‘the rank and file’ and other descriptors.

But there just aren’t the jobs to employ them now. So many people (millions) have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits and have given up looking for a job, any job, that they’re no longer listed as officially ‘unemployed’. The corporate world, and governments too, appreciate that those are rarely reported stats. It makes them look bad and feel bad, but they don’t know why, or how, this has happened. In any case, it’s better for them that it’s rarely reported.

Yet, there is no need to leave two-fifths of the population in a permanent state of poverty and thereby not able to move ahead with their lives — let alone contribute to GDP.

A two-track plan could accomplish a number of good things for the overall economy.


Allowing the Bottom-Two Economic Quintiles to Become Part of the Solution, Instead of Part of the Problem

Working people always contribute more to the economy than non-working people. But what’s the use of getting a job if you can’t afford the monthly bus fare to get back and forth to work? It’s a very common thing nowadays.

Make your choice now; Eat for the month, or use your grocery money for subway fare. Pay the electricity bill, or buy a monthly bus pass to get back and forth to work. Buy some decent clothes for a job interview, got the job! now you can’t afford the bus fare to get you back and forth. Ugh!

These are the very real concerns of the McJobs era. It’s even multi-generational. Older workers may work as low-paid greeters at WalMart, while younger, low-paid workers at fast-food restaurants experience similar life choices.

Two-fifths of the working age population are a drag on the economy — but only because of poorly thought-out policies and on account of the race for corporate profits which were (and are still) improved by outsourcing jobs to developing nations. Bad!

Therefore, because the situation is so tragic ANY solution is better than allowing the status quo to continue!

Two Ways to Solve Gross Inequality and Increase GDP:

  1. Legislate a standardized $15/hr wage right across the country. In this way, people who would rather work will be able to afford to eat for the month AND pay their electricity bill AND have enough money for bus fare to travel back and forth to a job. Perhaps Mom and Pop can front them the money to buy some decent ‘job interview appropriate’ clothing and help in other ways such as babysitting young children, etc. However, we can’t expect Mom and Pop to pay for all of those things, as their time and resources are limited too.
  2. A guaranteed basic income (GBI) of $1088/month per adult (a generally recognized amount, accepted by researchers and governments)
    In some cases, this would effectively ‘top-up’ the monthly income of welfare recipients and Old Age Security recipients to $1088/month from all sources. It would likewise replace all other low-income schemes, grants, etc. So much duplication of services exist that entire government departments could be down-sized (by attrition) thereby saving some government departments up to 5% in their annual budgets. Especially police and court budgets. And the multi-billion dollar SNAP programme and Food Banks could be eventually discontinued, for example.

With 21st century policies in place, the bottom-two quintiles could then afford(!) to look for a job, afford(!) to move to a different jurisdiction to accept a job offer, afford(!) to return to vocational school or attend night school to brush-up on job-skills, or afford(!) to move to a safer neighbourhood where they aren’t afraid to take the bus to a night shift job they’ve been offered.

As soon as they report on their annual tax return that they’re earning any amount over the poverty line, then their GBI payments would be discontinued. Success!


“Paying good wages is not charity at all — it is the best kind of business.” — Henry Ford

And, in case you’re wondering what kind of chips Henry has in this game? Henry single-handedly created the middle class in America. Yes, it’s true!

Henry Ford created the Middle Class and the modern economy by simply paying workers $5 an hour, twice as much as the national average at the time. People flocked to get a job at his factory. Other companies followed suit realizing that great, qualified employees were lining up at Ford’s doors. This unprecedented gamble by Ford paid off and America was on its way to becoming an economic giant. Henry Ford was behind the success of the American Middle class, and he did not do it by lowering wages.

In fact, he is quoted as saying:

“Low wages are the most costly any employer can pay. It is like using low-grade material — the waste makes it very expensive in the end. There is no economy in cheap labor or cheap material. The hardest thing I ever had to do was to reduce wages.” — Henry Ford

Excerpt from Raising the Minimum Wage: The Birth of the American Middle Class by The Daily Kos


If policymakers want the present situation to continue to deteriorate; Just keep on doing what you’ve been doing, and you’ll keep on getting what you’ve been getting

But if we want the bottom-two quintiles to contribute to the economy like they did in past decades, policymakers must set payscales at rates that are relevant to 21st century cost of living standards (they’re not now!) and they must institute a GBI that replaces all low-income schemes and empowers people to either; move to a job, retrain for a job, afford transportation to and from a new job, and in the meantime, maintain their home / electricity connection / phone connection / internet connection / job interview and other employment-related clothing needs / childcare / normal caloric intake / buy medicine, and afford other necessities in our modern world until they get back to work.

