Thursday, April 21, 2011

Construction Begins Along LBJ Freeway

A major five-year construction project is now finally beginning along the LBJ Freeway. The project is supposed to help with all the highway traffic. But, before that happens, traffic along the 635 is going to get much worse. It is already bad to have to drive on LBJ Freeway along with the more than 500,000 other drivers each day. Hopefully, though this $2 billion dollar project will help relieve the crowded road. It will cost people for this added convenience. It will be paid for by raised taxes and then drivers who chose to take the new road will pay a toll. The cost of the toll has not been determined, but it is said that it will vary from 15 cents a mile in light traffic times to 55 cents a mile during peak driving times. This toll is supposed to help with the costs of building the roads. But it seems like once a toll is charged, it will never go away. The toll road in Dallas has been finished a long time, yet tolls are still charged. So I bet drivers will always have to pay for it. It is good for the economy though because it will employ workers for 5 years during construction and then employ some toll workers. Companies that make road building products will benefit from increased sales. Businesses that sell food will probably see an increase in sales as the construction workers will most likely buy food nearby their work site. After the project is complete, businesses along LBJ will benefit because it is projected that traffic will double in those areas.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Trinity River Bridge

In an article about the new Trinity River suspension bridge various aspects of how the bridge got it's funding and the future plans for the bridge are discussed. The bridge project received a donation of $12 million dollars from Hunt Petroleum Company and the naming rights were awarded to their group. The overall cost of the project is estimated at $15 million dollars. Economically the bridge will most likely exceed the estimate. The bridge however offers the possibility, if used correctly, of bringing in funds to the city of Dallas for a long time to come. With added traffic to the area the city could use the bridge as a toll bridge which would create a continuous flow of income. The added accessibility to Dallas also will create a new flow of money. More people will possibly have incentive to go to the city because it's easier. The hypothetically larger number of people will generate a jump start into the recreational economy of Dallas. This new flow of money can possibly create jobs and help businesses grow. If there is success with the bridge adding to the flow of people to Dallas, investors will be driven to buy into new businesses opening with the new customer base.

Tube the Trinity?

In an article from August 2010 in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, writer Bill Hanna claims that a tubing industry may open up along the Trinity River as early as this coming summer in 2011. A provisional trial run was made and the guinea pigs who did the test run were more than enthused about the possibility of a tubing industry being set up on the Trinity.
"New Braunfels-based Rockin' R River Rides, which provided some mesh bags and other equipment for Thursday's(July 2010), will make a fact-finding trip next week to explore the viability of setting up tubing along the Trinity."
Keep in mind this article was from about a year ago, but the idea is a great possibility for the city of Fort Worth to create jobs. The tubing industry in the San Marcos/New Braunfels area has flourished and tons of tourists come every summer to float the river and have a great time. Why couldn't Fort Worth's Trinity serve as the same type of entertainment and revenue gainer? The first bump in the road is that people, at least in the Metroplex, view the Trinity as a dirty and polluted river not a prime float site. But if the popularity can exceed the assumptions we may see a major floating industry pop up in Fort Worth which can create a lot of revenue for the area. If tubing the Trinity takes off what effect would that have on the San Marcos/New Braunfels market?


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Masahiko Horio owns a company in Japan that makes zinc and aluminum widgets that are used in building cars. His parts are used by the huge automakers like Toyota, Honda and General Motors. In the days after Japan's earthquake and tsunami, Masahiko Horio knew he had to get his factory back online quickly. One missing link can stop production lines around the world. He also worried that if his production slowed, then the auto manufactures would look to competitors outside of Japan as alternate sources for these parts. His company managed to avoid tsunami damage because of its location up on a hill, but the earthquake and power shortages stopped the factory’s machines for two weeks. Then Horio faced another problem. The firm that finished and tested his parts was wiped out by the tsunami. He couldn’t ship his supplies out without them going through this quality control. When Horio went to visit this firm, nothing but the frame of the building remained. So Horio offered his equipment and space at his own factory to this firm. This was a good solution to a terrible problem. It is one way that two businessmen may survive the economic disaster that much of Japan has suffered.

What's Next for the Nintendo Wii?

The Nintendo Wii has been the top selling gaming console for the last few years, and they are planning on releasing a new model. An article from cnn.com takes a look at the speculation surrounding a Wii 2. Supposedly the new Wii would support HD gaming. Nintendo definitely needs to do something new and original to appeal to consumers. They claim that this new Wii is stronger than both the PS3 and the XBOX 360. With the release of the Kinect for the XBOX 360, Nintendo needs to do something to regain consumer interest. Nintendo needs to increase the demand for their product so that they can raise the price on their new system. The Wii's motion controls aren't really wowing anyone anymore and if they don't change, than they will be left behind. Also with this new system Nintendo needs to be stronger out of the gate with their game releases. When they released the Wii they just released games that appealed to adults and children. they completely forgot about their core audience, and that has hurt Nintendo in the long run. Little is known about this new Wii console, but if Nintendo can come up with something to wow the consumers, then there is no doubt that the console will sell well. Nintendo is a trusted name in video games and they are always very innovative with what they do. I fully expect this new Wii to increase interest in Nintendo and their games. Nintendo has been declining recently, but the release of a new console might be just what Nintendo needs to get back on top of the video game market.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

iPad for Kindergatners

In an article from foxnews.com, the question for whether your five year old needs an iPad is discussed. For elementary schools in Maine, they certainly think so. It was a unanimous vote for the school officials that the young students should be outfitted with the iPad 2 by next year. It will end up costing the schools around $200,000 even with the $25 off each iPad that Apple has agreed to sell. But where is the school district receiving the funds for such a large purchase? The district is looking for a 5% budget increase and countless grants by the month of June. In my opinion this would a actually be money well spent in the school system. Although it is a significant amount of money, the integration of an iPad into a young students life could open up endless educational opportunities. By placing iPads in the hands of kindergartners they learn how to use technology to help learn in the classroom at a very young age. Also, other schools might begin to purchase iPads for their students and use them in the curriculum for teaching and research. At the moment when our public school systems are at their all time worst, it is nice to hear that not all schools are sacrificing their students education because of money. I hope that more schools will go down this path and do whatever it takes to maximize their students opportunities.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Teen Cars

The question of what car is best for an inexperienced teenage driver is discussed in this article by the Wall Street Journal. The word on the street... get it.... is that parents need to forget pick-up trucks and subcompact cars when they are deciding on what to get their princess to drive. If you were wondering what subcompact is think Smart Car or Dodge Neon. The most important issue with teen drivers is their safety so the pick-up truck is too easy to roll in an accident and lets face it the Smart Car isn't all that smart when it rams into a Suburban and it's smashed like a bug on a shoe. So a bunch of people have decided that the safest cars are the compact cars, Toyota Camry, crossover type cars, Honda CRV, and believe it or not SUVs, like the Suburban that smashed our Smart Car earlier. Obviously the bigger the car the safer the driver, but also a larger car means more distractions. What does this mean for car buyers in the market? Will we see an increase in SUV sales and a decrease in subcompact car sales? How does the spike in gas prices affect the buying process for these parents?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Apple has Weaknesses?

An article from cnn.com takes a look at Apple's three biggest weaknesses. The first one being the fact that Apple hasn't taken full advantage of the Cloud network. Some Apple products still require a chord, and still need to be hooked up to a PC to update or sync. Apple could really take control of the market if people were able to sync their iPhones and iPods without having to be hooked up to a PC. This could do some serious damage to the sales of PC's since people wouldn't really need them to use any of their Apple products. The second weakness being that Apple doesn't do great job integrating social networking into their mobile devices. They have a few apps, but if they could make the social networking aspect more accessible, then that could seriously boost sales. People right now love all of the social networking sites, and the more of that that Apple can include in their phones, the more people will want to buy them. Apple is coming out with a new operating system that could seriously help in this department. The last weakness being how lackluster Apple TV has been so far. Apple TV hasn't really made any noise since it's release. If Apple could take control of the living room, then they would have control of almost every form of entertainment available. Apple TV is by far their weakest product, but if they can somehow offer an in depth on demand service, or something of that nature, then Apple just might be able to take control of the television market. Apple never settles for second best and I'm sure that they will find a way to increase their numbers in the living room.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Schadenfreude

During the recession of the last few years, Texas has seen some success compared to many other states. We've created more jobs than any other state in recent years, and our unemployment rate has been well below the national average of approximately 9%. We've also kept taxes lower than most. But all of these benefits may have attracted more people than Texas' infrastructure can handle. While we've created the most jobs, the state's population has grown by 4.3 million in the last decade, creating the need for more jobs than we could ever fill. As a result, unemployment has risen to 8.3%, and we're starting to see budget cuts that could seriously harm things like education and healthcare. Texas' budget was already thrifty; geared more toward growth and fiscal discipline than the aforementioned social issues. While this attitude has worked for quite some time, we may need to restructure to end this dilemma. If this cycle continues, the state will no longer be able to afford its low tax rate due to unemployment, and the education cuts certainly won't help this problem.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

5 Smart Ways to Blow Your Tax Refund

In the past few years people have used their tax refunds for savings or to pay off debt. The average tax refund this year is $3,164 "Despite the difficult unemployment situation across the country, Americans receiving a tax refund this year seem eager to plow this money back into the economy," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "With sales momentum continuing to build, NRF is becoming more bullish about the economic recovery." And, for those who plan to spend it, economists have made some suggestions for five good ways that will avoid being stuck with a piece of technology that will be obsolete by Christmas.

  1. For $3,000 you can make a change in your home that adds more resale value than expensive kitchen or bath remodels. “According to Remodeling Magazine’s latest Cost vs. Value Report, the only home improvement that gives a homeowner back his or her entire investment in resale value is swapping out existing front, back and side doors with steel doors. This may challenge your aesthetic sense and seem minor at best, but the average $1,218 spent swapping out an old door and jambs with a 20-gauge steel door with new casings and lock set consistently adds $1,243 (or 102% of its cost) in resale value.”

  2. If you have the vacation time, use the $3,000 to travel before fare go up even more. This can help unload stress and make memories.

  3. A new scooter to drive to work will get you great gas mileage. The new Vespa LX 50 gets 95-100 miles per gallon and costs right under $3,000.

  4. A new bed. Mattresses need to be replaced every eight years. A bed is something you use between 2,400 and 3,000 hours a year.

  5. A collectable, like comic books. “Some obvious choices as the Amazing Fantasy No. 15 that features the origins of Spider-Man sell for $150,000 to $300,000 and Action Comics No. 1 featuring the first appearance of Superman sells for upward of $1.5 million. If you're a big Spider-Man fan from way back, however, an Amazing Spider-Man No. 1 can still be had on eBay for around $3,000, but more intriguing prospects such as Amazing Spider-Man No. 122 (the death of the Green Goblin) or Amazing Spider-Man No. 49 (the first appearance of the Vulture) fetch roughly the same amount.”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Making the Best From the Worst


As many of you know Nate Dogg the famous rapper/singer passed away earlier this month. In an article from MTV RapFix Nate Dogg's career is discussed. Nate Dogg is regarded as one of the greatest pioneers of rap music, using his gospel background to influence his work. Like the passing of Michael Jackson, Nate Dogg's death can have a serious impact on the revenue of the record labels who own royalties on Dogg's songs. Since Nate Dogg has been out of the main stream for a while his music was probably not on many rap music fans minds but with the sudden death his record sales will probably see a huge increase for a period of time. All of the extra publicity although it sadly is about his death will actually bring his family and what ever label he is a part of a lot of extra revenue. Rest In Peace Nate Dogg.

THE Texas Rangers

Now that opening weekend in Arlington is over, it is safe to say that almost everyone will watching the Ranger's in their quest to win the World Series this season. In an article released by the Texas Rangers ticket sales are discussed. On the first day that tickets were available for fans, more than 108,000 tickets were sold. This is a 15% increase from last year. The Ranger's sold out their first three game of the season smashing all attendance records. The previous attendance record was set when the Ballpark in Arlington first opened in 1994. As of Sunday, more than 150,000 fans attended opening weekend at the Ballpark. With the Rangers carrying over their winning from last season, fans are spending more money in Arlington. Not just at the Ballpark, but all around the city at the restaurants and bars that are playing the games. Also, Rangers merchandise sales is up almost 50% over the last two years. Even in the midst of the poor economy, people are spending money and will continue to spend money as long as the Rangers keep winning.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Nintendo Entering the Cell Phone Market?

An article from cnn.com takes a look at big time video game companies entering the cell phone market. The article focuses on the fact that Nintendo isn't showing any interest in the cell phone market. There are a lot of roadblocks in allying oneself with a cell phone company. You have to split revenue with them, which might cause a video game company to increase their game prices. On the flip side of that, adding cell phone capability to a portable game system seems like a very profitable idea. It would open up portable gaming to a whole new audience that might never pick up a game console otherwise. Nintendo is notorious for having very family friendly games, and if anyone could pull off a portable gaming console/cell phone, it's Nintendo. It may cause Nintendo to increase the prices of their games, but I think the amount of consumers that would come out to buy the "Nintendo Phone" might actually generate enough revenue for them so that they don't have to increase their prices. One of the main draws of a phone like the iPhone is all of the great mobile games. If a consumer could get a great gaming console that they could use for texting and making calls, then that would create a serious competitor for Apple, Sony, and Microsoft. I think in the next few years the demand for a phone like that will become very high, and I think Nintendo would be the perfect company to take advantage of that high demand.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

NFL Lockout

In a series of articles written by nfllockout.com, the lockout taking place in the NFL is discussed. We've all seen and heard the reports over the last couple weeks. Although the players and owners have been working diligently to solve this issue, they have not really accomplished anything. If the issue is not solved soon, the NFL, players and workers could see a serious economic downfall in the future. The NFL employs over 100,000 employees nationwide. With the lockout taking place, people are not able to work and essentially get paid. On average, a single game generates 20 million dollars for the local economy. This could cause a decline in restaurants and bars that thrive gameday. And lastly, the general public has paid nearly 7 billion dollars toward the construction of stadiums to host the venue. Without NFL games being played in these stadiums and no money stimulating the local economies, our tax dollars that helped fund these stadiums would go to waste. If the owners and players do not reach an agreement soon, the NFL is jeopardizing losing a major fan base and incredible amounts of money.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Abercrombie or Abercreepy?