How can you get a job nowadays if you can’t afford an internet connection? Do you know? (I don’t know. Can that still be done in the year 2017? Probably not)

The time for navel-gazing is over. It’s time to get brave and release the brakes from the economy and allow the bottom-two quintiles to again contribute to the economy by passing legislation that’s designed to make people part of the solution, instead of part of the problem!



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A 3D Printed House in 24 Hours!

by John Brian Shannon – Originally posted at kleef.asia

Advances in 3D Printed House Technology Allow a New House to be Constructed Every 24-Hours, 7 Days a Week

A 3D printed house on site in Russia Credit Apis Cotr

A home was 3D printed on site in Russia as costs the equivalent of $10,200 — fully furnished with appliances. Photo credit courtesy of Apis Cotr

The global housing industry is about to hit a sea-change

It will surpass the scale of change seen during than the changeover from the log cabins of the early settlers to the ‘stick-frame’ residential building techniques we see today.

New homes will be created by one machine and one operator within 24-hours, and all of it will be done underneath a large, temporary tent which allows the all-concrete structure to be created (in virtual silence) in any weather conditions, and at any hour of the day or night.

By employing the ‘wall within a wall’ building technique, polyurethane expanding foam insulation can be sprayed into the void areas, allowing for a very high insulation factor in the exterior walls.

And a certain percentage of pulverized recycled material can be added to the concrete mixture, which helps to reduce the total amount of broken or cosmetically unfit masonry and ceramic that get placed in landfill sites.

“Nikita Chen-yun-tai, the inventor of the mobile printer and founder of Apis Cor said the all-concrete house can last up to 175 years and cost just $10,134 to build.” — The Telegraph

Once the walls are completed, the machine in lifted out via truck-mounted crane and driven to the next construction site where it can build another house in 24-hours.

Assuming sufficient demand, one machine and one operator could build 365 houses per year, and each one would be 100% flawless.

3D Printed House interior. Image courtesy of ApisCor_febr_15

3D Printed House interior. Image courtesy of Apis Cor.

Of course, as with any home, the owner can choose their own flooring type, appliances, and fixtures.

3D Printed House - Apis Cotr staff.

3D Printed House construction pause for staff photo. – Apis Cotr staff.

Whether for residential homes, or for secure outbuildings for farmers, or for the mining industry that always needs sturdy buildings to store hugely expensive equipment, 3D printed buildings can offer a quick and permanent solution. Not to mention high insulation factors coupled with a high degree of security.

These 3D Printed Houses would be a natural choice to suit rapidly-developing nations. China alone, could probably use 10-million such buildings per year, especially in the rural farming or mining regions of the country.

And in Africa, all-concrete buildings with high insulation factors make for cool and inviting homes — or they can be located near farmer’s fields to offer shelter for hard-working farm labourers during the intense heat of the day.

Apis Cotr offices are located in Moscow and Irkutsk, Russia and in San Francisco, U.S.A. (Website)

How PM Justin Trudeau can make Canada’s premiers more productive

by John Brian Shannon

Time

An hour wasted is an hour you never get back. And through no fault of their own, Canada’s premiers are wasting thousands of hours per year.

Canada’s premiers are important people. They hold the keys to multibillion dollar economies within Canada, are privy to some of Canada’s most secret security information, and they need to hopscotch around their region to hold meetings with CEO’s, other levels of government, attend events, sometimes need to get an overview of natural or man-made disasters, and to view proposed mega-projects like hydro-electric dams, major highway systems, pipelines, and railways, all over their particular province.

In the province of Alberta, premier Rachel Notley travels around the province in a convoy of Chevrolet Suburbans worth more than many Albertan homes. With weather-related travel issues, and the time it takes to get by car from the provincial capital of Edmonton to Alberta’s far-flung cities and mega-projects, you can be sure those Suburbans are getting ‘miled-out’ and replaced every 2-3 years.

It’s a ton of money invested in vehicles ($384,043.62 worth, plus annual maintenance and daily fuel) and it amounts to a lot of the premier’s time being wasted barrelling up and down highways.

We all know that much of Alberta’s business is conducted in Calgary and that the provincial capital is 281 kilometres away, in Edmonton.