In this article from stylecaster.com the latest controversial item from Abercrombie and Fitch is discussed. It's a push up bra-esque swim suit top for pre-teens. The attempt to sell sexualized items to such a young age group has driven soccer moms up the wall and is causing serious uproar in suburban areas. The "ashley"top features push up technology designed to boost volume of breasts. But we're talking about girls who haven't yet reached puberty. The push-up bra has been a staple of a company called Victoria's Secret, a prominent women's lingerie company, but they target grown women. The decision to market items such as this by Abercrombie is a huge mistake. I see the company loosing not only potential customers but also current customers. The only thing that could actually help the company is that little thing called teen spirit. The youth is always going to rebel against the normal rules and regulations. Is it possible that Abercrombie is thinking like the kids who wear their clothes and knows that no matter what those pre-teens will get their hands on those "push up triangles". Only time will tell if the juice is worth the squeeze for Abercrombie. For now the company is coming off as creepy and disturbing but could the company just be on the forefront of a new trend that could set the company into an even larger consumer base as well as revenue base.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

iPad On Top for Long?

An article from cnn.com takes a look at all of the different companies that are going to start releasing tablets in the near future. The main advantage Apple has over the rest of the market is all of the apps they have in their app store. They really aren't any father ahead of the other companies as far as technology is concerned. This gives hope that maybe with time some companies can gain consumers for their tablets once the android market starts to fill up with apps. One of the big things that a lot of companies are trying to capitalize on is 3-D technology. This could be a huge feature that Apple has decide to not include with their newly released iPad 2. I think this is a great idea since the idea of making so many different devices support 3-D right now is so big. the demand for 3-D is very high and this may draw a lot of consumers since some companies even talk about being able to hook the phone up to a TV, and being able to watch 3-D TV with 3-D glasses that are given to the consumer with the phone. Ideas like this are great ideas, but I still don't think that any of the companies will overtake Apple in the tablet market. Apple always seems to be one step ahead of their competition. They always know what's in high demand, and they never seem to let what other companies are doing bother them. Now that other companies have caught up to Apple in the technology department, it seems like they may have a fighting chance. I don't see Apple being knocked off anytime soon. People feel safe when they buy an Apple product. They know that they're getting a solid product with a lot of great features from an established company. Just having that Apple brand name on the back of their products is enough for some consumers to look at the product and decide to buy it over other products. Apple is just such an established company, that it's going to take more than just some different features to knock them off the top of the tablet market.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. economy seemed to be moving steadily along in an upswing that's been several years coming. Interest rates, along with gas prices, were relatively low. Unemployment, while still high, was getting closer to where it needs to be. But we're not in this alone. Unfortunately, the global economy seems to have more of an affect on us than our own. This article from The Economist discusses how tsunamis, wars, and extra-continental debt crises all trickle down in some way or another to even the most uninvolved parties. What they can't always tell us is how, and this lack of certainty can create more problems than we need. The author describes Japan's stock market as its "fear gauge." After the nation's devastating earthquakes and tsunami, the volatility of the index was expected to jump 224%. That's more than it did after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

So much of our global economy is based on speculation that it can reach record lows and highs based on the thoughts and fears of a select few investors. In this case, though, those fears have played out to be a reality, and the world will suffer because of it. Just this one event has proven to be cataclysmic worldwide. The infrastructure of one of the world's biggest economic players is temporarily destroyed, and it will take a very long time to grow. We saw this happen on a smaller scale with the BP oil spill. The Gulf Coast's economy, which largely depended on the fishing industries that were paralyzed by the incident, took a massive blow as it was unable to export the goods that made it thrive. Tourists no longer wanted to visit the region, resulting in an economic arrest that the residents had to claw their way out of. There's a lesson to be learned here: Expect the unexpected.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The End of 30-year fixed-rate mortgage?

Organization like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have costs the taxpayers over $134 billion. Congress and the US Treasury want to put them down quickly, but economists worry about what will happen to the 30-year fixed-rate mortgages which has been the dominant means of financing home in the U.S.

In testimony before Congress this week, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that lowering the government’s involvement in the mortgage markets would almost certainly restrict the supply of 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, while increasing their costs. But it’s no sure thing that the mortgages will even continue to exist in the way most Americans know them.”

The difference between a 15- and 30-year mortgage on a $300,000 loan is well over $600 per month. This is a substantial amount that may prevent the middle class from buying homes. This may also threaten the economic health of cities.

Larger cities have enjoyed new growth since the start of the 30 year mortgage because young professionals are buying houses there along with families that previously had moved out to the suburbs. They eat and drink in local restaurants, and keep small businesses on the neighborhood level going. But these same homebuyers may have a hard time making house payments with a 15-year mortgage. These middle class buyers may move out to the suburbs where they can buy a home. Cities become neighborhoods full of the working poor that can’t afford to buy a home.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Minecraft for the iPhone and iPad!

According to techshout.com a version of Minecraft, the year's best indie game at the GDC Awards (game developers choice awards), will be available on the Apple iPhone and iPad as well as Android later this year. Minecraft offers gamers a genesis-esque play God game. The games popularity and success has grossed at over 15 million dollars.

"The iOS variant is not expected to get each and every update that the original browser and download version receives. It will obviously be built to leverage the touch screen features on the iPhone or iPad, like most apps and games which his the iTunes store."

Could this pose a threat to the Apple products if the Android platform allows for users to access Minecraft more easily? I would say no, most of the time the Apple app product is pretty sophisticated, if Mojang and Minecraft were smart they would create a version that is specific to the Apple products that enables users maximum pleasure. Minecraft has sort of swept the gaming world.... I've never played a game on my computer, but I failed to resist downloading Minecraft. Will there be a free version of the game on these new platforms like you can download on your personal computer or will this new breach into success be purely profit and somewhat lose sight of what gamers really love about this game. The game is so simple, you build, you break, and you kill... most of the time I'm being killed by creepers and skeletons with bows and arrows. To the gaming world, Minecraft is sort of back to the basics, it's like Pong for 2011.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Who Needs 3G for the iPad 2?

An article from wired.com takes a look at how consumers can save some serious cash by not buying 3G service for their iPad 2. It turns out consumers can just pay $20 a month and their iPhone can then be turned into a WiFi hotspot. If the consumers decide to pay for 3G service, it will cost them $130 and then a $15 monthly fee. It's very surprising to me that Apple would offer a service that could turn iPhones into a moving WiFi hotspot. It's a great idea, but Apple seems like they might be losing some serious money from this service. But this situation can be looked at from another perspective. People who thought that an iPad was useless without 3G, and didn't have the money to buy an iPad 2 with 3G capability, might decide to buy a cheaper iPad 2 without 3G capability. I also think Apple decided to offer this service since there are also several ways that consumers can turn their iPhone into a WiFi hot spot for free, by "jailbreaking" it. Apple probably just figures that if they don't offer the service, then consumers are just going to Jailbreak the phones, and their phones will be WiFi hotspots anyways. Also Apple might just be so successful that they don't really mind if people decide to not purchase the 3G service. Apple is probably making enough money off of the iPhone hotspot service. If I was going to purchase an iPad 2, I would seriously consider purchasing the one without the 3G service. I have my phone on me almost at all times, and it would be great if I could use it as a hotspot. Some people just feel more comfortable with the 3G service, and that is understandable. I think that the iPhone hotspot is a great service that a many consumers should consider when purchasing their iPad 2.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 15

Labor unions have been attempting to better the lives of workers in the U.S. since the early 19th century, and they're doing so more than ever in some cases. This article from Bloomberg News discusses the ongoing dispute between the NFL and its players' association. The two have been talking about what to do with the league's $9 billion in annual revenue (the most of any pro sports league). Talks that were supposed to end a week ago have come to a stalemate; the owners have threatened to shut the league down and the union to stop representing the players. Should the argument (which has been narrowed down to a $1 billion gap) continue, players will be able to sue the league individually.
The NFL is the most successful sports league in the U.S., and its games gain the most attendance of any sporting event in the world. February's Super Bowl was the most watched television program in history. Yet the league still feels the need to extend its season from 16 games to 18, obviously for increased revenue. This comes as a shock to many as the NFL has been so wary of its players' health and safety of late. But people tend to sympathize with their favorite players, failing to remember that the game is, unfortunately, little more than a business to some. If the two sides can't come to some sort of agreement on these subjects, then they will both suffer as fans lose faith in the game and patience for bickering between billionaires.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

States Rethink Tax Breaks for Hollywood


Tax breaks given to filmmakers in Georgia helped a beachfront hotel make an extra $85,000 because Miley Cyrus spent a summer filming The Last Song.

The producers of Cyrus' film, were brought in with an across-the-board tax credit of 20% in 2009. Lawmakers in Georgia and other states, though, are worried that they can't afford to offer Hollywood those incentives any longer as they struggle to find enough money to pay for programs like Medicaid. For Spirides, though, the owner of the beach front hotel, the economic benefit was great. The crew rented a parking lot at Spirides' Ocean Plaza Beach Resort for $30,000 to set up makeup trailers and dining tents. Then there were hundreds of families working as extras on the film, who would crash at the hotel after shooting until 2 a.m. In January, though, a Georgia state council said those benefits are short-lived. It said even though the crews bring jobs, and lots of people who spend money locally on food and lodging, those benefits are lost when they pack up and leave after filming.

The council recommended ditching the film tax break, which meant $140.6 million in lost tax revenues last year. Film producers spent $617 million in Georgia last year. An Associated Press survey found that from 2006 to 2008, states shelled out $1.8 billion in tax breaks and other advantages to the entertainment industry. The recession has officials in several states wondering if the incentives are worth the lost revenue. Budget woes prompted New Jersey and Kentucky to place similar caps on film incentives last year. Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas and Wisconsin all slashed spending on their programs in 2009.

But not everybody is cutting back. A few states eager for jobs and spending are offering more money to lure Hollywood productions. "It's a mixed conversation as to, are we giving away money or are we trying to create jobs?" said Todd Haggerty, a tax policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Journey to Mars and Jupiter

In an article released by Fox News on Monday,NASA released that it would be journeying to Mars if it can afford it. In an article titled "Visions and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022" the need for planetary exploration is highly needed. The expedition to Mars would be to observe if any forms of life are inhabiting the planet. The Jupiter mission would be to observe the moon Europa's underground ocean. For NASA, the trip to Mars is its top priority. At the moment they currently do not have a budget for 2011 year. The trip is estimated to cost 3.5 billion dollars. However, a committee at Cornell University stresses that the maximum amount NASA can spend on this project is about 1 billion less the original projection. At this moment in time, I do not feel that it is economically viable for NASA to fund the trip. For years we've all been wondering whether or not Mars inhabited life. Hopefully these trips can help answer the question. But at the moment we have the technology on Earth but on Mars the technology would suffer severe limitations. Rather than rushing the exploratory trip and spending billions, wait several years and let the technology advance so that once we make the trip the fundamental question could be answered.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Is the iPad 2 Holding Back?

An article from cnn.com takes at what the iPad 2 is lacking, and if Apple left these features out on purpose. The main features that the article says are missing from the iPad 2 are a memory boost, retina display, cloud sync, and stereo speakers. If you can remember back to last year the original iPad didn't have a camera when most people thought that the iPad 1 should of had a camera. Was apple holding back? I think they were, and they are with the new iPad. I'm sure that there are a number of features that the Apple could put on the iPad 2 that they haven't yet. I think that that is a very smart business decision. Apple is the best company around at creating a new product that is very appealing, but leaving out just enough to keep you coming back for more. They do the same thing with the iPhone's. Everyone still bought iPhones even though they didn't have video chat on them, and then when the Iphone 4 came out with Facetime it was a huge hit, and increased the popularity of the iPhone. Apple is always thinking ahead. They are always trying to figure out a way to increase the demand of their next product. They leave out certain small features to increase the demand for next year's product. Apple always seems to be ahead of everyone else in the technology world. They're always thinking ahead, and that's part of the reason why Apple is one of the most successful companies in the World.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The iPad 2 Means Business

Commercial photographer Chase Jarvis once said that "the best camera is the one that's with you." He was referring to the recent influx of camera phones (more specifically the iPhone) and their increasing prominence in everyday life.
When the iPad was released in April of 2010, many saw it as an underpowered laptop, even a "giant iTouch." Its potential uses were overlooked by some. But Apple sold three million of the devices in 80 days, and both consumers and businesses began to explore the possibilities of the innovative product. It wasn't until the release of the iPad 2 yesterday, though, that Apple included a camera. This is a feature that many thought should have been a staple of the original, while others view it as an unnecessary add-on mainly due to the size of the device. The new camera(s) will undoubtedly receive a warm welcome from consumers looking for a quick way to capture the events of everyday life and from those looking to "FaceTime" with friends and family. But Fast Company discusses how businesses will be able to utilize the camera in conjunction with its other features to better themselves. They see benefits for everyone from interior designers to casino pit bosses. People will save time by being able to take a picture and do what they want with it straight from the original device, skipping several steps in between, and then have the ability to use the iPad in the manner that they did before the introduction of the camera.
Apple has continued to sell products like these because they pay attention to customer demand. Consumers asked for new features on the iPad like the camera (among other things), and Apple listened. Many people who lacked a reason to buy an iPad now have one, and those who have used the original product will more than likely pony up the cash for the better one.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

High Oil Prices Could Harm the Economy

The turmoil going on in the Middle East right now has caused oil and gasoline prices to increase. However, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he and a majority of his Fed colleagues believe the situation won't lead to out-of-control inflation. He believes that workers don’t have much power because the job market is still weak. So they cannot demand big pay increases. Many factories and other companies are operating well below capacity because demand is low. Bernanke said that those forces will prevent inflation from taking off.