It takes Rachel Notley and her convoy of Suburbans 3-hours to travel to Calgary (in good weather) sometimes 5-hours (in bad weather) And then there’s the trip home after the meetings, which of course, doubles the travel time. (Alberta premiers typically travel to Calgary about 3 times per week)

But not only that. During the Fort MacMurray fires the highways were closed. The roads were closed a few years ago in regards to the Calgary floods, and it occurs many times during the winter months along the Highway 2 corridor between Edmonton and Calgary that it gets closed due to icy conditions. Sometimes, quite suddenly — like when you’re halfway home from Calgary.

During busy months, half of premier Rachel Notley’s working hours (and whichever cabinet members are travelling with her) might be wasted sitting in the back of an SUV waiting to get to their destination.

It’s a colossal waste of time for every premier in Confederation. Time that could be better spent. Meaning more actual productivity per hour for all of Canada’s premiers. I’m pretty sure that Alberta’s premier spends 900 hours per year being transported by SUV, which is about average for Alberta premiers.

Imagine the wasted time for an Ontario premier — a province with a much higher population than Canada’s four Western provinces combined.

And I’m not ‘fobbed-off’ by claims that the time spent riding around in the back of a Suburban is productive time. If that were true, then why are premiers bothering to personally attend meetings in the first place? If phone calls and emails work so well, why leave the provincial capital? Ever?


“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would’ve said faster horses.” — Henry Ford


A Better and Faster way to Travel

politics - Canadian Army CH-146 Griffon. Photo courtesy of Canada's Department of National Defence

Canadian Army CH-146 Griffon. Photo courtesy of Department of National Defence – Canada.

Canada’s Griffon helicopters, which are underutilized by the Canadian Army are the perfect answer to efficiently move Canada’s premiers around their home provinces, while saving thousands of hours of time and improving the security of premiers and their staff.

It’s a light helicopter that can carry 10 people and their gear, and it can travel long distances (for a helicopter) at 250 kilometres per hour. There isn’t anywhere in Alberta that the Griffon CH-146 couldn’t fly on one tank of fuel.

But with all of that going for it, it’s still a ‘boy among men’ when compared to other military helicopters, which is the only reason why it’s seen limited military use.

Let’s face it, it was built for Army commanders to tour the battlefield in the interests of creating a better battle plan for the following day, and to quickly zip in and out of combat zones with ammo and food for soldiers. A Black Hawk S-70A or Sea Stallion CH-53E battlewagon it’s not.

But for ferrying premiers and other government officials travelling with the premier, it could very easily handle that role. And, as an added bonus for the Army, the Canadian Army crews that fly them would be better able to meet their (required) number of flight hours per month. That’s reason enough right there to detail one of them to each Canadian premier.

Note: Out of the original order of 100 Griffons, the Canadian military has 20 Griffon helicopters that are parked — and not for safety reasons. They just don’t have missions. The helicopters were already paid-for, years ago. They sit unused because they have no missions to fly. And pilot skills deteriorate without a minimum of 30-hours of flight time per month.

Productivity

Would Alberta taxpayers be getting better productivity out of their premier with 2-hours of travel time per day vs. the present 6-10 hours per day, on average? The answer seems blatantly obvious.

In short; Is it better for the premier of Alberta to sit in the back seat of a multi-vehicle motorcade of Suburbans for 900 hours per year, or to fly in helicopters for 300 hours per year? Thereby saving 600 hours per year for more productive use.

When Canada’s premiers are conducting business on behalf of the people where one deal could conceivably cost or save billions of dollars, isn’t it better to have premiers that arrive refreshed and ready to negotiate — rather than arriving frazzled, after a harrowing 5-hour drive on icy roads?


This is one case where the federal government should divert from its typical overly-cautious Canadian tendencies and actually make the arrangements to dramatically increase the productivity of every Canadian premier.

In this day and age, it’s great to ‘work hard’ but it’s more important to ‘work smart’. And working smart means adding 600-hours of productive time to each premier’s schedule annually.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I urge you to direct the Canadian Army to park one Griffon helicopter and crew beside each provincial legislature for the official use of Canada’s premiers (and whichever officials are required to accompany them on provincial business) in the interests of increasing the productivity and personal security of all of Canada’s premiers.

This would be the low-hanging fruit, Mr. Prime Minister, on the path to making Canada all that it can and should be.