Bernanke said the increases so far "while a problem for many people, don't pose a significant risk to the recovery or to overall inflation." I think that this is assuming though that this is a temporary rise in oil prices. I am sure he believes that a prolonged rise in oil prices would be a threat to our economy.

Right now I think oil tankers believe that it's probably not a good idea to go into port in Libya. It is risky because if things don’t improve all exports could be shut off. The process of shipping could become very difficult. All this would increase the price of oil even more.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In an article released by CNN, Charlie Sheen was interviewed and stated that he was "on a quest to claim absolute victory.” As we all know, Sheen has been all over the news for the past couple weeks. His problems began many years ago but we all tend to mainly focus on the past month. We've all heard the accusations of sheen partaking in crack binges. But Sheen still claims that he never was an addict and simply lives life to the fullest. Even after all of his problems, he still felt that he had the right to ask CBS for a raise from his hit show Two and a Half Men. Although this may seem completely ridiculous at the moment, the demand for Charlie Sheen is higher than ever. CBS must be making incredible amounts of money off of Sheen considering they've agreed to increase his pay by one million dollars per episode. The fact of the matter is, Charlie Sheen's negative publicity over the years has only benefited him positively. Although we do feel sorry for the guy, we still have a serious demand to see him on TV.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oscars

In an article from The Economist, the Oscar's most coveted award, The Year's Best Film, is discussed. The article notes out that in recent years the number of films nominated for the award has risen to ten in total. The article's author goes on to talk about it being a two-horse race for the award between "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network". But there is one statement that stands out to me and should be discussed. (I have bolded the important part)

"I’M NOT a gambling man, but I’d put money on this year’s Best Picture Oscar going to a film with a three-word title, the first word being “The”. I’d also bet on “127 Hours”, “The Kids Are All Right”, “The Fighter”, and “Winter’s Bone” not winning. As nice as it is to see them acknowledged, the policy introduced by the Academy last year of having ten films in the Best Picture category means, inevitably, that several of them are there to make up the numbers. And at the moment what we have is a very exciting, very close two-horse race."

A majority of "the several that are there to make up the numbers" are among the highest grossing films of 2010. The Academy has definitely given many of these movies an added boost to their popularity. These movies came out last year but people seem to be advertising them more than when they were released. For example, go home, click your "on demand" button on your remote control, then listen and see what comes to the screen. You will hear "The Social Network", "The King's Speech", "Toy Story 3", and the list goes on. These movies have been out for months yet this company advertises them. They do this because The Oscars presentation brings added attention to the films and makes people want to see them. The Oscar's on ABC is a historic event and every year movies step into a realm not only of prestige and honor but they get to make money for a long, long time. Have you ever seen the movie "Gladiator" with actor Russell Crowe. If you pay attention the cover of the movie's casing says "NOMINATED FOR ______ (fill in the blank) AWARDS" and "WINNER OF _____ (fill in the blank) AWARDS". And then there are quotes like "TERRIFIC" and "BRILLIANT" by The New York Times and other credible sources. These simple words are a marketing tool and so is The Academy Awards. Now I'm not at all saying that the films are not deserving of the Oscar awards they receive. Think of it like an added revenue bonus. If your film is good enough and makes the "Movie of the Year" ballot, then that movie is going to make a lot more money than the movie who didn't make the ballot.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Google Makes Some Changes

An article from cnn.com takes a look at some changes Google has made in the way they select the websites that show up first on their search results. They changed their algorithm in order to get better quality results. This could potentially have a huge impact on a lot of websites, and the people who own and operate those websites. Google is the number one search engine in the world, and even if a website was receiving the same amount of listings on other search engines, if they lose spots with Google, it's definitely going to hurt the website. It could also potentially put people out of business. This would be in a very extreme case, but if a web site's traffic drops too dramatically, then the website could go under, and so would all of the people involved with the website. One website owner has said that since Google's change to their algorithm the traffic has dropped 40% on their website. If Google doesn't like your website, than the demand for your website will definitely drop. It's not all bad though. Some websites may flourish under the new algorithm. A website might not be very well known, but have a lot of quality information. a website like that could definitely benefit from the algorithm, and it might allow that website to grow and become very successful. There are tricks that website operators can do that will cause their website to show up higher on a Google search, but Google has cracked down on a lot of those tricks. It seems like now, that the best thing website owners can do is just produce a more quality product. I think the new algorithm makes a lot of sense, and if a website isn't getting as good of listings, than the people who run the website need to produce a better product.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

College Tuition

In an article written in the New York Times, the ever rising cost of college is discussed. Over the past couple of weeks, universities such as Brown and Princeton have announced that they will raise their tuitions once again. In todays society, attending college is a necessity if you expect to make a decent living. If tuition prices go up, it will make it even harder for people to attend college. The national average salary is around $40,000. It is literally impossible for someone to attend college if their parents make that kind of money and not be accumulating debt. No matter how smart you are, it simply will not work. But, many scholarships, aids, and loans are out there to help students pay for college. This is creating a nation of students who owe significant amounts of money by the time they graduate. This creates a major problem because newly graduated adults are looking for jobs and owe $100,000 to the school they attended. It simply doesn't work. I don't know what to do but something must be done.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Is Apple Asking for too Much?

An article from mashable.com takes a look at how Apple is making some it's app developers very angry. Recently Apple announced that developers will now be able to place a monthly subscription fee on the Apps that they produce. The developers were happy to hear that, but they were furious when they heard that they had to give Apple 30% of the revenue made from the subscription fees. Apple typically only charges a 2.5% credit card fee. This could have a serious impact on the amount of apps developed for the iPhone. Developers who planned to make apps that required a monthly fee to stay alive, now might not be able to afford to build the app since 30% of their profits will go to Apple. This could be especially hard on developers of music apps. Those developers already have to pay content fees to artists and record labels. They need to charge a monthly fee to draw a profit and update their software, but losing 30% of their revenue to Apple might be too much for some app developers to overcome. I also think that apps that require a monthly fee won't sell well to begin with. Most people buy apps because they are usually cheap and very simple to use. The thought of a subscription fee on some apps is definitely going to turn some consumers away. I know I could never get an app that required a subscription fee. Most teenagers probably wouldn't be able to either, since our parents would be the ones paying for it, and an app that requires a subscription fee seems a little extreme. If an existing apps decides to start charging a subscription fee there is no doubt that it's demand will go down. I don't think charging a subscription fees for apps is a good idea, since I don't think most people are willing to pay one for an iPhone app, but if developers are going to charge one, Apple does not deserve 30% of their revenue. That's just asking too much.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wholesale Prices

Steady improvement in the economy may soon cause other problems- faster inflation. Shoes, clothes, tires, plastics and other products all cost more at the wholesale level last month. This puts pressure on businesses to pass the increases along to their customers. We are getting used to gas prices being high, but now it is hard not to notice prices going up on other things. “Abercrombie & Fitch which sells clothes primarily marketed to teenagers, said it expects to raise prices later this year because of soaring costs for raw materials, particularly cotton.” The cost of cotton, for example, has doubled in the past year. The price of corn has doubled in just six months. The maker of Hanes underwear and T-shirts raised prices in this month and may do it again this summer. Food companies like Kraft Foods and McDonald's have said in recent weeks that they will raise prices this year, too. Through most of last year, the government worried more that the weak economy might cause deflation - a prolonged drop in prices and wages, which can make people unwilling to spend. In response, the government acted to strengthen the economy and raise inflation slightly. A healthy economy usually has some inflation, but it is low. "It's too early to panic about inflation," argues Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. "There won't be an inflationary spiral unless wage inflation picks up."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Viruses on Smart Phones

In an article written by fox news, the spreading of viruses through Smart Phones is on the rise. For the first time ever, more Smart Phones were sold during the last quarter in the U.S. than computers. This also may be because a smart phone is half the cost of a computer. Also the fact that Smart Phones are much more accessible than computers. A majority of people only use their computers for simple things such as e-mail and Facebook. Why bother spending the money on a computer when you can do it in the palm of your hand. Last week, Mcafee released that mobile viruses are up 46% from last year. People may begin to turn away from Smart Phones and may stick with the traditional easy to use phone. We all saw it with PC, many turned to Mac because viruses were limited on the Mac computers. But with cell phones, they are getting viruses through downloaded apps and emails. Mcafee stated that major apps such as Facebook, failed to secure peoples personal information. In a generation that is so dominated by mobile Smart Phones, you can only expect to see a dramatic rise in viruses for cell phones. Which in turn could lower the amount of cell phones sold in the future.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hybrids, would you want one?

USA Today says that Hybrid sales are not great but their popularity is said to increase in the next year.

Hwang says that with the many factors coming together, "Everybody says hybrid sales are poised to take off this year."

So my big debate on hybrid cars is why are they so unattractive? I think they are certainly very effective with the high MPGs they offer but the awkward body style is enough to turn me away. Why can't we have an average looking car with hybrid features? We have to have creepy bug looking cars to be fuel efficient. I don't think the number of consumers will change for car companies offering hybrid cars in their lineups. This is because their will not be a change in consumer tastes. The conventional styles that companies offer will be the major product for car companies for years to come, I believe this is because the consumer tastes will remain the same until hybrid cars are more conventional with their styles.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Not Everyone is pleased with the Verizon iPhone

An article from cnn.com brings to light that not everyone is happy with the Verizon iPhone. The crowds that were gathering outside of Apple and Verizon stores across America were unusually small. This all seems very odd considering how much people complained for Apple to release their iPhone on on the Verizon network to get away from the awful cell phone coverage of AT&T. There is one large flaw in the iPhone for Verizon as oppose to the phone for AT&T. The Verizon iPhone doesn't allow you to talk on the phone and run apps or the Internet at the same time. This seems like a fairly significant flaw to me, and might keep me and other consumers from switching to the Verizon iPhone instead of keeping my current AT&T contract. That definitely has to hurt the demand for the Verizon iPhone since so many iPhone owners want to be able to access the web and talk on the phone at the same time. I think the Verizon iPhone will still sell quite well, despite that flaw. There are a lot of people on the Verizon network who have been anxiously awaiting their chance to to get their hands on an iPhone since it's release. Another thing that might hurt the sales of the iPhone 4 on Verizon is that every summer Apple seems to always roll out a new phone. There's going to be a descent amount of consumers who are going to wait until summer to pick up a new version of the iPhone. Also AT&T is wasting no time making sure that everyone is aware that you can use the AT&T phone and surf online at the same time. They have launched several new ads that make sure everyone is aware of the features on their iPhone. I believe that the Iphone 4 Will still sell very well for Verizon. The article also states that there are plenty of people who love Verizon's Iphone 4. I think it's great that AT&T doesn't have so much control over the iPhone market anymore and other consumers are getting their chance to experience iPhones. The demand for these phones is still high, but I do think the flaw in the phone will hurt it's demand, but not enough for Apple and Verizon to not make a profit on the device.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Nokia and Microsoft Teaming Up

This article from CNN.com discusses the upcoming merger of the world's largest cell phone producer, Nokia, and its largest PC software producer, Microsoft. While Americans have lost interest in Nokia phones, the devices have managed to remain the top sellers worldwide. For this partnership, Nokia will drop its current, outdated smart phone platform and adopt Microsoft's "Windows Phone." All Nokia phones will also feature Bing as their default search engine. It seems no attempt was made by Nokia to create some sort of partnership with the obvious competitor that now comes to mind: Google. Some say the Android platform would have been a better choice. That being said, both Nokia and Microsoft, who have seen decreasing sales, now have a very strong alliance that puts them in the money with Apple and Google's Android, if nothing else because of the sheer scale of this partnership. The experts see both companies benefiting from the merger, since Nokia now has a competitive smart phone platform and Microsoft now has the largest cell phone producer handling its production as well as its relationships with carriers.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Verizon and the iPhone

In an article from CNN, Verizon selling the iPhone is discussed. It seems that although Verizon carrying the iPhone has been long waited, not very many people are buying the phone. In the past, when Apple releases new products, thousands line up and even sleep outside just to ensure that they are able to purchase the product. As of today, it was nearly impossible to find a store with a wait to buy the iPhone. In my opinion, this could be because of many factors. One, Verizon is known for smart phones having problems on their network. Nobody wants to go out and spend hundred of dollars on a phone that cant be supported by the network. Also, in the this economy, people don't just have hundreds of dollars sitting around to buy a new phone. Verizon's poor sales of the iPhone will create a surplus of unsold phones. I expect the price to drop in the near future.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

High-Speed Rail System

The Obama administration wants to invest $53 billion in high-speed and intercity rail service in the next six years.The current administration believes this plan to spend billions on a vast high-speed-rail network is important to keep the United States competitive with world markets that already use the technology. I wonder how this rail system would impact the automotive industry. I am sure that it would hurt car sales as many people might be able to eliminate owning a car. It may also affect concrete and steel businesses and other manufacturers of materials used to build roads. I wonder about the affect it would have on the businesses alongside the roads that are used to being busy because of the daily traffic driving by. I think that our national debt is also too high to even consider spending that much money on something that may potentially bankrupt the auto makers. The estimated cost for this system would be $600 billion over the next 20 years. Where would money come from to improve and maintain our existing roads? Or would they become a low priority in comparison to spending money on the high- speed rail system? Maybe it would be a better idea to let private industry invest in this project. Amtrack has been successful in the public transportation industry. Maybe they should be doing this project instead of the government.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Harvard & Babies

According to an article on wsj.com babies who are fed solid food prematurely may have a higher chance of obesity. What does this mean for companies such as Gerber who sell solid food products for babies?

"Infants on formula who are fed solid foods before they are 4 months old have a higher risk of becoming obese by age 3 than those starting later, Harvard researchers said. The findings are considered significant because being overweight or obese as a child increases the likelihood of being so as an adult."

This data from Harvard researchers, who I'd bet on 9 times out of 10, could create a serious problem for companies who sell solid food for babies. If a bunch of mothers now turn away from solid food products then companies like Gerber will see a decrease in consumers. They will most likely discontinue the products if the decrease is significant enough. The decrease in consumers can be attributed to a change in consumer tastes which can be attributed to the data Harvard researchers published. The possibility of your child being obese in childhood affecting the chances your child will be obese in adulthood is what might turn consumers away from feeding their younger babies solid food. Obesity can cause serious health problems and in America today we are making a lot of effort to be more healthy so why wouldn't mothers give their children a head start?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Super Bowl Heads into the Future

Computer technology is playing a huge role in this year's Super Bowl. In an article from cnn.com, they take a look at just how high tech this year's Super Bowl is going to be. Even the Super Bowl has to get in on the Smart Phone craze. The NFL has released a free Super Bowl app not only for the iPhone, but also for phones running Google's Android system. It seems like every major sporting event recently has released their own smart phone app. The demand for apps is very high, and it seems like whenever a there is a major sporting even, it seems like someone is always looking to make some money by creating an app for the event. Some of these apps also help out local business owners. One app will help show you all the great local bars and restaurants in North Texas. Someone even created an app that will help you find parking at the Super Bowl. The ads for Super Bowl even have their own app. There are many other cool pieces of tech being used at the Super Bowl outside of smart phone apps. The entire stadium is on a Wi-Fi network, and one spokeswoman for AT&T said that they have spent more than $10 million enhancing the signal at the Cowboy's Stadium. The most famous piece of technology at the game is definitely the $40 million, 600- ton video board hanging above the field. There's no telling how much it costs to turn on this high tech stadium. That's why it's so great that all these people are willing to pay to use the cool Super Bowl apps, or pay to advertise on the apps. It's also nice that the cell phone companies are willing to pay so much to make sure that they have a strong signal inside the stadium. The advances in technology not only add to the atmosphere of the Super Bowl itself, but the advances in technology seem to also be very good for the economy. These apps are definitely in high demand, and there's no doubt that businesses like the NFL or ESPN are making money off of them.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Future Super Bowls?

“With north Texas hosting its first Super Bowl ever this year, the weather is causing concern among many local officials. The Dallas Morning News is already speculating whether the ice will affect any chances at Arlington getting any Super Bowls in the immediate future.” I don’t think the bad weather should affect future decisions on whether Super Bowl will be played in Arlington again. Bad weather can happen almost anywhere, and Texas was prepared for it. There was a plan B the whole time. We all know how volatile Texas weather can be. In the past, Super Bowl games have been played in Minneapolis, Detroit, and Pontiac where temperatures and weather have been as bad as the weather we have had for the past three days. What really matters most it the number of fans attending the games. The record attendance so far is in Pasadena, California with 103,985 people. The Super Bowl at Cowboy Stadium may surpass this record attendance. The Super Bowl has been in Tampa, Florida the most times, but attendance was only around 73,000 people. Doesn’t the NFL care more about profits? Won’t they make more money with higher attendance? And if so, who cares what the weather is like as long as players and fans are in an indoor stadium.

Monday, January 31, 2011

1st Place Always Wins the Race..... Apple won, Sorry Samsung.

In an article from wsj.com Samsung's Galaxy Tab sales are reported smaller than expected. They sold around 2 million to distributers but the statistic has nothing to do with the actual consumer number that have purchased Samsung's version of the iPad.

"She added Samsung was “quite optimistic” about 2011 sales but wouldn’t provide a forecast. “As you know, the tablet is relatively new and we need to see how the market develops before we give any firm numbers,” Ms. Lee said."

It's obvious that the reason for Samsung's Galaxy Tab's sales being so low is due to the popularity of the iPad. Apple's first version of the iPad was released in April 2010 which was 5 months before the Samsung Galaxy Tab was released. Even if the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab's release dates were switched there would have been no contest still between the two touch screen tablets. The fact is that Apple is more popular. What was Apple's latest introduction before the iPad? The iPhone which revolutionized the social media industry forever and is now an icon in our society. What was Samsung's? The Galaxy S, a smartphone that a majority of people have never heard of, it sounds like some distant place where monkeys rule the world. Apple got to the market first and bought up every customer that Samsung could have dreamed of having and with every new product they continue to increase the amount of consumers buying the Apple brand products. And now Apple owns the market. For example look at this screen shot of the article I mentioned earlier in the post:

Yes, that is an Apple iPad directly on the screen next to this:

"Pressed by an analyst at an investment bank, the Samsung executive, Lee Young-hee, acknowledged that sales to consumers were “quite small,” though she didn’t give a specific number."

Items in the market place sell because they are cool, and "cool" is a scarce resource. When people look to invest in smart tab technology they don't want something unrecognizable they want something everyone has heard of and that everyone has. I couldn't go up to half of my friends and say what do you think about the Galaxy Tab? Because they would think I've been watching Star Trek all day. I could go to my friends and ask about the iPad and they would say, "oh yeah, it's cool! I played around on one at the Apple Store." Even if the technology Samsung possesses is equal to that of Apple they still don't have the name Apple. Maybe this thing could have been more successful if they called it the iGalaxy Tab, but Apple probably has copyrights to the "i" so they'd still make more money than Samsung.








Sunday, January 30, 2011

Smart Phones Still Aren't the Only Phones

Today we often forget that there are still phones out there that aren't Iphones or Androids. In an article from cnn.com, they take a look at just how important feature phones still are to the mobile phone business. According to the article 70-75% of Americans and 95% of people worldwide are still using feature phones instead of smart phones. The demand is still fairly high for feature phones due to the fact that they are cheaper, and the technology is much simpler. When you walk into a Verizon or an AT&T store a majority of the phones are still feature phones. The downside that most people usually look at on feature phones is that they don't have as much access to the worldwide web. This week Facebook announced that they have produced an app to run on feature phones that isn't a stripped down version of Facebook. There are many other apps for feature phones, and all that anyone has to do to access them is download the free Snaptu Java-enabled feature phone app platform. The smart phones still have much more computing power and the number of apps available to a smart phone owner greatly out number the apps offered to a feature phone owner, but the feature phones will continue to survive due to their simplicity. A lot of people just want to make calls, and if they can have Facebook or Twitter too, that's just a bonus. According to the article the amount of technology becoming available to these phones is evolving fast. As long as feature phones stay cheap, simple, and effective they will remain in high demand. The problem with adding all this extra technology to the phones is that it might cause the price to increase, and most people who buy feature phones are all about the low price and simplicity.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of the Union Address

In President Obama’s speech Tuesday night he said that America’s economy is improving "Now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable," he said. He proposed a five-year freeze on nondefense spending that would reduce the nation’s debt by more than $400 billion over the next 10 years. He agreed to work with congress on deeper cuts in the budget, and he vowed to veto bills with lawmakers' pet projects. He also promised a simpler tax code for small businesses. He wants Congress to eliminate the billions in subsidies to oil companies and to eliminate any tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. I think that tax loop holes should be eliminated for all Americans if that is what he meant by tax breaks. If he meant that the wealthiest should pay more taxes, well then I disagree. Why should the wealthy pay a higher percentage just because they have worked hard and made a lot of money. If there was a flat tax rate, the amount the wealthy pay would still be higher just because of the math, but they should not have a higher percentage rate. We need to remember that the wealthy own big businesses and employ many people. They also spend and invest a lot of money which helps our economy. I found it contradictory that as he is saying this about cutting spending, he also says that the government needs to invest in biomedical research, information technology and clean energy technology. His goal is to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 and 80 percent of U.S. electricity from clean energy sources, including nuclear and clean coal as well as solar and wind. These are great goals, but he doesn’t mention how our government can afford it when we need to cut spending. I would suggest that it be left to private industries to develop and market these things. I don’t understand why it is the government’s job to do this. Let these private companies profit from new technology so they can then employ people, become wealthy hopefully, and put money back into the economy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Survival of the Fittest in Troubled Economy

Across the nation funeral homes are converting their spaces for multifunctional purposes. In many of these facilities not only funerals, but weddings, birthdays, and other events are being held.

"A lot of (traditional wedding facilities) are shutting down because of the economy, while we (funeral homes) aren't going anywhere," he says. "In our community, two banquet halls closed because of the economy."

As we have seen many businesses fail in these troubled economic times in our country funeral homes are not one of them. For more reasons than the obvious, people always die (sorry it's true), but because they are making themselves more available to consumers. Now with the usage of their facilities to hold weddings birthdays and all types of events the wait for people to die is no longer an issue. Funeral homes can now take your money once a year on your birthday, on your wedding day, on your kids wedding day, hopefully for your sake on your grandkids weddings, and finally on your death day. Similar to greeting card companies making up holidays, such as mother's and father's days, to fill the gap between Christmas season, the funeral home industry has created a whole new market to appeal to. But really getting married next to a cemetery? Sounds creepy....

Although people may think it morbid to start a marriage in a place surrounded by sadness, it would be no different than doing it at a church — where both caskets and newlyweds occupy the aisles throughout the year, says Sue Totterdale, national chairwoman of the National Association of Wedding Professionals. "A banquet hall is a banquet hall, and a chapel is a chapel," she says. "If you can get past the driveway and the cemetery, it's going to be beautiful."

Perfect! Problem solved! Now you can be baptized, celebrate all your birthdays, get hitched, and be buried and mourned in the same place! ("Kill four birds with one stone!"-Natalie Brown) The funeral home industry will always be here, this multifunctional use of space is completely economically sound and 100% profitable. I see a continual rise in the industry, but as always as the economy recovers the rest of the event industry recovers too. But can the event industry compete with such a multitalented funeral home industry?



The End of Credit Cards

CNN says that "the end of credit cards is coming" and it could be as soon as 2015. Mobile payments may soon take over. The ability to use your phone as a credit card is already available. But CNN is convinced that by the end of 2015, 22 billion dollars worth of mobile transactions will be made annually. One downside to mobile transactions in my opinion is what if you lose your cell phone? Of course people lose individual credit cards all the time. But most have multiple cards and options of payment. If everything goes mobile, losing your cell phone will turn out to be a lot more of hassle then just not being able to communicate for several days. The demand for products that save peoples time is always present, but mobile transactions might turn out to have more problems than originally planned. I believe the traditional plastic card will be the choice of payment for many years to come.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Apple's Best Phone May Not Be the Iphone

An article from cnn.com takes a look at what one consumer is doing to get most of the features of an Iphone without the hefty fees. He decided to create his own "Ipod phone". The man from Milwaukee, Wisconsin turned his Ipod Touch into a smart phone, and it only costs him $30 to $40 a month. He saves up to $450 dollars a year using his homemade smart phone rather than an Iphone. He usually makes calls with the "Ipod phone" by using either Skype or Google Voice, and he can listen to the calls using speakerphone, Bluetooth, or a wired headset. He uses what's called a MiFi to access access the Internet from anywhere he can receive cellphone signal. A MiFi can translate cellphone signal into a Wi-Fi signal, and it's only about the size of a credit card. Using the MiFi and the Ipod touch as a smart phone helps the consumer avoid signing contracts and having to pay expensive fees. All of this sounds pretty great, except that the MiFi has very short battery life, and unless you're always near an electrical outlet the MiFi only lasts about two to three hours, and then you're Ipod touch returns to being just an Ipod touch. A lot of people will probably be turned away by this idea simply because it's just a huge hassle to carry multiple devices, and have to download apps to be able to talk on the phone or text message. Most consumers are willing to deal with the higher prices for a more consistent experience. Even though this is a very cool and frugal idea, it will probably never be in high demand. Everyone loves their Iphones, and most consumers are more than happy to pay the fees to use them.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lance Armstrong is considered one of the most inspirational men in the past couple of decades. Many look up to him not only from his survival from cancer but his ability to return on top of the world in cycling even after facing the deadly disease. In an article from Fox News, it has been suggested that Armstrong and his team took illegal human growth hormones. With these accusations this could possibly cause followers and consumers to lose admiration and respect for him and his programs. One of his most famous programs is Livestrong. Will this program see an economical fall? People that bought products from Livestrong to show their support to Armstrong and his cause might lose faith and eventually venture away from buying the products. Some of money from the sale of these products goes toward researching cancer and treatments. There are also foundations that are set up with these funds to help victims of cancer pay for the expensive treatments. The Livestrong foundation employs many people and gives interns a place to learn about working for a non-profit organization. It has been named one of the 50 best non-profit places to work. People who become disappointed in Livestrong because of this latest controversy, may become dissatisfied with all non-profit organization, and stop supporting them. Thus many people lose jobs and more importantly many research groups are shut down from lack of funding.